Rushed Reactions: Saint Louis 70, Texas A&M 49

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 19th, 2012

Brian Goodman is an RTC editor and correspondent. He filed this report from the first semifinal of the Edward Jones CBE Hall of Fame Classic Monday night.

Here are three thoughts from Saint Louis’ dismantling of Texas A&M:

  1. SLU Can Get By And Then Some Without Mitchell and Majerus. The Aggies aren’t likely to turn many heads in their first season in the SEC, but Billikens’ head coach Jim Crews did a terrific job executing his game plan in all facets despite some athletic mismatches. Saint Louis frustrated Texas A&M by denying second chances, holding Billy Kennedy‘s team to a meager 15.2% offensive rebounding rate and forcing 18 turnovers. The methodical pace of the game didn’t allow for gaudy individual totals, but a collective defensive effort and constant activity in SLU’s halfcourt sets allowed the Billikens to get stops and open looks with regularity. Transition offense was hard to come by, but in a tougher Atlantic 10, Saint Louis’ patience and defensive toughness will allow the team to hang with the conference’s best squads. SLU also showed an ability to bounce back from adversity. Last week, the team took two significant losses, one to Santa Clara and one to their coach’s declining health as Majerus officially stepped down from his post and the “interim” tag was removed from Crews’ title. Majerus’ departure wasn’t unexpected, but the same can’t be said for Saint Louis’ head-scratching home loss to SCU. Beating a mediocre Texas A&M squad won’t erase last week’s blemish, but there’s something to be said for a team that can bounce back in such convincing fashion.
  2. Texas A&M Is Sorely Lacking In Cohesion: Ray Turner may have sunk all of his shots tonight, but he attempted only four. As one of the expected leaders at Texas A&M, he’ll have to play a bigger role than what he displayed Monday night. Turner was only passively involved in the offense and his frustration may have been planted in the opening minutes of the game. He was forced to call an early timeout on an inbounds play, and at the foul line a few minutes later, Turner came away with an empty trip. He was hardly the only one on his team who struggled, however. Elston Turner poured in a team-high 16 points, but did so on an inefficient 12 shots while committing five turnovers. The Aggies turned the ball over 18 times as a team, committed 22 fouls, and shot an abysmal 44% from the stripe. Tabbed to finish ninth by the SEC media, A&M was bound to struggle after Khris Middleton’s departure, but the Aggies will need much more from their senior leaders, to say nothing of their role players, to stay competitive in a top-heavy conference.
  3. Keep An Eye On Jordair Jett In The Backcourt: It wouldn’t be a cliche if there wasn’t some truth to it, but SLU has an invaluable cog in its experienced point guard, Jordair Jett. The junior displayed excellent court vision against the Aggies, dishing out a career-high eight assists. Jim Crews was very laudatory towards his floor general after the game, citing his familiarity with the system and knowledge of where his teammates are at all times. As a big guard at 215 pounds, one might expect Jett to be more aggressive and use his body to absorb contact on the way to the rim at least occasionally, but his patient and savvy style is a breath of fresh air from some of the out-of-control point guard play we’ve seen throughout the country in the young season. Jett wasn’t afraid to use his strength on defense, though, as he grabbed five rebounds and tallied three steals. His four turnovers indicate that he’s far from a finished product, but his willingness to let plays develop could play a huge role in SLU’s chances against Kansas Tuesday night.
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SEC Power Rankings: Week One

Posted by DPerry on November 19th, 2012

Every week, the SEC microsite will post a composite power ranking list for the league’s performances coupled with a short commentary justifying each team’s specific ranking. We’ve been able to see each team in action, but with vastly different degrees of difficulty as far as scheduling, we’ll need to see more before the rankings truly take form.

A perfect night for Erik Murphy propels the Gators to the top spot.

