ATB: An A10 Kind of WeekendPosted by rtmsf on December 14th, 2008
A10 Weekend. The A10 used three televised games on Saturday to announce its presence to America, knocking off an SEC, Big East and Big 12 team in the process (two of which were effectively road games). With the relative weakness of the Pac-10 and SEC this year, the A10 could make a run at a legitimate four NCAA bids this season. Today’s results could go a long way in the Tourney Committee’s minds toward that end. Great weekend for the Atlantic 10.
- Temple 88, Tennessee 72. Every outlet in America is making the “Merry Christmas” joke, so we’ll refrain here, but suffice it to say that Temple’s Dionte Christmas stole Bruce Pearl’s cookies and blew up his sled with an explosive game where it seemed as if every shot he threw at the rim was flushing straight through. More importantly, Temple exposed Tennessee’s defense for what it is – simply not good enough to sustain any kind of legitimate run in March. The Owls shot a blistering 55%, led by Xmas’ 35 on seven threes, and it often appeared as if the Vol players had little interest in covering him. The roof nearly came off the place when he hit three trifectas in a row during a personal 1:30 run to blow open the game. Temple, who had not defeated a top 10 team since John Chaney was still on campus, celebrated with a spirited RTC, to which, we say – deserved.
- UMass 61, Kansas 60. KU might not want to schedule games in Kansas City for a while, as they’ve already lost two games this year in the border city that straddles the Missouri state line. UMass took complete advantage of a flat Kansas team in the first half, jumping out to a 14-pt lead, and holding on for dear life down the stretch after blowing two FTs and defending Sherron Collins’ final shot to win the game. The quirky thing about this game was that KU ran the same end-of-game play in the national title game last year against Memphis, and new head man at UMass, Derek Kellogg, was an assistant on the Memphis bench for that play. UMass has been a hard-luck team this year, losing several close games (twice by a single point), and a loss in this one could have sent the Minutemen season spiraling out of control. As it stands, they’re currently 3-6, but if they can win their next four (all winnable), then they can still make a run at the NCAA Tournament with a strong A10 showing. As for the Jayhawks, poor shooting (esp. from three, 5-23) doomed them, but Cole Aldrich (12/13) continues to shine.
- Xavier 72, Cincinnati 62. This year’s version of the Crosstown Shootout was another high-intensity, athletic and spirited battle that we’ve become accustomed to when these two teams tangle. Sean Miller’s Xavier continues to impress, as two players, Derrick Brown and CJ Anderson, contributed double-doubles in the win. UC made a nice comeback in the second half from a 17-pt deficit, but Xavier answered with assurance down the stretch to put the game away. The game was marked by voluminous trash talking and six technical fouls (Derrick Brown was ejected late in the game), belying the fact that these two schools simply do not like each other. Cincy isn’t all the way back yet, but they do have some interesting pieces, and will be a load for any Big East team to deal with at home. Xavier, on the other hand, is outstanding defensively, and has a knack for finding great players like Derrick Brown who were relatively unknown coming out of high school.
Game of the Weekend. Georgetown 79, Memphis 70 (OT). This was a fantastic game to watch – we hope you did. These two teams couldn’t have been much more evenly matched. Memphis’ biggest lead was 17-11; Georgetown’s biggest lead was the final 9-pt margin of overtime (thanks to Jessie Sapp’s ridiculous 40-foot bank-is-open flip three – see below). Although the shooting suffered on both sides (41%/35%), the intensity and aggressiveness had a March feel about it. Memphis kept itself in the game with its stronger work on the boards, using twenty offensive rebounds to get multiple second-chance opportunities. This was especially astonishing, given Georgetown’s superior size, but Greg Monroe needs to learn how to effectively use his 6’11 body to secure rebounds at a higher rate than he currently does (6.8 rpg with a high of 8 in a game). Shawn Taggart came off the bench to lead Memphis with 23/11, and Tyreke Evans contributed 20/7, although he was frustrated into 8-24 shooting. Georgetown was more balanced, but Dajuan Summers led the way with 21/7. Back to Jessie Sapp’s ‘meaningless’ three at the end… Jim Nantz said emphatically “they’re going to count it!” Could Nantz have had money on Georgetown, who was laying -6.5 pts in this game (Sapp’s flip shot took the score from six to nine).
