ATB: Battle of Reelings Goes to Louisville

Posted by rtmsf on February 2nd, 2010

Knockout Game? Louisville 82, Connecticut 69. Ok, it’s too early to start talking about knockout games in any serious manner, but we shouldn’t gloss over the fact that this game was very important for both of these teams.  Louisville came into tonight’s game having lost four of five, and UConn had dropped five of seven, as both Big East powerhouses were facing uphill climbs to get back into the NCAA Tournament picture this year.  Tonight Louisville managed to keep hope alive by moving to 5-4 in the Big East with a convincing win over the Jim Calhoun-less Huskies.  Edgar Sosa led Louisville with 15/3/8 assts in one of his better performances of the year, as he set his season high in dimes and also continued his consecutive games streak with multiple threes (Sosa hit two tonight, the eighth game in a row he’s hit at least that many).  Three other UL starters hit double-figures tonight, and the Cards hit the halfway point of the Big East schedule with a reasonable shot at getting to ten wins and the commensurate expectation of an NCAA Tournament berth.  We’re not sold on the long-term viability of this Cardinal team, but they can probably win enough games to get back to the Dance this year.  As for UConn, where to begin?  The good news is that the Huskies have played one of the top schedules in the nation so far; the bad news is that they have one quality win (Texas).  Wins over Harvard and William & Mary and Notre Dame are nice, but they alone won’t get you into the Tournament.    Eventually UConn is going to have to win another marquee game, and they’ll have at least four more chances to do so (home games against WVU and Louisville; road games versus Syracuse and Villanova).  Tonight was more of the same for the Huskies, as the last two games  have been their worst defensive performances of the season, allowing 1.16 points per possession vs. Louisville and 1.04 against Marquette on Saturday.  This is especially disconcerting given that the UConn defense has been the primary reason they’ve avoided a complete disaster — it’s the offense that has struggled.  The Husky offense shot 38% from the field, hit only four threes and committed 17 turnovers, and those kinds of numbers have to improve if UConn expects to earn its first true road win sometime this season.  Jerome Dyson and Kemba Walker, in particular, continue to have trouble putting the ball in the basket, combining for 11-32 tonight — only a little worse than their season average of ~41%.  We realize that Jim Calhoun IS UConn basketball, but we’re not sure that he can turn things around when he does return later this season.  Winning just the home games will get the Huskies to 7-11 in the Big East, and that means late road games against Rutgers, Notre Dame and USF are extremely important this year.

Louisville Got the Upper Hand Tonight

Jordan Hamilton Says Hello#10 Texas 72, Oklahoma State 60.  This game was a tale of two halves in Stillwater tonight.  At halftime, OSU looked the more aggressive team and had built as much as an eleven-point lead behind the habanero-like shooting of James Anderson (8-9 FGs for 24 points in the first half).  Texas managed to crawl back within four at the break, and the ensuing half belonged to the Longhorns.  Rick Barnes’ defense held the scorching Anderson to 2-9 shooting and four points for the rest of the game, and in the meantime, may have found a new offensive option on their own team in the form of Jordan Hamilton.  The freshman from LA came into the game averaging less than 8 PPG, but he made the most of his minutes tonight, drilling five threes and hitting 11-16 FGs for a career-high 27/4.  Eighteen of those points came in the second half, including an 11-point burst in the middle of the half that gave Texas the lead for good.  The core of the UT lineup is experienced, with Damion James, Dexter Pittman, Justin Mason, Dogus Balbay and Gary Johnson all juniors or seniors, but the offensive production that Rick Barnes gets from the talented freshman trio of Hamilton, Avery Bradley and J’Covan Brown will ultimately decide how far the Horns will go this season.  The firepower that those three bring to the table surpasses all but what Damion James can do on a regular basis — Coach Barnes would be wise to unleash their talents a little more as his team heads into the stretch run of the Big 12 regular season race still only two back of #1 Kansas in the standings.

Other Games of National Interest.

Is none an acceptable answer?  We’ll be back tomorrow with a fuller slate of games.

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Set Your Tivo: 02.01.10

Posted by THager on February 1st, 2010

***** - quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** - best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** - set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** - set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2012
* - don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Connecticut @ Louisville – 7 pm on ESPN (**)

It’s not too often that a team can be ranked one week and out of the Tournament the next, but that is what UConn could be facing after following up a #19 ranking with back to back losses.  The Huskies lost at Providence and allowed Marquette to come back in the final minute for another loss, and the Huskies now stand on the outer edge of the bubble at 13-8 overall.  Their RPI ranking is fairly acceptable at #44, but they are going to have to play well at Louisville to give themselves a chance.  The Cardinals, who have not been ranked for a while, have a lower RPI and really need to turn things around soon to receive a Tournament bid.  They have lost four of their last five games and the Huskies have lost five of their last seven games.   Both of these teams are going to have to play to their strengths if they want to be successful down the stretch.  Louisville has a solid offense at 79.8 points per game, largely due to their efficiency and solid rebounding.   The Huskies have played well defensively this year, leading the country with 8.5 blocks per game.  These teams have occasionally struggled even when they have been able to play their style.  UL lost its only Big East games when Samardo Samuels scores over 20 points, and Connecticut has lost games when they gave up 70, 68, 67, 64, and 68 points.  Still, UL is not going to win games by holding opponents to 60 points, and the Huskies aren’t going to be lighting up the scoreboard.  The Huskies have not won on the road this year, and I do not expect them to start winning tonight in the midst of another losing streak.

