ATB: Big Ten Victorious on Comeback WednesdayPosted by rtmsf on December 3rd, 2009
Wisconsin: First RTC of the Season? If anyone knows of another one, let us know. But this is the first one we’ve seen this year. But c’mon Musberger, get it right! RUSH. THE. COURT. (Ed. note – apparently UNLV fans RTC’d on Saturday after defeating Louisville, which is about as unjustified of an RTC as we’ve ever heard of… goodness gracious, folks, it’s Vegas. And beating an overrated Louisville team excites you?)
Story of the Night. Big Ten Finally Gets Monkey Off Its Back. It didn’t turn out the way we thought it would tonight, but it did end up as a 6-5 victory for the Big Ten schools over their ACC counterparts. Two unexpected events conspired to make this possible — Illinois’ inspirational comeback win at Clemson after being down by as many as 23 points in the second half, and Wisconsin’s home victory over Duke in the type of game the Blue Devils always seem to win (because, well, they do — Duke was 10-0 in the ACC/B10 Challenge prior to tonight). These two surprises combined with Ohio State’s expected win over Florida State at the end of the evening resulted in three straight victories at the end of the Challenge to put the midwesterners on top for the first time EVER. So what does that mean? Does it prove once and for all that the Big Ten is better than the ACC this year? Well, not at all. In fact, if anything, this year’s Challenge has shown us that the middle of the ACC might be a tad bit stronger than we thought it was (Wake, Miami, BC, Clemson). Now… about our predictions for tonight. Regression to the mean is the lesson here. After a perfect 6-0 start over the first two evenings of play, it all crashed and burned with a 1-4 record tonight. But yeah, at least we called it, baby! That’s all that matters! 6-5 Big Ten over the ACC, just like we said!*
*note – our Caribbean friends disagree with this assessment.
Game of the Night #1. Wisconsin 73, #5 Duke 69. Duke took its first ever loss in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge tonight for two reasons as we saw them. First, their big men other than Kyle Singler (28/6/3 assts) were virtually nonexistent. Lance Thomas, Brian Zoubek and the Plumlee brothers combined for just six points and fourteen rebounds. Compare that with 16/27 against UConn last week, and you’ll see that almost all of the scoring burden fell onto the Duke backcourt + Singler. Second, Wisconsin’s Trevon Hughes was spectacular tonight. The senior guard shredded the Duke defense for a career-high 26 pts, using an assortment of drives to the basket to go along with a solid outside stroke (4-7 threes). After taking an 11-pt lead with five minutes to go, though, Duke guard Andre Dawkins nearly brought the Devils back all by himself, hitting three straight triples to cut the lead down to 2 with two minutes left. It appeared that this was going to be one of those epic Duke comeback wins, but UW ran clock down the stretch (surprise) and when Singler missed a wild layup attempt off the bottom of the backboard with under thirty seconds left, it was clear the Badgers were going to take the win tonight. One odd situation occurred in the very last few plays, when color commentator Bob Knight seemed to lose his mind for a moment as he stated that Wisconsin was “for sure” at worst going to overtime after only going up two with 4.9 seconds left (he clearly thought they were up three), and then contemplated whether Trevon Hughes should intentionally miss his second FT (again, thinking up three). What’s that phrase coaches like to use? Time and score? Can you imagine if one of Knight’s players had made a similar mistake at such a key juncture? Maybe now we know why Texas Tech wasn’t nearly as good as Knight’s Indiana teams — he wasn’t paying attention!
Game of the Night #2. Illinois 76, #19 Clemson 74. What can you say about Bruce Weber’s young backcourt of Brandon Paul and DJ Richardson tonight other than we’re extremely impressed. There is absolutely no way that Clemson should have lost this game. The Tigers ran out to a 20-pt halftime lead, pushed it up to 23 early in the second half, and had Littlejohn rocking. But Weber’s kids dug deep, showed the kind of composure that belies their age, and dropped a combined five threes in the next ten minutes of a 35-10 run that got the Illini back into the game and ultimately allowed them an opportunity to steal this one away from Clemson and the ACC. The Clemson players suggested that they relaxed after getting such a big lead, and from our viewpoint, there’s probably something to that. It certainly appeared that Illinois was the team with the drive and moxie throughout most of the second half, and when it came down to Demontez Stitt’s driving layup attempt at the buzzer, we just had a feeling that it wasn’t going down. It didn’t, and Illinois has a rallying cry for the rest of this season no matter how badly they’re playing. Mike Davis had 22/9 for the Illini, but as mentioned above, it was the youthful backcourt of Paul and Richardson (34/8/5 assts) that made tonight happen.
