ATB: Gator Chomp & Upset Friday NightPosted by rtmsf on November 28th, 2009
Gators Chomp Spartans. Florida 77, #2 Michigan State 74. We’re still trying to figure out why this was a semifinal game at the Legends Classic instead of the title tilt tomorrow night, but we’re sure there was a method to the madness somewhere in that decision. So given that the game was only available on something called HDNet, we’re trying to figure out how this happened. First thought — had to be hot shooting by the Gators, right? Errr, nope. Florida shot 41% from the field compared to MSU’s 53% for the game. Ok, a bunch of threes then? Nope again. UF hit more than the Spartans, but a margin of five to two from deep isn’t exactly dominant. Second chance points? Wrong again. MSU dominated the boards to the tune of +15 overall and +5 on the offensive end of the court. No, the only two areas of the game where Florida outperformed the second-ranked Spartans were on turnovers (forcing 22 vs. their own 12) and getting to the foul line (25 attempts vs. MSU’s 14). Well, that, and Erving Walker’s three (his only one on a 12/7/3 stls night) from NBA range to put the Gators up 72-71, providing just enough cushion down the stretch with some additional FTs to hold off the Spartans’ last-ditch efforts by Durrell Summers to tie the game and send it into OT. We’re not about to say that the Gators are anywhere near back to where they are nationally relevant again, but this is their biggest win since 2007, and we will give some props to John Stevens for having ranked Florida in the three RTC Top 25 polls so far this season — maybe he knows something that the rest of us don’t? Florida will advance to play Rutgers in the championship game of the Legends Classic tomorrow night, while Michigan State gets UMass in the consolation game.
WCC Continues to Impress. The WCC continues to flex its mid-major deltoids this season. With wins over Wisconsin, Minnesota, UCLA, USC, Stanford, Oklahoma and now Houston, the top half of this league is not messing around. And why should it – there’s some good basketball being played in this league, and if the bottom-feeders like LMU and USF can manage just halfway-decent records in the OOC, the league could be looking at three solid NCAA bids again this year (as in 2008).
- Portland 61, #16 Minnesota 56. If you haven’t caught the Portland Pilots on tv yet this season, make a point of watching these guys on Sunday night in the 76 Classic title game against West Virginia — they’re really entertaining in a plucky Gonzaga-ten-years-ago sort of way. Their mixed defenses left the Minnesota big players who had such nice games last night — Colton Iverson and Ralph Sampson, III — confused and relatively unproductive tonight. TJ Campbell was superb for Portland, carving out 23/5 to supplement the work that Nik Raivio (9/11) and Robin Smeulders (13/6) were putting in. Minnesota shot only 33% from the field and a terrible 16% from deep, and got killed on the boards, but they managed to turn UP over just enough to stay in the game throughout.
- San Diego 72, Houston 65. USD moves on to the finals of the Great Alaska Shootout, where they will face Washington State, arguably the weakest opponent they will have faced while in the frozen northern environs of Palin-land this weekend. Clinton Houston (irony?) led San Diego with 21 pts, while Brandon Johnson stepped up to drop 13 of his 15 in the second half to ensure the win.
Other Upsets Tonight. We were all set to destroy the SEC for another terrible night before we saw the Florida-MSU score, which saves considerable face for the league. But we’re definitely watching you, SEC. The Big Ten didn’t have a great night either, but at least they lost at neutral sites to teams that are better than their ranking.
- Marquette 79, #15 Michigan. After seeing Marquette last night, this doesn’t feel like an upset, but officially it is, we guess. The Golden Eagles, led by underrated star Lazar Hayward, knocked out a 22/9 evening, but he had plenty of help in Jimmy Butler (17/9), Darius Johnson-Odom (14/4) and Dwight Buycks (13/3). Michigan, on the other hand, only got production from Manny Harris (22/8/4 assts) and Laval Lucas-Perry (12/2) today. Most importantly, the UM three-point attack was virtually nonexistent, as the Wolverines were 3-20 from deep. With the treys not falling, there simply wasn’t enough other offense from other sources to pick up the slack. Marquette will play Florida State in Sunday’s Old Spice championship game.
- Utah 60, #21 Illinois. Right, so maybe this was why we hadn’t yet put the Illini into our rankings… because they lose to teams like Utah, who lose to teams like barely-D1 Seattle. Seriously, though, this was a wild game of runs. In the first half, Illinois used an 18-2 run to open up a commanding 32-16 halftime lead, only to watch as Utah changed up its defense in the second stanza and went on a 35-14 run of its own to get the lead at 51-50 with five minutes remaining. Then Utah freshman guard Shawn Glover banked in a shot at the buzzer after a Demetri McCamey miss on the other end to give the Utes the shocking comeback win tonight. The Illini got a rough night (8 pts on 2-12 FGs) from their heralded rookie backcourt of Brandon Paul and DJ Richardson tonight, reminding us all that freshmen are still subject to ups and downs despite their pedigree.
