College Basketball By The Tweets: A Big Weekend and #FreePJ In CameronPosted by David Harten on December 17th, 2013
With Saturday marking the first weekend where college football didn’t dominate the sports schedule, college basketball took full advantage, with some pivotal non-conference games on the docket, a few featuring Top 25 teams and some others that made an argument to be ranked.
If you’re starting with Top 25 teams, you have to begin with No. 18 Kentucky at No. 11 North Carolina on Saturday, where the Tar Heels kept their head-scratching narrative going with an 82-77 victory in the Dean Dome. Marcus Paige dropped 23 points, including a 10-of-10 performance from the free throw line. After losing to Belmont at home and UAB in Birmingham, UNC has now notched victories over several of the top teams in the nation, beating the AP’s top three preseason teams in America. As you’ll see, you can attribute their elevated play to hot shooting against elite defensive teams, but it’s pretty impressive that Roy Williams’ bunch is doing all this without P.J. Hairston in the lineup (more on him at the bottom).
Marcus Paige has been terrific in the second half. UNC again rising to the occasion. Another inspiring performance by the Tarheels.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) December 15, 2013
Wow. North Carolina shot a combined 55.1 percent in the second halves of wins against Louisville, Michigan State and Kentucky.
— Brett Dawson (@BDawsonRivals) December 15, 2013
From last night … It's hard to watch North Carolina without thinking about the Hairston/McDonald NCAA debacle. http://t.co/M2Za7px4NX
— Ryan Fagan (@ryanfagan) December 15, 2013
Soooo the Tarheels have beat the #1 #3 and #11 without their #1 scorer and #3 best player? #dope. Can't wait for conference play. Ya dig.
— • (@iVoryBabyBaby) December 17, 2013
Another game that really caught the public eye on Saturday was No. 1 Arizona heading to the Crisler Center to take on Michigan. The Wildcats came back late and held on to win to preserve their spot at the top of the polls. While Brandon Ashley led the Cats with a team-high 18 points, Aaron Gordon put up his own nice performance of 14 points, five rebounds and two assists, but saved his best for what he did defensively in the second half against a red-hot Glenn Robinson III.
Aaron Gordon's passing in the paint has been outstanding.
— Jeff Eisenberg (@JeffEisenberg) December 14, 2013
No middle gm RT @jeffborzello: Seems like a good time to mention this again: Aaron Gordon is shooting 16.2 percent on 2-point jumpers
— Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) December 14, 2013
So, through 30 minutes — Glenn Robinson III has dominated Aaron Gordon.
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) December 14, 2013
Aaron Gordon has been tremendous this half — on both ends. Has done a nice job quieting GR3.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) December 14, 2013
A day later when Arizona arrived back in Tucson, the school unveiled renovation plans for the McKale Center that included some pretty awesome upgrades for an already thriving program.
— Arizona Athletics (@AZATHLETICS) December 16, 2013
A loop around the college basketball world showed a bunch of other good but less-hyped games, including Tennessee at Wichita State. The Shockers have great scoring balance among their starters, which are a mixture of upperclassmen and newcomers, but this game represented a taste of revenge for Wichita assistant coach Steve Forbes, who was let go when Bruce Pearl was fired at Tennessee.
No. 12 Wichita State holds off Tennessee to improve to 10-0 http://t.co/O6r9bEIGY9
— Steve Forbes (@ForbesWSUhoops) December 15, 2013
On Sunday against St. John’s, C.J. Fair showed exactly what the benefits are of being patient at a program that has pumped out several NBA Draft picks ahead and around you. The senior finished tied with freshman Tyler Ennis for the team lead in points with 21 to go along with five rebounds, two assists and two steals.
C.J. Fair playing the role of senior leader today. Not many more polished mid-range games in CBB. Cuse up 61-55.
— Pete Thamel (@SIPeteThamel) December 15, 2013
C.J. Fair: Doing what seniors should be doing. Huge down the stretch for Syracuse.
— Scott Phillips (@phillipshoops) December 15, 2013
— A Daly Dose Of Hoops (@DalyDoseOfHoops) December 15, 2013
So it was a solid weekend of hoops, but that didn’t end the fun. On Monday night, we all got the pleasure of watching Duke handle Gardner-Webb in Cameron Indoor Stadium. However, the game, at least temporarily, became the second most-interesting thing about the event. At some point in the second half, a couple of North Carolina fans yanked out some signs, displaying their support for PJ Hairston. A Duke fan behind them quickly captured one of the signs, but the bigger one remained, as evidence below. God bless college basketball.
Breaking: UNC fan brings a "Free PJ" sign to the Duke game. Kid has balls. pic.twitter.com/EyMg3cJ2rP
— John Peregoy III (@JPeregoyIII) December 17, 2013