#6 Texas @ Oklahoma State – 9 pm on ESPN (***)

James Has Been On Fire Lately

These teams are struggling despite some of the best individual performances we have seen in the Big 12 all year.  The Longhorns have lost three of four games, but senior Damion James has been on a tear.  He’s averaging 24/13 in his last three games.  Oklahoma State’s James Anderson scored 31 points in his last game against Missouri and still lost, largely due to giving up 95 points to a Missouri team that shot 55 percent from three in the game.  Nobody knows what to expect from either of these teams anymore, but look for the Cowboys to get a close win.  Oklahoma State is undefeated this year at home, while the Longhorns have dropped their last two road games.  Despite the Longhorns ranking in the top 10 in defensive efficiency on the year, they have played quite poorly as of late.  They have surrendered over 80 points per game in this four-game stretch, and have also seen their offensive numbers drop.  UT is second in the country at 85.3 points per game, but when they only rank 34th in offensive efficiency, they are going to lose some games when they play poorly on the other end.  James and Anderson can only lead their teams so far, so somebody else will have to step up and make a difference in this game.

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Checking in on… the Big 12

Posted by rtmsf on January 30th, 2010

Patrick Sellars is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12 Conference.

Power Rankings

  1. Kansas (19-1, 5-0) – The Jayhawks reclaim the number one spot this week after blowing out Iowa State and Missouri. Kansas looks pretty scary right now, but they may hit a roadblock in Manhattan on Saturday.
  2. Texas (18-2, 4-1) - Tough week for the Longhorns, suffering two losses. The good news for UT is that they should be 7-1 when they host Kansas on February 8.
  3. Oklahoma State (16-4, 4-2) – The Cowboys had the best week of any Big 12 team, defeating Kansas State on the road and wasting Texas A&M in Stillwater. James Anderson might be the best player in the Big 12, but he still is receiving little recognition outside of the conference.
  4. Kansas State (17-3, 4-2) – The Wildcats have plenty of opportunities to make an impact in the final conference standings. Hosting KU on Saturday means they’ll have a chance to get back in the conference race.
  5. Missouri (15-5, 3-2) - Mizzou’s biggest problem right now is that they can’t shoot the basketball. Their defense will keep them close in most games (obviously not in Lawrence) but they have to make shots if they want to play to their full potential.
  6. Texas A&M (14-6, 3-3) - The Aggies were very close to upsetting Oklahoma State on Tuesday night, but they fell just short in a high scoring second half. The biggest problem for TAMU is they have little production outside of Donald Sloan, the most underrated player in all of college basketball.
  7. Baylor (15-4, 2-3) – The Bears are going to look back at the loss against Colorado and wonder how different their season would be if they had won that game.  Granted the Bears have had the toughest Big 12 schedule thus far, they’re still in a great position to make the NCAA tournament.
  8. Oklahoma (12-8, 3-3) - The Sooners have to do so much in conference play to make the NCAA tournament, it’s a little bit ridiculous. They will need to win at least seven of their last ten games to even be considered, which will not be easy because there are three sure losses in those ten games (Texas twice and at Kansas).
  9. Texas Tech (14-6, 2-4) - The Red Raiders have little chance of making postseason play with no quality wins to their name.  I still think this team can pull some upsets in conference play, but that is all.
  10. Colorado (11-9, 2-4) - The Buffaloes already surpassed their win total from last season, and they have the opportunity to finish better than second to last in the conference for the first time since 2006. If Cory Higgins stays at school instead of entering the draft, CU will be a dangerous team next year.
  11. Iowa State  (12-8, 1-4) – I’ve officially given up on the Cyclones. Craig Brackins seems to have regressed and this team just isn’t playing the style of basketball I thought they would play. They still take bad shots and play minimal defense.
  12. Nebraska (12-8, 0-5) - Lincoln should just get used to having a good football team and sacrificing the basketball program because of it. There is no professional talent on the Huskers roster, which is usually unheard of in power conferences.

Team of the WeekOklahoma State Cowboys – This team just took itself off the bubble for the time being. Travis Ford has OSU playing good basketball right now, and they may have the best player in the conference in James Anderson.

Player of the WeekTommy Mason-Griffin (G), Oklahoma – The freshman stepped up huge for the Sooners who could not afford to drop a home game against Iowa State. Mason-Griffin went off for 38 points and shot 62% from the field.