- St. John’s 77, Siena 68. With this loss to a Big East also-ran, Siena officially cedes its place as hot mid-major this year to the Portland Pilots, who are actually earning their hype. DJ Kennedy had 23/6/5 assts for the Johnnies, while Ryan Rossiter chipped in 24/13 in a losing effort. C’mon Saints, you gotta do better than Ls to Temple and St. John’s if you want to be taken seriously.
- Richmond 63, Mississippi State 62. Huge win for the Spiders, who will need this win much more than MSU come Selection Sunday. Jarvis Varnado spent the evening in foul trouble for MSU and was only able to contribute 8/6 and one block, but it was UR’s hot three-point shooting to start the game that gave them the lead and put the pressure on MSU to respond. MSU did respond, though, despite generally poor shooting (33%), taking a 5-point lead late in the game. However, Richmond scored the final six points of the game, capped by Kevin Anderson’s jumper to win it with ten seconds remaining.
- ETSU 94, Arkansas 85. Yes, we know Courtney Fortson is still on suspension, but this is getting ridiculous as John Pelphrey’s team dropped another home game to a team that it clearly has an athletic advantage over yet came into their building and lit the place up (59%). Is it safe to say out loud that it appears to us that Pelphrey has lost this team? ETSU’s Tommy Hubbard and Arkansas’ Rotnei Clarke had a nice shootout, with both guards scoring 32 pts (Rotnei hit ten threes).
Preseason NIT Wrapup.
- #7 Duke 68, #13 Connecticut 59. Let’s talk ugly basketball for a second. Duke went up 58-38 with 12:21 left in the game, scored 4 points over the next 11:29, and was still up eight. They shot 28% from the floor and won. UConn gave up 25 offensive rebounds, and if they had hit their free throws and layups down the stretch, they may have actually won this thing. Look, you can criticize these teams for an ugly game, but everyone knew that neither was an offensive juggernaut coming in. Both teams rely on their defense and size inside to win games. The difference just so happened to be that Duke’s defense — which Coach K dropped back to 1/4 court man — set the tempo for the game. Lance Thomas had 11 boards. Duke just did what Duke always seems to do in these preseason tournaments (their 4th NIT title): find a way to win. , in a strange coaching decision, did not press, and as a result the Huskies never could get into an offensive rhythm. finished with 19/5/5 assts while both (7 offensive) and
- Arizona State 71, LSU 52. Down 34-27 at halftime, a completely different Arizona State team showed up for the second half. It started with defense, as the Sun Devils held LSU to a meager 18 points after the break. Derek Glasser and Eric Boateng were dynamite tonight. Glasser looked like he could compete with Nic Wise, Jerome Randle and Isaiah Thomas for 1st team all-Pac-10 as he had 21 points and 6 assists in the win. He torched the Tigers using the pick and roll in the second half. Boateng was a completely different player tonight as he went for 17 and 8 boards, while also adding 3 assists. If ASU can get two freshman — Trent Lockett and Victor Rudd — to play at a consistently high level, this may be a tournament team in a weakened Pac-10 this year.
Old Spice Classic. This tournament hasn’t turned out as good as we thought it might, but FSU vs. Marquette is the championship tilt on Sunday, and of course, RTC Live will be there covering it.
- Florida State 60, Alabama 51. FSU survived an ugly game with Alabama to advance to the Old Spice championship game on Sunday where they will face upstart Marquette. The Seminoles were nearly unconscious from long range, starting out hitting six of seven, and finishing at 9-13 for the game. Chris Singleton had 14/6 while Solomon Alabi contributed 10/4/4 blks. Alabama had a balanced effort, which is a nice way of saying nobody for the Tide scored in double figures (JaMychal Green had the best outing with 9/8/3 stls).
- Baylor 72, Iona 62 (OT). Near-crushing loss for Baylor, who blew a nine-pt halftime lead and had a clear advantage in size and athleticism, yet still had to get to an extra period to win this game. The BU starting backcourt struggled (6-25 FG) — LaceDarius Dunn had seven of his 17/5/3 assts in OT, and his teammate Tweety Carter suffered a miserable game (6/4).
- Xavier 80, Creighton 67. XU rode a hot-shooting night from Jordan Crawford (22/7 on 8-12 FGs) and the team in general (54%) to a nice victory between two high-mids that will undoubtedly work as some kind of quasi-tiebreaker should the need arise in March. From our perspective, both of these teams are going to have games like this (on both sides of it) this year as they try to implement so many new people into their systems. CU got 21/6 from Ethan Wragge off the bench.
76 Classic. It’ll be West Virginia vs. Portand in the championship game on Sunday night. RTC Live will be there.
- #8 West Virginia 73, Texas A&M 66. Devin Ebanks didn’t waste time in his long-awaited debut to make his presence felt, with two quick buckets and a rousing dunk (and one) that fired up his team in the first half. He finished with 14/9, but it was his teammate Da’Sean Butler (17/5/5 assts) who came alive in the second half to push WVU through to the victory and on to the championship game against the upstart Portland Pilots. This WVU could be scary good by the end of the season if they continue to develop. Texas A&M fought hard and they’re clearly a top 25 caliber team, with Donald Sloan and BJ Holmes both contributing 18 pts each today.
