ATB: One of the Wise Men Came Early This YearPosted by rtmsf on December 24th, 2009
A Very Wise Man. Arizona 76, NC State 74. Why is this our lead game tonight? Because it’s not often that you see two difficult length-of-the-court layups within the last ten seconds of a game, and it’s even less often that the player who hits the game-winner does so for the second game in a row. Nic Wise must have been a very good boy this year because Santa is treating him right this holiday season. Just two nights after making a ridiculously difficult touch/push three from about 25 feet to win a game against Lipscomb (we’ll overlook the fact that it probably shouldn’t have counted), Wise (17/3) did it again tonight. NC State’s Javier Gonzalez (18/3/6 assts) had tied the game at 74-all with a part-the-waters layin with around seven seconds to go. Wise immediately grabbed the inbounds pass and pushed downcourt. After a couple of hesitation/crossovers at three-quarter speed, he found a seam to his left and beat the trailing defenders to get the shot up off the glass with the wrong hand and won the game with a mere tick left on the clock (when we get the vid, we’ll post it below). Wise is like the anti-Jamelle Horne for Arizona. Awesome finish, and gives Arizona two more wins that they’ll need en route to putting together a resume for inclusion to their 26th straight NCAA Tournament later this season. UA shouldn’t have put themselves in this position, but they managed to blow a late eight-point lead by allowing NCSU to hit several threes down the stretch — the Wildcats’ Derrick Williams had 24/6 in the win.
Upset of the Night. Oral Roberts 75, #12 New Mexico 66. Unbeaten no more. We’re now down to just six undefeated teams left this season, and all six of those are currently ranked as the top six teams in America after Missouri State and now New Mexico dropped games this week. ORU has already beaten Stanford and Missouri thus far this season, so this shouldn’t be a huge shock (especially in Tulsa), but the Golden Eagles have also had some blowout losses (most notably, by 37 to Louisville, 21 to Virginia and 20 to Wake Forest). Tonight was a different story, though, as Scott Sutton’s team built a first-half lead and was able to hold on when UNM made its expected run late in the game. Michael Craion had a great game, going for 18/13/7 assts/2 blks, and Dominique Morrison had 17/4/4 assts/3 stls, but more importantly, the ORU defense forced the Lobo stars into tough nights — Darington Hobson shot 5-14 for 11 points and Roman Martinez was even worse at 1-9 for 4 points, and their 15 total points tonight was nineteen points off their combined average this year.
Braggadocio. Missouri 81, Illinois 68. Here’s the thing about naysayers who thought that Missouri would take a hard fall after losing DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons from last year’s team. So long as Mike Anderson has a stable of ten or so athletic players to run his modified 40MoH system, his teams will always be successful. Now, will this year’s version be as good as last year’s E8, thirty-win team? No way. But they’re still pretty darn good, and we’d expect to see the Tigers back in the Dance again, especially after a performance like tonight. For the first time in a decade, Mizzou won this rivalry game, and they did it behind their standard MO of forcing turnovers (21), hitting threes (10) and causing a faster-than-normal pace for their opponent. Kim English led the way with 24/6, but he got help from freshman Michael Dixon, Jr., (16/5 assts/3 stls) and JT Tiller (12/5/5 assts). As for the Illini, other than their amazing comeback win at Clemson in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, we haven’t been impressed with this team yet this year.
Huggins vs. Protege. #6 West Virginia 76, #21 Ole Miss 66. The biggest game on the marquee today was a bit of a dud in large part because of WVU’s total and utter dominance over Ole Miss defensively and on the boards tonight (50-28). The Mountaineers held the Rebels to a chilly 36% shooting and just 5-24 from three with their typical rugged play, while they got surprising offensive production from an unlikely source, forward Wellington Smith. Smith came into the game at 5-16 on the year from deep, so he naturally nailed five more threes tonight (on six attempts) to finish with 19/6 versus Ole Miss (not sure they had that in the scouting report). WVU will play at Seton Hall in its Big East opener on Saturday.