This Week’s Predictions

  • Oklahoma at Nebraska (Saturday January 30th, 1:30 PM ET) – OU certainly can’t afford to lose this game, and I don’t think there is any chance that they will. Lincoln is the most docile environment for a Big 12 basketball game, and the Sooners shouldn’t have any problem going in there and taking care of business.

Winner: Oklahoma

  • Oklahoma State at Missouri (Saturday January 30th, 2:OO PM ET ESPN2) - This is almost as intriguing of a game as the KU-KSU matchup. Mizzou is coming off one of worst losses in recent memory and Oklahoma State is rolling. I don’t think MU will have any answer for James Anderson, and the Tigers will fall to .500 in the conference, also ending their 31 game home win streak.

Winner: Oklahoma State

  • Baylor at Texas (Saturday January 30th, 4:00 PM ET) - The Bears continue their brutal Big 12 schedule when they visit Austin on Saturday. Texas knows that if they want to have the Kansas game to mean anything they need to win all of their conference games leading up to that epic matchup on February 8.

Winner: Texas

  • Kansas at Kansas State (Saturday January 30th, 7:00 PM ET) - The Wildcats are going to try to repeat their performance against UT, and block KU from regaining their number one ranking. I think Cole Aldrich will have a big day on the boards, and look for Xavier Henry to have one of his best games for KU this season. However, I think lightning will strike twice in Manhattan and K-State pulls off the upset over their archrival. Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente weren’t stars in their game against Texas, but this time I’d look for both of them to have huge games.

Winner: Kansas State

  • Texas Tech at Texas A&M (Saturday January 30th, 9:00 PM ET) - The Aggies need a win to stay in the mix for the NCAA tournament, and Donald Sloan should be able to will them to victory. The Red Raiders have been overachieving all season, and their finally crashing back down to earth.

Winner: Texas A&M

  • Colorado at Iowa State (Saturday January 30th, 9:00 PM ET) - No one is talking about Colorado’s freshman phenom, Alec Burks. Right now Burks is averaging almost 18 PPG and is the sole reason that Colorado isn’t sitting at last place in the conference standings this season. Burks and Higgins will have huge games against the Cyclones, and inch closer to finishing in the top half of the conference.

Winner: Colorado

  • Texas at Oklahoma State (Monday February 1st, 9:00 PM ET ESPN) - This is a game that I circled on the schedule early in the season. I love the matchup between the conferences two best players, Damion James and James Anderson. The difference between these two teams is that Texas has a ton of offensive weapons, and Oklahoma State has just one consistent scorer. If Obi Muonelo steps up for the Cowboys, I could envision a possible upset, but I’m taking the safe pick and going with the Longhorns.

Winner: Texas

  • Kansas State at Nebraska (Tuesday February 2nd, 8:00 PM ET) – No chance the Cornhuskers catch the Wildcats off guard, even if KSU pulls the upset over Kansas on Saturday. Frank Martin saw what happened after they beat Texas, and won’t let his team enjoy the Kansas win for too long.

Winner: Kansas State

  • Kansas at Colorado (Wednesday February 3rd, 9:00 PM ET ESPN2) - The Buffaloes should be able to keep it close for at least the first half, but we saw what Cole Aldrich does to teams with no frontcourt in Kansas’ game against Missouri. The Jayhawks should have no problem marching into Boulder and coming out with a victory.

Winner: Kansas

  • Iowa State at Baylor (Wednesday February 3rd, 7:30 PM ET) - Ekpe Udoh and LaceDarius Dunn have been one of the best inside-outside duos in the conference. Udoh has solidified himself as an NBA prospect, and Dunn is not far behind. Iowa State will have problems containing either of them, and lose a blowout in Waco.

Winner: Baylor

  • Texas A&M at Missouri (Wednesday February 3rd 9:00 PM ET ESPNU) – Mizzou should be able to contain TAMU’s guards with their press, and I think the Tigers will have a relatively easy victory. Sloan will get his points, but he doesn’t have many other options on offense that will be able to get through Mizzou’s great defense.

Winner: Missouri

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Set Your Tivo: 01.30.10

Posted by THager on January 30th, 2010

***** - quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** - best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** - set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** - set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2012
* - don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

#7 Duke @ #11 Georgetown  1:00 CBS (****)

Duke Will Have Its Hands Full in DC

Although John Thompson III has said he does not want to be playing in this out of conference matchup right now, fans have been looking forward to this game for quite some time.  In addition to the possibility of President Obama attending the game, this is a matchup between a current #2 seed in the tournament and a #3 or #4 seed in Georgetown.  When Duke’s 82.2 ppg offense goes against Georgetown’s 62.0 defensive average, something is going to have to budge.  Despite Duke’s top ranking in offensive efficiency, they will certainly not be able to run over the Hoyas.  GU held Pitt to 66 points on the road, and held Syracuse, UConn, and Marquette below their season average.  Although Duke outscores the Hoyas by over 10 points per contest on average, they also hold opponents to fewer points per game rank higher in defensive efficiency.  Nevertheless, the Blue Devils lost their first three road games of the year to Wisconsin, Georgia Tech, and Clemson, none of whom are as dangerous as the Hoyas.  GU blew a golden opportunity at the Carrier Dome last week, so look for them to take out some frustration on the Blue Devils. Austin Freeman scored 23 points against the Orange, and the Hoyas will likely depend on him to give Georgetown the win.