  1. Florida– The Gators’ offense has shown the potential to be dominant. The lineup is bursting at the seams with skilled scorers, both in the frontcourt and backcourt. In going 10-10 from the field, we’ve probably seen senior Erik Murphy‘s best performance of the season, but he should have no problem improving on last year’s breakout campaign. Turnovers have been a concern, but with the reinstatement of point guard Scottie Wilbekin allowing Kenny Boynton to move to the two, Florida should be able to take better care of the ball.
  2. Kentucky– The loss to Duke isn’t a huge concern. The Blue Devils are a quality, veteran team. No, the real problem with the Wildcats so far is the lack of depth. Jarrod Polson, a star against Maryland, was completely ineffective against a more disciplined defense, and John Calipari only trusted Willie Cauley-Stein enough to give him six minutes. The continued absence of Ryan Harrow leaves Kentucky without a true point guard, a role not suited for Archie Goodwin or Julius Mays. Still, in watching the young Wildcats play, it’s tough to argue that they have the highest ceiling of any SEC team.
  3. MissouriFrank Haith has used his first few games to assess all the new talent that arrived in Columbia this offseason. Auburn transfer Earnest Ross and freshman Negus Webster-Chan have been particularly impressive. We’ll know a lot more about the Tigers after the face three quality opponents in the Battle 4 Atlantis this week. Read the rest of this entry »
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SEC Coaches and RTC Staff Select All-SEC Teams

Posted by KAlmekinder on November 9th, 2012

The college hoops season is underway today and there were still a few preseason lists left to be voted upon. The SEC coaches selected their first and second team all-SEC squads earlier at the SEC Headquarters in Birmingham. Ten different schools were represented in the process, with Tennessee leading with three selections. Arkansas, Kentucky, Ole Miss, and Florida were represented with two selections apiece. The results can be found below.

Jeronne Maymon is one of three Volunteers represented on the preseason Coaches’ All-Conference squads.

First-Team All-SEC
Name, School Pos. Ht. Wt. Class Hometown
Trevor Releford, Alabama G 6-0 195 Jr. Kansas City, Mo.
B.J. Young, Arkansas G 6-3 180 So. St. Louis, Mo.
Kenny Boynton, Florida G 6-2 190 Sr. Pompano Beach, Fla.
Patric Young, Florida C 6-9 249 Jr. Jacksonville, Fla.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia G 6-5 205 So. Greenville, Ga.
Nerlens Noel, Kentucky F 6-10 228 Fr. Everett, Mass.
Phil Pressey, Missouri G 5-11 175 Jr. Dallas, Texas
Jeronne Maymon, Tennessee F 6-7 260 Sr. Madison, Wis.
Second-Team All-SEC
Name, School Pos. Ht. Wt. Class Hometown
Marshawn Powell, Arkansas F 6-7 240 Jr. Newport News, Va.
Alex Poythress, Kentucky F 6-7 239 Fr. Clarksville, Tenn.
Johnny O’Bryant III, LSU F 6-9 256 So. Cleveland, Miss.
Reginald Buckner, Ole Miss F 6-9 225 Sr. Memphis, Tenn.
Murphy Holloway, Ole Miss F 6-7 240 Sr. Irmo, S.C.
Trae Golden, Tennessee G 6-1 205 Jr. Powder Springs, Ga.
Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee F 6-8 270 So. Memphis, Tenn.
Elston Turner, Texas A&M G 6-5 212 Sr. Sacramento. Calif.

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Pac-12 M5: The Halloween Edition

