ATB: It’s Jimmer’s World, We’re Just Living In ItPosted by rtmsf on January 12th, 2011
The Lede. The schedule was light on this particular January night, but the storylines were not. The nation’s top two scorers did their thing on opposite sides of the country, drawing favorable comparisons to the epic battle between Duke’s JJ Redick and Gonzaga’s Adam Morrison a few years ago. There were a couple of overtime games between old rivals, and even an RTC (whether it was warranted is open for debate). No matter where you live, you’re probably socked in by snow (48 states have the white stuff on the ground right now) so there’s no excuse for you to have missed anything. There’s simply not much better than being in a warm gym on a cold winter’s night during conference play, but we suppose that one of things would be if you were on your own couch able to flip back and forth between games. Let’s see what happened out there tonight, starting with this…
Your Watercooler Moment. Jimmer’s 47 Points Lights the World on Fire. And it wasn’t even his career high (remember last year’s 49-point explosion at Arizona?). BYU’s Jimmer Fredette continued to make his case for NPOY with a 47-point conflagration in his biggest rival’s house tonight — at Utah. How ridiculously on fire was he tonight? He had 32 points by the half, and if you watch the above video where he hits a 40-footer at the buzzer, you’ll note that even the Ute fans were cheering his performance. In one of the bitterest rivalries in the country, greatness is still recognized. Here’s his line for tonight: 16-28 FG, 6-9 3FG, 9-9 FT for 47 points, four rebounds, six assists and two steals. Yes, somehow Fredette managed to find time to triple the assist output of the entire Texas Tech team this evening. While his output tonight wasn’t his career high, it was notable in that it pushed him above 2,000 points for his career at BYU, joining Danny Ainge, Michael Smith and Devin Durrant in that elite group. What else can be said about this guy? It’s not just that he scores, it’s that he does it in ways that we haven’t seen regularly since the halcyon days of Redick/Morrison, with guys pulling up just beyond the hash mark and draining bombs like they were free throws. He has become must-watch television for any college basketball fan this year in much the same way as those two, and if you can’t find something to like in his story, then we’re afraid that we simply can’t help you to enjoy this sport. Tonight Jimmer became the top candidate for NPOY in a crowded race; it’s now up to Nolan Smith, Jared Sullinger, Kemba Walker and the rest to respond — your turn, fellas.
One final note: It’s nice to see the national media giving Fredette his dues and propers. Scott Van Pelt interviewed him on SportsCenter tonight as their lead-in. Here is that interview.
Tonight’s Quick Hits…
- Sparty Turnaround? Michigan State could not afford to lose to Wisconsin at home tonight, and thanks to a 9-0 closeout run to send the game to overtime, they managed to avoid just that by winning the game in the extra period. There was an air of desperation in the final minutes of this one tonight, as with another loss Tom Izzo’s team would have dropped to 10-6 and 2-2 in the Big Ten. Instead, MSU’s unlikely comeback against a team that simply doesn’t make many mistakes will serve to inspire confidence in a team that has had its confidence battered and bruised so far this season. Still, we wouldn’t read too terribly much into this — some writers may think this could change the direction of the Spartan season in some significant way, but we won’t buy into that. The Spartans are the flawed but talented team that they are, and nobody should expect that they’re going to now go on some ten-game winning streak as a result of tonight. They’re just not that kind of a team.
- The Ivy League. The more ACC wins that Boston College notches (the Eagles moved to 3-0 tonight with a home win over NC State), the better the Ivy League looks. After all, the Ancient Eight has a 2-0 record against the Eagles this season, with both Harvard (for the third year in a row) and Yale taking out Steve Donahue’s team this year. As we mentioned in today’s All in the Family post, BC has a reasonable shot to get to 5-0 in the conference before taking a loss. The Eagles’ next two games are at Miami (FL) and versus Virginia at home. BC’s statistical profile is a little lot ridiculous — they’re the fourth most efficient offensive team in America, but #200 on the other end of the court. The only power conference teams worse than BC in that regard are Arizona State, Auburn and Wake Forest.