Oklahoma St @ Missouri 2:00 ESPN (***)

As George W. Bush once attempted to say, “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.”  Oklahoma State made me look foolish when they beat Texas A&M last week, and Missouri embarrassed me with their performance in Lawrence when they kept up with the Jayhawks for the first five minutes and called it a day.  The Cowboys have now won three Big 12 games in a row, while Mizzou has now lost two of their last three contests.  OSU showed they could win without a strong performance from James Anderson, who didn’t score the first 18 minutes of the Aggie game.  The Aggies do have a couple things going for them as well.  They will be playing at home, where they are 12-0 this year, and still rank #12 in the country according to Ken Pomeroy with their sixth ranked defense.  Their D didn’t look so impressive last week when they gave up 50 first half points to Kansas, as they let the Jayhawks shoot over 49 percent from the floor and 47 percent from beyond the arc.  Senior Obi Muonelo is hot for Oklahoma State right now, and look for him to lead the Cowboys to a fourth consecutive Big 12 win.

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: 01.30.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 29th, 2010

Welcome back, everyone!  Boom Goes the Dynamite returns for the fourth weekend of the year with a blockbuster Saturday of games that are so good that we’re getting them up today as a reminder to join us tomorrow afternoon.  With noon-to-night coverage and the fact that most of the country is completely frozen over again, we expect that you’ll be right there with us on the couch, eating a bunch of bad food and breaking down zone offenses.  We hope to see you then!

Here are the games we plan on keeping an eye on…

12 PM: La Salle at #15 Temple on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com
12 PM: Marquette at #19 Connecticut on Big East Network HD and ESPN Full Court
12 PM: Louisville at #9 West Virginia on ESPN and ESPN360.com
1 PM: #7 Duke at #11 Georgetown on CBS – RTC Live
2 PM: #4 Syracuse at DePaul on Big East Network and ESPN Full Court
2 PM: Indiana at Illinois on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com
3 PM: FSU at Boston College on Raycom and ESPN Full Court
3 PM: #25 Northern Iowa at Missouri State
4 PM: Baylor at #6 Texas on Big 12 Network and ESPN Full Court
4 PM: #23 Vanderbilt at #1 Kentucky on ESPN and ESPN360.com A
4 PM: Arkansas at #20 Mississippi on SEC Network and ESPN Full Court
6 PM: Notre Dame at Rutgers on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com
6 PM: New Mexico at TCU on CBS College Sports
7 PM: #2 Kansas at #13 Kansas State on ESPN and ESPN360.com
7 PM: Georgia at South Carolina on Fox Sports (regional) and ESPN Full Court
7 PM: Northwestern at #5 Michigan State on Big Ten Network
8 PM: Providence at Cincinnati on ESPN U
9 PM: Utah at #10 BYU on Mountain Network
9:30 PM: #8 Gonzaga at San Francisco on Fox Sports (regional)- RTC Live

We will be dividing the day into three shifts with nvr1983 starting things off then rtmsf will handle the afternoon games before John Stevens takes you into the night with late night coverage of all the day’s big games.

10:50 AM: Apparently ESPN forgot to pay the electricity bill as the lights just went out on Jason Williams. (As a college basketball fan, I refuse to call him Jay. Jason Williams was a great player. Jay Williams crashed his motorcycle.)

11:00 AM: Dear College Students of America, This is how you show up for a College GameDay. I don’t want to call anybody out, but the Kansas State fans are crushing what I saw when I went to GameDay at UNC last year. To be fair, a game against in-state rival Kansas is much, much more important than a disappointing Miami team. This seems more like a College Football GameDay and that’s what we need for the basketball version too. Right now the pressure is on Illinois, Kentucky, Washington, Syracuse, and Duke to match this atmosphere when GameDay comes to town later this year.

11:10 AM: Does anybody have a link to where we can buy one of those Frank Martin t-shirts?

11:15 AM: According to the Kansas State website, the previous record for College Basketball GameDay attendance was 6,700 at Clemson last year before they played Duke. I haven’t heard an official number for today. Bramlage Coliseum holds 12,528 and I would think they are well over half full.

11:20 AM: Is Coach K advocating for abolishing the requirement for players to spend one year in college or wanting them to stay in school for more than one semester, which is all they really have to do to be eligible to play in their freshman year? It sounds more like the former. Jay Bilas is right that this issue is more a NBA/business issue.