Posted by KDanna on October 31st, 2012

  1. Happy Halloween, everyone. Arizona will treat its fans to an exhibition against Humboldt State tonight at the McKale Center. Exhibitions are usually for the die-hards, but probably more than a few casual fans will make their way over to the Tucson campus to catch a glimpse of the third-ranked recruiting class in action for the first time against somebody other than themselves. One question surrounding this class is whether it will be able to live up to the hype better than last year’s class. Remember how highly touted the trio of Nick Johnson, Josiah Turner and Angelo Chol were? All signs point to Grant Jerrett, Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley  and Gabe York as able to deliver in a bigger way this season, but one can never be 100 percent certain until they perform in a game. This contest will also provide Wildcat supporters with a first look at point guard Mark Lyons in an Arizona uniform, as the mercurial senior averaged 15 points per game last year at Xavier. It’s also worth mentioning that the Wildcats lost their exhibition opener last year to Seattle Pacific, but I find it hard to believe that a similar result will be produced against Humboldt State on this night.
  2. The NCAA approved tougher sanctions against those programs and coaches who buck the NCAA law. A couple of the more striking provisions are that NCAA violators who are found to be in “serious breach of conduct” could potentially suffer similar punishments to the one handed out to the Penn State football team (a four-year postseason ban and a $60 million fine). Also, if an assistant coach commits a serious violation, the head coach must be able to prove that he or she was unaware of the assistant’s actions; if not, the head coach could be suspended for anywhere from 10 percent to the entire season. All changes will go into effect starting August 1, 2013. While the coaches who are quoted in the various articles seem to be largely in favor of these tougher sanctions, it obviously still remains to be seen how effective these changes will be. As has been the case throughout history, cheaters will find a way to continue their cheating ways. Hopefully these tougher penalties will accomplish the NCAA’s and everyone’s goal of a markedly cleaner collegiate athletics scene.
  3. Another day, another CBS Sports list. On Tuesday, it was the top 50 shooters in the country, a list that made space for three current Pac-12 players: Washington’s C.J. Wilcox (No. 11), California’s Allen Crabbe (No. 12) and Stanford’s Chasson Randle (No. 41). Additionally, former Husky and current Texas A&M Aggie Elston Turner made the cut at No. 19. No real gripes here, but perhaps Aaron Bright was also deserving of a nod, especially considering his play during the 2012 NIT, a five-game run that earned him NIT Most Outstanding Player honors. What’s noteworthy with this list is that 35 of the 50 players come from non-power conference schools, including representatives from Texas Pan-American and Texas Southern. For those not curious enough to check out the list, former Razorback-turned-Butler Bulldog Rotnei Clarke holds down the top spot.
  4. Earlier this week,’s Eamonn Brennan released his top 10 rebounders in the country, and Colorado’s André Roberson topped the list. We’re probably a little biased here at the Pac-12 microsite because we get to see Roberson play so often, but there’s no faulting Brennan for this selection. Roberson is an elite rebounder thanks to his hops, long arms and overall very high basketball IQ. There were spots during last year’s Pac-12 Tournament where Roberson looked like a future lottery pick, especially when he started to knock down a few threes. He certainly has that kind of upside, and big things are expected again of the only guy in the Pac-12 to average a double-double last season. There were no freshmen in Brennan’s top 10, but Kaleb Tarczewski and Grant Jerrett of Arizona both made his “freshmen to watch” mentions.
  5. Lastly, the Pac-12 announced its talent lineup for the Pac-12 Networks’ men’s basketball coverage for the upcoming season. Headlined by Bill Walton, other analysts include Don MacLean, Ernie Kent, Lenny Wilkens and Detlef Schrempf. The play-by-play lineup doesn’t necessarily include as many big names, but all are very good broadcasters and will not disappoint viewers. The most famous of the play-by-play guys is probably Ted Robinson, a two-time Emmy winner who has done just about every sport imaginable. Overall, it’s a very intriguing lineup of broadcasters and it should keep Pac-12 Networks broadcasts for men’s basketball entertaining.
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Nothing Says Team-Building Like 5 AM Runs With the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets

Posted by Brian Joyce on October 23rd, 2012

Texas A&M welcomes seven newcomers to its team and was picked to finish ninth in its first SEC preseason media poll on Monday, but don’t expect the Aggies to go down without a fight. Coach Billy Kennedy’s squad didn’t usher in the new year with a celebratory “Madness” practice last week, but the Aggies did go straight to work. The team hit the streets of campus to participate in 5 AM workouts with the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets, as seen in the video below:

Kennedy knows that A&M has a long way to go to become competitive in the SEC. The Aggies finished at the bottom of the Big 12 last season with a 4-14 conference mark. A big key to A&M’s turnaround will be seniors Ray Turner and Elston Turner, and Kennedy expects a lot from his team leaders this season. “We need those guys to have great years on and off the court from a leadership standpoint,” Kennedy said. “They’ve been solid, but I would like for them to give a little bit more leadership. … You look at our team and those two guys are the only two that have legitimate Division I experience.”

Texas A&M plays an exhibition on November 3 against Incarnate Word and opens up the season on November 9 with Louisiana Tech. The Aggies’ first taste of the SEC will come Wednesday, January 9 against Arkansas in Reed Arena in College Station. Perhaps these early morning bonding and team-building experiences will pay off for this inexperienced group come SEC play.

Brian Joyce is a writer for the SEC microsite and regular contributor for Rush The Court. Follow him on Twitter for more about SEC basketball at bjoyce_hoops.