Upset of the Weekend. Arizona 69, Gonzaga 64. Is it an upset if Arizona defeats Gonzaga? Well, considering all the turmoil Arizona has faced and the fact that the Zags are ranked #4 in the nation, sure. It’s certainly the highest-ranked team to lose this weekend, so we’ll call it up an upset. We watched this game closely, and it’s apparent that if Arizona can get consistent production from Nic Wise, Jordan Hill and Chase Budinger (as they did tonight, with 57 pts), they are one of the better teams in the Pac-10. The issue for Arizona has been their rather pedestrian defense, but the Cats tonight did an excellent job containing seniors Josh Heytvelt and Jeremy Pargo (3-14, 10 pts), who in tandem key the Zag offensive attack. On the positive side, Austin Daye was outstanding, with 22/5 blks, but the Zags won’t go anywhere this year if they don’t get consistent production from Heytvelt and Pargo.
- Oklahoma 70, Utah 52. This game was closer than the score indicates. With 3:49 to go, Utah was down 60-52. They never scored again. The reason the Utes were able to hang in with Oklahoma for so long had everything to do with POY candidate Blake Griffin’s foul trouble. Griffin spent most of the first half on the bench, and when he came into the game, he routinely faced double- and triple-teams. He finished the game with only three shot attempts, of which he made none, but he converted 11-14 from the line to make a contribution in other ways. We’re wondering what has happened to Griffin’s dominant work on the boards? He’s averaged only 9 rpg in his last four games, compared with 19.2 rpg in his first six games.
- Davidson 100, Chattanooga 95. Davidson was due for a bit of a letdown after their big win over WVU at MSG last week, but we’re not sure they were ready for a knockdown dragout battle from a 1-7 team in their first conference tilt. After shooting merely 37% in the first half, Stephen Curry took over the game (sound familiar?) and dropped 31 second-half points (of 41 total) to ensure Davidson would win its 31st straight SoCon game. Chattanooga shot 51% against Davidson’s defense, which raises questions as to their level of effort on that end in this game.
- North Carolina 100, Oral Roberts 84. We actually didn’t think Carolina looked all that sharp in this game, and Roy Williams agreed, but it’s somewhat understandable given they had only practiced twice in the past nine days. Tyler Hansbrough had 26/9 and is now only nine points shy of passing Phil Ford for #1 on the UNC all-time scoring list. Deon Thompson added 22/8 as all five Tar Heel starters scored in double figures.
- Arizona St. 59, IUPUI 58 (OT). James Harden was held to only 9 pts in a foul-plagued game where ASU appeared to sleepwalk through much of it, getting down 34-18 at halftime and needing a long drought by IUPUI, who only scored five points in the last twelve minutes of action. IUPUI credited ASU’s switch to a man-to-man defense as the source of their offensive problems in the second half. Rihards Kuksis was ASU’s savior, hitting six threes to give the Sun Devils a chance to win.
Battle of Unbeatens. Ohio St. 54, Butler 51. We gotta hand it to Thad Matta. In a game that, by all indications, Ohio St. should have lost, his squad gutted out a hard-nosed victory against another unbeaten team who could have really used an RPI-boosting win for later in the year. OSU barely hung on in this one, missing its last nine FGs from the floor and six of its final eight foul shots, but its hallmark defense (#1 nationally in defensive efficiency) was the difference, as Butler’s Gordon Hayward (25/7) missed a game-tying three with two seconds remaining. The Buckeyes held Butler to a mere 32% shooting, but one concern should be that Butler outrebounded the bigger Buckeyes.