11:22 AM: If you’re wondering who Hubert Davis and Digger Phelps are going to pick to win the Kansas-Kansas State game, their clothes might be a pretty good clue. Hubert is wearing a purple shirt and a purple tie. Digger is wearing a purple shirt and a purple tie and he he has a purple highlighter. . .

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Ten Tuesday Scribbles…

Posted by zhayes9 on January 12th, 2010

RTC contributor and bracketologist Zach Hayes will deliver ten permeating thoughts every Tuesday as the season progresses.

1. Other than Kansas students, graduates, former players and all former or current residents of Lawrence, was there anyone in this fine country of ours rooting for the #1 Jayhawks to beat a depleted Tennessee team, a group of kids and a stunned head coach that just dealt with the suspension and/or dismissal of four of its regular rotation players? All of the events that occurred in that two-hour window in Knoxville Sunday was a release of pent-up frustration and anxiety from a tumultuous week in which Tennessee was considered a prime threat to upend favorite Kentucky in the SEC one day and counted out as a SEC contender that must scratch and claw the final two months for an NCAA berth the next. Renaldo Woolridge banking in a three, the Vols maintaining their lead with Wayne Chism and J.P. Prince on the bench with four fouls, the coach’s son Steven taking a critical charge, a miracle Skyler McBee (one of three walk-ons playing substantial minutes) leaning trey that iced the game, and coach Bruce Pearl aiding the Volunteer mascot in waving the orange Tennessee flag while the sounds of Rocky Top reverberated throughout Thompson-Boling Arena summed up what college basketball should be about. Bill Self pointed this out after the game, but there are some moments during a season when a team officially becomes a team instead of a group of individuals. Even though Pearl would gladly reset the timer to New Year’s Eve and prevent four scholarship players from getting in that car, sometimes it takes a catastrophic occurrence that truly tests the mettle of a unit for them to band together and accomplish lofty goals. I think it’s fair to say Tennessee became a team Sunday night.

2. As long as Mike Anderson is employing his Forty Minutes of Hell hellacious press on demoralized opponents, especially on a home floor where his team has won 30 consecutive games, Missouri should never be totally counted out of the Big 12 race. Losing DeMarre Carroll, Leo Lyons and Matt Lawrence from an Elite 8 squad isn’t easy to overcome, and certainly the ceiling for the Tigers isn’t nearly as high, but the ultra-talented and quick Mizzou backcourt should have enough firepower to carry them to an NCAA berth. Missouri carried an impressive 12-3 record into their Big 12 opener with #10 Kansas State Saturday, yet their overall resume wasn’t incredibly awe-inspiring with their best wins over Old Dominion, Illinois, Georgia and Oregon and opportunities lost in defeats at the hands of Richmond, Vanderbilt and Oral Roberts. The win Saturday was clearly a statement that Missouri will be a contending force in the Big 12 for that #3 spot behind Texas and Kansas. Anderson looks to have a workable combination with experienced seniors J.T. Tiller and Zaire Taylor (evident by Taylor’s tie-breaking 3 with under a minute to play) making plays in late-game situations, a promising sophomore backcourt duo of Kim English and Marcus Denmon carrying most of the scoring load, and a defensive unit that ranks seventh overall in D efficiency, first in turnovers forced and gives Missouri a fighting chance on any night.

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What You Missed While Watching College Football…

Posted by zhayes9 on January 8th, 2010

Zach Hayes is RTC’s resident bracketologist plus author of the weekly Ten Tuesday Scribbles and Bubble Watch columns.

With college football crowning another faux-national champion Thursday night in Pasadena, the college sports scene can officially shift its axis to basketball. While a number of college basketball diehards such as yours truly were knee-deep in mid-major box scores and enthralling non-conference tournaments since the season tipped off in mid-November, it’s perfectly understandable for our college football-fan brethren out there to have been entranced in the gridiron scene during this time. For many folks out there, college basketball truly begins when a football champion is crowned and conference play heats up, when Rece and the gang show up on our TVs every Saturday morning at 11 AM and the bubble begins to take its early shape. For those people, you sure missed plenty of exciting hoops action. To get you caught up in what has gone down thus far on the hardwood, here’s a summary for your enjoyment, divvied up into the six major conferences and all the rest:

ACC

What we’ve learned: There was much back-and-forth debate entering this season whether Duke or North Carolina represented the class of this conference. After two solid months of play, it’s fairly evident Duke has separated themselves from their bitter rival as the class of the ACC. While the Tar Heels may top Duke skill-wise up front, Carolina simply does not boast the backcourt to even contend with the Dukies’ tandem of Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith. The primary knock on Duke heading into this season was point guard play with Elliot Williams transferring to Memphis. As a true sharp-shooting 2-guard who creates his shots coming off screens in Redick-like fashion, could Scheyer handle the responsibility of running the Duke offense? The answer has been resounding in the affirmative: 19.7 PPG, 46% FG, 92% FT, 43% 3pt and an otherworldly 4.8 A/TO ratio that currently leads the nation. Another key to Duke’s early season success has been Coach K’s willingness to adjust his defense to fit his roster. Rather than employing the normal Duke on-ball pressure attack, Krzyzewski is utilizing more of a sagging defense that plays into the frontcourt depth Duke enjoys with six players that receive time at 6’8 or taller.

