Not a Blockbuster Night — More Like Netflix. Back in October, we wrote that tonight’s two featured games between West Virginia-Villanova and Kansas-Texas were two of the top twenty games of the year on the schedule. At the time, we thought there was a good chance that the first game would feature the best two teams in the Big East, while the second game could involve the top two teams in the whole country. As it turned out, the Big East game did in fact involve two of the top teams in the conference (but probably not the best, Syracuse), but the Big 12 game only got half of the equation right — the #1 Kansas part. Still, the slate tonight held four of the top 14 teams in the latest polls, and we anticipated a great evening of college basketball ahead of us. That assumption was wrong, as both games tonight were rather ugly affairs involving poor shooting and a bunch of turnovers. All we can hope is that the rest of Rivalry Week looks nothing like tonight’s tandem of busts.
- #5 Villanova 82, #4 West Virginia 75. Villanova and Scottie Reynolds continue to win games where on paper they appear to be at a disadvantage. Tonight the Wildcats ran out to a quick lead in Morgantown behind a hot Corey Fisher, but it was (who else?) Scottie Reynolds who broke out with 19 of his 21 points (along with 4 rebs/5 assts/3 stls) in the second half to ensure that the Cats moved to 10-1 in the Big East race (tied at first with Syracuse). To win at WVU, you need to do several things very well on both ends of the court, and Villanova did most of them, such as hitting 57% of their FGs, missing only three foul shots and going +10 on the boards. Perhaps more importantly, VU also held Da’Sean Butler to a mere 13 points on 2-12 shooting, easily his worst game in over a month and a far cry from the 43 he dropped on Jay Wright’s team last season in a beatdown of the Wildcats. Now that both Syracuse and Villanova have gone into Morgantown and gotten wins this year, we’re confident in stating that those are without question the best two teams in this league. WVU and Georgetown are on the next tier, and then there’s a mess of about 4-6 teams that are largely equal but not serious threats this season. The top of this league is better than any other conference by far, though.
- #1 Kansas 80, #14 Texas 68. The second game of the night was even uglier and less exciting than the first. After a good start for the home team to lead 14-8, Kansas went on a ridiculous 22-0 run over ten minutes to effectively put the game away very early. It was a comedy of errors for the Horns as Kansas repeatedly stole the ball for easy runouts and three-pointers, and even though the halftime lead was only ten points, nobody in the building (including the Texas players) gave a sense that they were going to come back and win the game. KU punched Texas in the mouth and the Longhorns didn’t like the sight of their own blood. How bad was it for UT? The two Kansas all-americans Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich combined to shoot 5-23 and yet this game was never in question after the second tv timeout. Let that sink in for a moment… As for Texas, we’re starting to believe that this team is finished for the season. There appear to be underlying problems that probably relate to definition of roles and teamwork, because the Horns appear to be a bunch of individuals playing out there. Damion James had his typically strong night with 24/10 and J’Covan Brown had a strong second half (26 pts), but only three other Longhorns even scored tonight (Gary Johnson, Avery Bradley and Dexter Pittman combined for 16 points)! With all of the individual talent on Rick Barnes’ team, that’s simply inexcusable. Kansas moves to 9-0 in the Big 12 and Texas drops to 5-4, two teams clearly headed in opposite directions.
Other Games of National Interest.