ATB: Holiday Hoops (what little there was)Posted by rtmsf on December 28th, 2009
A Weekend So Quiet, Not Even a Mouse... Yeah, it was a holiday weekend filled with high-calorie food, insane family members and yet another sweater that we don’t need, but college hoops was on the back burner with only a smattering of games throughout. There were, however, a few games that we need to get you caught up on, so here goes…
Game of the Weekend/RTC Live. #6 West Virginia 90, Seton Hall 84 (OT). A modern arena packed with hometown fans so hungry for a win you could hear it in their cheers and see as they stood and cheered for their heroes. The host Seton Hall Pirates, a team of stitched-together scrappers made of overlooked local high school ballers, transfers and JUCOs nipped at the heels of the West Virginia Mountaineers all game long, but never quite able, despite the high-energy encouragement from the partisan crowd to close the gap. Down by ten with 57 seconds left and the fans slowly trickling towards the exits, Seton Hall put on a 12-2 run that put the fans back into their seats (or better put, in front of their seats) cheering like banshees, knotted the score at 77 apiece and sent the official Big East opener into overtime. This was a script CBS could only have prayed for (see the amazing comeback in the second half of this video).
Too bad Coach Gonzalez’s band of Pirates could not close out the shaken but still confident Mountaineers. Playing off of each other’s enthusiasm, the West Virginia squad mounted an 8-0 run to open the overtime. No more miracle threes left, the Pirates worked the ball into the paint for Herb Pope to put away on a layup. Too little too late however, as Coach Huggins’ squad responded with a pair of free throws from Devin Ebanks to push it back out to eight for the remainder. Jeremy Hazell’s last field goal was a two, and brought his point total on the afternoon to 41 on 14-33 (10-14 FT, 4-19 3FG) and 9-12 FG shooting. West Virginia’s Devin Ebanks logged a double-double with 22 points and 17 rebounds. “He was 3 turnovers away from a triple-double” joked Coach Huggins in the post game press conference.
What to Make of USC? USC 67, #20 UNLV 56. It can’t just be the addition of Mike Gerrity, right? After a 40-minute, 13/3 asst performance, the MVP of the Diamond Head Classic could be the most important unheralded player of the season. But what has changed since he’s taken over the reins of the Trojan team? Many will point to his team-leading 15 PPG and 4 APG as the primary reason, and no doubt that helps on a team struggling with offense, but where he’s really been beneficial is making an already-good defensive team even better. In the four games where Gerrity has played, USC’s defensive points per possession has been a stellar .795, which would rank in the top ten in America for the entire season (as it stands their .851 defensive PPP is still a staunch #18). In this game against UNLV, the USC defense held the Rebels to their season-low in FG% (34%) and points (56), while getting their typical production from their seven-man lineup. Marcus Johnson led the way with 19/9, while Dwight Lewis added 14, and Oscar Bellfield with 17 points was the only UNLV player to reach double figures. This four-game winning streak over two ranked clubs (UNLV and Tennessee), in addition to a solid team outside the rankings (St. Mary’s) makes us wonder if USC isn’t the second-best team (behind Washington) in the weakened Pac-10 this year. Stay tuned…
Other Games of National Interest.
- #11 Connecticut 93, Iona 74. UConn got 29/5 from Stanley Robinson while his two young daughters watched him play, and the Huskies will enter conference play leading the nation in blocks/game (nearly ten per contest) after nine again tonight.
- #19 Washington 86, San Francisco 71. Quincy Pondexter continues to make his case for all-american honors with 22/5/3 blks on 10-12 shooting, and why not? Even though many people haven’t seen QP play much this year, he’s currently the fifth most efficient player in America, dropping 22/9 on 56% shooting for his team, currently 9-2 and trending positive. UW managed to put this one away even without a good game from its other star Isaiah Thomas, who had four points on 1-9 FG tonight.