ATB: UNC and UConn Running on EmptyPosted by rtmsf on February 11th, 2010
Syracuse Survives. #3 Syracuse 72, Connecticut 67. Widely considered the undercard for another rivalry game later in the evening, this one was utterly predictable for about the first 28 minutes. Isn’t this close to the pattern you assumed, as well? Connecticut would keep it close for a half, a Syracuse run somewhere in the middle of the second half would put it away, and the announcers would lament for the duration about UConn’s disappointing season and the effects of the loss of Jim Calhoun while the home viewers got their refreshments ready for Duke/North Carolina. Sound about right? Connecticut played their role perfectly until there were 14 minutes left, the score 50-34. The Huskies got themselves back in it with a fantastic 17-4 run over a six-minute period, and Jerome Dyson (19/8/5/2 stls) completed the comeback with a three-pointer to tie it at 65 with 2:38 remaining. You’ll hear a lot about a controversial time-out that was credited to Syracuse at this juncture, and who knows. Eyes belonging to supporters of each team will see it differently, but it’s our stance that it wouldn’t have mattered in the end. Connecticut still had a Dyson three in the air to take the lead with 22 seconds left at 67-65, but it was Kris Joseph (14/6/2 stls) who pulled down the rebound and managed to hit his next four free throws to help the Orange finish it. The big questions from this game: is Syracuse one of the top four teams in the nation (i.e., deserving of a one-seed)? Did Connecticut show themselves to be one of the top 64? As concerns the Orange, the answer is yes, and their status as a presumptive #1 seed is not news. That probably wouldn’t have changed even with a loss. As far as Connecticut goes, it’s more an issue of a golden chance squandered. They have seven games left and stand at 14-10 and 4-7. This would have been the ultimate signature win, and it would have come on a night when other bubble teams around the country also hurt their own causes. As it stands, just to get to .500 in the conference race, UConn has to go 5-2 over a stretch that includes four road games — and they haven’t won on the road all year (0-6). And that would only have them at 19-10 and 9-9 going into the Big East Tournament. They have one more chance for a win that would give the NCAA committee something to think about: this Monday at Villanova. Lose that one, and it’s Big East Tournament or bust.
Carolina is Cooked. #7 Duke 64, North Carolina 54. This game had little of its usual luster given the troubles that Roy Williams’ Tar Heels have endured in recent weeks. UNC came into this game having lost three in a row, and six of seven, and the conventional wisdom surrounding this game was that Carolina needed to win both Duke games (and a whole bunch in-between) in order to have enough of a resume to make the NCAA Tournament for the seventh straight year. Didn’t happen, and wasn’t ever going to happen. Sure, the game was close for 34 minutes of action, but eventually the better team started making their shots, and as soon as that happened it was lights-out for the home team tonight. Jon Scheyer led the Dookies with 24/5/4 assts and Kyle Singler added 19/9, but the game was an ugly affair, as both teams shot the ball in the low- to mid-30s in terms of percentage. The difference was marginal, as Duke did things just a little better than Carolina, whether it was rebounding (+11), taking care of the ball (-4 TOs) or hitting their long-range bombs (9 vs. 5). A few questions came to mind in this one as we once again watched UNC struggle to put up points. First, who decided that Larry Drew II (11/4/4 assts) is the go-to guy? LD2 chucked fifteen shots at the rim, making only four (and 1-8 from three), and often times it appeared that he really believed that the best available play was to call his own number. By the same token, how Ed Davis (4/5/6 blks) only gets four shot attempts (making two) is beyond comprehension. Drew in fact took more shots than his entire starting frontline of Davis and Deon Thompson (10/4 on 3-7 FGs), both of whom have more offensive abilities in their kneecaps than Drew does. It was reported today that Roy Williams made a horrible analogy comparing his team’s struggles this year to the disaster that killed nearly a quarter-million people in Haiti, but it seems that he may want to spend a little more time explaining to his players what a good shot actually looks like rather than making silly comparisons about what will likely be his first non-NCAA Tournament season in his coaching career (when eligible).
The Wacky A10. Dayton 75, Charlotte 47 Despite holding the A10 lead alone coming into this one, Charlotte was a popular pick to be the most likely team out of the top five in that conference to be left out of the NCAA Tournament, failing an Atlantic 10 Tournament title. They didn’t help their cause tonight. Rather, Dayton helped their own. Chris Wright just exploded for a career-high 30 points and fueled a 23-7 run over the first part of the second half for which the 49ers had no answer. Dayton was up by only three at the half, 30-27, but Wright had no intention of letting this one stay close, accounting for 15 of Dayton’s first 18 points of the second half with three three-pointers, two dunks, and a pair of free throws. All is not lost for Charlotte, who now stands in a three-way tie with Richmond and Xavier at 8-2 in the conference; there are four other teams (including Dayton) within a game and a half of those leaders in a conference race that’s going to be a thriller to the very last.
Upset of the Night. Iowa 78, Northwestern 65. A potentially devastating hit to Northwestern’s NCAA Tournament chances tonight, as the Wildcat laid an egg in Iowa City to drop to 5-7 in the Big Ten. A win here would have put NU at 6-6 with a favorable schedule setting up down the stretch to hit a total of ten wins in the conference. Now there can be no more mistakes, as Northwestern will need to win all three of their remaining home games (Iowa, Penn State, Minnesota) and two of three of their road games (Wisconsin, Penn State, Indiana) to get to the magic number of ten. It’s still possible, but the odds are getting slimmer with each of these bad losses.
