ATB: Bearcat Hangover in BirminghamPosted by rtmsf on December 17th, 2009
Upset of the Night. UAB 64, Cincinnati 47. Hangover, anyone? Three days after playing the game of the year in the Crosstown Shootout against Xavier, Cincinnati travels to Alabama, shoots miserably, and falls 12 points short of their previous season low. No disrespect to the Blazers, though; they were responsible for more than their share of the Bearcats’ lackluster showing. UAB was obviously the fresher team, coming off of a 12-day stretch with no games, a time they used to improve themselves on the defensive side of things. UAB coach Mike Davis said afterward, “We knew how important it was for us to come out and really play with a lot of intensity on defense. It was the best performance we’ve had all season on defense.” The combination of fatigue (both mental and physical) and UAB defense forced UC into a 31.7% shooting night, including an atrocious 3-22 (13.6%) from behind the three-point arc. The Blazers weren’t exactly lacking on offense, either. Elijah Millsap was formidable, stepping up with 22 points and 15 boards, and Howard Crawford added 14/5. Dion Dixon, the Bearcats’ only player in double-figures (13/3), minimized the possiblity of a post-Xavier hangover when asked about it after the game, saying, “That didn’t have anything to do with it. We’re a young team, we haven’t played many games on the road.” Really? It’s true, not all of them are major contributors, but eight of UC’s 14 players are juniors or seniors. And five of their nine games this year have been away from their home floor. The most damning evidence that the Bearcats’ minds and bodies weren’t totally into this one, though, is that Cincy came in as the 10th best rebounding team in the nation, averaging 40.2 a game. UAB ranks 179th (32.6 RPG). Tonight UAB owned the boards, 44 to 29. No doubt, Cincinnati will be back, but it was UAB, now 9-1, who served notice to the rest of the nation tonight.
RTC Live. Oklahoma State 71, Stanford 70. RTC Live visited Maples Pavilion for the first time this evening, and although the fans weren’t all that excitable throughout the game, we were treated with a near-miraculous finish as Stanford hung around just long enough to have a shot in the air to win this one. It didn’t happen, as Andrew Zimmermann’s drive to the left and subsequent shot attempt went long and fell harmlessly off the glass into the hands of an OSU player, but for most of this game it appeared that the Cowboys were the far superior team, so the fact that Stanford was even in that position had to be a positive for Johnny Dawkins’ team. The two stars for the respective teams both had big nights — OSU’s James Anderson dropped 28/6/3 assts, including several very difficult three-point plays the old-fashioned way and a few deep threes the modern way in the second half. Stanford’s Landry Fields had 22/12/4 assts to keep the pace, and it was his playmaking down the stretch that led to open looks for Stanford to crawl back into the game. Dawkins has to be kicking himself a little bit, though, as the Cardinal committed 11 fewer fouls than Oklahoma State, shot thirteen more FTs, yet only earned four more points from the stripe — that’s what 12-24 will do to you. It was OSU’s second-half three-point shooting (6-12) that gave the Cowboys as much as a 15-pt lead, but Stanford’s Jeremy Green (19/7) stepped up with a few timely shots to keep his team within striking distance. We came away not very impressed with either team tonight, but clearly Oklahoma State should feel good about itself in getting a road win, even one against a Pac-10 team with half the fans not in the building tonight.
Other Games of National Interest.
- #15 Georgia Tech 65, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 53. Looking ahead a little, maybe? Georgia Tech has a tough 8-2 Florida State team coming to town on Sunday and Pine Bluff has now lost all eight of their games this year, ALL of them on the road. Still, a pair of double-doubles from Gani Lawal (15/15) and Derrick Favors (15/11/4 stls/3 blks) usually gets the job done. Mfon Udofia had a tough shooting night but continues to play solid ball for Paul Hewitt, contributing 8/8/5 assts.
- #18 Ohio State 78, Presbyterian 48. OSU wasn’t really threatened in this one, having started out 14-0 and owning a 32-point halftime lead, but check it out: Presbyterian played man-to-man defense for the first time all year, and in the second half held OSU to 25 points. David Lighty’s doing what he can to pick up the sans-Evan Turner slack, leading with 20/6/3 assts/3 stls. Oh, and no Blue Hose fans were thrown out by Thad Matta in this one (you knew it was coming).
- #19 New Mexico 96, Northern Arizona 57. Steve Alford’s Lobos continue to roll. Of course, hitting 16 of 32 three-pointers helps with that. A 14-0 UNM run to start the game was mitigated to a five-point margin late in the first half, but the Lobos’ came with a balanced attack, with three starters and three bench players achieving double figures. Roman Martinez led with 17/4/3.
- #24 Clemson 80, East Carolina 63. ECU was 1-61 against ACC teams before this one. The trend continued. Trevor Booker was an assist away from a triple- double (13/12/9), Tanner Smith also added a double-double (14/10/6), and Andre Young actually led Clemson with 16 off the bench. Darius Morrow was big for the Pirates with 16/12, but after building a 17-point halftime lead, the Tigers coasted.
- #25 Mississippi 91, Texas-El Paso 81. The Rebels gave squandered a 10-point halftime lead at home and needed overtime to rid themselves of a game UTEP squad. Derrick Caracter had a huge game for the Miners with 15/15, but the underrated Ole Miss guard combo of Terrico White (19 points) and especially Chris Warren (32 points) kept the Rebels in the Top 25 for at least another week, most likely.
- Illinois-Chicago 63, Oregon State 61. Right. Another Pac-10 loss to a mid-major, this time to a team that came into the game with one win on the season. One win against NAIA school Illinois-Springfield (the Prairie Stars). That’s right — we’re not making this up. UIC wasn’t good enough to defeat Central Michigan, Southern Illinois, Illinois State, DePaul, Milwaukee or Green Bay, but by golly, they can take down Oregon State. Robo Kreps led the way with 19 pts.
- Louisville 94, Oral Roberts 57. Perhaps in part due to feeling the effects of the loss of ORU’s namesake, who passed away on Tuesday at 91 years old, Louisville jumped all over ORU to break its two-game losing streak. Samardo Samuels had 17/7 and Edgar Sosa 18/5 assts as the Cards hit twelve threes and outrebounded the much smaller Golden Eagles by fourteen.
- Mississippi State 80, Wright State 69. In a bit of a trap game after a big win over UCLA on Saturday, the Bulldogs survived an onslaught of threes (14) but not much else (9 two-pointers) from WSU to hand on in this one. Jarvis Varnado had his typical well-rounded game, going for 17/8/6 blks with no misses from the field this evening (6-6 FG). Barry Stewart added 21 points and Ravern Johnson had 13/5 as the Dogs shot a blistering 63% for the game.
- Wake Forest 80, UNC-Wilmington 69. In another trap game of sorts, Wake kept just enough separation from UNCW to comfortably win, as LD Williams had a career-high with 23/5 on the night. Al-Farouq Aminu had 17/13/3 stls as he continues to fill up boxscores this season, but perhaps most astonishingly, Wake took only four threes all evening (making two). We know that the Deacs aren’t really a three-point shooting team (only 19% of their points come from beyond the arc, #309 in the nation), but four shots shows a concerted effort to avoid taking them — interesting strategy that worked tonight.
- South Carolina 76, Richmond 58. South Carolina used a huge second half (52-26), and really the last eight minutes of the game to break open a tie score (52-all) and close the game on a 24-6 run to win going away. Devan Downey led the way for the Gamecocks with 18/3, but it was the gutty play of he and his teammates to not panic early and grind out a win with a tough UR team that will serve them well heading into conference play in the SEC this year.