Back and Forth: Great Xmas Week Moments

Posted by David Harten on December 24th, 2014

Each week, RTC columnist David Harten will profile some of the week’s biggest upcoming games by taking a look back at some relevant history relating to the match-ups. This is Back And Forth.

We’ve reached the point in the college basketball season when things are in transition. Non-conference games are nearing a close and conference play is about to begin. The Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu provides one last non-conference tournament to watch into the wee hours of the morning, and Christmas week has produced some solid games and individual performances over the years. As we all wind down the year with holiday obligations this week, let’s take a look at a few memorable college hoops moments of the yuletide season.

December 24, 2010 – Christmas Eve Brawl

Renardo Sidney’s career in Starkville was an absolute disaster. He had attitude problems throughout his two-plus years on campus and was a major factor in head coach Rick Stansbury eventually losing his job. On Christmas Eve of his debut season, he added to that list of problems. While he and his teammates were watching a game from the stands of the Diamond Head Classic, Sidney and Elgin Bailey decided to go after each other. It ended with both players serving suspensions and depicted Sidney as a hothead at that point. Bailey eventually transferred out of the program to Southeastern Louisiana, while Sidney lasted another painstaking year in Starkville before going undrafted in the 2012 NBA Draft.

December 25, 2012 – A Block Saves Arizona

Over the last three seasons, Arizona and San Diego State have developed a fun west coast rivalry with its fair share of great moments in big games. All of that started with Nick Johnson’s effort to preserve a win for the Wildcats on Christmas Day 2012 in the Diamond Head Classic. With only a few seconds left in the championship game and Arizona holding a one-point lead, Chase Tapley curled off a Skylar Spencer pick to drive the lane and put up what initially seemed like an uncontested game-winning layup. But Johnson — who was trailing the play because of Spencer’s screen — caught Tapley from behind and spectacularly blocked the shot off the backboard to prevent the bucket. The ball deflected toward Arizona’s Kevin Parrom, who corralled it to give Arizona the win and the tournament title. Arizona and SDSU played twice last season, both Wildcats’ victories (including a Sweet Sixteen match-up), and played for another holiday tournament title this season, as Arizona outlasted the Aztecs by two points for the Maui Invitiational title.

December 28, 2004 – Oklahoma State and Gonzaga Breed a Mini-Rivalry

In the first of what has become somewhat of a rivalry game, #12 Gonzaga went on the road and beat #3 Oklahoma State 78-75 in the All-College Classic in Oklahoma City. With star forward Ronny Turiaf limited by an ankle injury (he still had 10 points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes), J.P Batista came off the bench to score a then-career high 18 points to go with Adam Morrison’s 19 points and four assists in the win. The Bulldogs shot 57.4 percent from the floor and they needed every single shot. The game spawned an odd series of contests between the two programs (six in the last 10 seasons) that have been pretty solid, including a #8/#9 seed match-up in last year’s NCAA Tournament in which a combined 61 fouls were called.

David Harten runs The Backboard Chronicles. Find him on Twitter at @David_Harten.

David Harten (12 Posts)

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