ATB: On Bo Ryan’s Aptitude, John Wall’s Smile and Wesley Johnson’s Acrobatics…Posted by rtmsf on February 3rd, 2010
Tuesday Night Hoops. Tonight’s games weren’t all that compelling from the perspective of must-see TV, but we learned a few things. Such as… don’t ever underestimate a Bo Ryan-coached team (that rings a bell…), John Wall is happy as a clam, and Wes Johnson should save the flips for the Winter X Games coverage.
Bo Ryan Can Coach a Little Bit. #16 Wisconsin 67, #5 Michigan State 49. Could there be a better blueprint for the basketball philosophy of Bo Ryan and the Wisconsin Badgers than this game? Clock control, care of the basketball, good shot selection, and tough defense. The Badgers didn’t come with any secret weapons or snazzy new game plans, here. Just the same recipe for success they’ve employed for years, now. In fact, they’re still without Jon Leuer and had to play without Trevon Hughes for a big chunk of the first half because of some early foul trouble. Jason Bohannon (19/4/2) and Jordan Taylor (17/4/4) amped up their games to fill the void, both playing all 40 minutes, and accounting for half of their team’s field goals. The most impressive number you can take from this one is found in the turnovers column; Wisconsin is the BEST in the nation when it comes to taking care of the basketball, averaging only 9.4 turnovers/game coming into this one. The Badgers gave it up only five times on Tuesday night (they’re down to 8.4 a game) while forcing MSU into 13 of their own. Kalin Lucas going down with a pretty ugly sprained ankle in the second half didn’t help on that front, either; more details on that injury after imaging is done on Wednesday. The win moved Wisconsin to within two games of the Spartans in the Big Ten, and both squads have four home and four away games remaining. For additional information, RTC Live was at the game tonight.
Scary Situation Involving Wesley Johnson. #4 Syracuse 85, Providence 68. Coming into the game most fans viewed this as seemingly inconsequential, but the most important moment of the college basketball season may have happened with 11:56 left in the first half in Syracuse this season when uber-transfer Wesley Johnson went up to throw down an alley-oop, but got flipped by Brian McKenzie who was underneath his flight path. For a second everyone watching both in the Carrier Dome and on television had flashbacks to Travis Roy. Fortunately for Johnson, Jim Boeheim, and college basketball fans everywhere Johnson was able to get that extra half of rotation and land on his back rather than his head. He talks about it here. [Ed. Note: This is why we stay on the floor. Or is it our single-digit vertical?] After a rough stretch that saw the Orange struggle to take a 3-point lead into half, Syracuse rebounded behind a strong effort from Kris Joseph (career-high 23 points) and Arinze Onuaku (season-high 20 points) to lead the Orange to their best start (22-1) in school history.
How’d the Rest of the Top Ten Do Tonight?
- #2 Villanova 81, Seton Hall 71. Jeremy Hazell showed everyone why he is one of the most prolific scorers in the nation by pouring in 32 points (more on this in a bit), but Scottie Reynolds showed everyone why he is one of the best players in the nation, leading the Wildcats to their 20th win in 21 games. Without putting up huge numbers (15/5/4 assts). In a game that was actually tied with nine minutes left, the Wildcats relied on Reynolds and their superior depth to knock off the Pirates who continue to challenge the upper echelon of the Big East, but continue to come up just short. Using their 10-deep bench the Wildcats found just enough production out of Reynolds, Antonio Pena (16/8), Corey Fisher (12 points), and Corey Stokes (11 points all in the second half including two big 3-pointers) to win their 36th straight game at The Pavilion. Despite all the talk about how deep the Big East is it seems like this was more a case of the Wildcats not bringing their “A-game” from the start, a fact that we are sure will not be lost in Jay Wright’s post-game speech to his team. We don’t want to take anything away from the Piratres, but we are wondering if the Wildcats weren’t looking ahead to their next two games at #7 Georgetown and #6 West Virginia. Having said that we have to give props to Bobby Gonzalez who benched Hazell for the last four minutes of the game after Hazell jogged back down the court after a missed shot (still within striking distance at that point). Some people may not like Gonzalez’s abrasive style, but he gets major points from us on this one.
- #3 Kentucky 85, Mississippi 75. The big story out of Lexington tonight? Did John Wall smile? While Wall will never be Magic Johnson or LeBron James smiling on the court, he did look a little more emotional tonight than he has in the past few games. After the game, Wall noted, “It felt great to have the fun back.” [Ed. Note: he’s 19 years-old, can jump out of the gym, will be the #1 pick in the NBA Draft, almost certain to get at least $20 million in a few months, is the most popular guy at a SEC school, and gets to meet Ashley Judd whenever he wants. Yeah. Sounds rough to us too.] Oh yeah. The game. . . Well, it encapsulated the Wildcats in 40 minutes. We saw their potential, jumping out to an 18-point lead early in the 1st half, and Eric Bledsoe’s ridiculous reverse lay-up off a tipped alley-oop attempt. Then we saw their immaturity when they failed to box out Terrico White after DeAngelo Riley missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with two minutes left in the first half when the entire Kentucky team did not realize that it was a 1-and-1. The more interesting story out of Lexington might be the coming of a new BMOC as DeMarcus Cousins has consistently been the Wildcats’ best player over the past few games, and that was the case again tonight as evidenced by his 18/13/4 blks. On the other sideline, the Rebels showed some promise, overcoming that first half 18-point deficit to cut the lead to 3 with 90 seconds remaining behind a strong effort from White (19/7), but in the end the Wildcats just had too much talent. The Wildcats should be able to cruise until their February 13th showdown against Tennessee.
Other Games of National Interest.
- #11 Kansas State 76, Nebraska 57. There would be no repeat for Nebraska at home tonight in their next game after beating Oklahoma over the weekend to get their first win in the Big 12. Nor would there be a hangover for K-State days after losing a heartbreaker to their bitter rival Kansas on Saturday. Instead, Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullem combined for 36/8 assts to jump on the Cornhuskers early and impose their will for the rest of the game.
- #12 BYU 76, TCU 56. Jimmer Fredette continues to star for the Cougars, as he dropped 26/4/3 assts in a lackluster game characterized by the home team running out to a quick 15-4 lead and never looking back. The win keeps BYU one full game ahead of New Mexico in the Mountain West standings.
- Wake Forest 62, Miami (FL) 53. Wake moved to 5-3 in the ACC race, just one game behind the league leaders, despite a very sloppy performance by the home team. The Deacs were led by Ish Smith’s 11/9/6 assts, but it was the Wake defense that won this game for them, holding Miami to 30% from the field and forcing 18 turnovers.
- Northwestern 67, Michigan 52. RTC Live was there for this one, as the Wildcats moved into the second half of the Big Ten schedule with a nice win that Bill Carmody hopes will vault his team back into the NCAA at-large picture. NU hit 54% from the field and held Michigan to an icy 33%, using a 21-4 second half run to put John Beilein’s team away. Four Wildcats tallied double-figures, including Drew Crawford with his game-high seventeen.