RTC Live. #16 Ohio State 69, Indiana 52. Ohio State came into the game vying for a share of the lead in the Big Ten, having not lost a conference game in a month, and it showed. Indiana came into the game having lost four in a row. IU was intimidated by Dallas Lauderdale’s shotblocking ability, and it led to the Hoosiers only taking one trip to the line for two free throws in the first half. Indiana caught a break by drawing two quick fouls on Evan Turner, but William Buford picked up the slack for the all-american. Verdell Jones took too much of the weight on his shoulders and forced a lot of shots and wasn’t much of a factor in the game, while Jordan Hulls had one of his most complete games of the year. Indiana once again lost the turnover game by double digits tonight, so they need to continue to work on taking better care of the ball. The other thing that hurt Tom Crean’s team, especially in the first half, was second chance points to Lauderdale and Madsen. Ohio State showed why they are sitting atop the Big Ten, and Indiana showed why they are a couple of years away.
Other Games of National Interest.
- #19 New Mexico 76, #25 UNLV 66. Mere days after UNLV dominated Mountain West leader BYU from start to finish, the Rebels got a taste of their own medicine in the same building tonight. New Mexico jumped out to an early fifteen-point lead and was never trailed the rest of the way despite a Vegas crowd that was ready to blow the roof off the building. The Lobos put four starters in double-figures, led by Roman Martinez and Darington Hobson with sixteen each, while nailing eleven threes and utterly dominating the glass (+21). The win puts UNM a half-game ahead of BYU for first place in the Mountain West standings.
- #18 Northern Iowa 57, Drake 48. And just like that… UNI has clinched a share of the MVC regular season crown. The Panther defense held Drake scoreless for nearly the final six+ minutes of the game as they came from one point down to win the game going away. In their typically balanced way, Adam Koch had 12/8 and Ali Farokhmanesh added 10/3/4 assts in the win. UNI has an RPI of #13, so they should be relatively safe regardless of what happens in Arch Madness, and this is a team that nobody will want to play in March.
- Miami (FL) 64, #20 Georgia Tech 62. You really just can’t trust this Georgia Tech team, as the Yellow Jackets moved to 1-4 on the road in the ACC this year with another confounding loss given the two teams’ relative talent level. James Dews hit a fifteen-footer at the buzzer for the Hurricanes to win only their third ACC contest of the season, and Tech drops to 5-5 with trips to Wake, Maryland and Clemson still to come.
- UC Davis 62, Pacific 49. Why is this random Big West game in our OGNI tonight? Well, if you beat a team for the first time in 70 seasons (and 49 consecutive tries), it warrants a mention here on RTC. Congrats to the Aggies of Davis for getting that ridiculous monkey off their back.
- Baylor 55, Nebraska 53. A road win is a road win, and Baylor hasn’t had many of those lately (eight in their last 53 Big 12 road games). LaceDarius Dunn had 19/7 and Ekpe Udoh a well-rounded game of 8/9/3 assts/6 blks including the go-ahead bucket with twenty-five seconds remaining on the clock. Baylor at 5-4 in the conference race couldn’t afford a loss to the worst team in the Big 12 tonight, and with a tough home game against Missouri this weekend, they’ll be thankful they have that W already in the books.
- South Carolina 77, Florida 71. Devan Downey had 24/4/4 stls as the Gamecocks used a late 14-4 run to seize control of the game and drop the Gators back into bubble-land. If UF doesn’t make the NCAA Tournament again this year, will it then be ok to call into question Billy Donovan’s program? The Gators lost the game despite shooting 56% from the field, holding SC to 38% and outboarding Darrin Horn’s team by twelve. The key difference? UF was 10-23 from the line and committed twenty turnovers. Ugh.
- Arkansas 87, LSU 52. It hasn’t been a murderer’s row of scheduling, but Arkansas has now won five games in a row to move to 6-3 and first place in the SEC West. Since Courtney Fortson (17/6/5 assts) got his legs back, the Hawgs’ diminutive PG has been killing people from the foul line (67 attempts in his last six games). He’s drawing over seven fouls per contest and his leadership of a team that seemed completely listless earlier this season is noticeable. The next four games are just as winnable as the last five — it wouldn’t surprise us if they ended up at 10-3 going into the final three games of the season.
- Clemson 77, Florida State 67. These two defensively-oriented and offensively-challenged teams are basically mirror images of each other, and we’re not high on either one going into the last few weeks of the season. With tonight’s Clemson win, led by David Potter and Andre Young’s 19 points each, both the Seminoles and Tigers are exactly 17-7 overall and 5-5 in the ACC. Both teams profile well in the computer numbers, but their offenses are so bad that nothing surprises us about these teams on a given night.
- Richmond 69, Rhode Island 67. Huge A10 win for the Spiders as Richmond used a scorching second half (74% shooting) to fend off a Rhodie team that would not go away throughout. David Gonzalvez had 19 points and Kevin Anderson added 16 himself including the two late buckets that allowed UR to pull through in the last two minutes. With this win and the Charlotte loss discussed above, the Spiders move into a three-way tie at 8-2with Xavier and Charlotte for first place in the league.