Game of the Night #3. #21 UNLV 74, Arizona 72 (2OT). The Runnin’ Rebels justified their shiny new Top 25 ranking by taking to the road for the first time this season, heading down to Arizona, and knocking off the Wildcats in double-overtime. Despite poor overall shooting from both teams (UNLV 39.7%, UA 36.5%; both teams less than 20% from three!) this one was neck-and-neck from the tip, as neither team ever led by more than six points the whole way. Arizona got up three in the second OT but UNLV’s Derrick Jasper (12/7/5/3 stls) hit one from deep to tie it at 70, and the Wildcats never led after that. Tre’Von Willis continued to carve his name out on the national scene with 25/4 for the Rebs, and Arizona got a huge game from freshman forward Derrick Williams with 28/5 on 10-15 shooting. This kind of win in such a difficult and hostile setting can only help Lon Kruger’s club, which has a few easy ones coming up except for a home game against Kansas State thrown in there on 12/12. If they can get by those Wildcats, there’s a very good chance UNLV will be 12-0 going into a pair of tough road games in early January at BYU and at (currently undefeated) New Mexico.
- Gonzaga 74, Washington State 69. In a night of big comebacks, Gonzaga’s Elias Harris may have won the award for stepping up when it matters most, as the forward scored 21 of his 24 points after halftime, helping the Zags come back from a 12-pt halftime deficit to win in the final few minutes. Wazzu ran out to a 15-pt lead early in the first half, and until the ten-minute mark of the second half, it appeared that it was the Cougars’ game to lose. But the Gonzaga defense clamped down, holding WSU to only one field goal from the 10:36 mark to the 0:21 mark, and with Matt Bouldin’s seven threes (28/5) draining from all over the arena, Gonzaga was able to hang on for another solid win. The loss was the first of the season for Washington State, who got a subpar performance from their star Klay Thompson (15/6/4 stls on 6-21 FG) tonight.
- Pittsburgh 67, Duquesne 58 (2OT). Pitt roared back from a 16-pt second half deficit to send the game into two overtimes where the Panther defense completely clamped down on the Dukes to the tune of five total points in the ten additional minutes of play. In fact, Duquesne was only able to put up seven total points in the final seventeen minutes of action of the final “City Game” to be played in the downtown Mellon Arena. Neither team shot the ball well, but Ashton Gibbs (15/5/3 assts) shook off a 1-12 performance at the time to hit two threes in the second OT to salt this one away.
- Portland State 86, Portland 82. Live by the three, die by the three; Portland, media darlings of late, were up 12 with less than ten minutes, but they got complacent and let PSU reel off ten straight points and then take the lead for good, 82-81, with three minutes remaining. The Pilots, now 5-2, shot 37.5% from beyond the arc and got only a single trey from sharpshooter Jared Stohl. The Vikings shot 60% from three point range and were led by Dominic Waters’ 23 points, 21 of which came in the second half. It’ll be interesting to watch how Portland continues to handle its newfound attention heading into WCC play.
More Big Ten/ACC Challenge (see, we changed it).
- #15 Ohio State 77, Florida State 64. Evan Turner worked his magic again tonight, lighting up the Seminole defense for 25/13/6 assts in a victory where it never felt like FSU was going to make a run at the Buckeyes (and they didn’t). Jon Diebler (22 pts) caught fire in the first half from deep, hitting five treys, ultimately settling on six for the evening as OSU made twelve as a team. Of some concern for Thad Matta should be that three starters played forty minutes each, and only two bench players saw action at all. Solomon Alabi (21/10) was the lone bright spot for Leonard Hamilton’s team tonight, who just never seemed all that interested.
- Boston College 62, Michigan 58. This was definitely a surprise to us, as Michigan is looking nothing like the team that we saw scratching and clawing its way to a second round NCAA appearance last season. BC got 24/9/3 assts from Cory Raji along with 11/12 from Joe Trapani on the interior, but it’s the scoring woes of Michigan that continue to confound. Manny Harris had 19/7/6 assts in a solid performance, but even his trusted sidekick DeShawn Sims struggled (4/3 on 2-7 FG while in foul trouble much of the night) along with the rest of the team (32% and -15 on the boards). John Beilein is going to have to get back to the drawing board if he expects to achieve the same kind of success that Michigan saw last season. As for BC, we never quite know what to expect from them, but two solid road wins in a row (@ Providence, then tonight) suggest that the Eagles could be an x-factor again in the ACC this year.