- #10 Butler 69, UCLA 67. For a brief while, it appeared that Butler was going to Portland-ize the Bruins for the second consecutive evening in the 76 Classic after they ran out to a quick 30-16 lead. But UCLA settled down and got things back within a reasonable margin at halftime (7) and they used a little more energetic defense tonight to very nearly knock off the tenth-ranked Bulldogs. Jerime Anderson hit a three with nine seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 67-all, completing the UCLA comeback, but Gordon Hayward got fouled with under one second remaining, and hit both FTs to seal the win for Butler. Other than to say UCLA will continue to improve, we’re not sure what to make of Butler — we’ve yet to be impressed with them in a complete and total way once this season. WVU will be a major test for the Bulldogs.
- Clemson 89, Long Beach State 79. Long Beach got a monster game from TJ Robinson (25/15) but they could not defend well enough to slow down the more athletic Tigers, who shot 58% from the field and put six players in double figures today. Casper Ware also had 20/10 assts for LBSU, who got the game within one point in the mid-second half only to see Clemson answer with another 6-0 run to give itself some breathing room down the stretch.
Other Games of National Interest. And there were plenty today…
- #1 Kansas 112, Tennessee Tech 75. Kansas thoroughly overwhelmed Tennessee Tech, as twelve Jayhawks got into the scoring column including a team-high 18 from Tyshawn Taylor and 14/10 from Cole Aldrich.
- #9 Syracuse 85, Columbia 60. Syracuse used a strong second-half run keyed by Wesley Johnson to put away the Lions in another easy win for the white-hot Orange. Johnson hit four threes for a career-high 26 pts, while redshirt freshman Mookie Jones came off the bench to contribute 12/2 in fourteen minutes.
- #11 Tennessee 86, Charleston 69. UT got another good game from sophomore Scotty Hopson (21/6), but Charleston hung around this game until the last eight minutes or so on the strength of eleven threes, including a combined seven from their starting backcourt of Andrew Goudelock and Donovan Monroe.
- #25 Georgia Tech 85, Mercer 74. For the second consecutive year, Mercer gave the Jackets trouble, but perhaps befitting Tech’s better talent this year, they were able to put the Bears away in the late second half behind 16/8/4 blks from Derrick Favors and 15/10 from Gani Lawal. Mercer’s James Florence tore apart the Tech defense for 40 pts in a career-high performance.
- Oklahoma State 68, Bradley 57. The Pokes move to 5-0 behind a nice game from James Anderson (19/4) in this Las Vegas Classic game against a dangerous Bradley squad.
- Rutgers 83, Massachusetts 75. The other semifinal at the Legends Classic went to the quasi-home team behind 22/7/3 assts from their gunner Mike Rosario, breaking a nine-game losing streak to UMass in the process.
- Iowa State 65, St. Louis 54. The Cyclones moved to 6-0 with a nice win over St. Louis behind Craig Brackins’ 16/6 this evening. If ISU can get a win at Cal next week, they should definitely be viewed as a surprise team so far this season.
- South Carolina 97, Jacksonville 93. An old-fashioned shootout between Devan Downey (34 pts) and JU’s Ben Smith (31/4/7 assts/4 stls). Hey, at least an SEC team won.
- VCU 85, Nevada 76. Very nice resume-building win for the VCU Rams behind Larry Sanders’ 17/14/5 blks despite Luke Babbitt’s career-high 27/11 for the Wolfpack. Interesting stat: both teams made 29 FGs, but Nevada had 23 more attempts (82 vs. 59).
- Temple 61, Virginia Tech 50. It wasn’t clear what we were going to see from Temple this year after losing Dionte Christmas, but so far, so good. A nice win over Siena followed by another win tonight vs. an ACC mid-packer. Lavoy Allen had 18/10 for TU, but what was more surprising was that VT’s Malcolm Delaney had 28 of his team’s 33 pts (and his 32 for the game) in the second half.
- Northwestern 72, Notre Dame 58. A somewhat surprising result given Northwestern’s recent injuries, but the 1-3-1 zone the Wildcats employed frustrated the ND shooters, holding Ben Hansbrough to 1-10 from the field (0-7 from deep) and the team to a mere 32% for the game. Luke Haragody had 21/9, but he too struggled shooting (7-19 FGs) and pulled a donut from three (0-6). NW’s John Shurna had 25/8/4 assts and Michael Thompson 20/3 in the win.
- Missouri 66, Old Dominion 61. Mizzou forced 23 turnovers, which was undoubtedly the difference in the game as ODU did enough to win once they got into their halfcourt sets. The Tigers only got 5-19 FGs from its dynamic backcourt, which shows the value of that full-court defense on nights when things aren’t going well offensively.