Scheyer Has His Devils Looking Great This Season

What’s still to be determined: After Duke and Carolina (and let’s not go overboard following the Heels loss to Charleston, they’re still clearly the second best team in this conference), who will emerge as the third contender behind the top two dogs? An ever-shifting proposition, the current edge probably goes to Florida State despite their utter lack of point guard play. The Seminoles are one of the tallest teams in the nation and have a few capable long-range shooters that get open looks when defenses collapse on Solomon Alabi and Chris Singleton. Plus, they’re off to a head start with a December win at ACC foe Georgia Tech. Plenty of folks think Clemson could be that team behind powerful big man Trevor Booker, but they lack a second scoring option and I can’t stop thinking back to their collapse at home to an inexperienced Illinois squad. It would be unwise to count out Gary Williams, and the jury’s still out on Virginia Tech and Miami due to their soft schedules, so I’ll give the current edge to Wake Forest as that third team. The road win at Gonzaga’s on-campus arena stands out, Ish Smith has turned into a fine point guard and Al-Farouq Aminu has as much pure talent as anyone in this conference.

NCAA Locks: Duke, North Carolina.

Likely bids: Clemson, Florida State, Wake Forest.

Bubble teams: Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami (FL), Virginia Tech.

Make other plans for March: Boston College, North Carolina State, Virginia.

Big East

What we’ve learned: The NCAA picture is shaping up quite similarly to last season when Louisville (regular season champion), Pittsburgh and Connecticut all received #1 seeds. There will be much back-and-forth debate about whether the top three teams this season — Syracuse, West Virginia and Villanova -- holds the edge in this conference, but does it really matter? Right now you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t think Kansas, Texas, Kentucky and Purdue are the likely #1 seeds (of course plenty could change, we have two months of games left), while those top contenders in the Big East are likely all on the second seed line. Even of greater importance though is the obvious revelation that Jamie Dixon can coach basketball. You wouldn’t be alone if you counted out Pittsburgh following a near-loss to Wofford, a 47-point output at home vs. New Hampshire and a second half butt-kicking at the hands of Indiana, but those losses came without their most athletic player, Gilbert Brown, and their best defender, Jermaine Dixon. Those two have returned to action with the most improved Big East player Ashton Gibbs (who recently broke the all-time Pitt record for consecutive free throws made) as a fearsome trio that has carried the Panthers to road wins over previously-undefeated Syracuse and fringe-top 25 Cincinnati. If Dixon is able to coax his Panthers into a NCAA Tournament team after losing such enormous production and leadership in Sam Young, DeJuan Blair and Levance Fields, there is little debate on his merits as National Coach of the Year.

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Checking in on… the Mountain West

Posted by jstevrtc on January 1st, 2010

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Mountain West Conference.

Standings (as of 12/30):

  1. New Mexico 13-1
  2. BYU 13-1
  3. UNLV 12-2
  4. San Diego State 10-3
  5. Colorado State 8-5
  6. Air Force 7-5
  7. TCU 6-7
  8. Wyoming 6-7
  9. Utah 6-7

Superlatives:

Team of the WeekNew Mexico – Hard to pick one given the slim pickings this time of year, but we’ll give the nod to New Mexico (rather than BYU for destroying Arizona in epic fashion on Monday) for handling a solid Texas Tech team in impressive fashion.  The Lobos had five players score in double figures, led by junior Darington Hobson who had 23 points, 12 rebounds and four assists.  They led by 12 at the half, and following a brief Red Raider run to start the second half, coasted to a 15 point victory at the Pit.  Freshman wing Curtis Dennis also provided a spark with strong defense, hustle plays and 16 points along the way.

Player of the Week: Jimmer Fredette, Jr, BYU —  Fredette got going early and often against Arizona on Tuesday night, pouring in 49 points (on 16-23 shooting, including 9-13 from three), while adding seven rebounds and nine assists for one of the most complete games that anybody across the country has put up this season.  Fredette’s explosion was the most points scored in BYU history, and the most points scored in the history of the McKale Center.

Newcomer of the Week: Darington Hobson, Jr, New Mexico – Hobson takes home his third NOTW award from this space with his performance against Texas Tech detailed above.  He has been simply amazing at times this year, an incredibly versatile force who can grab a strong rebound at one end of the floor, weave his way up court and either find an open Lobo for an easy finish, complete the play himself with either a gliding finger-roll or a pull-up three or settle back in to run the half court offense.  If you haven’t had a chance to see Hobson yet this season, look him up when you get a chance, as all but one Lobo game the rest of the season will be televised somewhere, mostly on The MTN.