- Miami (FL) 63, Minnesota 58. The 8-0 Hurricanes are now definitely a team that we need to keep a close eye on this month. Granted, Minnesota is the best team the U has played by far this year, but the way in which they were able to defend, control the boards and still get enough offense without a big game from Dwayne Collins (9/11) is interesting to us. After such a good start, Tubby Smith’s team has derailed. Minnesota’s third consecutive loss wasn’t a huge upset, but the nation’s #2 defense according to KenPom so far this season didn’t the backcourt of Durand Scott (20/5/3 assts/4 stls) and Malcolm Grant (16/2) from outdoing their counterparts Lawrence Westbrook (14/3) and Al Nolen (9/6/6 assts/5 stls).
- Utah State 71, BYU 61. Jared Quayle had 22 points, including 17 in the 2nd half, to lead Utah State over BYU in this rivalry game. BYU came out firing and held the lead at half thanks to going 5-10 from behind the arc in the 1st half. The second half was an entirely different story though as the Cougars went 1-8 from behind the arc and couldn’t buy a bucket when the teams switched baskets. Much of it came from Aggie junior G/F Pooh Williams who only scored 4 points but whose defense slowed down Jimmer Fredette (19 pts on 5-15 FG) in the second half. The Aggies also took care of the ball turning it over just nine times and keeping a BYU team that loves to run from getting into transition and finding easy buckets. A completely wired Aggie crowd didn’t help matters for the Cougars either. Fans had been waiting outside since Tuesday morning in sub-freezing temperatures to ensure the best seats in the house for the rivalry game, leading to a sold-out venue just minutes after the doors opened. All 10,270 attendees were sent home happy as the Aggies extended the nation’s 2nd longest winning streak to 37 straight games. No rest for the Aggies, though, as a very good St. Mary’s team comes to Logan on Saturday night (RTC Live will be back for that one).
- Tulsa 86, Oklahoma State 65. Tulsa rode a dominant defensive performance from their center Jerome Jordan (11/9/3 assts/6 blks) to a rout of in-state rival Oklahoma State tonight, as RTC Live was in the building covering the game. Star guard James Anderson was held well below his season average of 22 PPG with a horrid 3-15 shooting performance resulting in 10 points. The entire OSU team shot only 39% from the field, while the homestanding Golden Hurricane had their way with the Cowboy defense (56% FG, 56% 3FG). It was a statement win for a program that often feels third fiddle in the Sooner State, and certainly a W that will have RPI repercussions for both programs throughout the rest of the season. Justin Hurtt (21 pts) and Bishop Wheatley (17/9) were the offensive stars for Tulsa tonight — instead of Jordan and Ben Uzoh — which could spell trouble for CUSA if Doug Wojcik begins to get greater production from those players as well.
Other Games of National Interest.
#1 Kansas 98, Alcorn State 31. Inside the first minute, Alcorn St. led 4-0. Thirteen minutes later, it was Kansas up by 36-4. That 36-to-zero run was one point short of the all-time NCAA record for scoring runs. Cole Aldrich had 13/16. Kansas forced a school record-tying 30 turnovers. There’s nothing more to know.
#3 Villanova 77, Drexel 58. ‘Nova coach Jay Wright called this City 6 matchup ”our best defensive effort of the year,” holding the Dragons to 31% shooting including a combined 0-17 for Drexel’s two leading scorers.(14/8/6) and Antonio Pena (19/11) led the Wildcats, with substantial help off the bench from Taylor King who hit four three-pointers and finished with 16/5.
#66. The Volunteers committed only five turnovers and handed out 22 assists (compared with ETSU’s eight dimes), but had a tough time shaking the fast-paced attack of the Buccaneers, who kept the margin between 6-12 points for most of the second half but couldn’t get over the hump. Tyler Smith (15/3/4) and Scotty Hopson (10/6/3) led the Vols, now 6-1.
#13 Connecticut 92, Boston University 64. Boston U. kept it close for about the first nine minutes. UConn then went to the press, and this one was over by halftime. Jerome Dyson gave everyone a small heart attack at the beginning of the second half when he slipped and took a strange-looking fall that kept him on the floor for a few minutes and had everyone thinking it might be the knee again. Turned out to be nothing, and Dyson led UConn with 22/6/4 with impressive help from Kemba Walker ( ) and Stanley Robinson (16/9).
