ATB: Is it Dominique or Dominant Jones?Posted by rtmsf on February 4th, 2010
Dominique Jones is Superman. South Florida 72, #8 Georgetown 64. A few days after getting its best win of the year against Pittsburgh at home, South Florida outdid itself tonight with a major upset at Georgetown to move back into the middle of the pack at 5-5 in the Big East race and put the Bulls squarely into the NCAA Tournament picture. The primary reason for the recent four-game surge, of course, has been the astounding play of guard Dominique Jones, who dropped another 29 points (plus 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals) to give him a ridiculous 140 points in the last four games (all USF wins, mind you). Georgetown, coming off a big win versus Duke and looking ahead to a huge game this weekend against Villanova, may have found itself lacking focus, but as usual, the Hoyas’ fortunes came down to the offensive play of Chris Wright, and he was not good. His 3-10 shooting included 0-6 from deep, and even though Greg Monroe (21/8/3 blks) and Austin Freeman produced (21 pts), it wasn’t enough for the Hoyas to survive. Monroe was in foul trouble in the second half, which undoubtedly ended the Hoyas’ chances as soon as he left the floor. We’d like to believe that this was a minor blip on the Hoya season exacerbated by a player hitting on all cylinders and a motivated team, but we have a feeling that Georgetown’s margin for error is just so incredibly slim because of the complete lack of quality depth. Where’s Vernon Macklin and Jeremiah Rivers when you need them?
Backyard Brawl, Literally. #6 West Virginia 70, #21 Pittsburgh 51. WVU easily handled Pitt tonight in the Backyard Brawl tonight, with solid games from Da’Sean Butler (18/5) and Kevin Jones (16/6), but it was an incident late in the game with the Mountaineers up twelve that makes you wonder what the hell is in the water in Morgantown these days. Just days after the WVU student section took heat for their uncouth behavior during the Louisville game, and barely 15-20 minutes after Bob Huggins excoriated the crowd for throwing things onto the court, someone threw a coin from the stands (see below), hitting Pitt assistant coach Tom Herrion just below the eye. The incident that inspired the bad behavior wasn’t even all that rage-inducing, as a couple of players got tangled up when a ref got under them and everyone fell to the ground. There certainly weren’t any punches thrown, and neither player seemed all that upset with the play. Pitt’s hot start to the Big East season has officially come to a grinding halt with this loss (four in five games), shooting just 30% and handing out just five assists in this one. The Panthers get Seton Hall at home prior to hosting WVU again next week — these unbalanced schedules are crazy, eh? Final thought – WVU’s Deniz Kilicli came off the bench for nine points on 4-4 shooting in only seven minutes – what a debut for Bob Huggins’ new big man.
Jayhawks Survive Unfocused Night. #1 Kansas 72, Colorado 66 (OT). There’s really nothing that made sense about this game other than you knew that Colorado would be fired up to play a #1 team. Still, it took nearly 45 minutes of action for Kansas to finally put the gutty Buffaloes away tonight, and you got a sense that the Jayhawks, still emotionally spent after the big overtime win at K-State on Saturday, wasn’t mentally ready for this one. Sherron Collins was 0-5 from three, Xavier Henry must have stayed back in Lawrence (0-4 FGs), and the team as a whole was an awful 18-38 from the line tonight. Given that Colorado is the worst team in the Big 12, this could have been an epic upset, but like forty of the last forty-one games between these two, the result never seemed that much in doubt. Down one with half a minute left, Kansas went to its leader, Sherron Collins (16/3/5 assts), who drove right and got to the line. He missed the first but made the second to tie the game and send it to overtime after a CU miss, but it was Marcus Morris’ (15/8) tenacity on one particular play where he rebounded his own miss three times and finally put the ball back in to give KU a seven-point OT lead and effectively put the game away. We’re of the opinion that Kansas is the best team in America and will remain the favorite to cut down the nets no matter what happens between now and March 14, but they have a little bit of a tendency to not bring their best game every single night, and that will definitely be in the back of our minds the rest of the way.
Valley Supremacy. #22 Northern Iowa 59, Wichita State 56. This game tonight in Cedar Falls, Iowa, was billed as the game of the year in the Valley, with the 10-1 Panthers hosting the 8-3 Shockers to determine if the stretch run was going to actually become something worth worrying about. UNI put an end to any doubts, with another just-enough win to prove that everyone else in the MVC is playing for second this year. Kwadzo Ahelegbe had 18/4 and Jordan Eglseder added 15/4 for Northern Iowa, who were able to get just enough offensive rebounds and make enough stops in crunch time to hold on for the W. The Panthers now hold a three-game lead with seven to play (four of which are at home), and although it’s not a mathematical certainty, Wichita is going to have to shoot for 7-0 in its remaining games to even have a reasonable shot.
Other Games of National Interest.