Game of the Week: Air Force 77 Niagara 71 – Okay, it was a slow week, and between some big blowout wins by MWC powers and some ugly losses, there weren’t a whole lot of contenders for this title.  We’ll give the nod here to the Falcons, who had five players score in double figures on the way to building up to a lead as big as 10.  But the Purple Eagles came strong down the stretch, pulling to within one with under a minute to play, but Air Force was able to maintain its lead by knocking down its free throws in the end.  Junior guard Evan Washington continued his strong play for the Falcons, racking up 19 points and eight boards, while junior forward Tom Fow added 17.

Games of the Upcoming Week: UNLV @ BYU, January 6th – While the MWC season opens a day earlier in San Diego, this will give us a good look at two of the contenders for the MWC crown.  Both teams feature strong perimeter games and tough defenses, but it may come down to who can control the paint and the glass with guys like BYU’s Noah Hartsock, Chris Miles and James Anderson battling it out with UNLV’s Matt Shaw, Darris Santee and Chace Stanback for interior control.

League Notes:

It’s been a slow week around the Mountain West, with only Air Force playing more than once, and with the non-conference slate wrapping up and the conference games set to begin, it is time to look at how the teams have positioned themselves with an eye towards the NCAA tournament.  The conference as a whole took a step forward with respect to their strength of the non-conference schedule, which helps the teams at the top of the conference continue to build their resumes through the conference season, but has left the bottom of the conference likely already out of the chase for even the lesser postseason tournaments.  Despite the much-talked-about weakness of the Pac-10 this season, the MWC still only ranks as the seventh strongest conference in the nation (just ahead of the A-10 and C-USA, according to KenPom, through December 29), having compiled a 81-38 (through Wednesday) record thus far this season, but having fallen to 10-11 against BCS conference schools.

Team Roundups:

New Mexico

Looking back: New Mexico’s difficult non-conference schedule continued this week as they handed Texas Tech their second loss of the season, detailed above.

While there is still one more big hurdle in their non-conference play, Steve Alford’s squad has already notched victories over Louisiana Tech, Cal, Texas A&M, Creighton and Texas Tech and done more than enough to consider their pre-conference play a rousing success.  Hobson has emerged as a dominant force in the conference, and there is enough talent surrounding him to make New Mexico a legitimate national threat.

Looking ahead: The Lobos host Dayton on New Year’s Day for another shot at a quality non-conference victory before beginning their conference schedule on Tuesday at San Diego State.

New Mexico has established itself as a co-favorite (along with BYU) to win the MWC regular season title and has laid the groundwork for an almost certain NCAA bid.  They have enough versatile parts (four different players in the rotation that can run the point, a host of talented wings, athletic defenders) to cause matchup problems for bigger teams, but may be a little thin in the paint, with only sophomores Will Brown and A.J. Hardeman providing legitimate interior presences.  And, perhaps more than anything else, this is an incredibly young team, with only one senior (wing Roman Martinez) seven freshmen and sophomores in their rotation, leaving some questions as to how this team will be able to fare under the pressure of March.

BYU

Looking back: Just one game for the Cougars this week, but they made sure to supply plenty of excitement to tide the fans over until conference play begins with a 99-69 win over Arizona at the McKale Center, the largest loss an Arizona team had experienced in the history of that venue.  But that wasn’t the only record set that night as junior guard Jimmer Fredette went off for 49 points (detailed above).

While New Mexico got most of the press in the MWC due to their extended undefeated run, BYU has slipped under the radar a bit on their way to currently being ranked number five in the most recent KenPom rankings, with their biggest win over Arizona State and their only loss on the road at Utah State.

Looking ahead: The Cougars have a cupcake against Eastern New Mexico before opening their conference season at home against UNLV (1/6).  They’ll then travel to UTEP (1/9) for their final non-conference game of the season in a game that may be their biggest test of the season so far.

BYU has been among the most efficient teams on both ends of the floor thus far this season, and while Fredette deservedly gets the lion’s share of the credit for that, junior guard Jackson Emery has been a revelation thus far this season as well, thus far ranking second in the nation in both Effective Field Goal Percentage (73%) and True Shooting Percentage (74.9%).  While it may be too soon to tell if he can keep up that kind of pace, BYU seems like a sure thing. They should compete for a conference title, and still have plenty of leeway to capture an at-large bid should they come up a bit short.

UNLV

Looking back: UNLV’s last game in the non-conference schedule was the championship game of the inaugural Diamond Head Classic against USC on Christmas Day, and the Rebels had some of their weaknesses exposed as USC proved to be the more physical team.  The Trojans were able to slow the pace of the game down and held Vegas to 34% shooting from the field including a paltry 5/22 from three-point.

When all is said and done, the Rebels come out of the non-conference portion of their schedule with a nice looking 12-2 record, but deeper examination shows only a win over Louisville as the best win on the schedule for the Rebs.  While there is nothing that could be considered a bad loss, the Rebels will have to have a strong conference performance to improve their potential at-large resume.