#18 Louisville 80, Stetson 48. Louisville salved their wounds from their loss at UNLV by shooting 62% from the field, including 7-14 from beyond the three-point arc, and winning the battle on the boards, 34-21. The Hatters (still one of the best nicknames in the game) were within three after the first eight minutes, then Louisville went on an 11-0 run. Ballgame. Jerry Smith found his stroke and posted 17 points on 6-8 shooting.
#20 Butler 59, Ball State 38. Although the Bulldogs didn’t shoot particularly well in this one on the whole (39.5% FG), their first five field goals were threes. That and a Butler team focused on defense proved to be demoralizing enough to Ball State who shot 19% and posted a mere 11 points (not a misprint) in the first half. Butler was paced by Gordon Hayward’s 15/8 and Shelvin Mack’s 15/3/4.
#22 Texas A&M 84, Prairie View A&M 59. The Aggies took a while to get going, as evidenced by PVAM’s 15-6 lead after only four minutes of play, and by the fact that Texas A&M had only a 2-point lead with 3 minutes left in the first half. They eventually got it going, though, when Khris Middleton (17/7) came off the bench to hit two straight threes and quell the Panthers’ uprising. It wasn’t close after that.
#23 Georgia Tech 74, Siena 61. All the Tech talk centers around Derrick Favors and, but one of the forgotten men on this Yellow Jacket roster is freshman Mfon Udofia who blew up for 26 points to go with 7 boards . Favors (16/8) and Lawal (15/9) were strong, but this was Udofia’s night, hitting 9-16 from the field including 5-8 from distance. Siena kept it within ten for most of the game and were within eight points late, but just couldn’t mount any more of a charge.
- New Mexico 86, #25 California 78. New Mexico got 22/15 from Darington Hobson and 16/5 from Roman Martinez, which was enough to pull away from the slumping Bears as the Pit welcomed a new victim tonight. Jerome Randle contributed 20/7 for Cal and Jamal Boykin blew up for 21/13, but Patrick Christopher struggled with his shot again, going 5-14 from the field and hitting only three of nine attempts from deep.
- Richmond 67, Old Dominion 60. Richmond continues to impress, as the Spiders put all five starters into double figures tonight in a classic letdown game opportunity against a local rival.
- South Carolina 74, Western Kentucky 56. In a surprisingly easy win, SC manhandled WKU without Dominique Archie in the lineup, holding the Hilltoppers to 3-18 shooting from deep and holding stars AJ Slaughter and Steffphon Pettigrew to 10-26 from the field for 23/9 for the game.
- VCU 82, Rhode Island 80. VCU didn’t make it easy on itself, missing three straight front ends of 1-and-1s to give URI chances to cut into their comfortable six-pt lead with thirty seconds remaining. The first two attempts when down, but the third, a halfcourt shot at the buzzer, missed, giving VCU the win over the previously unbeaten Rams. Larry Sanders had 19/11 in the win.
- Northern Iowa 63, Iowa State 60. UNI got a key win over a BCS team when Ali Farokhmanesh’s three with just over thirty seconds remaining gave the Panthers the lead for good. Craig Brackins’ three attempt at the buzzer was off, as was he for most of the evening (13/9). This is the third time in four tries that UNI has defeated its old coach who is now at ISU, Greg McDermott. Adam Koch and Jordan Eglseder each had 20 pts for the Panthers.
- Oklahoma 67, Arkansas 47. Yes, things continue to look sour for John Pelphrey’s Razorbacks, who played again with Michael Washington (injury) and Courtney Fortson (suspension). OU guard Tony Crocker had 16/16 in a well-balanced effort from Jeff Capel’s team to get back above .500 on the season.
Vanderbilt 89, Missouri 83. Vandy crushed Mizzou on the boards, 47-26, and A.J. Ogilvy owned the paint with 25/6 with help from Jeffrey Taylor (18/11) and Jermaine Beal (15/5). The Tigers, led by Kim English’s 20/5, were down by 14 with just over five minutes left, then caught fire and got it to within one point twice in the last . But the Commodores scored the last five points of the game in the final minute, and improved to 5-1.
San Diego State 69, San Diego 62 (OT). SDSU squandered a 12-point second half lead and settled for a 52-52 tie before being saved by guard D.J. Gay, who scored seven of his 22 points in overtime and helped the Aztecs improve to 5-2.had 21 for the Toreros, who fell to 4-3.