The sports world may have told us that this was a college football weekend, but we know better, right?
That Kentucky vs. UNC is Meaningful Again. Now that John Calipari is at Kentucky and his Cats are ranked in the Top 10 with a legitimate shot at postseason glory for the first time in a long while, it’s good to have this game on the early-season schedule. UK rode a masterful 28-2 run to build an early 19-point lead behind John Wall’s 16/5/7 assts even though he spent much of the game cramping up, and the record crowd of 24k+ at Rupp Arena loved it… until UNC got their young legs settled in the second half, and a late 12-1 run got the Heels within one bucket with 0:33 remaining. Eric Bledsoe and John Wall made five pressure-filled FTs to close it out 68-66 and UK moved to 8-0 on the season while UNC fell to 7-2. One thing was clear, though — both of these teams are going to get a lot better before March – can we set a rematch in Indy on Semifinal Saturday four months from now?
Oregon State. For putting an end to the discussion that was already gurgling (ahem) about the Pac-10 getting swept in the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series. The Beavers defeated Colorado 74-69 on Friday night to give the Pac-10 its first win in the Series, and through the weekend games, only Cal’s dominant home victory over Iowa State was the other. The Big 12 now leads 8-2 in the matchup, and with two games remaining at Pac-10 venues, we’re still not coinvinced that the league will get another win (Oklahoma State @ Stanford & Texas A&M @ Washington).
Reggie Jackson. It didn’t count, but lordy… Jackson damn near brough the entire world down with this ridiculous dunk (below) at the end of the BC-Miami (FL) game on Sunday. Still, Jackson dropped 18/9 in a conference opener for both teams that showed both of these teams will be heard from in the ACC this season. BC dominated the glass 43-19, but it was Jackson’s FTs (not a dunk) with three seconds remaining that gave BC the home win to go to 1-0 in league play.
Dunk to Win. How about a dunk that did count? On Saturday afternoon, Ole Miss’ Eniel Polynice broke free for a throwdown right before the buzzer that ended up being the winning margin, 81-79, over Southern Miss. This was the capper on a wild game that saw the 7-1 Rebels come back from six pts down in the final minute to take the lead and win the game on that dunk. We’ve yet to find online video of this play but it’s really impressive, so if someone finds it a link to the dunk only, please let us know. Chris Warren added 20/6 assts for Ole Miss, while Gary Flowers contributed 20/8 for Southern Miss. Afterwards, USM coach Larry Eustachy found time to throw Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury under the bus for not playing his team. Good times.
Gravity. If you haven’t heard by now, Ohio State superstar Evan Turner took a nasty spill after attempting a dunk in the first few minutes of the Buckeyes’ 111-60 mauling of Eastern Michigan on Saturday afternoon. He landed on the small of his back and broke two vertebrae which will shelve the early-season leading candidate for NPOY for at least eight weeks. Ohio State will undoubtedly have trouble recovering from his loss during that time. For a more detailed description and video of the fall, see our report from Saturday.
A 22-point Half. You probably missed this on Friday night, but we didn’t. Pitt and New Hampshire tried their best to set the game back fifty years with a wretched offensive performance during a 15-7 first half. You read that right. 15-7. The 22 combined points was the lowest for a half in the shot-clock era, which began in 1985. It may as well have been 1955, though, as Pitt won 47-32 with the two teams combining for 31% shooting and Pitt in particular getting almost all of its points from two players — 23 from Ashton Gibbs and 19 from Brad Wanamaker. In fact, the entire Pitt front line contributed a total of three points. We’re not sure what exactly caused this, guys, but let’s please not let this happen again, ok?
She Looks Different With the Lights On. Nouveaux-riche WCC powers Portland and San Diego are learning what it’s like to be Gonzaga after all these years. Just one week after one of the most successful weekends in both schools’ basketball history, the giant red target that was placed squarely on their backs is weighing down both teams. On Sunday, both teams took blowout losses at the hands of schools that were clearly fired up to get a shot at a team playing with the big boys into their arena. Portland, the media RTC darling of a week ago, lost its second straight game to a middie after finishing as the runner-up to West Virginia in the 76 Classic. Idaho ran out to a 16-pt first-half lead and never looked back, holding Portland to 32% shooting and 6-22 from deep. Things have been even worse for San Diego since returning as the runner-up in the Great Alaska Shootout. The Toreros have dropped three straight games, including Friday night’s loss to UC Riverside and a 37-pt (19% FG) stinker on Sunday at Fresno State (note: Brandon Johnson did miss the game for disciplinary reasons, but SD was still down 38 pts in this one at one time – ugh). It was Idaho’s first win over a ranked team in 27 years and Fresno’s first win in five tries. Both of these WCC teams are going to need to right the ship in home games this week (Denver and New Mexico, respectively) or be considered irrelevant by Christmas after such good starts.