ATB: Weekend Edition — Indiana’s Statement Win, a Crosstown Blowup, & Dunkdafied…

Posted by rtmsf on December 12th, 2011

This Weekend’s Lede. Saturday was one of the wildest afternoons of college basketball in recent memory. Within a five-hour window from around 2:30 PM to 7:30 PM EST, we experienced one of the ugliest incidents in the modern history of college basketball, followed by both the nation’s #1 and #2 teams losing their first games of the season on the road. The afternoon’s action had the feeling of March in the intensity and drama of the games played, but the added bonus of insane home crowds hungry for key December victories over a bitter rival or, just because. Let’s jump into a busy weekend of storylines…

Your Watercooler Moment. Malice in the Cintas.

We will have much more to say on this in our sister ATB focusing exclusively on the events that occurred with 9.4 seconds remaining in the Crosstown Shootout on Saturday (the post will go live at 6:45 AM EST). Look, we all know that fights sometimes happen in sports, and they’re more likely to happen in volatile situations involving bitter rivals who don’t like each other. The fight was bad enough — in our view, Cincinnati’s Cheikh Mbodj should face criminal battery charges for his stomp to Kenny Frease’s head while the player was already lying on the floor — but the real shame in all of this was the aftermath. Not only did Xavier completely embarrass itself as a school and program in allowing Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons to get on the dais and act like they were representing XU straight outta Compton, but both schools failed to step up Sunday and properly punish the players involved — the most any player was suspended was six games (UC’s Yancy Gates, Octavius Ellis and Mbodj). We hate to say it, but the image-conscious NBA would have been much harsher in its punishments of these players, and given that all of the adults at both schools went to great pains afterward to suggest that such an out-of-control incident was unconscionable, this appears to be yet another example of actions speaking louder than words.

Grab a Coffee While You’re At It. #1 Kentucky Loses at the Buzzer.

Rules for rushing the court are mostly general guidelines that come down to whether it feels right given the specifics of the situation. There are few scenarios that will feel better than Indiana’s buzzer-beating win over #1 Kentucky on Saturday evening. All of the following boxes were checked: 1) IU beat the #1 team in America; 2) on a buzzer-beating shot; 3) after it appeared the Hoosiers had blown the game; 4) versus a bitter rival; 5) in a statement win for the program that announced its status as a national player again. You simply won’t find many more perfect situations for an RTC, and Hoosier fans responded appropriately, filling the court from all corners of the arena with exalted jubilation. It was an outstanding game, and an even more outstanding RTC. For some great reactions recorded around the interwebs, check out some of these: a real-time call by IU’s play-by-play radio guy, Don Fischeran IU dad goes crazy in his house; a Bloomington bar called Nick’s explodes when Watford’s shot goes down; the scene at floor level for the final play and the ensuing RTC.

Perhaps the best thing we’ve seen from this weekend is this mash-up put together by an IU student (@dbaba12) which shows clips from the camp-out, the game itself (including his halftime prediction of an RTC), the final play, and the aftermath. It’s stuff like this that reminds us why we love college basketball.

As for the on-court action beyond Christian Watford’s dagger three and the ensuing celebrations around Hoosier Nation, Indiana played just well enough to win the game, but it was Kentucky’s youth and inexperience in the last two possessions that left the door open for IU to steal the win. After UK figured out that Indiana had no chance to stop the dribble penetration of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague and Doron Lamb, the Wildcats had stormed back to take control of the game. And then John Calipari’s old and familiar bugaboo at the foul line killed him again — first, Anthony Davis missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 20 seconds left to give the ball back to the Hoosiers trailing by one. After Victor Oladipo turned the ball over, it was then Lamb who made only one of two attempts to leave just enough daylight for Watford’s heroics. The other mistakes UK made on the game-winning possession were hallmarks of green players. UK had two fouls to give before the bonus, and with only eight seconds remaining, it would have made sense to make IU waste more time taking the ball out — the Wildcats never fouled anybody. The second mistake was that after freshman Marquis Teague was screened away from his man in the backcourt, he did not sprint hard back upcourt to recover and get into the play — if you watch the video carefully, he jogs ahead until he sees Watford standing wide open on the wing, at which time he only then starts sprinting — it was too little, too late. The Mikan Drill breaks down the final play here. Kentucky is the most talented team in America, but John Calipari is going to have to shore up some of these late-game snafus if he hopes that his team will win a championship next April.

Five More Weekend Storylines.

