ATB: Weekend Wrap – Pac-10 and SEC Struggle Again

Posted by rtmsf on November 23rd, 2009

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It was an odd weekend of basketball.  The games weren’t all that interesting — at least when compared to Friday night, for example — but there was plenty to talk about when scores started rolling in.  Mainly, it was a weekend that had few storylines other than Pac-10/SEC incompetence and prep work for all of the holiday tournaments that start this week.

Pac-10 Nightmare Saturday.

  • Loyola Marymount 67, USC 59. Will this ultimately be the worst BCS team loss of the entire season?  LMU won a total of three games last season, and while the Lions are undoubtedly better, there is absolutely no excuse for them to beat a Pac-10 team on their homecourt.  Ever.  We understand that Kevin O’Neill has virtually no depth at his disposal, but come on…
  • Sacramento State 65, Oregon State 63.  Regression to the mean on OSU this year?  All the great work Craig Robinson put in to make a horrid team competitive seems to have gone by the wayside this year, as the Beavers laid another stinker against a team they should easily handle at home.  Down 22 at the half, OSU rallied back behind Seth Tarver’s 14/10, but it was too little too late.  The Pac-10 RPI continues to sink.
  • Portland 88, Oregon 81. This is actually the one loss that should have been expected, as Portland is likely to be the better team this year.  Nik Raivio had 24/8 and his frontcourt mate had 17/8 as they shredded the Duck defense for 53% from the field and 58% from deep.  This will end up being a win that Portland will look favorably upon later this season.

More Upsets This Weekend.

  • VCU 82, #17 Oklahoma 69.  This seemed like a trap game when reviewing schedules, and it turned out to be one.  Willie Warren had a disastrous game, shooting only 3-14 (0-8 from three) and committing six turnovers in the outing.  Freshmen Tiny Gallon and Tommy Mason-Griffin combined for 25/18/6 assts, but VCU’s stars Larry Sanders (17/4/3 blks) and Jay Gavin (20/5/3 assts) outperformed them in Jeff Capel’s return trip to his old coaching haunt.
  • Temple 71, Siena 67.  The Saints found themselves on the wrong end of a 13-0 second half run by Temple that gave up their hard-earned halftime lead.  Juan Fernandez led the Owls with 20/3 assts, but it was Siena’s poor three-point shooting (1-9) that ultimately doomed them in this game.  Alex Franklin had 22/6 and Ryan Rossiter had 8/11, but Siena will need to play better in coming weeks to make a push for an at-large should they not win the MAAC Tournament.
  • Vermont 77, Rutgers 71.  Vermont should be proud to have gone into a Big East arena of a team that some expect to make waves this season and get a big win.  Marqus Blakely did everything — 17/9/2 assts/4 stls/5 blks — as UVM gutted out a hard-fought victory in Piscataway.
  • Kansas State 83, #21 Dayton 75.  Really not much of an upset, but a good team was going to leave Puerto Rico 1-2, and Dayton is the unlucky recipient.  Jacob Pullen had 26/5/4 assts for K-State, while Dayton’s Chris Wright came through with 15/10 on the other side.

Mid-Major Intersectionals.

  • Northeastern 64, Utah State 61.  This mid-major clash ended with USU taking its second loss in a week.  Considering the Aggies lost only four games last year, this is interesting.  Matt Janning had 14/4 for Northeastern, who is one of the favorites in the CAA this season.
  • UNLV 78, Southern Illinois 69.  The Runnin’ Rebs got a huge night out of Tre’Von Willis (25/7/4 assts) as they shot lights out as a team (56%) in finally putting away the Salukis in the mid-second half.  This puts the Mountain West up 2-1 in the MWC/MVC Challenge this year.
  • Nevada 112, Houston 99.   Nevada put three players (Joey Shaw, Brandon Fields & Armon Johnson) into the 20+ pt column and shot a scorching 61% in a high-scoring game in Reno last night.  Houston’s Aubrey Coleman shot 13-30 from the field, but poured in 32/7/3 asst/4 stls in the losing effort.
  • New Mexico 85, Miami (OH) 60. The Lobos move to 5-0 after obliterating a team that nearly took out top-five Kentucky in Rupp last week.  Nick Winbush once again blew up for 25 pts, but the New Mexico defense shut down everyone else.

RTC LiveLouisville 90, Morgan State 81.  When this one tipped off it was only 19 hours after the Louisville Cardinals had posted an ugly win over East Tennessee State in another Hall Of Fame Showcase game; in that one, Louisville coach Rick Pitino bemoaned his team’s shot selection and mental toughness, claiming that his squad was mentally somewhere else and settled for too many jumpers. Part of his game plan today was to reverse that, not only to find better shots for his own team but also to try and get Morgan State’s biggest scoring threat, Reggie Holmes, in foul trouble. Pitino’s club complied with that request, constantly driving to the basket and, in doing so, got to the free throw line where they hit 33 of 41 attempts. Morgan State fought hard, cutting a 15-point halftime deficit to five at one point in the second half and had it at seven points with just over 5:00 left. But Pitino’s plan came to fruition, as Holmes, who found himself in trap after trap all day long, fouled out for Morgan State with nine frustrated points late in the game right as the Cardinals’ final push began. The Louisville drive-and-dish policy led to a huge game for Samardo Samuels, the beneficiary of several interior passes from his guards; he finished with 23/12/2/2 blks. Those guards didn’t do too badly themselves, with Preston Knowles putting up 13/5/5/4 stls and Edgar Sosa posting 12/2/3. Knowles had two of Louisville’s five three-pointers, but they only attempted 12 threes on the day. Morgan State’s Kevin Thompson stepped up with a highly commendable 16 points and 13 rebounds and did it with two or three defenders around him the whole day, and forward DeWayne Jackson compensated for Holmes’ lack of output by leading the Bears with 21 points. When people think of Rick Pitino these days, they probably fixate more on his off-court problems and like to speculate on how that whole mess is going to turn out. It’s important that these people do not forget that Pitino is first and foremost an excellent basketball coach who can still come up with crafty ways to neutralize your main scoring threat while getting the most from his players and making sure they do exactly what they need to do in order to win.

