We’re back today with another edition of BGTD. Today’s edition won’t be a long as yesterday’s BGTD because today’s games aren’t nearly as good as yesterday, but there are several worth watching. For a quick run-down of the games we’ll be focusing in on today, check out today’s Set Your Tivos. As always, you’re invited to join in on the comment section to tell me if something interesting is happen elsewhere or to correct my mistakes.
12:15 PM: Not much is going on yet. Just a couple of games featuring teams near the bottom of the Big East and MAAC. In the Big East contest, Seton Hall leads Rutgers by 2 with 11:49 left in the first half. Meanwhile, in the MAAC, Canisius is beating St. Peter’s 31-19 with 4:02 left in the first half. And that’s the last time you will hear any of those programs mentioned today (and for probably quite a while) unless something crazy happens (like a brother walking out on the court). I’ll be back around 1 PM when the real games start.
1:00 PM: Ok. We finally have some decent games getting underway pretty soon. Purdue at Illinois on CBS and Alabama at LSU on ESPN360. We’ll be following these games on BGTD.
1:20 PM: Pretty entertaining start with Illinois up 11-7 on Purdue with 15:41 left in the first half. It looks like we might have an entertaining Big Ten game today.
1:30 PM: Illinois is holding onto a 6-point lead with less 9:53 left. Matt Painter needs E’Twaun Moore to step it up (0 points so far) if he wants to steal one on the road. In other news, the CBS guys just made a joke about Jeffrey Jordan getting a scholarship.
1:45 PM: Illinois has opened up a 10-point lead with 4 minutes left. If the Boilermakers aren’t careful, they could get run out of the gym by halftime. In the SEC, LSU has a 13-point lead on Alabama with less than 4 minutes left in the half.
1:55 PM: Nice little run by Purdue to cut it to 3, but Demetri McCamey just converted a 3-point play to slow some of their momentum. Purdue responds with a basket to make it a 4-point game at half. Moore has just 2 points at half. Purdue has to be happy to go into half only down by 4 with Moore’s low output.
2:00 PM: Louisville and St. John’s are playing a close game midway through the first half. LSU is up by a dozen at half. We’ll be back in a bit when something interesting happens. I’ll probably be following the Purdue-Illinois game, but will be keeping an eye on the Louisville game.
2:05 PM: Seth Davis says Alabama is willing to pay north of $2 million per year for a head coach. He calls it “Tubby money”. The two guys he mentioned were Jeff Capel and Mike Davis.
2:15 PM: They just played “American Boy” by Estelle. I know it’s a promo/lead-in to a Grammy Awards mention, but couldn’t they have picked something a little better for a men’s college basketball game?
2:20 PM: Illinois has opened up a 9-point lead as Purdue calls a timeout. The Boilermakers have been lucky to stay in this game without Moore’s scoring and Robbie Hummel‘s continued absence.
2:30 PM: Purdue has cut it back to 4, but has not been able to take the lead as Illinois has led the entire way. Thanks to Scott for pointing out the awful Louisville-St. John’s game, which St. John’s leads 22-19. I’ll keep an eye on the 2nd half on ESPN360.com.
2:45 PM: Quick run-down of the scores. Illinois is up 51-40 on Purdue with less than 9 minutes left in the game. Charlotte is up 55-49 on Dayton with 7:56 left (potential upset there). NC State is up by 14 at half on Virginia Tech. Louisville is down by 1 at St. John’s early in the 2nd half. LSU is crushing Alabama.
In our attempt to provide you with the best college basketball coverage on the Internet, RTC is starting the “Boom goes the dynamite!” project. Yes, it’s a blatant rip-off of Deadspin’s Hugh Johnson Project for college football, but we have found someone who does something similar for college basketball, which is a vastly superior sport. This will be an evolving project so you may see a complete different format next week or even tomorrow as we figure out how to make this better. One thing you may notice is that my coverage of the games on TV may be a little spotty at times, but that’s partially a result of there being 5 early games being broadcast on my TV and the fact that the RTC East Coast HQ only has one television. [We're the fiscally responsible RTC office.]
For those of you who are totally confused by the title, it’s a reference to one of the greatest sports news videos of all-time featuring Brian Collins, then a freshman at Ball State, trying his hand at broadcast journalism. The hilarious result:
For our opening weekend, we’ll primarily be covering top 25 games (due to our lack of resources) unless something notable happens in another game.
Noon Games #11 Clemson def. NC State, 63-51: NC State was able to keep this game close for 25 minutes (tied at 33 at that point) before Clemson went on a 24-10 run to blow the game wide open. A pretty ugly game overall with NC State shooting 31.5% from the field and having only one player (Courtney Fells) scoring in double digits with 10 points. Trevor Booker was the only good player on the court with 23 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 blocks. Not much else to say here since the game was at Littlejohn Coliseum and I don’t think NC State is that good (all of their most impressive games this year have ended in losses). If you want to know what we think of the Tigers, check back with us after the 17th when they play Wake Forest.
