ATB: Tired Yet?Posted by zhayes9 on November 18th, 2009
An After the Buzzer recap for your liking as you catch up on some much-needed sleep…
What We Learned. It’s very simple. Often we get all jazzed over those little numbers we put in front of each team’s name, but the line between top-ranked teams like Kansas/Michigan State and Memphis/Gonzaga is finer than any of us would like to admit. Teams are good; teams have players; and teams can perform. There’s no dominant team in college basketball, and we shouldn’t be surprised if we see a steady rotation of #1s throughout the year, just like last season.
Game of the Marathon. #2 Michigan State 75, Gonzaga 71. You rarely see such intensity, tenaciousness and pure effort this early in the season, but the battle between Michigan State and Gonzaga surely provided all three and more. Tom Izzo has to be pleased after his team showed toughness and poise coming back from double digits in the second half against a Gonzaga squad that should be ranked in the Top 25 next Monday. Durrell Summers and Kalin Lucas were the stars – Summers going for 21/11 on 8-9 shooting (plenty of foot-on-the-line long shots) and hitting the biggest three of the game to give the Spartans the lead with just over three minutes to play, and Lucas displaying his usual leadership throughout the second half, finishing with 19 points and five assists in a solid all-around effort. Raymar Morgan sunk 10-11 from the stripe and appeared to come back at 100% later in the game after rolling his right ankle and writhing in pain on the floor. Concern for Tom Izzo: the success in the paint for Gonzaga forwards Robert Sacre and Elias Harris. Lack of post production both offensively and defensively (Delvon Roe was a no-show last night) could be their downfall. Even in defeat, Mark Few has to be thrilled. Sacre (17 pts, 7-12 FG) looks incredibly improved, Elias Harris (17/9 on 6-16 FG) is a future star with a great inside/outside game and they nearly knocked off the #2 team in the nation on the road in November with plenty of overhaul on the roster and their starting point guard, Demetri Goodson, laying an egg. This was a thrilling game to watch from start to finish.
RTC Live (or Co-Game of the Marathon).
- #1 Kansas 57, Memphis 55. ESPN got a perfect prime-time matchup to crescendo its 24 hours of hoops coverage tonight. Although Kansas never trailed after Memphis led 7-6 in the early moments of the game, the Jayhawks could never quite put the Tigers away either. After literally scratching and clawing and biting its way back to within one possession in the waning minutes, Memphis caught a break when the usually-reliable Sherron Collins (80% last year) missed one of two at the line to leave the door open with a 2-pt KU lead. Josh Pastner told his team to go for the win, and the Duke transfer/soon-to-be star of Memphis Elliot Williams (21/6) took a contested three on the wing that looked pretty good in the air but ultimately missed, meaning that there would be no Elliot Miracle as a slight payback for Kansas’ heartbreaker in 2008. In the media interviews afterwards, Bill Self was clearly not happy with his team’s performance, especially on the offensive end, where it seemed the only play they ran was to try to throw the ball into Cole Aldrich (18/11/5 blks) and let him go to work. Twenty-one turnovers, many of the careless variety, seemed to really chafe Self’s craw. Josh Pastner, on the other hand, seemed happy with his team’s performance, and why not? Memphis took the nation’s #1 team to the wire on a night where they didn’t shoot the ball well (35% FG, 24% 3FG) and in the process, probably gave his team more confidence than a string of wins over UALR and the like ever would. Our final thought on this game is that Elliot Williams is a lot better than anyone seems to have known – he didn’t shoot lights-out tonight (6-18 FG, 3-11 3FG), but he seemed comfortable with the role of becoming the Tiger go-to guy, and several of his shots and finishes were nothing short of spectacular.