Statistical Oddity of the Weekend. VMI 111, West Virginia Wesleyan 92. For this one, we’ll go with VMI’s three-point happy attack on Thursday night (not technically the weekend, but whatever).  The Keydets shot a ridiculous 63 times from behind the arc, connecting on 16, and in so doing set a school record for attempts.  For comparison’s sake, in 2008-09 an average game had 36.7 attempts combined.

Other Games of National Interest.

Saturday

  • #4 Kentucky 92, Rider 63.  John Calipari got the defensive effort he was hoping for as UK held Rider to 31% from the field and a mere four treys after he lit them up in the press a few days prior.  John Wall had 21/11 assts and P-Pat added 19/18 in the win.
  • #9 Duke 104, Radford 67.  Duke dominated the Big South favorite Highlanders behind freshman Andre Dawkins’ 20 pts on six threes.  The thin Duke backcourt combined for almost as many points (60) as RU put up as a team to win their 72d consecutive nonconference home game.
  • #11 Butler 64, Evansville 60.  Butler struggled for the second time in three games this year, shooting a pitiful 28% from the field and almost allowing an Evansville freshman named Colt Ryan to singlehandedly steal the game away from them.  Ryan hit all three of Evansville’s treys in a 45-second span of the final minute, cutting the lead to two points and very nearly pulling off the upset.  BU needs to get its offense working better or they’ll come away with three losses in this week’s 76 Classic in Anaheim (first game: Minnesota).
  • #20 Georgetown 63, Savannah State 44.  Georgetown continued its tour of road games at mid-major schools by visiting Savannah and thoroughly dominating Horace Broadnax’s team.  The Hoya defense held SSU to 27% shooting for the game.
  • #22 Louisville 69, ETSU 56.  Louisville endured a poor shooting game (36%) but utilized their big man Samardo Samuels well to the tune of 14/11/3 blks in an ugly win against ETSU, who was without their star player Mike Smith in this one.
  • #25 Illinois 94, Presbyterian 48.  The Illini got contributions from thirteen players in this laugher, as star freshman guard DJ Richardson nailed four threes in his 15-point effort.

Sunday

  • #2 Michigan State 90, Valparaiso 60.  Tom Izzo tied his mento Jud Heathcote for the most wins in MSU coaching history with 340 total Ws in this one, as the talented starting guads for MSU scored a combined 47 pts in a blowout win.
  • #6 Villanova 79, Ole Miss 67.  Villanova won the Puerto Rico Tipoff in its most convincing win of the weekend, using a 9-0 run in the mid-second half to take control of the game and force Ole Miss to recover.  Scottie Reynolds had 23 pts, but it was Antonio Pena with 17/16 who impressed inside.
  • #7 Purdue 85, St. Joseph’s 60.  The Boilermakers broke open a close game at halftime to blow out the Hawks in the semifinals of the Paradise Jam, as center JaJuan Johnson had his way inside for 18/10 and Robbie Hummel contributed 9/9 as well.
  • #11 Tennessee 57, Depaul 53.  UT may be excused for underestimating its opponent in the semis of the Paradise Jam after obliterating its first three opponents by an average of nearly fifty points.  Scotty Hopson came in averaging 22 ppg, but could only muster 4/3 on 2-10 shooting, which is something to watch this season (his confidence).  This sets up an interesting matchup on Monday night between two BCS league favorites.
  • #20 Georgia Tech 85, Boston U. 67.  Georgia Tech got out of Puerto Rico with a 2-1 record after easily handling BU behind Gani Lawal’s 17/13 and Derrick Favors’ 14/10.  We’re still not sure what to make of this Yellowjacket team just yet.
  • Penn State 59, Davidson 57.  Davidson got off to a troubling 0-4 start by losing all three games in its Charleston Classic excursion, while Penn State managed to avoid a disastrous trip by forcing a Brendan McKillop miss as time expired in this one.
  • George Mason 69, Indiana 66. Mason couldn’t afford to lose another close-but-no-cigar game against a BCS school, so they looked to Cam Long to save them with a three-ball on the final possession, and he did.  Indiana… clearly still a work in progress.
  • NC State 60, Auburn 58. NC State moved to 4-0 in winning the Glenn Wilkes Classic over Auburn as Tracy Smith hit a bucket with 1.3 seconds remaining to win the game.  Auburn, on the Jeff Lebo Watch, got 21/4/4 assts from Frankie Sullivan.
  • Miami (FL) 85, South Carolina 70. The Hurricanes lit up the SC defense by shooting 54% from the field and 62% from deep, but it was the interior dominance of Dwayne Collins’ (17/15, seemingly dunking everything) that turned a close game into a near-blowout during the second half of this one.  SC was without Dominique Archie for most of this game as he injured his right knee landing after a dunk, and (gulp), it didn’t look very good afterwards.  James Dews also added 22 pts for the winners of the Charleston Classic.
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