#21 Louisville def. #17 Villanova, : After the Cardinals led by as much as 11 points in the 2nd half, Villanova came storming back to cut it just 3 point game with just under 6 minutes left. Louisville was hurt by its inability to connect from long range (3-for-25) and Samardo Samuels (15 points and 4 rebounds) fouling out with 4:43 left. For the next 2 minutes, the game continue at a frenetic pace before Dante Cunningham (a game-high 21 points) hit a 15-footer from the corner to give Villanova their first lead all day at 58-57 with 3:06 left. Rick Pitino immediately called a timeout to tell his entire team they could transfer calm down his team. The final 3 minutes were “highlighted” by both team’s inability to hit shots until Terrence Williams (12 points, 15 rebounds, and 6 assists) made a driving lay-up with 12 seconds left that must have bounced around the rim for 2-3 seconds. After that huge basket, Louisville tried to double-team Scottie Reynolds on the inbounds, but Villanova was able to find a streaking Corey Fisher who found himself with a 2-on-1 and dished it to Antonio Pena (solid with 14 points and 8 rebounds) who was fouled with 4.9 seconds left. Pena missed both FTs, but Louisville was unable to handle the rebound and Villanova got the ball back with 4 seconds left. They ran a good play coming out of a timeout finding Cunningham underneath for a contested layup, but he missed that and his teammates missed 2 more tips giving the Cardinals a hard-fought road win.
#15 Marquette def. #22 West Virginia, 73-55: This game was a lot closer than the final score indicates. The Golden Eagles only led 51-48 with 7:55 left then went on a 22-7 run to close it out. Jerel McNeal was the best player on the court with 26 points and 7 rebounds. The Golden Eagles also had a big edge at the FT line going a Duke-like 24-for-27 from the line compared to the Mountaineers 6-for-10. Bob Huggins will have 2 easy games (Marshall and USF at home) to get the Mountaineers playing well again before returning to the Big East gauntlet with games against Georgetown and Pittsburgh.
#25 Tennessee def. Georgia, 86-77: This was a game of big runs. Fortunately for Bruce Pearl, his team had the last one. The Volunteers, who will likely be out of the top 25 in the next poll, had to come through down the stretch after the Bulldogs took the lead 74-73 with 3:17 left. Tyler Smith led the Vols to victory with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Bruce Pearl will need his team to step it up as their next 7 games are tough (by SEC standards). After coming into the season as the heavy favorites to win the SEC, the Vols have failed to live up to expectations and will likely face a tough challenge from an underrated Arkansas team.
1 PM & 2 PM Games #2 Duke def. FSU, 66-58: You’ll have a hard time finding a stranger game. After the ugliest first half you will ever see, Duke led 19-14 at break. After that the Blue Devils came out on fire in the 2nd half opening up a 46-21 lead with 12:48 left. Then FSU came back to cut it to 50-40 with 6 minutes to go. Duke held on to win, but FSU earned a lot of respect with that near comeback. Gerald Henderson led Duke win a career-high 25 points. Jay Bilas was correct in pointing out that this year’s Duke team has a lot higher ceiling than last year’s team because of Henderson’s development. Teams should watch out for the Seminoles who played #1 Pittsburgh tough earlier this year. Am I the only one who heard the douchebag behind the ESPN announcers yelling “The Cameron Crazies suck!” and “We want Paulus!”? I guess when you go to a school with girls as hot as they have at FSU you shouldn’t expect to have the most intelligent crowds.
#6 Oklahoma def. Kansas State, 61-53:Blake Griffin is a beast. That’s about all there is to say about this game. Griffin put up 29 points and 15 rebounds. I would have liked to have seen the #6 team in the country win this game by more, but it’s a conference road game so I guess the Sooners still have to be happy. It’s too bad we couldn’t see Griffin matched up against Michael Beasley, who is having fun coming off the bench in Miami this winter. Monday will be the big test for Oklahoma as Texas comes up to Norman in a match-up that will help determine the best team in the Big 12.
#8 Michigan State def. Kansas, 75-62: After a slow start the Spartans opened up a big lead (37-18 at half) and continued to hold it for most of the 2nd half, but the Jayhawks showed a lot of poise at coming back to make it a close game. Kalin Lucas and Raymar Morgan helped the Spartans counter a strong game from Sherron Collins (25 points and 8 assists, but 8 turnovers).
