ATB: Stay Classy, Kelsey BarlowPosted by rtmsf on February 5th, 2010
Thursday Night Doldrums. There weren’t a lot of great games on paper tonight, and it turned out to be the case in reality as most of the marquee games were average at best. We’ll break down the biggest two games, and just highlight the others.
Purdue Didn’t Choke, But Kelsey Barlow Did. #7 Purdue 78, Indiana 75. The one exception tonight was this game in Bloomington between the surging Boilermakers and the home Hoosiers. These two teams went back and forth for thirty-eight minutes before a 5-0 run keyed by Robbie Hummel (21/7) and E’Twaun Moore (14/5/3 assts) put Matt Painter’s team in position to win at IU for the first time since the 90s. Indiana had a shot to tie the game at the buzzer, but Verdell Jones III’s (22/6/4 assts) shot from around 40 feet missed the mark, and Purdue won its fifth straight game prior to the big showdown with Michigan State next Tuesday. JaJuan Johnson had a big night with 21/7, and as we’ve discussed in this space before, when the big man is putting in the work, Purdue is a much better team. He’s gone for 18/8 a night during the Boilers’ five-game winning streak; in the previous three-game losing streak, he put up an average of 6/5. Obviously Matt Painter and his guards want to keep Johnson happy. As for Indiana, their second-consecutive loss on the final possession stings, but it’s further evidence that Tom Crean’s team isn’t all that far from competing in the Big Ten. We’d suppose that one year from now IU will be winning these close games. Final note: starter Kelsey Barlow will undoubtedly be suspended as soon as Matt Painter sees the below image (taken in the final moments of the game). Brilliant move, that one.
Dud in Durham. #9 Duke 86, #19 Georgia Tech 67. This was fairly close until three minutes left in the first half, at which point the Blue Devils turned up the defense a couple of clicks and began to separate themselves from the Yellow Jackets. The one thing Tech couldn’t afford was to let Duke hit a three at the end of the half and make it a double-digit lead, so when Jon Scheyer found Kyle Singler in the corner for a trey as the buzzer sounded, you didn’t need a Magic 8-ball to predict the Jackets’ second half. Georgia Tech got in early foul trouble and never came close to finding a rhythm against the Devils, who looked comfy at home as usual. You would never have known that it was the Yellow Jackets who came in with the nation’s fourth-best defense (holding opponents to 37% shooting per game). Duke shot holes through that with tremendous ease, and got big games they needed from Singler (30/5 on 9-17 shooting) and Scheyer (21/7 assts), not to mention a helpful 11 boards from Lance Thomas in a performance that was frankly better than their current #9 ranking.
The Rest of the ACC.
- Maryland 71, Florida State 67. Maryland got a key road win in the ACC tonight to move to 5-2 and keep the heat on league-leading Duke behind Greivis Vasquez’s 23/7/7 assts and Landon Milbourne’s 18/6. The Terps are quietly making a case as one of the top teams in the ACC (if not the best team) with the conference completely up for grabs this year. FSU’s Solomon Alabi and Chris Singleton combined to shoot 5-23 on the night, and the only way the Noles were able to stay in the game was because of Derwin Kitchen’s 29/4/4 stls on 12-16 from the field.
- Virginia Tech 74, North Carolina 70. The rest of the ACC is taking its frustrations out on the Heels at this point, and it’s abundantly clear that UNC will not be going to the Dance this season after starting conference play 2-5. You guys realize that Roy Williams has never missed the NCAA Tournament in a year where his team was eligible, right (1989 Kansas was on probation)? No wonder he looks so depressed. With a road game at Maryland and a home game against Duke in the next week of action, the Heels could be facing an incomprehensible 2-7 hole in the league.
And the Pac-10. Our dream scenario of every Pac-10 team finishing at 9-9 is getting closer to reality, as the two league leaders lost tonight. In all our years of watching college basketball, we’ve never seen a major conference so evenly matched up night after night. Even if the quality of basketball is down, it makes for interesting game viewing.
- USC 66, California 63. USC got a measure of revenge by defeating league leader Cal after blowing a strong performance in Berkeley last month. Four starters reached double-figures and the Trojan defense held Cal’s offense (one of the most efficient in America) to a 39% shooting night with only Jerome Randle (29 pts on 9-22 FGs) able to break out. USC moved to 5-5, which remarkably is only one game out of a four-way tie for first place, which is where Cal is now at 6-4.
- Washington 81, Arizona 75. As goes Derrick Williams, so goes Arizona this year. The precocious forward had without question the worst game of his college career tonight in Seattle, with three points and two rebounds in only eight minutes of foul-plagued action (well below his 15/7 average). Sean Miller got good production from his bench to pick up the slack (40/20), but UW’s Quincy Pondexter wasn’t going to let the Wildcats steal one in his house tonight. QP had 30/12/3 assts, and despite a 37% shooting night from his team, the Huskies were able to move to 5-5 in the Pac-10 with their thirty-third home win in the last thirty-five games.
Other Games of National Interest.
- #13 Gonzaga 76, Portland 49. The Zags bounced back strongly from their loss at USF last weekend with a first half 20-2 run to put away the Pilots for the fourteenth consecutive time in Spokane tonight. The Zag defense held Portland to 36% from the field and only six threes for the game. Matt Bouldin had 20/4 and Elias Harris 10/7, although tonight was his lowest point output since the Duke loss in mid-December.
- #14 Tennessee 59, LSU 54. LSU had a shot to tie this defensive struggle with six seconds left, but it was off and UT came away with a win to move to 4-2 in the SEC East. LSU, on the other hand, remains the sole winless SEC team at 0-7. Bruce Pearl got 20/7 from Wayne Chism in the victory, but the rest of his team was generally off tonight, converting only thirteen FGs (Chism had nine by himself).
- #15 Butler 63, Detroit 58. Butler moved to 12-0 in the Horizon League behind a dub-dub from Gordon Hayward (18/10), and Matt Howard added 11/6 before (surprise, surprise) fouling out of the game for the ninth time this season (and second game in a row). With only three road games remaining, and only one of those against a team with a winning conference record (Cleveland State), it’s looking more and more like Butler will run the regular season table in the HL.
- Florida 66, Alabama 65. The Gators are living right, as tonight they won their third game of the season on a last-second shot when Erving Walker (16/4/4 assts) nailed a jumper with eleven ticks left to move Florida to 5-3 at the midpoint of the SEC schedule. The backcourt of Walker and Kenny Boynton (15/6) is solid, but neither of them shoots the ball very well at all (38% each) and it’s difficult to rely on high-volume shooters when they throw up so many bricks.
- Notre Dame 83, Cincinnati 65. The Irish responded well to the new 8am practices that Mike Brey instituted this week, and Luke Harangody blew up for 37/14 on 15-25 shooting as his team exacted revenge for a loss at Cincinnati last month. Both teams are now 5-5 in the middle of the Big East race, and it’s difficult to say whether either team will make a run to the NCAAs. ND probably has the slightly favorable schedule the rest of the way, but you have to figure that 10-8 is the magic number in the Big East to guarantee entry this year.