- Terrence Jones: Best UK Frosh Ever? It’s possible. Jamal Mashburn, John Wall and Rex Chapman in particular were fantastic freshmen, but Terrence Jones is re-writing record books with his play so far. The athletic forward’s 35/8 off the bench in a dominant win over Auburn set a new record for freshmen at Kentucky, breaking teammate Doron Lamb’s mark from December (32 against Winthrop). Considering that Jones has every physical tool in the book except for the occasional lack of focus, he may end up outdoing all of the above players before his year is finished.
- Baylor Sets Homecourt Winning Streak. In a piece of arcana we’re sure Baylor’s brass are glad to see wiped out of the record books, the Bears with their fifteenth straight home victory tonight set a new Ferrell Center winning streak. The previous record? Fourteen, held by Oklahoma. That’s right, an opponent of the Bears held the longest winning streak in the building prior to tonight. If that doesn’t tell you how far Baylor basketball has risen under Scott Drew in the last five years, then we’re not sure what else we can tell you. That’s simply an amazing statistic.
… and Misses.
- Tennessee as an NCAA Team. With the Vols’ sixth loss in the last nine games, Tennessee is looking more and more like an NIT team despite the Jekyll & Hyde nature of huge wins over Pittsburgh and Villanova earlier this season. It was clear that UT was already flawed prior to Bruce Pearl’s eight-game suspension that began last weekend, but it’s unfair for assistant coach Tony White to have to figure this schizophrenic team out by himself. Other than being supremely athletic, we’re still trying to figure out what Tennessee is good at doing. Here’s an idea, though — if there is an answer for this team this season, Tobias Harris (18/10 tonight) needs to be central in that decision. He’s only scratching the surface of his capabilities, and UT needs to recognize that fact.
- Kemba’s National Scoring Title Lead. With Fredette’s explosion tonight and a recent downward trend in Kemba Walker’s scoring, the dynamic UConn guard relinquished the national scoring lead tonight with only eighteen points. This matched his season low achieved in the first game of the year against Stony Brook, but with a 19.7 PPG average in his last three games, Walker could be showing early signs of wearing down a little bit. Defenses are so incredibly focused on him and he shoulders an inordinate amount of the offensive load (35% of UConn’s shot attempts) that it wouldn’t surprise us if a little fatigue was settling in. It’s definitely something to keep an eye on.
- Pat Knight’s Motivational Techniques. One day after calling out his four senior starters, John Roberson, David Tairu, Mike Singletary and Brad Reese combined to shoot 8-33 from the field and dished out a total of two (!!!) assists in tonight’s blowout home loss to Texas, the worst in the history of TTU’s United Spirit Arena. We’re not even sure how it’s possible that a D1 team could tally only two assists in an entire game, but there’s no better statistic to know if players are acting selfishly than that one. Texas Tech is a train wreck headed nowhere fast.
- Penn State’s RTC. No, no, and no. You guys JUST did this on Saturday. It’s been three days, barely even 72 hours. It was a great finish to a hard-fought classic Big Ten battle, and sure, Illinois was ranked. But come on! You can’t RTC against every ranked team you beat, even if the last time you beat two ranked teams back -to-back was in 1954. Yes, even then. There are a lot of ranked teams in the Big Ten, folks — save it for when you knock off Ohio State on March 1st.
- Ponytailed Tennessee Fan. During ESPN’s broadcast of Florida-Tennessee tonight, a ponytailed woman sitting behind Jimmy Dykes and Brad Nessler during a live look-in at the announcers was mouthing the same thing the audience was probably thinking with respect to Tennessee’s performance this year. Still, this person wasn’t exactly young; if she can afford courtside seats, let us offer this suggestion. Buy a couple packets of class, Vol fan. Check it out…