ATB: Statement Wins At MSG for UNC and SyracusePosted by zhayes9 on November 20th, 2009
Coaches vs. Cancer.
- Carolina Hangs On. North Carolina 77, Ohio State 73. The marquee matchup of the evening featured Roy’s defending national champs taking on Ohio State and early NPOY candidate Evan Turner in Madison Square Garden. RTC Live was a bust due to MSG’s terrible internet connectivity, but we were still able to witness the game and what we saw was a team in North Carolina that could look utterly brilliant on one possession and really disjointed on the next. The good news for the Heels is that their defense and length, particularly inside, made the Buckeye look worse — as in, totally incompetent — for the majority of the game. Up until four minutes remaining, the game had settled into the comfortable 12-18 point lead range for Carolina. Every time that OSU threatened, UNC would get a key steal or three to stem the tide (Will Graves, with his 14/5, was particulary effective with this). Then OSU seemed to instantaneously find its mojo: the threes that had bricked and caromed off the rim and glass all night long suddenly starting finding their mark. Lighty with a three, Buford with another, Lighty again and Diebler once more along with some forays to the rim by Evan Turner, and the comfort zone that Carolina had shrunk to a very uncomfortable two points with fifteen seconds remaining. The general sense in the building, echoed by both coaches after the game, was that if Ohio State had just been able to find the mark a little better in the first half (29% FG, 10% 3FG, 50% FT), they’d have been right there all along. Problem is that we’re not buying it. In our view, the Buckeyes only started playing well and hitting shots when the pressure was essentially off and Carolina’s defense relaxed. Say what you want about Roy Williams’ penchant for offense, but this Carolina team has the potential to be devastating defensively, whereas on offense they might be a little more suspect (Graves & Ginyard are nice players, but let’s not kid ourselves here). OSU was clearly hurt by turnovers and Turner(over) was the worst offender by far with a triple-double the wrong way — 23/11/10 TOs, but if UNC realizes that its strength may actually lay on the end where they don’t have the basketball, this UNC team could in fact be very dangerous as a Final Four team come March.
- Cal Exposed by Syracuse Size. Syracuse 95, California 73. The interesting contrast in styles simply exposed Cal for what they are — a nice team that’s reliant on great guardplay to win games. We mentioned this during the live-blog briefly, but Cal’s guards accounted for 51 of the team’s 73 points, and the disparity was even worse than that prior to garbage time. Contrastingly, Syracuse’s bigs scored 54 of the Orange’s 95 points, which means that the guards chipped in 41, resulting in a balanced distribution of points that most good teams have. Cal just isn’t going to be able to battle teams with athletic post players like Rick Jackson (8/6) and Wesley Johnson (17/11). We noticed in the first half that the Cal guards, particularly Randle, seemed way too willing to step out another 2-4 feet behind the three-point line to fire away, and this is a good example of what the long Syracuse zone does to players. It makes them think that they have an easy open shot, but the truth is that the shot the player is getting is just a smidge farther outside his normal range, and you end up with bricks all over the joint. Case in point: Cal ended the night at 30% from deep (6-20), and 5 of those came from Randle (25/4/4 assts). Patrick Christopher continues to struggle when the lights are on, as he went 6-20 from the field (0-7 from deep) and only finished with 12 points. We’d like to be able to say that Cal will improve, but with a team of seniors, it’s probable that they’re as good as they’re going to get this year. Syracuse, on the other hand, could be scary good if they continue to get strong and efficient play from Johnson and Jackson inside as well as Andy Rautins (8/4) and Scoop Jardine (22/6/6 assts) on the perimeter. It’ll be very intriguing to see how North Carolina handles the Syracuse zone tomorrow night, as the Orange will be able to throw more size at the UNC players than what Ohio State was able to do tonight.
Puerto Rico Tipoff.
- Nova dodges upset bid. #6 Villanova 69, George Mason 68. The game of the day didn’t take place blocks from Times Square Thursday. Instead, Puerto Rico was home to another top-ten team dodging the proverbial upset bullet, this time from the fighting George Mason Patriots coached by Jim Larranaga. And it was touted freshman Isiah Armwood who will forever live in Nova lore (okay that’s a bit of an exaggeration) with his stunning three-pointer to give the Wildcats a lead with 13 seconds to go on his only shot attempt of the contest. Coach Jay Wright even admitted after the game that Armwood was the last option on the floor to take that shot as the 6’7 freshman isn’t exactly renowned for his outside touch. Villanova never led until the second half and actually trailed by four in the final minute before a clutch Maalik Wayns three (another frosh) and a hair-pulling Mason turnover, along with missed FTs, opened the door for a miracle. Corey Fisher (1-12 FG but 14-18 FT) and Scottie Reynolds (8 turnovers) both looked shaky. Regardless, it’s a good opportunity for Jay Wright to show his team they can be beaten on any night while notching one in the win column. Villanova will be tested again today against a really good Dayton team. Worth noting: freshman Mouphtaou Yarou will miss the tournament with a viral infection leaving Wright thin up front.
- Dayton shows their mettle. #21 Dayton 63, #19 Georgia Tech 59. A red-hot Dayton start followed by a mid-second half Yellow Jacket surge followed by a 13-2 Dayton run to close a wild opener in Puerto Rico. It was little known sophomore Paul Williams that jolted a late-game run for the Flyers, who picked up a victory over a likely top-5 ACC squad that should look phenomenal when the RPI discussions begin in February. Williams hit a go-ahead three pointer and sunk four clutch free throws in the final few minutes for a Dayton team that got, count’ em, 47 points from their bench and 19 with four treys from starter Chris Johnson. It was a turnover filled contest as both squads combined for 48 turnovers and it was Dayton that capitalized off of 26 GT miscues for 27 points. It was a balanced scoring effort for Paul Hewitt’s team as Mo Miller and Derrick Favors led the way with 10 points. Georgia Tech will face George Mason in the consolation bracket.