- #17 Temple 76, Duquesne 60. Fran Dunphy’s team moved to 7-1 in the Atlantic 10 with another solid win despite a poor offensive night from his two backcourt stars, Ryan Fernandez and Ryan Brooks, who combined for only 12/4 assts in the game. Luckily, his frontcourt star, Lavoy Allen, put in the work for 14/15/2 blks and he got production from his bench to the tune of 39/11/5 assts. The Owls shot 57% from the field and doubled up the Dukes on the boards (+17). Temple now sits tied with Charlotte for second place in the league, a half-game behind 8-1 Xavier in first.
- #18 Ohio State 75, Penn State 62. Prediction: if Evan Turner can get his Buckeyes into the top 10 by the end of the season, he’ll be the runaway choice for NPOY. His numbers are simply too ridiculous to overlook, otherwise. Tonight he brought 27/10/6 assts/3 stls to bear in a forty-minute evening that saw Ohio State need a late three by Jon Diebler to finally put away the winless Nittany Lions. OSU is now 7-3 in the Big Ten, and it wouldn’t shock us if they only lost one more game the rest of the way. Turner, who had 22 of his 27 tonight in the second half when his team needed him, is capable enough to make that happen.
- #20 Vanderbilt 75, Mississippi State 72. Vandy moved to 6-1 in the SEC East in its first game after losing to Kentucky last weekend, winning at home for the eleventh straight time this season. Mississippi State continues to have trouble shooting the ball — just 35% tonight — but they took 34 threes and made nine, which was enough to get the Bulldogs back in the game late after it appeared they were sunk. Vandy continues to impress us, with their balanced scoring attack and inherent homecourt advantage. Jermaine Beal (17/5) on the perimeter and AJ Ogilvy inside (16/7) are a tandem that works well together, and we’d expect the Dores to head into March as a #4 or #5 seed this year.
- #24 Baylor 84, Iowa State 63. Remember when Iowa State was a sleeper team in the Big 12 this year? Baylor has certainly taken over that mantle in their place, continuing tonight as the talented guard duo of Tweety Carter and LaceDarius Dunn combined for 35/7/6 assts and Ekpe Udoh added 19/10/4 assts/5 blks to move the Bears to 4-3 in the Big 12. The key to the turnaround this season for Scott Drew’s team has been simple — they shoot the ball well. That was true tonight with the Bears shooting 53% from the field, the fourth time they’ve already gone above 50% in conference play. Baylor is a very interesting team to follow in the second half of the Big 12, especially as Udoh continues to show signs of being one of the best big men in America.
- Texas A&M 77, Missouri 74. Not sure what was going on in the Big 12 tonight, but Texas A&M ended Mizzou’s 32-game home winning streak behind a surprisingly balanced effort from Donald Sloan (17/8), David Loubeau (17/8), Khris Middleton (16/4) and Bryan Davis (9/11/4 assts). The Aggies used a 17-1 run in the middle part of the second half to come from nine behind and take control of the game, despite 20 turnovers and 19-36 shooting from the foul line. Mark Turgeon’s team looked to be in trouble after losing Derrick Roland to injury, but they now sit at 5-3 in the Big 12 and appear to be solidly heading toward the NCAAs.
- Arkansas 72, Georgia 68. Arkansas’ third-straight come-from-behind win is causing us to take a little notice of John Pelphrey’s team, whom we’ve thought all season has more talent than their play so far would lead you to believe. Courtney Fortson had 27/3/4 assts as the Hawgs stormed back from down fifteen points at the half, ultimately taking a lead in the mid-second half and getting the road win to move to 3-3 in the SEC West. If they really are turning the corner, the next six games are winnable, so it’s something to keep an eye on in the SEC.
- Tulsa 73, Marshall 69. And this is why scheduling matters. After a 15-2 start, Marshall dropped its fifth in a row tonight at Tulsa, as Jerome Jordan dropped 24/12/3 including the final 4-0 run to seal the game in a wild back-and-forth affair. How often will you see two potential NBA centers battling it out in CUSA? And yet, that’s what we had tonight, as the nation’s leading shot blocker, Marshall’s Hassan Whiteside (10/5 blks), was outplayed by Jordan in this one. With the win, Tulsa kept the pace with UTEP in the CUSA race at 7-1, and guess where Jordan & Co. travel to on Saturday for the outright lead? You got it — UTEP.
- Memphis 85, UAB 75. Memphis used a 16-6 run to close out a tight game that featured 31 lead changes and ten ties behind big nights from Elliot Williams (25/5/7 assts) and Wesley Witherspoon (29/3). The explosion from Witherspoon represents the talented forward’s career high, and Josh Pastner likes his potential, but he surely wants to see a little more consistency (three 20+ games and three single-figure games in his last seven). UAB put all five starters in double-figures, including Elijah Millsap with 18/9, but the Blazers with this loss drop into a tie at 6-2 with Memphis for third place in CUSA one game behind Tulsa and UTEP.