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SEC M5: 10.22.12 Edition

Posted by DPerry on October 22nd, 2012

  1. After the 2009-10 season, high-scoring Rutgers guard Mike Rosario was one of the top prizes of the transfer market. He committed to play for Billy Donovan at Florida, but largely disappointed in his debut campaign with the Gators. How can he ensure a bounce-back year? Consistency. Says Donovan, “His biggest issue – and No. 1 issue – is inconsistency. And not only on the court; everywhere he’s inconsistent”. With the departures of Bradley Beal and Erving Walker leaving the backcourt thin, Florida can’t afford another season of Rosario providing few minutes and low shooting percentages. Motivating a player through public comments isn’t ideal, but if Rosario takes the message to heart, he has the potential to be a dangerous scoring threat off the Florida bench.
  2. Donovan isn’t the only coach counting on a senior guard to come up big. Skylar McBee was a pleasant surprise in coach Cuonzo Martin’s first season, nearly doubling his minutes and scoring totals, and the Tennessee coach expects his role to expand even more. The Volunteers enter the season with high expectations based primarily on a potentially dominant frontcourt, but Jarnell Stokes and Jeronne Maymon will need quality shooting from deep to carve out the kind of space they need. Several candidates will be competing for playing time in the backcourt beside point guard Trae Golden, and McBee’s stroke should earn him a plenty of minutes.
  3. After leading Missouri to a 30-5 record and scooping up multiple national coach of the year awards, you might think Frank Haith would be a little cocky heading into the new season. Think again. In front of a crowd of alumni and boosters last week, Haith did his best to temper expectations, pointing out that the Tigers only return two key contributors from last year’s team. Missouri could struggle early as Haith works to assemble all his new parts, but with All-America candidate Phil Pressey manning the point, don’t be surprised if the adjustment period is brief.
  4. Texas A&M kicked off its season Friday with the annual Maroon & White scrimmage. The Aggie faithful saw freshman point guard J’Mychal Reese put up 15 points in the game, while Elston Turner and Ray Turner chipped in with 14 apiece. Coach Billy Kennedy’s team enters the SEC without a lot of hype, but A&M should be significantly improved from last year. The Turners (no relation) should serve as the two main offensive threats, and if the talented Reese can provide some scoring punch from the point, a finish in the top half of the league is an attainable goal.
  5. Willie Cauley-Stein was the least-hyped member of coach John Calipari’s uber-recruiting class, but after posterizing Nerlens Noel at Midnight Madness, the 7-footer has developed quite a buzz. According to reports, that momentum is carrying over into practice. The former high school wide receiver is showing soft hands and an ability to run the floor. Noel, a more polished defender, will see more playing time, but Cauley-Stein should get his fair share, forming an especially imposing frontline when they’re on the court together.
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SEC Transition Basketball: Texas A&M Aggies

Posted by Brian Joyce on September 6th, 2012

Let’s finish these off this week with the last few of what we’re calling it Transition Basketball, an offseason look at each of the 14 SEC basketball programs. Today’s update: Texas A&M.

State of the Program

Billy Kennedy’s first season in College Station came with high expectations. The Aggies were on a roll, making the NCAA Tournament in the previous five seasons, with junior Khris Middleton back to lead the way along with seniors David Loubeau and Dash Harris. Texas A&M was a consensus top 25 pick in the preseason, and a popular choice to finish in the top echelon of the Big 12 with national powerhouses Kansas, Baylor, and Missouri. However, the popular pick isn’t always the right pick. Mark Turgeon left the cupboard fully stocked with athleticism and experience, but after an 8-1 start, the Aggies fell flat the rest of the way going 6-17 the remainder of the season. Bad fortune struck the Aggies when 6’9″ forward Kourtney Roberson went down in late December with an ankle injury and freshman Jamal Branch decided mid-season that he wanted to transfer to St. Johns. Harris and Middleton were both slowed by injuries. Unfortunately for A&M fans, even with a little luck on their side, it’s not likely the team’s win column will improve drastically in its first season in the SEC.

Kennedy can’t afford another disappointing effort in College Station

Though three key pieces (Middleton, Loubeau, and Harris) from last year are gone, several role players could step up to fill those roles. There is promise down low in 6’9″ forwards Ray Turner (9.1 PPG and 5.5 RPG) and Roberson (4.6 PPG and 4.9 RPG) who is back along with a bill of good health after he was granted a medical hardship for his injury last season. 6’5″ guard Elston Turner scored a solid 13.8 points per game in his first year in College Station and will likely need to score with even more efficiency this year for the Ags to be successful. But is that enough for Kennedy’s club to make significant improvement?

Read the rest of this entry »

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Checking In On… The Big 12 Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 20th, 2012

Steve Fetch is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12. You can also find his musings online at Rock Chalk Talk or on Twitter @fetch9.

