After Georgetown edged Towson 46-40 on Saturday, the dust still settling from a tedious 37-36 decision over Tennessee the week prior, Daniel Martin at CollegeBasketballTalk says it’s time to start questioning the Hoyas. He points to streaky outside shooting in particular as the element that makes it most difficult to predict where John Thompson III’s team will end up in March. Against Towson, leading scorers Otto Porter, Markel Starks and Greg Whittington combined to shoot 2-14 (14%) from beyond the arc, and the Hoyas’ bench contributed but a single point. The team has racked up the most inefficient offense in the Big East, and it seems that an off night from Porter and Starks is all that separates the team that took Indiana to the wire from the one that couldn’t score 40 on Tennessee.
Syracuse played this past Saturday as well, scoring more points than Georgetown and Towson combined as they stormed past Monmouth, 108-56. Sean Keeley at Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician points out that it was the team’s most prolific offensive display since hanging 125 on East Tennessee State in 2007. This team certainly looks more talented than that NIT squad, a point C.J. Fair, DaJuan Coleman and Michael Carter-Williams each asserted with double-doubles. Carter-Williams in particular tallied 16 assists –– the third most in Syracuse history –– and is unquestionably playing better than any point guard in the Big East right now.
Ed Donohue at VU Hoops crunched some numbers and reached some frightening conclusions about Villanova’s penchant for second-half collapses in the past two seasons. Since the beginning of 2011-12, ‘Nova has suffered a negative second half scoring margin in 66% of its 41 games, and has gone on to lose 10 games in which they’ve led at halftime. It’s an ominous statistic that certainly doesn’t improve the outlook on Jay Wright’s job security.
Louisville Courier-Journal columnist Tim Sullivan writes that Russ Smith is burdened by the reputation for volatile play he earned in his first two seasons. Despite having cultivated that style beyond anyone’s expectations to the point of becoming an elite college guard, it’s difficult to transcend the “Russdiculous” moniker bestowed affectionately upon him by Rick Pitino. “Any mistake I do –– one mistake –– keeps that perception,” said Smith. Before the season, it was hard to imagine Smith becoming more essential to Louisville than Peyton Siva or Gorgui Dieng. Even the most unorthodox dark-horse advocates would have scoffed at the notion that Smith might receive All-American hype in December. But that’s exactly what Sullivan suggested after Smith poured in a career-high 31 points, seven boards, five assists and five steals against Kyle Korver’s little brother and a hapless band of UMKC Kangaroos on Saturday. The junior two-guard is now second in the Big East with 20.3 PPG (on a surprisingly efficient 45.4% from the field), and fifth in the nation in steals.
Speaking of Louisville, Rick Pitino broke with convention to answer a reporter’s phone and coordinate cocktail hour during his post-game press conference on Saturday. It was a bizarre moment that fortunately appeared on YouTube almost immediately. More importantly, it represents a levity that you wouldn’t expect to see very often from Pitino prior to this past March, as he seems to really be enjoying his job again after several years where nothing seemed fun for the volatile head coach.