Posted by rtmsf on February 12th, 2009
Statement Game #1. UNC 101, Duke 87. The UNC seniors mentioned above joined a pair of former Deacs (Tim Duncan and Rusty LaRue) to become the only players to ever win all four of their games at CIS during their careers. This year’s version of UNC’s win reminded us a little of last year’s, where UNC had an early lead only to watch Duke get hot and take the lead deep into the second half before UNC went on another late run to seal the game away. Of course, the key similarity is that both years UNC has had the better team, and anyone who is buying into Duke as a legitimate title threat simply hasn’t been paying attention. UNC carved up the Duke defense to the tune of 55% shooting, particularly during a devastatingly effective stretch where Ty Lawson got to the rim at will (wouldn’t you if Greg Paulus was defending you?) and the Carolina offensive juggernaut blew the doors off the place. All five UNC starters hit for double figures, and although we certainly wouldn’t give the Carolina defense against Duke any major props, they were good enough in the second half to shut down the threes that the Devils were hitting in the first stanza (6 of their 8 were in the first half). We believe that Duke still has 2-3 more losses ahead of it on its schedule, but the Heels seem to be finding their swagger again – they may only lose one more game the rest of the regular season. Oh well, at least the Dookies won the Wiki battle (h/t Hugging Harold Reynolds)…
Statement Game #2. Connecticut 61, Syracuse 47. UConn pulled away in the second half of this game, once again in large part due to Hasheem Thabeet’s defensive presence in the middle. The big man had 8/16/7 blks on the stat sheet, but he influenced numerous other Syracuse possessions by forcing players to alter shots or simply think better of entering the lane. We’ve never been high on Thabeet, but even we have to admit that the past month or so he’s been spectacular, and UConn looks like the best team in the country when he’s doing his thing inside (similar to 2000 Cincinnati with Kenyon Martin in the post). Is Syracuse in trouble, now at 6-6 in the Big East? Home games against Georgetown and Villanova the next week are key to ensuring that Syracuse doesn’t get itself into trouble with the NCAA Tourney Cmte. – they need a minimum of one, but preferably both of those.
Upset of the Night #1. NC State 82, Wake Forest 76. Is it an upset anymore if Wake loses to a bottom-dwelling ACC opponent nowadays? Apparently Dino Gaudio’s team is looking to become this year’s Clemson by becoming the last undefeated team who then falls into the NIT. Impossible you say? Consider that Wake is now 5-4 in the ACC with road games still at Duke, Maryland and Virginia… if this snowball turns into an avalanche, the Deacs could end up 7-9 or so going into the ACC Tourney and squarely on the bubble. Just riddle us one question – how does an offensive talent like Jeff Teague play 36 minutes and only get three FGAs (he made two)? Things are not right with this team. Brandon Costner had 23/9 for NC State.
Upset of the Night #2. Dayton 71, Xavier 58. In an entertaining game in the A10 tonight that Dayton led from start to finish, the Flyers ended a six-game losing streak against the Musketeers behind a balanced effort featuring Chris Wright’s 19/6. Xavier had trouble shooting the ball from deep (3-14) and from the line (9-17), which resulted in a game where they could never quite get over the hump. This was a huge win for Dayton in terms of the A10 standings, as now both teams are 8-2, only behind St. Joseph’s at 7-1 in the league.
- Oklahoma 78, Baylor 63. Baylor hung around for a while, but it was the same old story as OU won its 30th in a row against Baylor behind Blake Griffin’s 21 dub-dub of the year (18/10). At 3-7 in the Big 12, the Bears are essentially finished at this point.
- Kansas St. 85, Texas Tech 73. K-State continues to surge, winning its sixth in a row behind a huge first half where the Cats ran out to a 49-25 lead.
- Utah 67, San Diego St. 55. The Utes took a one-game lead on surprising SDSU in the Mtn West race with a home win where Shaun Green came off the bench for 21/10.
- Purdue 61, Penn St. 47. Purdue held conference scoring leader Talor Battle to zero points on 0-7 shooting in a convincing (and needed) win by the Boilermakers, now tied with Illinois and OSU for second place in the league at 7-4.
- Drexel 62, Northeastern 58. Drexel used a key second-half run to drop the CAA leaders to three losses, pushing Northeastern into a tie with VCU
- Vermont 75, Boston U. 47. UVM took control of the top of the Am East standings with a key home win behind Marqus Blakely’s 12/13/4 assts.
- Memphis 63, Tulsa 37. The Memphis defense is hitting on all cylinders right now, holding Tulsa to 36% shooting and forcing 24 turnovers in this shellacking.
- LSU 97, Mississippi St. 94 (2OT). Probably the game of the night, as Tasmin Mitchell blew up for 41/11/5 assts including a late three-point play that gave the Tigers their 20th overall win and to go 8-1 in the SEC. Is LSU the best team in this sorry league? They’re certainly playing like it.
- Wisconsin 69, Iowa 52. Wisconsin won its third straight to get to 6-6 in the Big Ten and put that nasty six-game losing streak well behind them.
- Tennessee 79, Georgia 48. UGa is right there with Indiana, Depaul and Oregon as the worst BCS conference teams in America. There are now four SEC East teams at 6-3 in the league.
- Northern Iowa 81, S. Illinois 55. UNI shot 54% in a pasting of the Salukis to go to 12-2 in the Valley.
- Creighton 79, Bradley 65. Creighton kept the pressure on UNI by winning a wild game involving a cheerleader getting knocked out cold by P’Allen Stinnett, who contributed 15/3 tonight.
On Tap Thursday (all times EST).
- Louisville @ Notre Dame (ESPN) – 7pm. Let there be no question about this game for Notre Dame – it’s a must-win. Seven in a row cannot become eight.
- Temple @ St. Joseph’s (ESPN360) – 7pm. A key A10 game between Big 5 rivals that could potentially result in a three-way tie at the top of the league.
- Robert Morris v. Sacred Heart (ESPN360) – 8pm. Your NEC game of the year! Can SH pressure 11-1 Robt. Morris?
- UCLA @ Arizona State (ESPN) – 9pm. The Bruins have been rolling lately, but will be put to the test in the desert against the team that last beat them.
- Illinois @ Northwestern (ESPN360) – 9pm. The Illini are in a battle for the #2 seed in the Big Ten, so they can’t afford to drop this one. Of course, in their last two road games, they’ve scored a total of 86 pts.
- USC @ Arizona (FSN) – 10:30pm. These two teams are probably the most confounding in America this season.
- Oregon St. @ Washington (FSN) – 11pm. OSU has been a lot more competitive than anybody expected this year, so UW should be vigilant here.
- Gonzaga @ St. Mary’s (ESPN2) – 11pm. This was supposed to be an RTC Live event but SMC is apparently too world-renowned to give media access to “blog sites” such as RTC. Wonder if that will still be true when Patty Mills is playing for pay and the Contra Costa Times won’t even show up? Patty Mills isn’t playing – go to bed.