Reader’s Take


The Week That Was

  • Baylor Falls At Home: Baylor had only lost conference games to Kansas and Missouri, but that changed with a one-point loss at home against Kansas State. Despite Wildcat freshman Angel Rodriguez traveling on an easy layup, Baylor could not win on its last possession when freshman Quincy Miller missed a shot with just seconds left. Baylor didn’t score in the final two minutes of the game, and had a couple of possessions marred by some physical play that went uncalled. The loss drops the Bears into a tie with Iowa State for third in the league.
  • Can The Jayhawks Make A Deep Run?: One of the tenets in picking a national champion is finding a team that is ranked in the KenPom top ten in both offensive and defensive efficiency. At this point, only two teams meet these criteria: Kentucky and Kansas. The Jayhawks are tenth in adjusted offense and fourth in adjusted defense, giving them the ability to play with any team in the nation. Though its offense has been concentrated in Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor (and lately Jeff Withey), the Jayhawks have good defenders all over the floor, which is exactly how Bill Self likes it. Considering the perception of Kansas coming into the season after losing the Morris twins, Self’s team has come a long way.
  • A Banner Day In Stillwater: Oklahoma State’s Keiton Page had the game of his career, scoring a career-high 40 points in a win over Texas. Page was efficient from the field, going 4-6 from two and 4-8 from three, but he was fantastic from the line, getting to the charity stripe 20 times and making every last one. Page’s shooting percentages have dropped a bit this year as he’s had to take a more active role in the offense, but Saturday was a reminder of what shooting skill the senior has.

Phil Pressey And The Tigers Keep Their Eyes On The Prize As They Battle Kansas In Lawrence This Saturday. (US Presswire)

Power Rankings

  1. Missouri (25-2, 12-2): Missouri has the best offense in the country (by a good margin), but its defense has been just mediocre. The Tigers are now fourth in the Big 12 in defensive efficiency, and have allowed over a point per possession in five of their last six games. Hosting a Kansas State team that struggles to score should give Frank Haith’s crew an opportunity to tighten up its defense.
  2. Kansas (18-5, 8-2): Kansas has never lost to Texas Tech in Allen Fieldhouse, winning this year’s edition by 33 points. Four Jayhawks scored in double figures, including Conner Teahan, who made three of his five threes, which is a huge key for the Jayhawks if they want to advance far in the NCAA Tournament. Probably the player who most delighted the home crowd, though, was walk-on Jordan Juenemann, who scored a career-high 7 points in the waning minutes. Read the rest of this entry »
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 01.25.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on January 25th, 2012

  1. The Faisal Aden Explosion (I’m pretty sure that was a British invasion band, right?) still has Washington State fans buzzing several days later. Back before conference play, Jeff Nusser at CougCenter wrote an excellent piece on the harm that Aden’s bombs-away philosophy on offense was doing to the Cougars’ chance. Yesterday we got his reaction to Aden’s weekend outburst, in which he points out that the player we saw this weekend clearly has stolen the identity of the guy we used to know as Faisal Aden. Or, barring that likelihood, he’s at least changed his game drastically. Going back to the Washington game, Aden has earned trips to the free throw line at a far greater rate and he has dialed back his attempts from behind the three-point line drastically. It will be interesting to see if Aden can keep it up this weekend.
  2. A couple weeks after being dismissed from the Arizona State basketball team, Keala King has landed at Long Beach State. According to his Twitter feed, his first day on campus was yesterday, meaning he should be eligible to play at the end of the fall semester next year for the 49ers, near where he grew up in Southern California.  Given LBSU’s track record of playing any and all comers from anywhere around the country, you haven’t seen the last of King.
  3. In the wake of yet another Pac-12 dismissal, freshman Kareem Storey has taken over as the point guard at Utah. When head coach Larry Krystkowiak dismissed senior point Josh Watkins, he was left with little choice but to hand over the keys to the Ute offense to Storey. And while Storey’s numbers have gone up with the increased playing time (he’s averaging 10.7 points and six assists per game in the three games he has started in Watkins’ absence), Krystkowiak still sees plenty of room for improvement. Nevertheless, the fact that Utah is now spending the rest of this year giving Storey more experience and building him up for next year instead of throwing minutes at a problem child who was going to be gone next year anyway, means this program is officially building for the future now.
  4. Another freshman guard is making a big impact at the other new Pac-12 school this year, as tiny Askia Booker has jumped right into his role as Colorado’s sixth man. Head coach Tad Boyle was the only coach at a power conference school to offer Booker a scholarship, and Booker keeps a chip on his shoulder over that perceived slight with a special grudge held for his hometown school and one of this weekend’s opponents, UCLA. Booker participated in open gym sessions at UCLA and made his interest in playing for the Bruins apparent, but despite helping his team to a state title as a junior, Booker couldn’t turn any heads in Westwood, a decision that looks like yet another questionable personnel decision from Ben Howland’s staff.
  5. Washington is sitting as 12-7 on the season and 5-2 in conference play, numbers that are not sitting well with a lot of Husky fans. At Husky Haul, Jeff Taylor says that despite some of the bad breaks that the Washington program has had to deal with this year, the blame for the Huskies’ mediocrity lies squarely on Lorenzo Romar and some of the bad decisions he has made in previous recruiting classes. Taylor kills Romar for Charles Garcia’s inability to get eligible at Washington, for Elston Turner and Clarence Trent transferring, for not pursuing guys like Jamaal Franklin (who wound up at San Diego State) and Joe Eberhard (who went to Sacramento State). Honestly, there’s obviously some blame to be laid at Romar’s feet (he is, after all, the head coach – the buck stops there), but these several points seem to be stretches, especially when the team’s defensive struggles and chemistry problems seem to be much easier targets. But, it is still an interesting read, and the comments afterward go a long way towards capturing the feeling of frustration in the Husky fan base. And all this for a team that is currently only a half game out of first place in the conference!
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Set Your TiVo: 01.23.12

