ATB: Weekend ReviewPosted by rtmsf on December 22nd, 2008
What a Saturday! We hope you had as much on Saturday as we did, sitting around in our sweats in front of a family member’s HD flatscreen while the wind pushed thermometers to nearly zero outside. If there was ever a day for lazing around and watching nothing but college hoops, this was it. And the games did not let us down. From Minnesota to Gonzaga/Arizona St. to Xavier to Steph Curry, there were upsets, great finishes, shocking blowouts and a struggling all-american for good measure.
Game of the Year (to date). Connecticut 88, Gonzaga 83 (OT). For our money, the Connecticut-Gonzaga game in Seattle was the game of the year thus far. Each team brought NBA-level talent and NCAA Tournament intensity to this one, and it took an extra period to finish it off. We really felt as if we were watching a March game in December. Both teams ran out to leads where they appeared the far superior team, and both teams made huge plays to get back into the game, capped off by a simply astounding three to send the game into OT by AJ Price (where he was floating left and had a man right in his face upon the release). For large portions of this game, Gonzaga looked like a F4 team, with Austin Daye’s captivating talent (13/5) all over the court, Josh Heytvelt’s steady interior play (15/3) and Jeremy Pargo’s timely forays (16/4 assts) into the paint (not to mention Steven Gray’s 23/7/4 assts off the bench). The Zag D held UConn to 43% shooting, while hitting half of its own shots, and yet, UConn showed a resolve and toughness that we haven’t seen out of a Calhoun team since Emeka Okafor left campus. The Huskies really had no business pulling this game off, especially since big man Hasheem Thabeet spent the last fifth of the game on the bench in foul trouble, but team leader AJ Price (24/10 assts) kept finding penetration into the lane for easy looks and trips for his teammates to the foul line. This was a take-notice game – we’ve been down on UConn until now because we still weren’t sure they had the chemistry and resolve to win six tough games in March. Now we’ve taken notice. UConn will go as far as Price takes them, and that could be all the way. It wouldn’t surprise us at all to see a rematch of this game in Detroit in April.
Upset of the Weekend. Minnesota 70, Louisville 64. Ok, Louisville is officially the most disappointing team in America right now. We sensed something was wrong with them the last couple of times we watched them play (and that’s not even including the WKU loss), but the Minnesota game proved to us that this is a team without a soul right now. The Cards have enough pure talent to compete with any team in college basketball, but they don’t seem to want to give the effort that it takes to do so. And the Edgar Sosa situation has every hallmark of another exceptional talent crawling into a hole and dying under Pitino’s tutelage (we’re channelling Rodrick Rhodes here) – it’s amazing just how ineffective he has become. As for Minnesota, they’re now 11-0 and this was the signature win the Gophers needed to announce that Tubby Smith is once again building a competitive program. The Gophers played hard, held Louisville to 38% shooting, and made all the right plays down the stretch to secure the win (when UL crept back within four pts). Tubby has now won his last four games against his mentor, and suddenly the Big 10 is looking a lot stronger than it did a month ago.
Where Has This MSU Been? Michigan St. 67, Texas 63. For 95% of this game, we were absolutely certain that Damion James and AJ Abrams would find a way to pull this game in Houston out. Durrell Summers was having none of that stuff. He took over the game in the last few minutes, hitting two clutch threes (including one with 18 seconds to give MSU the lead for good), and assisting Kalin Lucas on another. He also salted the game away from the line in the final few seconds. MSU hit 51% in a hostile environment, and looked a lot like the team we all expected to see earlier this season. Damion James played well (15/10), but Abrams had only 8 pts and missed all of his three-point attempts in a game (13 under his average).
Just Don’t Bother to Schedule Duke in Nov/Dec. Duke 82, Xavier 64. We had high hopes for this game; boy wasn’t that a silly thought. Xavier was down 10,000 pts before the first tv timeout (actually 18-1, then 22-3, then 55-24). The Devils shot 53% for the game, but most of those misses came during the second half after Xavier had already been emasculated. Jon Scheyer had 23 pts and Gerald Henderson had 19 in a place (The Meadowlands) where the Devils are now 18-1 lifetime. XU was led by Derrick Brown’s 18 pts but their top ten rating is history.