The Rest of Your Saturday.
- Syracuse 79, Long Beach St. 55. Cuse shook off a sluggish first half to blow out LBSU in the second half, led by Arinze Onuaku’s 17/6. Eric Devendorf had 13/5 in his first game since his Judicial Board suspension (currently on appeal).
- Louisville 94, Austin Peay 75. AP was actually ahead in this game with eleven minutes to go, but UL used a 17-2 run to take control of the game. Samardo Samuels had 21/12, but it was Preston Knowles’ energized 21 off the bench that led to the run and the ultimate victory.
- Texas 81, Texas St. 73. AJ Abrams (who else?) put the Horns on his back and led Texas to a much more difficult-than-expected victory. Dexter Pittman contributed a season-best 17/10 – if this guy gets going, watch out.
- Marquette 69, IPFW 50. Lazar Hayward dropped 19/18 in a relatively easy win for Marquette.
- Purdue 76, Indiana St. 62. Robbie Hummell had a career-best 25/8 in a win that Matt Painter characterized as a “miss.”
- Kentucky 72, Indiana 54. UK ran off to a 32-6 lead in this one and never looked back.
- New Mexico 103, Ole Miss 70. Another destruction of an SEC team – New Mexico shot 60%, outrebounded the Rebs by 21, and also had 21 more assists.
- St. Mary’s 67, San Diego St. 64. In a near must-win situation for St. Mary’s, the Gaels got the victory behind Diamon Simpson’s 20/15.
- Michigan St. 118, Alcorn St. 60. We can only imagine what Izzo’s practices have been like since the Ford Field Fiasco. How about 35 assists to 4??
- North Dakota St. 98, Georgia Southern 77. Ben Woodside continued riding his hot hand with 31/10 assts. He averaged 45.5 ppg in the Hy-Vee Classic.
- UCLA 72, Depaul 54. Ben Howland got his 300th victory in a hot-shooting performance (55%) from his Bruins. Jrue Holiday had 14/5/6 assts in the win.
- Notre Dame 74, Boston U. 67. BU was in this game until the very end. Luke Harongody (23/15/5 assts) did everything in his power to prevent ND from losing its 41-game home winning streak.
- Pittsburgh 91, UMBC 56. Pitt reached 10-0 for the sixth straight season behind fourteen threes. Against a top thirty schedule, they have yet to be threatened this season (+23 ppg).
- Oregon St. 64, Nebraska 63. Craig Robinson got a very nice win here, as OSU continues to play teams close (four games of 3 pts or less).
- San Diego 64, Oregon 57. Isn’t this the USD team that we all thought we were getting this year? Shooting 56% on Mac Court is no easy task.
- Lamar 85, Texas Tech 79. Lamar is worth keeping an eye on – they’ve lost to Kentucky, Louisville and Indiana St.
And Your Sunday…
- Miami (FL) 70, Robert Morris 62. Jack McClinton led the way with 24/9/4 assts in a contest where the Hurricanes didn’t pull away until the very end.
- Illinois-Chicago 66, Georgia Tech 60. This is why Georgia Tech is so confounding – one game, Aminu, Lawal and Shumpert will look fantastic; the next, they’ll go for a measly 26/18 combined.
- Wake Forest 66, Wright St. 53. This was another sloppy game, as Wake looked listless and suffered continued turnover problems, but Harvey Hale hit five threes to ensure another victory for the Deacs at home.
- Villanova 70, Lasalle 59. Corey Stokes and Scottie Reynolds hit seven threes combined to win another Big 5 matchup for the Wildcats.
On Tap Monday (all times EST). Light night nationwide.
- Connecticut v. Stony Brook (ESPN FC & 360) – 7pm
- Syracuse v. Cleveland St. – 7pm
- Cincinnati v. Charleston Southern (ESPN FC & 360) – 7:30pm