Instant Impact Player. USC 60, St. Mary’s 49. Forget Reggie Redding, Derrick Caracter and Ater Majok, among others. Could USC’s little-known transfer guard Mike Gerrity be the biggest semester-break impact player of the year? USC looks like a completely different team with his inclusion in the starting lineup, as tonight he once again had a good night (17/4 on 7-10 FG) to lead the Trojans to a win against a presumably better team in the Diamond Head Classic. His numbers over three games aren’t huge (17/4/6 assts), but he assuredly has USC playing much better, and has helped the Pac-10 get two of its best non-conference wins of the season in the last week. In a sidenote, the underlooked but overtalented Omar Samhan was held to 13/10 today by the USC defense.
Other Games of National Interest.
- #3 Kentucky 86, Long Beach State 73. UK shook off a first-half hangover to win it’s 2,001st overall game and thirteenth of this season behind DeMarcus Cousins’ 15/10/3 assts, Patrick Patterson’s 15/11 and John Wall’s 19/4/5 assts. The general consensus around Kentucky circles is that UK’s hopes to win it all will depend largely on the fiery personality of Cousins, who received a tech today and has shown a tendency to lose his head at times.
- #8 Villanova 97, Delaware 63. Villanova played its final game of 2009 and pulled away in the mid-second half to blow out Delaware and move to 11-1 on the season. Scottie Reynolds had 22/6 assts and Reggie Redding continued to impress in his second game back (16/6), as the Wildcats shot 54% from the field, were +20 on the boards and nailed thirteen threes.
- #13 Georgetown 86, Harvard 70. We thought there was a chance Harvard could seriously challenge the Hoyas in this game today, and that was a bad call on our part. Georgetown got a monster game from Greg Monroe inside (16/16) and Chris Wright outside, as he blew up for a career-high of 34/6/4 assts/6 stls. Harvard star Jeremy Lin shot well (6-10 FG), but had trouble with turnovers (6) and couldn’t get the rest of his team easily involved.
- #14 Tennessee 99, North Carolina A&T 78. Tennessee seems to run more hot/cold than any other team in the nation. Tonight there was hot coming out of the faucet as the Vols ran out to a 22-0 lead to start the game and never looked back. UT forced a ridiculous 34 turnovers (23 in the first half) against A&T, but still troublesome for Bruce Pearl’s club is their three-point marksmanship lately (16.2% on 11-68 3FG in their last three games).
- #20 UNLV 77, Hawaii 53. Lon Kruger’s team ran all over Hawaii in the first half and cruised to another victory to move into the final game of the Diamond Head Classic against USC on Christmas Day. Derrick Jasper had a nice all-around floor game with 14/7/3 assts, and the trio of Tre’Von Willis, Oscar Bellfield and Chace Stanbeck have been impressive this season as scoring options.
- Boston College 79, Massachusetts 67. BC bounced back from its losses to Harvard and Rhode Island to catch UMass napping a little after their big win over Memphis last weekend. BC put four starters into double figures, led by Corey Raji’s 18/7, and was able to survive despite getting mauled on the boards by the Minutemen in this one (-16).
- Old Dominion 81, Charlotte 48. Charlotte is almost as difficult to figure as Tennessee this year, considering they lost by 42 at Duke, won at Louisville by 22, and then lost tonight by 33 at ODU. The Monarchs followed up on their upset win over Georgetown with a destruction of the 49ers in ever facet of the game, led by star Gerald Lee’s 16/7/4 assts.
- Nevada 99, Tulsa 68. Nevada followed up its 104-point showing last night in a loss against BYU with a 99-point win tonight against Tulsa in the Las Vegas Classic. The Wolfpack used familiar in-state surroundings to shoot 56% while limiting the Tulsa offense to merely average nights from their two stars, Ben Uzoh (14 pts) and Jerome Jordan (15/10). Luke Babbitt had 24/11/3 assts for Nevada, and he is very close to averaging a double-double on the season this year (19/10).
- BYU 88, Nebraska 66. The championship game of the Las Vegas Classic was no contest for BYU, as they hit 61% en route to a solid RPI-boosting win over a Big 12 team that will undoubtedly help the Cougars’ resume come March. Jimmer Fredette went off for 24/3/4 assts and Jackson Emery also contributed 23/8/3 assts/3 stls as BYU smoked the Huskers out of the gates by a score of 37-5.