ATB: Magic in RuppPosted by rtmsf on February 26th, 2010
The Rematch. Kentucky 82, South Carolina 61. In the locker room before the game, John Calipari told his team, “Guys, before we start, here, I got a recruit here we want to talk to, so make sure you introduce yourself to the recruit.” A moment later, into the locker room walked…Earvin “Magic” Johnson. And honestly, that was about the only unexpected thing that happened this evening at Rupp Arena. To be sure, this looked pretty similar to the South Carolina squad that has ownership of the only bruise on Kentucky’s record; not much has changed. Devan Downey went nuts (26 points on 9-25), and that’s about the whole story for the Gamecocks. This was a different Kentucky team, though, especially when it came to defense and glasswork, and the biggest change was seen in Patrick Patterson. Ticked off after his five point performance in the first game against South Carolina, Patterson blew up for a season-high 23 points on 10-12 shooting, swatted four shots, and yanked down eight boards on this night. South Carolina won the rebounding war in the teams’ first meeting 40-38, and even beat Kentucky on the offensive glass a month ago, 16-13. Tonight, Patterson — whom sophomore Darius Miller called the “unquestioned leader of this team,” in case there was any doubt — along with Miller (7/8) and DeMarcus Cousins (19/11, his 17th double-double), were having none of that. Kentucky owned the glass on both ends, outworking the Gamecocks 44-26 overall and 14-8 on the offensive side. South Carolina had a short 7-0 run in the middle of the second half to cut the Wildcat lead to six, but didn’t really test the Wildcats after that. It’ll be interesting to watch Kentucky in their next one. The postgame interviews tonight didn’t end until around midnight, and Kentucky now travels to Knoxville on Saturday to take on Tennessee in a game that starts at noon — that’s right, a mere 36 hours. Calipari noted how this is “the doldrums, the dog days of the season. We and a lot of other teams are all wanting to get on with it…let’s get on with that other tournament, and I’m not talking about the one in Nashville (the SEC),” and, because of that, revealed some trepidation about the Tennessee game, adding, “They played Tuesday. I think they’re there, just waiting on us.” Magic’s message to the UK team, by the way, was simply to tell them (according to Calipari), “You’re a defensive team. I love it, the way you guys guard, and I love watching you play. Keep rebounding and defending the way that you are now, and stick together.” Looks like the Wildcats got the message.
#20 Vanderbilt 96, Georgia 94 (OT). Vandy survived the post-Kentucky hangover by coming back against the very pesky Georgia Bulldogs tonight in a game they probably should have lost. With 33 seconds left, the Commodores were down five points when Andre Walker nailed a big three to bring his team back within two. After two missed FTs by Georgia’s Dustin Ware, AJ Ogilvy got a key tip-in to send the game to overtime and give Vandy new life. In overtime, the Dores were able to build a small margin, but Georgia still had a chance to tie waved off when a missed FT led to a heave/tip-in that came after the buzzer. Regardless, Vandy stayed one game up on Florida for the second seed in the SEC East and the all-important first round bye in the SEC Tournament. Jermaine Beal was awesome with 28/7 assts and Ogilvy added 16/11 in the winning effort. Vanderbilt is a team that is still slightly under the national radar but they can cause serious trouble for teams in the NCAA Tournament with the right matchups.
Other Games of National Interest.
- #5 Duke 70, Tulsa 52. Duke won it’s 77th nonconference game in a row in Cameron tonight in a somewhat strangely-placed game on the schedule. Once again, the three amigos of Scheyer (15/4/3 assts), Singler (17/5) and Smith (18/4 stls) led the way, but the surprise is that Brian Zoubek had his fourth consecutive impressive game for the Devils with a dub-dub (10/11). His performance was particularly impressive given that he was matched up against potential NBA first rounder Jerome Jordan (12/8) tonight and more than held his own in the post. Color Dickie V. impressed, as he has predicted a Final Four appearance for this Duke squad.
- #15 Gonzaga 88, Santa Clara 51. It was a different story this time around between these two teams, as Gonzaga raced to its tenth straight WCC regular season title (shared or outright) behind Steven Gray’s 26/6. You’ll recall that Gonzaga barely survived its trip last month to Santa Clara, yet tonight represented the Zags’ largest margin of victory of the season. Even more impressively, GU did it without big contributions from Matt Bouldin (7/4/5 assts on 2-9 FGs) and Elias Harris (9/3). Gonzaga will have a chance to win the conference outright and avenge its loss to San Francisco on Saturday in Spokane.
- Arizona State 68, Stanford 60. Arizona State kept the pressure on Cal in the Pac-10 race by taking the lead at Stanford midway through the second half and holding on for the victory. The win puts ASU at 10-5 in conference play, a half-game behind the Bears with a showdown scheduled for noon Saturday in Berkeley. Eric Boateng had 24/6/3 assts and Derek Glasser added 20/3/4 assts as ASU continues to build a favorable at-large profile. No matter what happens in two days, does a Pac-10 team that finishes with 22 wins (12 in conference if they sweep the SoCal schools at home) get left out?
- Morehead State 70, Murray State 65. The Game of the Year in the OVC resulted in Murray dropping its first game in conference play at rival Morehead tonight. And with that, there are now only two unbeaten teams in conference play left — #1 Kansas in the Big 12 and #15 Butler in the Horizon League. Morehead big man Kenneth Faried went off for 15/11, but it was Terrance Hill’s three with 39 seconds remaining that gave his team the necessary cushion to put the game away. The two best teams in the OVC split the regular season — can we get a third in nine days, please?
- California 95, Arizona 71. It was a dominant performance by a team focused on winning its first regular season title in fifty years, and Cal will have the opportunity to do so on Saturday afternoon with its easy win over Arizona tonight. The Bears ran out to a big first half lead behind balanced scoring from Theo Robertson (18/4), Patrick Christopher (14/7) and Jamal Boykin (20/10), but it was Jerome Randle’s explosion in the first 7:21 of the second half when he dropped 17 points on an array of deep threes and drives to put away the visiting Wildcats. Cal will play Arizona State on Saturday afternoon, and with a victory, they will win the Pac-10 title for the first time since the Pete Newell era. Hard to believe, but true. As for Arizona, Nic Wise’s tweet after the game sorta captures it all in just a few words.
- #19 Wisconsin 78, Indiana 46. Tonight it was very clear who the better team was. Indiana started out with a lot of energy and was able to hang with Wisconsin for about ten minutes before watching them pull away. Wisconsin dominated in every single category they track in basketball. They shot the ball well inside and outside. They boarded well and they took care of the ball. Every one of their big players played well. In stark contrast, Indiana didn’t shoot well inside, outside, or from the stripe. They didn’t handle the ball well, and their top players didn’t produce. Add it all up, and it resulted in a 30-point win for Wisconsin, and Indiana continues to spiral downwards to wrap up their season. Wisconsin is tournament bound, and Indiana will continue to search for what they can do to salvage this season.