ATB: Entertaining SEC/Big East Challenge Deadlocked After One Night

Posted by rtmsf on December 2nd, 2011

Tonight’s Lede. Big East Earns Two Road Wins in SEC/Big East Challenge.

The Length of Kentucky Frustated St. John's to the Tune of 18 Blocks (LHL/P. Alcala)

The first of the three-night SEC/Big East Challenge is in the books, and at least at this point, the Big East appears to have the upper hand. After Georgetown and Providence earned road wins at Alabama and South Carolina that neither was expected to achieve, the conferences are tied at 2-2 going into Friday night’s quadruple-header. Kentucky and Ole Miss saved face for the SEC with two wins of its own, but the Rebels barely survived at DePaul and UK was a heavy favorite over St. John’s. With three Big East schools hosting games on Friday night, and all three positioned as significant favorites, the league will be in a great spot to take a commanding lead in the 12-game challenge heading into Saturday’s final four games. Can the SEC simply send Kentucky’s long-armed corps of flyswatters to each Big East arena instead?

Your Watercooler Moment. Hollis If Ya Hear Me!

Georgetown’s Hollis Thompson came through with a big-time play on the road at Alabama tonight when many lesser teams and players would have crumbled under the pressure. After methodically imposing its defensive will on the Crimson Tide for 38 minutes to take a nine-point lead with a little over two minutes remaining, Alabama went on a 10-0 run behind its stars JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell to take a one-point advantage into Georgetown’s final possession. As the video above shows, Jason Clark, a Thursday All-American, dribble handed off to Thompson on the right side and he drained the long three for the win, ending Alabama’s 24-game home winning streak (fourth longest in the nation). The Hoyas are playing better than anyone could have anticipated and have now defeated two top-15 teams (Memphis as well) while giving another (Kansas) all it wanted. Credit is deserving to John Thompson, III, who has fashioned another really good team after losing his stellar backcourt of Chris Wright and Austin Freeman to graduation last season.

Tonight’s Quick Hits

  • Harvard Away From Home. With a seven-point win at Vermont tonight, the Crimson moved to 7-0 on the season and 6-0 away from Cambridge. Its next game will be against Seattle at home, followed by a trip to Storrs next Thursday. If Tommy Amaker’s team could do the unthinkable and defeat UConn in that game, Harvard will likely be heavy favorites against every team remaining on its regular season schedule. As of now, Ken Pomeroy has HU as at least a 74% favorite (@ Princeton is the closest) in every additional game. Can you imagine?
  • Block Party in Lexington. St. John’s attempted 60 shots against Kentucky this evening. Nineteen of those fell through the basket. Eighteen others were swatted back at them. The other 23 caromed off as missed shots tend to do. That means that an incredible 30% of Red Storm shots were rejected by the defensive UK wrecking crew of Anthony Davis (eight), Terrence Jones (four), Eloy Vargas (two), and a cast of four others with one each. As talented as John Calipari’s group of freshmen are offensively, where they can make themselves elite is on the defensive end. So far, so good, as the Wildcats are allowing 0.751 points per possession (#4 in the nation) and blocking 11 shots per game.

… and Misses.

  • Conference Play on December 1? Um, we’re barely three weeks into the regular season, so why are we already having conference play in several of the mid-major leagues? The Atlantic Sun, Big South, Horizon League, MAAC, MEAC, NEC, SoCon, and Summit tipped off their conference races tonight (Elon vs. Furman was actually the first conference game on Wednesday, but there were numerous others this evening), and we’re really not sure why this is happening so soon. Honestly, it feels out of place so early and in the same way that we’d prefer the regular season start off with a big bang event of some kind, we’d also like it if conference play had a week-long extravaganza of some sort just after the new year (not entirely possible with schedules ranging from 18- to 14 games, but still…).
  • Bruce Ellington’s Return From the Gridiron. If South Carolina was hoping that the return of its point guard from Steve Spurrier’s football team was going to spark the Gamecocks to a home win over Providence, well, it was wrong. Ellington played 27 minutes off the bench, but he never found an offensive rhythm, shooting 3-11 from the field (0-4 from three-point range), and committed two turnovers versus only one assist. With Ellington’s football team expected to play in a New Year’s Day bowl, he may not fully rejoin the basketball team for another month. By that point, Darrin Horn’s Gamecocks, now at 2-4 overall, may be too far gone.

Thursday’s All-Americans.

  • NPOY – Anthony Davis, Kentucky. Davis was very close to UK’s second trip-dub in its illustrious history tonight, going for 15/15/8 blks and generally terrorizing the St. John’s shooters all over the floor.
  • Terrence Jones, Kentucky. When Davis wasn’t swooping down from the rafters at SJU players, Jones was busy beasting his way around the paint for 26/9/4 stls/4 blks in another Wildcat blowout.
  • Jason Clark, Georgetown. The senior guard keyed a Hoya second half with 22/2 rebs including four big treys to help break Alabama’s 24-game home winning streak.
  • Nate Wolters, South Dakota State. Everyone’s favorite mid-major efficiency star had a big 32/8/8 assts night in a 43-minute overtime win over IUPUI.
  • Murphy Holloway, Ole Miss. Not only did the Rebel forward go for 16/12/2 assts/4 stls tonight against DePaul, he also grabbed the steal with a few seconds remaining that allowed him to hit the game-winning layup.

Honorable Mention.

  • Thomas Gipson, Kansas State. The Wildcat freshman has been outstanding this year, and tonight’s 17/13 against GW was his first career dub-dub.
  • Jake Cohen, Davidson. 26/5/2 blks in a 72-69 win for the Wildcats to get its first win in SoCon play.

Tweet of the Night. We would need an Encylopaedia Brittanica and Wikipedia hybrid to figure out exactly what all this means, but on a night lacking in compelling basketball-related tweets, we loved this one from Ryen Russillo most.

rtmsf (3998 Posts)

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