Posted by Brian Otskey on January 23rd, 2012

Brian Otskey is the Big East correspondent for RTC and a regular contributor. You can find him @botskey on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

Syracuse has a quick turnaround on the road after losing to Notre Dame on Saturday. Can Cincinnati make it two straight losses for the Orange? Rankings are subject to change with a new RTC Top 25 coming out today.

#1 Syracuse @ Cincinnati – 7:00 PM EST on ESPN (****)

  • After suffering a surprising first loss at Notre Dame on Saturday, Syracuse is back in action 48 hours later on the road against one of the hottest teams in the Big East. Cincinnati would tie Syracuse in the loss column with a win, becoming one of six teams with two losses. How do the Orange avoid that fate? It’s simpler than you might think. Shoot the ball better (34% vs. ND) and defend at a high level. Even without Fab Melo in the lineup, Syracuse has much more depth than Cincinnati. Good guard play out of Scoop Jardine and Dion Waiters will be important for the Orange. Cincinnati will look to slow the pace and make this game a half court battle. Syracuse needs to rebound the ball well and get out and run at every chance. Waiters adds that spark off the bench for Jim Boeheim but Jardine has to take care of the basketball and move the ball well in half court situations.

    With Fab Melo Out, Will Cincinnati Find It Easier In The Paint ?

  • The Bearcats are 5-2 in the Big East and this would obviously be a monumental win for their NCAA Tournament resume. With no Melo, Cincinnati will find it a bit easier to get shots off around the basket as well as to rebound. Cincinnati is ranked a paltry #228 in two-point percentage but Yancy Gates could be the key guy for Mick Cronin. Cincinnati shoots a lot of threes and opportunities will be plentiful against the 2-3 Syracuse zone. If the threes aren’t falling, Gates needs to be there to clean the boards and finish the second opportunities. Without Melo anchoring the paint, Syracuse, already vulnerable on the defensive glass to begin with, could really struggle to keep Gates off the backboards. Sean Kilpatrick shoots 39.4% from deep for a team that gets over a third of its points from beyond the arc. If the Bearcats aren’t shooting the ball well over the zone, it’s lights out for Cincinnati. To get quality shots against the zone, the ball must be moved to the free throw line area. If Cronin rotates players like Kilpatrick back and forth from the three point line to the foul line, Cincinnati should be able to get quite a few open looks.
  • One thing Cincinnati must be careful of is long rebounds off of missed threes. That can lead to easy transition buckets for Waiters and the Orange, increasing the pace to a level Cronin doesn’t want to see. The Bearcats must slow the game down, protect the ball and get back in transition. Cincinnati has not defended all that well in Big East play but it must tonight in order to pull the upset. Keep an eye on the turnover margin. Cincinnati does a fabulous job of ball protection with Cashmere Wright running the point but Syracuse may be the best team in the nation at forcing steals and turnovers to fuel its transition attack. If Cincinnati shoots well and keeps control of the ball, the Bearcats will be in this game to the end with a chance to hand Syracuse its second consecutive loss.
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