- #22 Louisville 96, Arkansas 66. This game was a game of runs; it’s just that Louisville seemed to be the team that had all of them. That’s not completely true, of course, but depending on who you ask, this was an expected result. Rick Pitino said that Arkansas’ suspensions have left them shorthanded (true), and that they wore down in the second half because they simply didn’t have enough bodies (questionable). John Pelphrey said that his team simply didn’t compete at a high enough level that you must do so to beat a team like Louisville (possibly). Here’s what we saw. We saw an Arkansas team that competed in the first half. The Cards got hot from three in the last several minutes of the half to run out to a 48-31 lead, but Arkansas then countered after the half with significant energy and movement to go on a 13-0 run of their own to cut the lead down to six. Then Louisville got hot again (especially Reginald Delk, who had 20/5), drained a bunch more threes (15 for the game) and Arkansas began to noticeably lose its motivation. By the last five minutes of the game, we actually wondered where all this “compete” stuff that we kept hearing about was coming from. Because we weren’t seeing it. The Cards placed six players in double figures, and Peyton Siva looked like a keeper with some of his defensive intensity and drives to the hole. Arkansas was led by Rotnei Clarke, who cooled off from 51 to only 16 this time around.
Bruce Pearl’s 100th win at UT unforgettable. #11 Tennessee 124, UNC-Asheville 49. Where do I start recapping this otherworldly performance for the Volunteers against a Division-I opponent? Tennessee set a school record for points (124), held Asheville to two field goals in the first half (2-26 FG, 7.7%) and 16:50 without a field goal, scored 49 points off 29 Asheville turnovers, started the game on a 20-0 run and finished with a 66-14 one and led at one point, 119-39. I’m not a math major, but I believe that’s an 80-point Tennessee lead! The Vols shot 60% as a team with sophomore Scotty Hopson notching his most impressive game in orange with 25/4/5 on 8-11 FG and 6-7 3pt. Someone hose down Rocky Top.
Big East Powers Narrowly Avoid Upsets.
- #13 Connecticut 76, Hofstra 67. At the nine-minute mark in the second half, Connecticut found themselves down nine points to Hofstra after lackluster home wins against William & Mary and Colgate. Even though pesky Hofstra would cut the Husky lead to one with under two minutes to play, the will of Jerome Dyson late allowed UConn to escape yet another upset bid and advance to the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off in NYC next week. Dyson hit 14-15 from the charity stripe to finish with 23 points in a balanced scoring effort that saw Stanley Robinson, Kemba Walker and Gavin Edwards all notch double-figure scoring efforts. Potential CAA POY Charles Jenkins scored 21 points in the 2nd half to lead the Pride rally.
- #20 Georgetown 46, Temple 45. A completely and utterly painful game to watch in DC. Georgetown has talent. Yet the Hoyas team I watched today looked like a carbon copy of the collapsing unit of the last three months of the previous campaign and JT3 cannot be happy with his team’s effort today. Not a single player shone for Georgetown. The Hoyas are lucky Temple was abysmal making open shots or they’d be in the early upset column. Instead, a clutch scoring drive by the largely invisible Greg Monroe with 6.5 seconds was the difference. The teams combined to shoot 6-41 from long range in this brick-fest that saw the Hoyas get two points from their thin bench.
Other Games of National Interest.
- #8 Duke 101, Charlotte 59. The Blue Devils dominated the bottom-feeder 49ers at Cameron from start to finish to advance to the PNIT semifinals in NYC along with UConn, LSU and Arizona State. The only Charlotte player that notched more than six points was BC transfer Shamari Spears (20 points, 6-16 FG, 7-8 FT), looking like Bobby Lutz’s entire offense this season. Nolan Smith returned from his brief suspension to help out Duke’s backcourt depth with 24 points on 9-15 FG and Jon Scheyer rebounded from a rough shooting night with 20/6/5 on 4-7 from deep. Miles Plumlee (15/11) also chipped in with a double-double.
- #17 Oklahoma 72, UL-Monroe 61. The Sooners struggled initially in this one, leading by just three at the break. But they pulled away in the second half at home behind Willie Warren’s effort (6-12 FG, 11-13 FT, 24 points, 4 assists), playing the role of scorer after distributing in Oklahoma’s season opener. Doing both exceptionally well should aid his campaign towards First Team All-American and help Oklahoma contend in the Big 12.
