After the Buzzer: A Wild and Wacky Wednesday Night to Close Out November…Posted by rtmsf on December 1st, 2011
Tonight’s Lede. Big Ten Does It Again. Day two of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge finished in the same way as the first — with a Big Ten beatdown. The midwestern-based conference rode wins from Michigan State and Minnesota at home along with Penn State and Indiana on the road, to notch another 4-2 night and win the event convincingly, 8-4. Four of those eight victories this year came on ACC hardwood, showing that Big Ten teams can pick up victories in hostile environments regardless of location. It’s difficult to draw too much from late November events like these, but the eye and sniff test in watching pieces of the twelve games over the last two nights is highly suggestive that the Big Ten appears to go seven or eight teams deep this year for NCAA Tournament consideration, while the ACC looks to be in the neighborhood of five or six. As our columnist Evan Jacoby wrote in Night Line last night, the Big Ten has unquestionably earned the right to hold the mantle as the top conference in college basketball a few weeks into the season. The ACC appears to be in the mid-pack, perhaps as high as third but also maybe the worst of the five power conferences (the Pac-12 has some work to do to earn our good graces again).
Your Watercooler Moment. Double Overtime in the Thunderdome.
That’s right, we’re passing on the #4 North Carolina vs. #7 Wisconsin snoozer in favor of a high-intensity, mid-major game that went two overtimes and featured enough twists, turns and amazing plays to outdo the entire ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Luckily, our man Andrew Murawa was there for all 50 minutes of the action. Here’s his report (and some highlights from the UCSB side here).
The game Wednesday night at the Thunderdome on the campus of UC Santa Barbara was a good example of everything that we love about college basketball. We had the road team, UNLV, coming off a huge upset win over the #1 team in the country, and the home team trying to bounce back from a depressing one-point loss to a regional rival. The students may not all have been entirely punctual (they do, after all, have finals coming up next week), but at some point in the middle of the game you just looked up and realized that most of the arena was filled (announced attendance was 5,516 in a place with a capacity of 5,600). And every time UNLV started to exert its athletic advantage over UCSB and begin to pull away, the crowd seized on any positive play by the Gauchos (and there were plenty, with players diving after loose balls and scrapping for every rebound) and almost willed the home team back into it. Still, with just over two minutes left, after UNLV forward Mike Moser knocked down his sixth three-pointer of the night to give him a spectacular 34 points and his team a ten-point lead, you could hardly blame the handful of foolhardy fans who got up to get a head start on the traffic. But over the next hour or so, what transpired made for a wild and unforgettable game that anybody in attendance was lucky to have witnessed. There were some dumb plays by UNLV that allowed UCSB back in the game in regulation, but there was also some hard work, determination and, let’s face it, luck that conspired to help UCSB force overtime. The first overtime was just madness, with rapid swings of fortune each way, with star players making star plays, and with each team responding every time the other grasped any advantage. In the end, people left the arena in Isla Vista Wednesday night maybe exhilarated, maybe exhausted, maybe even both, but knowing they had witnessed some of the best that college athletics has to offer.
This Season’s Third RTC. November Rivalry Games, Rocky Mountain Style.
It wasn’t a major upset, or even an upset at all, really. Colorado State was favored in its home game against Colorado, but it was a rivalry contest with a last-second finish so we’ll begrudgingly approve it. Not that any of the CSU students who RTC’d in the Moby Arena tonight care what we think — all they know is that their team appeared to have given away a hard-fought win when Colorado’s Nate Tomlinson scored off a stolen inbounds pass with 14 seconds remaining. The bucket put the Buffaloes up by one, until CSU’s Dorian Green went glass to regain the lead and, ultimately, the victory, when Tomlinson’s last-second three went awry.
Tonight’s Quick Hits…
- Mike Moser vs. Orlando Johnson. Also known as UNLV vs. UC Santa Barbara. Both players made our All-America team tonight (below), but to hear tale of it, the duo went shot-for-shot all night long. Combining for 70 points, 20 rebounds, and seven assists between the two of them, it would have been difficult to take your eyes off either if you were anywhere near the Thunderdome tonight. Moser is quickly becoming one of the most talked about unheralded players in America. Coming into tonight, he had nailed a grand total of three treys (out of 28 attempts) in his career. So what does he do? He hits six of nine on his way to a career-high 34 points. Johnson is a better-known commodity as a mid-major star, but he filled up the stat sheet with his all-around performance tonight that included a double-double along with three steals and a couple of blocks. Big time performances from two of the best players on the west coast.
