RTC Intern Mike Lemaire contributed to tonight’s ATB.
Marquette Loses Their Heart & Soul. Connecticut 93, Marquette 82. Marquette announced at halftime that their senior leader and heart/soul of the team, PG Dominic James, had broken the fifth metatarsal in his left foot and will not play again this season. He hurt it on a seemingly innocuous play just four minutes into the first half, but the x-rays don’t lie, and this is a potentially devastating blow to the Golden Eagles as we approach the postseason. James had re-invented his game this year, becoming less of a scorer and more of a set-up man (#31 nationally in assists and #22 in steals) with the ascent in production from Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews. Marquette will need to regroup quickly with games at Louisville, at Pitt and vs. Syracuse in the next ten days. As for this game, AJ Price was the other story – he was simply phenomenal, with 36/6/6 assts, including one ridiculous ankle-breaking move (see below) that crystallized the kind of night he was having. Hasheem Thabeet added 14/15/5 blks and Stanley Robinson contributed 19/10. When UConn is playing like this, they are the best team in the nation – the problem is that we don’t always see this level of effort from the Huskies. McNeal and Matthews combined for 46/9/9 assts to pick up some of the slack from James’ injury, but Maurice Acker (and his 2.2 ppg) will be asked to carry the load that James is leaving behind. No easy task.
Operation ScheyerFace Didn’t Work. Duke 78, Maryland 67. You have to hand it to Maryland – when Grievis Vasquez picked up his fourth foul less than two minutes into the second half, you had to wonder where Maryland’s offense would come from. But they showed a lot of heart by matching Duke basket for basket in the second half. In the end there was just too much for the Terps to handle. Freshman Sean Mosley did a good job on Henderson man-to-man, but the Blue Devils did a great job of setting screens and getting Henderson free for open looks. Vasquez’s absence finally caught up to the Terps in the final four minutes of the game as the team (with the exception of Landon Milbourne) struggled to get good looks as the Blue Devils clamped down on defense. Maryland was a completely different team from the guys we saw blow big leads in the first half of the season, but Duke showed a lot of grit by stuffing the Maryland momentum coming off their huge upset of UNC. As for Maryland, they have two winnable road games (@ NCSU; @ UVa) and Wake at home – they can still get to 9-7 in the ACC with a strong finish, but their margin of error is thin the rest of the way. Speaking of screens, check out this pick on Nolan Smith that had the sophomore hearing bells the rest of the game.
Some Other Games of Interest.
- Northwestern 75, Indiana 53. Northwestern ended 41 years of futility in Bloomington with this win tonight. Tom Crean said his undermanned Hoosiers are running out of steam at this point in the season.
- Texas 87, Texas Tech 81. UT got 24 from AJ Abrams and 20/11 from Damion James, but Texas Tech hung around until the final minute in this one behind ten three-pointers.
- Utah 70, UNLV 60. Utah continued to pace the Mountain West with another home win to go 11-2 in the conference behind Luke Nevill’s 19/13.
- Notre Dame 70, Rutgers 65. ND survived a closer-than-it-shoulda-been game despite Luke Harangody’s 20/15. The Irish’s Saturday game at UConn will be huge for this team.
- Davidson 70, UNC-Greensboro 49. Stephen Curry dropped 20/10/5 assts as the Wildcats rebounded from their loss to Butler with a convincing SoCon win.
- Rhode Island 93, Dayton 91 (OT). Dayton dropped its second consecutive game due to Marquis Jones’ driving flip layup at the buzzer which pushes UD one game behind Xavier and Temple in the A10 standings.
- Virginia Tech 80, Clemson 77. Huge bubble road win for Va Tech behind Malcolm Delaney’s 26/4/6 assts and AD Vassallo’s 21/5. Clemson got double-doubles from Trevor Booker and KC Rivers, but Va Tech made the plays down the stretch in a game that went back and forth all night.
- South Carolina 77, Kentucky 59. UK now probably needs to win its last three games to force the Committee to leave them out. SC, on the other hand, probably only needs one more win to become a lock. Sam Muldrow had seven of SC’s school-record sixteen blocks tonight.
- Villanova 74, Depaul 72. Depaul got closest to its first Big East win of the year than any other previous loss, but it still wasn’t to be as the Blue Demons moved to 0-15. Scottie Reynolds and Dante Cunningham each had 18 pts for Villanova.
- Michigan St. 62, Iowa 54. MSU never really put Iowa away, but Iowa never really threatened either. Tom Izzo didn’t think his Spartans played all that well, but they’re now 1.5 games ahead of Purdue in the Big Ten race anyway.
- Missouri 94, Kansas St. 74. Mizzou moved to 17-0 at home behind DeMarre Carroll’s 21/14. The streaking Tigers go to Kansas this weekend and will host Oklahoma in Columbia next Monday.
- Tennessee 81, Mississippi St. 76. In this bubblicious game, UT held off the Bulldogs behind Scotty Hopson’s 21 pts. MSU’s bubble is close to bursting, having now lost four of their last five games.