#10 Georgetown def. Providence, 82-75: Georgetown had to rally to win this game as they trailed by as many as 9 in the first half. After a quiet first half, Greg Monroe ended up having the type of solid all-around game that makes NBA scouts drool (13 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists, 5 steals, and 2 blocks).
#13 Notre Dame def. Seton Hall, 88-79: This was actually a tie game with 8 minutes left, but the Fighting Irish were able to pull out another win at the Joyce Center. Luke Harangody had a rough day from the field (8-for-24) but ended up with 30 points and 16 rebounds to lead Notre Dame to the win.
#16 Arizona State def. Oregon, 76-58: Not much to say here except that it’s amazing how far Oregon’s program has fallen. A solid if unspectacular game from Pac-10 POY candidate James Harden (19 points).
#20 Butler def. Detroit, 54-50: Butler came out flat in this one falling behind 26-22 at half to a team that came into the game 4-10. The scarier thing is that they were at home for this too. Matt Howard was the only player in double figures with 15 points. If there was ever a time you should have your ranking drop because of a win, this would be it. If I voted in the BlogPoll, I would kick Butler out of the top 25 for this “win”.
#23 Baylor def. Texas Tech, 73-61: Nice win for Baylor here as they were led by Kevin Rogers with his 14 points and 14 rebounds. They look like a solid #3 in the Big 12 after Texas and Oklahoma.
Game of the Day. #4 Kansas 76, Arizona 72. The four-days-early game between Kansas and Arizona in the inaugural Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series was everything a college hoops fan could have hoped for in such a meeting between two powerhouse programs. It had stars making plays (Budinger and Rush), tightness throughout (no team had a greater than 4-pt lead in the second half), a tantalizingly close halfcourt buzzer-beater, and an overtime just to fuel the early season intensity. Our thoughts: 1) Brandon Rush (17/8) looks great for a guy who blew out his ACL a mere six months ago. He hit his first shot off the bench, took care of the ball, made both of his threes, and even threw down a couple of dunks in the OT to seal things. 2) Arizona showed a toughness we haven’t seen in a while. After getting down ten early (22-12), we expected the Wildcats to pack it in and take their 20+ pt beating while the Phog was rocking – but that didn’t happen. Instead, Arizona clawed back to tie the game at halftime, and led the game deep into the second half. We’re not sure that happens last year. 3) Chase Budinger’s (27/6) potential is mesmerizing – he always seems to be playing better than he actually is playing. For example, he hit six threes tonight, but only shot 10-23 from the field. 4) Arizona may be playing tougher, but they’re still playing dumb with the ball. 25 turnovers (14 by their starting guards) at Allen FH won’t cut it – given that stat, it’s amazing they had a chance to win the game in regulation. 5) Kansas is just scary when it comes to the talent they can put on the court. No surprise there, but this is a 30+ win team that could win the national title if things break right for them.
Other Games We Saw. NC State 69, #25 Villanova 68. The finals of the Old Spice Classic championship was another close game with a particularly insane ending. After battling toe-to-toe for most of the game (the biggest lead by either team was 7 pts), it appeared that Villanova was going to take the prize when Dante Cunningham tipped in a missed shot with 2.2 seconds remaining to give Nova a 1-pt lead. NC State then passed the ball length-of-the-court to Gavin Grant, who stepped behind the three-point line and was fouled in a ticky-tack call on the shot attempt by Cunningham with 0.4 seconds on the clock. Grant made two of three to put NCSU up by one, so it was then Villanova’s turn to throw the ball to the other end in hopes of a miracle. And they damn near got it – knowing they only had time for a tip, Villanova made two tips at the basket (the second attempt was very close and got off before the red light illuminated, according to our Tivo slo-mo) and neither dropped. Still, it was an exciting ending to a competitive game. Courtney Fells led the way for NCSU with 21, but it was a balanced attack from the Wolfpack (Grant & Hickson – 15 each; McCauley – 10) that led to the win. Villanova was paced by freshman Corey Fisher’s 21 pts, but special notoriety should go to Casiem Drummond, who with 17 rebounds singlehandedly kept numerous possessions alive for the Wildcats.
USC 70, #18 S. Illinois 45. This game completely shocked us – not just the result but the margin of victory (SIU’s worst loss in seven years). The usually disciplined Salukis couldn’t get anything to drop (eFG% = 38%), while the Men of Troy, led by Davon Jefferson (20/5), simply could not miss (eFG% = 65%). We’d watched two or three USC games already this year, and each time they looked uninterested, umotivated and overall underwhelming. Not tonight. Perhaps it had something to do with OJ Mayo’s benching (for what reason, Tim Floyd?), but the takeaway is that USC outclassed a reliably good team in every possible way tonight. Randal Falker is the only player who showed up for SIU, producing 17/12 for his efforts.