- #23 Clemson 79, Liberty 39. The 10 AM tip-off was no issue for that program that usually peaks before New Year’s Eve. Clemson jumped out to a 17-1 lead, pulled out to 32-13 and finished the opening frame up 42-19 to quiet the red-clad folks in Lynchburg. The Tigers needed someone to step up on the perimeter this season and it may be David Potter (17 points, 5-6 3pt).
- #25 Illinois 80, Northern Illinois 61. Watch out for Bruce Weber’s squad this season. Along with the twin towers of Mike Davis and Mike Tisdale, the Illini have quite a freshman guard duo with D.J. Richardson and Brandon Paul. Paul was the star tonight for the Illini, notching 20 first-half points on four treys. Illinois forced 19 NIU turnovers and Davis grabbed 17 boards in the contest.
- Siena 59, Northeastern 53. A defensive struggle in Albany between two solid mid-majors. Northeastern led this one 20-6 early before going on a long scoring drought that saw Siena slowly chip away at the NU lead capped by an 18-3 run to start the second half. Edwin Ubiles scored 26 points in the march towards a Top 25 ranking for the Saints, although they weren’t that impressive today on a national stage.
- Boston College 72, Saint Francis (NY) 44. In the absence of Rakim Sanders and Corey Raji in their first two games, lone Eagles senior Tyler Roche has hit 17-2X4 FG including 9-11 from deep for 49 points and 9 rebounds in the two contests.
- Pittsburgh 71, Binghamton 46. With Blair, Fields and Young gone and Brown and Dixon sidelined, it must be Ashton Gibbs that steps up if the Panthers want to surprise in the Big East. He did the job last night 22 points on 6-10 from three.
- St. John’s 69, St. Bonaventure 68. Plenty prognosticators believe the Johnnies can surprise in the Big East. Losing to St. Bonaventure would have been an unfortunate start. They dodged said bullet with two Paris Horne free throws with 6.2 seconds left. Horne and D.J. Kennedy (18 points) must contribute in the early absence of Anthony Mason Jr.
- Wofford 60, Georgia 57. Auburn falls to Missouri State, Mississippi State loses to Rider, Cornell downs Alabama…and now Georgia is toppled at home by Wofford (who almost beat Pitt in their first game) to complete another rocky start for the SEC. Just think if Miami (OH) had beaten Kentucky!
- LSU 71, Western Kentucky 60. Solid win for Trent Johnson’ s club after a dud against Indiana State. Bo Spencer totaled a career-high 28 points and hit a decisive three with 2:48 left to break a late tie. Spencer also sunk big free throws, grabbed seven boards and dished out four assists in the win that moves LSU to the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
- Xavier 101, Bowling Green 57. Utter domination for the Musketeers shooting 64.8% from the field led by Jordan Crawford’s 24 points.
- Maryland 71, Fairfield 42. Another struggle for Greivis Vasquez scoring-wise (3-11 FG, 7 points) but he dished out six assists and led the balanced scoring attack that saw Sean Mosley, Eric Hayes and Landon Milbourne all total double figures. Check the RTC Live blog here.
- Marquette 86, Maryland Eastern-Shore 60. The most underrated player in the nation this season could be Lazar Hayward. A collegiate-high 28 points with eight rebounds, two assists and two steals on 12-20 FG for the point forward.
- Duquesne 52, Iowa 50. Will Todd Lickliter last the rest of the season? Bill Clark’s three with 11.7 left won it for the Dukes, who are a chic pick to surprise in the A10 this season.
- USC 77, UC Riverside 67. The Trojans put four starters in double figures behind Dwight Lewis’ 22/5. Kevin O’Neill just has no depth – six players played all but eight of those minutes.
- Arizona State 52, TCU 49. ASU outlasted the Horned Frogs to earn a trip to MSG for the Preseason NIT semifinals next week. Eric Boateng stepped up with a big 21/12 night for the Sun Devils, who will face his old school Duke in the semis.