ATB: Life On the Road Ain’t EasyPosted by rtmsf on January 6th, 2010
Playing Away From Home is Tough, Eh?
- Georgia 73, #17 Georgia Tech 66. This is why we can’t get on board with this Georgia Tech team just yet. There’s no excusable reason for a team with Gani Lawal, Derrick Favors, Iman Shumpert and others to lose to a team like Georgia, even in a rivalry game. Yet the Jackets walked out of Athens with yet another loss, and questions about Paul Hewitt’s coaching abilities continue to be raised. Georgia got a balanced scoring effort from its starters, with four of its players going for double figures and led by Trey Thompkins’ 20/6, while Tech only had two players reach that mark — Lawal with 21/6 and Zachery Peacock with 16/5. Thompkins, a sophomore forward who averages 16/8 who almost nobody outside of the SEC has heard of, took over the game with under-four minutes remaining, finishing a three-point play and knocking down a couple more FTs to secure the win. This is a great win for Mark Fox’s Bulldog program, who won this one in front of a half-empty arena, and signals the rest of the SEC that a trip to Athens isn’t going to be an auto-win this year. As for Tech, we’re still not sure about this team in the ACC race — they just seem emotionally fragile to us. Anytime a team punches them in the mouth, as Florida State and Georgia did, they appear all too ready to fold. They play Duke in Atlanta on Saturday; that’ll be a very interesting test.
- San Diego State 74, #14 New Mexico 64. Just another night in the wacky Mountain West. It’s hard to believe that the same SDSU team that we saw St. Mary’s destroy by about 25 points earlier this year could knock off a top 15 team, but it happened tonight. Malcolm Thomas had 18/15 to light up the Lobo frontline to help compensate for Bill White’s ankle injury suffered in the first half that knocked him out of the game after only nine minutes of action. The Aztec defense accounted for itself well also, holding New Mexico to 35% shooting and their two stars (Darington Hobson and Roman Martinez) to 7-26 from the field. There are arguably four MWC teams that are in the running for an NCAA bid this year, and it wouldn’t be out of the question that all four make it, as their conference profile is trending as the top mid-major league this season.
No Cause For Alarm? #2 Texas 96, Arkansas 85. This was a much closer game than the score indicates, but should it be cause for alarm that Texas seems to be struggling with inferior teams lately (they only beat TAMU-CC by six on Saturday)? It’s certainly not the offense, as the Longhorns shot 59% from the field tonight and seemingly got whatever they wanted all night long (especially with Dexter Pittman and his 21/10 inside). But, if anything, the defense has been a little lacking, especially compared to where it was earlier this season. Two of the team’s worst defensive performances came in the last two games, and you start to wonder if a little complacency is setting in with how easy it was for the Horns earlier this season. Tonight Pittman was the story. His monstrous dunk and-one to begin the second half set the tone, and UT thereafter went on a 20-9 run to give themselves some breathing room and hold on to the lead down the stretch when Arkansas made its expected run. Arkansas’ Rotnei Clarke had 24/3 and Courtney Fortson made his first appearance of the year with 19/3/7 assts, but the Hawgs have the look of a sinking ship this season and we’re not sure that John Pelphrey can do anything to prevent it. Damion James also added 20/9 for the Longhorns.
Other Games of National Interest.
- #4 Purdue 79, Minnesota 60. Matt Painter wasn’t all that impressed with the Boilermakers’ fourteenth straight win to start the season (the most since the Glenn Robinson Era), but their defense tonight held the Gophers to a season-low 31% from the field and only 4-19 from three. The coach wasn’t happy with his team’s 17 turnovers, but getting 52% shooting and another great game from his big man JaJuan Johnson (18/11/3 blks) ensured that Purdue will go into Madison this weekend with a still spotless record.
- #16 Ole Miss 84, Central Florida 56. Ole Miss finished its nonconference schedule at 12-2 heading into their weekend game against Mississippi State to start the SEC schedule with a dominant win over UCF tonight. Terrico White had 21/4 and Eniel Polynice 16/3/5 assts as the sometimes-shaky Rebel defense completely shut down the UCF attack (34% and 0-11 from three). Ole Miss is definitely a contender in the SEC West this year. UCF’s Marcus Jordan came off the bench for 13/3/4 stls.
- Notre Dame 74, South Florida 73. The Irish got a very nice road win tonight in Tampa as Luke Harangody once again saved the day with a season-high 36 points and six boards on 13-23 shooting. He was fouled with 1.9 seconds remaining on the clock, and he stepped up to the line and made the first shot to provide the difference. USF’s Dominique Jones had 26/4/5 assts in the losing effort, as the Bulls only had seven scholarship players available tonight.
- Marshall 76, Southern Miss 63. Should we be watching Marshall as a darkhorse in CUSA this year? Probably. With Hassan Whiteside (12/9 on the season) and Shaquille Johnson (12/3 assts) joining Tyler Wilkerson (13/7) as a three-pronged offensive attack, the Herd is looking good to challenge Memphis, UAB, Tulsa and UTEP for conference supremacy.
- Illinois 59, Iowa 42. Yeah, slow night. Only one player scored in double figures between the two teams — Illinois’ DJ Richardson (17/5) — but Illinois bounced back from its loss over the weekend versus Gonzaga to get their second Big Ten win of the season. MJ’s spawn Jeff Jordan got his first start of his career, and even though he was scoreless in 23 minutes, he contributed four rebounds and five assists.
- Rhode Island 68, Akron 63. Rhodie finished its nonconference schedule (rated in the top 100) with a 12-1 record and two wins over BCS schools Providence and Boston College. Their trio of seniors Keith Cothran, Delroy James and Lamonte Ulmer are leading the way, averaging 42/16 for one of the most efficient offensive teams in the nation. Tonight the three stars went for 51/24 in a come-from-behind win on the road.