More High Hopes Dashed. Purdue 76, Davidson 58. Yeah, let’s just say we were very pleased when CBS decided to switch us over from this abominable game to the much better UConn-Gonzaga contest. Davidson would just as soon forget this one, as they started off even worse than Xavier did against Duke (Purdue scored the first 21 pts of the game). Ditto Stephen Curry, who was harassed into the worst shooting night of his career (5-26, incl. 2-12 from three). To his credit, he grabbed eight rebounds and dished six assists, but his 13 points was a season low in games where he actually tried to score (his next lowest game was 27 pts). Purdue’s Robbie Hummell led the Boilers with 18/14, but the real story we took from this game was that Davidson looks worn down by the pressure and the number of high-major teams it has played this year (4 already, with Duke upcoming on 1/7).
Ridiculous Ending. Arizona St. 76, BYU 75. This was a hard-fought battle that appears to us that BYU got screwed. One ref on the floor counted the basket, but after a long delay, the refs decided that the tip was after the buzzer. It’s a tough call, admittedly, but was it conclusive? Let us know what you think…
One Friday and Mostly Saturday Scores.
- Wake Forest 86, Richmond 79. Chas McFarland had 20/14 in a tough road win.
- Kentucky 93, Appalachian St. 69. Jodie Meeks dropped 46 in this one (incl. nine threes).
- Ohio St. 71, Iona 53. OSU remains unbeaten at 8-0 behind breakout star Evan Turner’s 21 pts.
- West Virginia 82, Miami (OH) 46. Alex Ruoff returned with 15/8 in an utter obliteration of Miami (OH).
- Georgetown 69, Mt. St. Mary’s 58. When will Greg Monroe (8/4) start dominating?
- Georgia 74, Wofford 73 (OT). The SEC narrowly escapes another embarrassing non-conference loss thanks to Zac Swansey’s buzzer-beating three.
- UNC 85, Valparaiso 63. Hansbrough dominated with 25 pts in another fairly easy UNC win.
- Kansas 71, Temple 59. No repeat Saturday for KU and Temple this weekend.
- USC 61, North Dakota St. 57. A Demar DeRozan sighting (18/6). NDSU’s Ben Woodside was held to 14/9 assts in a game that went down to the wire.
- UNLV 79, Arizona 64. This game became close in the mid-second half, then UNLV hit three straight threes to finish Zona off.
- Tennessee 79, Belmont 77. UT barely escaped the upset after getting torched by Alex Renfroe’s 30 pts.
- Boston College 81, Providence 76. Sharaud Curry had a whopping 4 pts in this game PC very much needed for its resume.
- Auburn 58, Virginia 56. This is the first SEC road win against another BCS opponent. Nice job, UVa.
- Texas A&M 72, LSU 61. LSU took its first loss coincidentally when it played its first road game of the season.
- California 75, Nevada 66. Jerome Randle had 23/8 assts as Nevada continues to struggle.
- Syracuse 72, Memphis 65. Just when you think Syracuse is dead… they go and win a huge road game at Memphis, forcing the Tigers into 7-33 from three.
- St. Mary’s 65, S. Illinois 52. Is it too soon to declare SIU officially finished? Another nice road win for SMC, though.
- IUPUI 67, Seton Hall 65. Leroy Nobles with the buzzer-beating layup to give the Hall a crushing non-conference loss.
- Stanford 65, Northwestern 59. Does anyone know if this 7-0 Stanford team is actually any good?
- Oklahoma 81, VCU 70. Two of the nation’s most prolific scorers locked horns, but neither blew up (Blake Griffin – 18/7; Eric Maynor – 15/5).
- Pittsburgh 56, Florida St. 48. An ugly, ugly game. Sam Young led Pitt with 21/7.
- Clemson 91, Miami (FL) 72. Another take-notice win, as this was such a blowout victory by the Tigers on the road.
On Tap Monday (all times EST): Not much in the way of marquee matchups on Monday, but Wake had best bring its A game for a trip to a trap bandbox in Greenville, NC.
- Florida v. Georgia Southern (ESPN FC & 360) – 7pm
- Kentucky v. Tennessee St. (ESPN FC & 360) – 7pm
- Wake Forest @ East Carolina – 7pm
- Marquette @ NC State (ESPNU) – 7pm
- Maryland v. American – 7:30pm
- St. Joseph’s v. Cornell – 7:30pm
- Depaul v. St. Louis – 8pm
- Baylor v. Hartford (ESPN FC & 360) – 8pm
- Oklahoma @ Rice – 8pm
- Utah St. v. Utah – 9pm
- USC v. Georgia Tech (FSN) – 10:30pm
- Creighton v. Fresno St. – 10:30pm