- Creighton and the MVC. Even a year after all of San Diego State’s personnel losses, playing at Viejas Arena is not easy. The fact that Creighton was able to come back from 17 points down in the first half to beat SDSU 85-83 tonight will be a huge feather in the RPI cap and quality win analysis for the MVC next March. In previous years,Valley teams have been killed by weak non-conference scheduling, but already this season the league has gone 7-7 against the power conference schools (Northern Iowa’s win over Iowa State tonight included) and 9-8 against its peer conferences. The MVC should be able to get at least two NCAA bids next March, with CU and Wichita State leading the way, but Northern Iowa and Missouri State also looking strong.
- Bo Ryan’s System. No offense to these Badgers, but if you can take the likes of Jared Berggren, Ben Brust, and Ryan Evans while suffering a 30% shooting night from Jordan Taylor, and still play your ball-control system to within a couple of made shots from a win against UNC’s stable of athletic stars in Chapel Hill, you’re doing something right. Even when the guy gets credit, he never gets enough credit. His system may not be fun to watch, but it is surprisingly effective — it was crystal clear that his players had been instructed in how to attack the UNC defense, including attention to such details as to when to shot-fake in the post or kick the ball back out. Wisconsin is firmly entrenched in our top ten and might just be the second-best team in the Big Ten behind Ohio State this season.
- Wake on the Road. If it’s your first true road win in nearly two calendar years, we’ll give you some props for getting it done. This is especially true considering that the ACC only notched two road wins — Clemson over Iowa was the other — and the Deacs did so with a drive down the left side of the lane by CJ Harris. Last year’s team lost to Presbyterian, Stetson and UNC Wilmington all at home, so beating another power conference school on the road is what we would term forward progress.
- Zeller Parents. The colors don’t really go very well together, but sure. The parents of Tyler and Cody were able to catch pieces of both of their sons’ games in the RTP tonight — and neither truly disappointed. Cody had 19/7 in Indiana’s impressive win at NC State to go to 7-0 on the season, while Tyler went for 12/7 in the Heels’ top ten showdown with Wisconsin over in Chapel Hill.
- North Carolina’s Spark. Jay Bilas alluded to this during tonight’s broadcast, but Carolina is missing a spark with this year’s team — someone like a Tyler Hansbrough or even a Rashad McCants whose swagger and fire get their team going when they need it. Harrison Barnes was the player who broke tonight’s close game with Wisconsin open, but we’re not sure if he has the demeanor to get in players’ faces and demand more. Roy Williams was doing his best to motivate his troops, even shedding his sport coat at one point, but it will be incumbent on Barnes as the team leader to eventually take on some of that role if UNC expects to play in April.
- Seminole Legitimacy. If Leonard Hamilton’s team were at all legit, they’d do better than a 16-point loss at Michigan State so uneventful that the Izzone began chanting about the football team’s game against Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship on Saturday. Too many fouls (21), too many turnovers (18), and too many bricks from the perimeter (4-20 3FG). FSU is extremely athletic and potentially a defensive juggernaut, but when they play against other athletic teams (UConn, for example), they always seem to make the wrong play at the right time. If this really is the third-best team in the ACC, the league is in worse shape than we thought.
- Utah State’s Home Winning Streak. It ended at 33 games tonight, as Denver went into the Octagon and knocked off the Aggies, 67-54. The streak was the third-longest in the nation, behind Duke (39) and Kentucky (37). The Pioneers are off to a solid 5-1 start so far this season, with a great home win over St. Mary’s to go with this road victory, and the only blemish a meltdown at California.
- Robert Brown’s Turnover. With eight seconds remaining and down one point at Minnesota, Virginia Tech inbounded the ball to Robert Brown to run the play to win the game. Instead, the ball tipped off of his hands and into the backcourt, causing a violation and effectively wrecking the Hokies’ chances at a key road win in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Now at 5-2 after this loss against the shorthanded Gophers, is there much question that this will come back to haunt Seth Greenberg’s team next March when they sit at 19-11 with few quality wins other than an upset or two?
- NPOY – Mike Moser, UNLV. Moser continued his nastiest of nasty weeks with 34/10/3 assts including 6-9 from three-point before fouling out in the second half.
- Orlando Johnson, UC Santa Barbara. Johnson nearly matched Moser shot for shot with 36/10/4 assts/3 stls/2 blks in the double-overtime loss.
- Doug McDermott, Creighton. A massive 25/12 on the road in a win that CU really needed for non-conference legitimacy.
- John Henson, UNC. 8/17/5 blks from the weirdest player in college basketball, but crucial to UNC surviving Wisconsin.
- Thomas Robinson, Kansas. 19/17/4 blks in a rout of Florida Atlantic, Robinson’s sixth dub-dub of the season.
- Erick Green, Virginia Tech. 25/4/4 assts in a losing effort, but his long three at the buzzer to tie the game was off the mark.
- LeBryan Nash, Oklahoma State. The rookie had his best game as a Cowboy, going for 21/5 against Tulsa, but needs to cut down the TOs (five).
Tweet of the Night. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Thanks for doing so, Mike R.