  1. Indiana’s Biggest Win in a Decade. From a cursory review of our memory banks, we have to figure that Indiana’s win over #1 Kentucky was the program’s biggest victory since March 2002 when Mike Davis’ team knocked off #1 defending national champion Duke in the Sweet Sixteen. To folks unfamiliar with Hoosier basketball and its importance to the citizens of that state, it might just seem like any other big upset — fun and fulfilling, but more or less transient — but the fact is that Hoosier faithful are some of the passionate basketball fans in the country and they yearn for a return to the glory they enjoyed for all those many years under Bob Knight. Whether this is the statement win on IU’s path toward national prominence again remains to be seen, but Hoosier Hysteria appears to be trending up.
  2. Ohio State Downed Without Jared Sullinger. In a disappointing turn of events, Jared Sullinger did not suit up for the Buckeyes on Saturday in their visit to Allen Fieldhouse, turning what should have been a tremendous matchup into a somewhat predictable Kansas win. The Jayhawks shredded the Ohio State defense to the tune of 58% from the field and 9-17 from three, and although KU never quite put away the scrappy Buckeyes, Thad Matta’s team never really threatened to steal the win either. Without Sullinger inside, Thomas Robinson was able to beast his way inside for 21/7 and Tyshawn Taylor dropped 13 assists while playing on a torn meniscus and sprained MCL in his right knee. Kansas, as most expected, is doing just fine this season, but OSU has to have its big man inside to reach the heights of which they’re capable. Let’s hope to see him back soon.
  3. Carrick Felix’s Other Three at the Buzzer. If you thought Indiana’s three at the buzzer was the most well-executed game-winner of the weekend, think again. Arizona State is probably not going to have much to celebrate this season, but at least for one day, Carrick Felix’s three coming off a length-of-the-court pass to the middle of the floor and a second pass to him on the wing with 1.9 seconds remaining was outstanding. Check out the video here. ASU is unlikely to have a better moment this season, even if it was only to defeat North Dakota State.
  4. Murray State Has a Shot At Unbeaten Regular Season. With Murray State’s big win at Memphis Sunday evening, the Racers now sit at 10-0 and have already played by far the toughest part of its schedule. According to Ken Pomeroy, the Racers will enter the remainder of its games this season as at least a 70% favorite, and he quantifies their chances at heading into the postseason undefeated at 9% — not a lock, but not insignificant either. The last team to run the regular season unbeaten was St. Joseph’s in 2004 — Murray is by no means as good as that Hawks team led by NPOY Jameer Nelson, but it will be interesting to track how far the Racers can get before they take their first loss of the season.
  5. St. Joseph’s RTCs After Beating Creighton. While not nearly as big of a deal as what went down in Bloomington on Saturday, there was another RTC when St. Joseph’s knocked off previously-unbeaten and ranked Creighton in Philadelphia. Carl Jones went 29/5/5 assts in the win, which has Phil Martelli’s squad thinking that they’re starting to turn the corner after a couple of rough 11-win seasons. The Hawks are already 7-3 this season with solid wins over Georgia Tech, Tulsa, Drexel and now Creighton. Another Big 5 opportunity is on the horizon as a struggling Villanova team comes to Hawk Hill ripe for the plucking next weekend.

Weekend Dunkdafied. There were some exceptional dunks this weekend, but here’s the best two. First, Indiana forward Victor Olapido‘s tomahawk over Kentucky’s Darius Miller.

Next, St. Joseph’s Rodney Roberts taking out a Creighton player with this explosive throwdown.

Three more good ones from the weekend’s action were:

Weekend All-Americans.

First Team

  • NPOY – Draymond Green, Michigan State. The Spartan senior had 34/3 assts/3 stls in a superb shooting display (11-13 FGs) at the Kennel in defeating Gonzaga Saturday.
  • Christian Watford, Indiana. The modern-day Hoosier Hero went for 20/5 on 8-15 shooting Saturday, none bigger than the dagger three that felled #1 Kentucky.
  • Carl Jones, St. Joseph’s. The Hawk big man went for 29/5/5 assts/3 stls in St. Joe’s upset win over Creighton Saturday.
  • Herb Pope, Seton Hall. Pope is playing like people expected he would coming out of high school; he dropped 26/14 on 8-9 FGs versus Wake Forest Saturday.
  • John Henson, North Carolina. Henson ripped apart the Long Beach State front line Saturday with 24/10/4 blks in a game where they really needed him.

Second Team

  • Khris Middleton, Texas A&M. In his first game back in the Aggie lineup, he dropped 24/6/3 assts in a blowout win over Louisiana-Monroe. Excellent news for A&M.
  • Thomas Gipson, Kansas State. K-State’s star frosh Gipson contributed 23/12 in the Wildcats’ overtime win (yes, three OTs in three days) over North Florida Sunday.
  • Alex Young, IUPUI. If you go for 40+, you’re almost guaranteed to make our AA team. Young had 43/9 assts/3 stls in a Saturday win over Western Kentucky.
  • Damian Lillard, Weber State. Lillard’s 31/9 assts pushed the nation’s leading scorer (26.9 PPG) to 6-2 after beating Southern Utah Saturday.
  • Dee Bost, Mississippi State. The Bulldog guard had 29/3/9 assts in a blowout victory over Troy this weekend to move MSU to 10-1.
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