BGTD: Early Games AnalysisPosted by rtmsf on January 15th, 2011
It might be a football weekend if you listen to the mainstream media, but we here at RTC know better. The slate is absolutely stuffed with good games today, quite a few of which were played during the early session. Here’s some of our thoughts from those games…
- Tennessee Escapes. We’re not sure that they should have escaped in their rivalry game with Vanderbilt today, but escape they did after an ugly and odd finish in Thompson-Boling Arena to get its first win with Bruce Pearl watching from home. One of the surest calls in basketball is when an offensive player is tripped on the drive. Jeffery Taylor did just that with Vandy down only one late in the game, but there was shockingly no call from the zebras (how all three could miss that we have no clue). Even more amazing than that, Taylor slid across the floor for at least 6-8 feet with the ball in his arms after he fell, and again no whistle (another near-certain call they missed). It was a disconcerting sort of play that has everyone on the floor confused, and it resulted in Vandy stepping on the sideline to turn the ball back over to UT. The Vols then worked clock before throwing up a couple of wild, contested shots which Vandy failed rebound; then, after a Vandy foul, UT’s Tobias Harris nailed a couple of FTs and closed out the game. Neither team played well offensively, but Tennessee at 0-2 in the SEC (and sans Pearl) was very nearly in a must-win situation and played like it. Many people will think that Pearl’s presence would have made a difference in Tennessee’s shaky performances so far this SEC season, but we’re not sure about that. UT is a flawed team, and they were pretty clearly flawed with the Big Orange on the sidelines before his suspension too (Ls to Charleston, Charlotte, Oakland).
- Marquette & Maryland Kicking Themselves. Both of these teams let huge opportunities for road wins against ranked opponents slip away late today with what can only be described as complete meltdowns. For Marquette, it was a 24-5 Louisville run to finish off the game, allowing the faltering Cardinals to make a miraculous comeback over the last six minutes that will be remembered in those parts for a very long time. At Villanova, it was a 19-0 run over seven minutes that allowed the Wildcats to come from twelve down and take a commanding lead into the final two minutes. What was striking about both of these comebacks was just how quickly things changed. Through most of the two games, the home team Wildcats and Cardinals couldn’t get much of anything going offensively, but when the two underdogs saw their own blood today, they collapsed while the home teams feasted on their shakiness. Marquette already has some quality wins under its belt, but eventually if they’re going to be taken seriously as a contender, they’re going to have win one of these (close Ls to Duke, BC, Temple, Pitt, Illinois and zero – NONE – quality wins).
- Freddy Asprilla Leaves K-State. Jeff Goodman reported earlier today that Kansas State big man Freddy Asprilla has left the program. Despite dominating Texas Tech today, the bad news just keeps coming for this program lately. Asprilla was averaging 5/5 in limited backup action, but he’s shown ability and theoretically could have had a bright future there. He’ll be returning home to his native Colombia to play professionally because his mother is ill, certainly a noble pursuit. We wish him well with both his personal and hoops journeys.
- Duke & Kansas Struggling. At the time of this writing, both #1 Duke and #3 Kansas are struggling with much weaker opponents — Duke with Virginia, and KU with Nebraska. Both took deficits into the half. Duke’s problem has been ice-cold three-point shooting, and as has been discussed at length the last couple of days, the Blue Devils cannot simply revert to being a jump-shooting team and expect to get back to the Final Four. For a good number of years in the 2000s, that’s what they were, and those teams were often out of the NCAA Tournament by the Sweet Sixteen. As for Kansas, the Morris twins who went off on Wednesday night have been MIA this afternoon. At the half, they hadn’t even combined for double figures yet and Markief was already in foul trouble. Obviously if one or both of these two drop a game today, that would be an enormous upset so stay tuned for more on those.