Other Top 25 action.
- #1 Kansas 94, Central Arkansas 44. Sherron Collins held his ankle writhing on the floor in pain. And with that the entire city of Lawrence and Jayhawk nation held their collective breaths. Turned out to be nothing major for the All-American guard as Kansas took out their frustration from two nights ago against poor Central Arkansas. Kansas went on a 23-0 run in this one, had four players score 12+ points and shot 57% as a team following what I’m sure was a rough practice Wednesday. Tyrel Reed and Xavier Henry both bounced back from quiet nights for stellar efforts and the Morris twins also contributed with a combined 20 points.
- #5 Kentucky 102, Sam Houston State 92. “They have no defensive energy, none.” That was John Calipari’s postgame reaction after watching his Kentucky Wildcats allow Miami (OH) to make 15-26 from deep last week and Sam Houston State go 18-38 from long range, including 11-16 in a remarkable performance from Corey Allmond tonight in Lexington. To be fair, many of the SHS threes were NOT open looks, but when does this pattern of lackluster defense become a true concern? Luckily, Kentucky’s outstanding talent level manifested itself on the offensive end tonight with 27/18 from DeMarcus Cousins and 20/9 from Patrick Patterson in a total domination of the paint. John Wall scored 21 with six assists in his second game. Kentucky will try to shore up their D against Rider next.
- #18 Minnesota 76, Utah Valley 51. Another encouraging performance from freshman Rodney Williams (17/6/4) for the Gophers and a defensive effort that forced Utah Valley into 26 turnovers. Al Nolen also delivered at the point with seven assists and zero turnovers. The bad news: Minnesota was out-rebounded by a first year D1 team and shot 5-19 from long range.
Charleston Classic Recap.
- Miami (FL) 74, Tulane 54. The Canes need Dwayne Collins to become a go-to offensive threat to contend in the ACC. He delivered Thursday with 22/14 on a perfect 8-8 from the floor in a dominating effort from the tip. Miami faces UNC-Wilmington in the next round of the Charleston Classic while Tulane faces Penn State on the losing side.
- UNC Wilmington 80, Penn State 69. Talor Battle and? That’s the question for Penn State this season and it wasn’t answered yesterday. Battle scored 29 points and made 11-12 free throws but Penn State shot just 32% as a team and allowed the Seahawks to shoot 10-16 from three. Could we see Ed DeChellis back on the hot seat after this season?
- South Florida 65, Davidson 58. The big stretch in this one came during the first half when five consecutive Davidson turnovers pushed USF’s lead to 11. They wouldn’t relinquish it as Gus Gilchrist poured in 19 second half points in the win. The Bulls will face South Carolina in the other semifinal.
- South Carolina 78, La Salle 68. A strong effort against a formidable Atlantic 10 foe for the Gamecocks. Dominique Archie led all scoring with 19 points in a balanced attack even with Devan Downey limited to 10 points.
Two More Quarterfinals in San Juan.
- Mississippi 89, Indiana 71. Tom Crean’s team is improving, but they’re still largely outmanned and committed 21 turnovers with just 13 assists in this one. Breakout game for Ole Miss big man Murphy Holloway (26/9) for a team that needs more frontcourt production. Ole Miss faces Kansas State next.
- Kansas State 80, Boston University 70. Only seven points on 2/11 FG for Denis Clemente, four points for Dominique Sutton and a donut for Wally Judge, yet KSU still pulls this one out behind 20 points and four treys off the pine from Rodney McGruder. Boston University looks for their first win against Indiana next.
Other Games of National Interest.
- Pittsburgh 71, Eastern Kentucky 60. Ashton Gibbs scored 20 points and the Pitt D held Eastern Kentucky scoreless for eight minutes in this one. Encouraging for coach Jamie Dixon: he needs Gibbs to perform and the defense to deliver to have any chance at contending in the Big East.
- Virginia 79, Rider 46. I don’t understand this sport — Rider dominates Mississippi State then loses by 33 to Virginia? Mike Scott had 17/9 for the Cavaliers while holding Rider to a 33% shooting night.
- William & Mary 78, Richmond 71. This one is quite surprising. Richmond is a sleeper A-10 candidate and the Tribe used a 15-2 spurt in the second half to secure this win. David Schnieder scored 25 points.
- Notre Dame 82, Long Beach State 62. The 49ers have talent, but ND did the job at home behind the Gody’s 29/12.
- Texas Tech 94, Northwestern State 75. Mike Singletary scores 25 for the 4-0 Red Raiders. Pat Knight has been telling people his team’s defense has improved mightily since last season. If true, are they a Big 12 sleeper?
- Washington State 89, IPFW 70. Think Klay Thompson is enjoying Ken Bone’s new system after a year with Tony Bennett’s offense reminiscent of the pre-shot clock era? 37 points on 15-20 FG is convincing me.
- Arizona 66, Rice 49. Double figure scorers for Zona: Nic Wise, Jamelle Horne, Solomon Hill and Derrick Williams. Worth noting: the first Iranian player in NCAA history, Arsalan Kazemi of Rice, dropped 13/10.