We’re back with another weekend edition of Boom Goes the Dynamite. Keep in mind that we’re trying out a new format this year, so please let us know in the comments if you think it’s working, not working or we should tie bricks to our feet and go jump in the freezing lake. We’re open to whatever feedback you have. The idea behind it is that we’ll update after each three-hour (or so) block of games with some instant analysis on what we’ve seen so far today. So here goes…
- 64 Nearly No More. Great game in Lawrence this early afternoon, as Josh Selby made his college basketball debut and in so doing saved a home court winning streak that began at Allen Fieldhouse when he was a mere freshman in a Baltimore high school. More on Selby’s first appearance of the season below, but for the second time this season, the Jayhawks survived by the skin of their teeth against an inferior Pac-10 team on their home floor. In an ugly, defensive-minded game favored by USC’s Kevin O’Neill and KU’s Bill Self, it was the inability for Southern Cal to secure two late defensive rebounds on scrambles that led to its loss here today. On both misses, Kansas didn’t panic and instead rotated the ball to the reverse side of the floor (this made Bob Knight very happy) where an open three-point shooter named Josh Selby was waiting. On both occasions Kansas was already down two and had taken a poor shot — had USC gotten the rebound, especially with 26 seconds remaining, you’d have to figure the Trojans were in the driver’s seat to steal this one. Didn’t happen, and perhaps that’s a reasonable explanation as to why Kansas has won a billion games at home and USC is 0-3 on the road this year. The Trojans had one more chance down one with five seconds to go but point guard Jio Fontan stepped on the sideline as he made his move. With the victory, KU has won 65 in a row at AFH, which is just over halfway to the all-time record of 129 that Kentucky put together in the 40s and 50s. KU should easily get to the brink of #70 and the top ten all-time between now and January 22 and January 29, when Texas and Kansas State come to town on consecutive Saturdays.
- Josh Selby’s Long-Awaited Debut. In the most highly anticipated opener in the Sunflower State since Dorothy clicked her heels and found out you can go home again, freshman Josh Selby debuted in a Kansas uniform in Lawrence this afternoon. And he looked like the Jayhawks’ best player, going for 21 points on 5-11 shooting, including two gigantic threes down the stretch that saved KU’s 65-game home court winning streak. His five made field goals, in fact, were all threes, and he added five rebounds to go along with four turnovers. The one area that concerned us was this little factoid: one assist. Clearly Selby is a scoring point guard, and nobody is confused about that, but with the talent available to him on his team he’s going to have to make sure to pass the ball enough to keep the upperclassmen happy with their touches. This has been a concern with KU in terms of successfully integrating the talented guard, and after seeing him today, we understand why. He’s much more Jacob Pullen than Kyrie Irving. One aside for Maeshon Witherspoon, Selby’s mom… KU’s colors are crimson and blue with white trim and lettering — not orange. You might want to hit the student store on the way off campus this afternoon.
- Mister Fontan Makes USC Better. USC has really struggled this season with early losses to Rider, Bradley, Nebraska, TCU and now Kansas already. The problem has been clearly a lack of offense, and that issue is directly attributable to the lack of a serviceable point guard. Fontan is beyond serviceable — he could be the second-best lead guard in the entire Pac-10 behind Washington’s Isaiah Thomas. Considering that the Trojans are among the worst teams in America in terms of assists, the addition of Fontan (who only had two assists today, nevertheless) should help Kevin O’Neill’s team greatly with running his team. With Nikola Vucevic and Alex Stepheson inside, there is enough talent here for the Trojans to make some waves in the mediocre tidepools of the Pac-10, so it’ll be interesting to see how they develop together in the next few weeks. He certainly felt that his team should have won the game today, as he tweeted after the game:
- Oakland Hangover. Just a few days after winning the biggest game in program history, Oakland played badly in Ann Arbor today and never seriously threatened Michigan in a 69-51 loss. Keith Benson was alright, going for 11/7/4 blks in 37 minutes of action, but his supporting cast who were so impressive earlier this week didn’t show up today. Ledrick Eackles and Larry Wright combined for 31 crucial points in Knoxville, but they only came up with four today (on 1-15 FG). Greg Kampe’s team has played a lot of good major conference opponents this season, but the Golden Grizzlies coach would have loved to have notched a win over a Big Ten on his resume as well — they’ll have one more chance against Jared Sullinger and Ohio State on Thursday. Beating Michigan would have been easier.
- Afternoon Games to Keep an Eye On... Some interesting mid-game scores to keep an eye on the rest of the afternoon: UCF leads Miami (FL) in an effort to keep their unbeaten record intact; UIC is challenging Illinois in Chicago; and Long Beach State is leading St. Mary’s at the Wooden Classic (RTC Live coverage there).