Looking ahead: The Rebels will find out at lot about themselves at the start of their Mountain West schedule, as they will travel to face BYU (1/6) and New Mexico (1/9) in their first two conference games before returning home to host San Diego State (1/13) and Utah (1/16).

While the half-court offense for the Rebels is definitely a question mark, there is no doubt that this is a very good defensive team, and this is a team that will likely make its stand by forcing turnovers defensively while controlling the ball offensively; Vegas is not a team that is going to give a lot of games away.  Further, this is a team that should improve over the season as their newcomers (two transfers and two freshmen among their rotation) get used to their new teammates and system.  The Rebels may not have the horses to compete with New Mexico and BYU for the conference title, but they should be a tournament-contender all season long.

San Diego State

Looking back: San Diego State’s lone game of the week was a closer-than-should-have-been squeaker over UC Riverside.  The Aztecs led by as many as 10 in the second half, but Riverside got back within a point on a Kyle Austin jumper with 44 seconds left.  Austin had a game-tying three-point attempt blocked by junior Malcolm Thomas blocked in the waning moments and SDSU escaped with a five-point win.

The Aztecs have one more cupcake remaining in their non-conference schedule and seem poised to take an 11-3 record into the conference schedule, but have no real impressive wins under their belt yet.  Wins over teams like Arizona and Fresno State were impressive, hard-fought wins, but the two best teams that the Aztecs faced, Saint Mary’s and Arizona State, handed them two of their three losses.

Looking ahead: SDSU will face Pomona-Pitzer on New Year’s Eve to complete their non-conference schedule, then will host New Mexico in the Mountain West Conference opener on Tuesday.

Like other teams around the conference, the Aztecs have a lot of new faces this year in the form of freshmen, transfers and even returning players taking on new roles.  As the season has progressed, players have settled into their roles and the team has improved steadily from week to week, and has turned into a very strong team on the glass, especially on the offensive end.  While they will take a strong record into conference play, they still have plenty of work to do to shore up their postseason resume, and will likely need a strong third-place MWC finish combined with a win or two over opponents like BYU, New Mexico or UNLV in order to make their odds of an at-large tournament bid more realistic.

Colorado State

Looking back: The Rams traveled to Fresno on Monday, and, as unlikely as it may seem, the plane trip to Fresno may have been the highlight of the week.  Because once the ball was in the air, the Rams were largely absent.  They made just five of 28 field goal attempts in the first half, missed all ten of their threes and were down 36-13 after 20 minutes of play.  If that weren’t bad enough, they slept through the opening few minutes of the second half, allowing the Bulldogs to score the first 11 of the half, and found themselves down 34 points on the way to a 23-point embarrassment.

While the Rams built up a little confidence in early December with a four game winning streak, they have now lost two straight and find themselves a game away from conference play with an exciting win over Colorado as their high point.

Looking ahead: CSU hosts Yale on New Year’s Eve before opening conference play with a trip to Wyoming (1/6) and a home game against Air Force (1/9).  If the Rams hope to make any splash in MWC play this year, those first two games against teams that they can beat are musts.

The Rams have some upside, with three freshmen (guard Dorian Green and forwards Greg Smith and Pierce Hornung) that they are excited about, but seem destined for a lower division MWC finish.  They simply don’t have the athletes or consistency to play with the premier teams in the conference, but with a little luck could make a run at a CBI or one of the other seven (I believe) post-season college basketball tournaments.

Air Force

Looking back: It’s possible Air Force had the most interesting week of all the MWC teams, as they competed in the final non-conference tournament of the season, the Sun Bowl Invitational at El Paso.  The Falcons showed well for themselves, knocking off a tough Niagara team in the semifinal round before losing to host UTEP in the championship. Once again, the Falcons played without leading scorer and rebounder Grant Parker, who has now missed the last five games with a groin injury.  Sophomore center Sammy Schafer has also now missed nine straight games with complications from a concussion.  No firm return date is set for either player at this point.

Looking ahead: The Falcons host Texas-Pan American on Saturday then kick off their MWC play at TCU on Wednesday.  If all goes well, Parker and Schafer could possibly return for the MWC opener.

While the current 7-5 record may not look all that pretty, you have to give credit to the Falcons for mostly beating the teams that they were supposed to beat (with the exception of Northern Arizona) and even sneaking in an upset.  While the majority of the Falcons’ wins so far have been over the weak-sisters of Division I (and even lesser divisions) like UC Davis, Prairie View A&M and Dickinson State, they snuck in a win on a neutral court over a good Niagara team this past week.  While coach Jeff Reynolds should harbor no illusions about being a NCAA tournament contender (barring an unlikely run through the MWC tournament), the Falcons have improved from last season.  They’ll need to finish near .500 in a tough MWC, however, in order to have any chance for a non-NCAA tournament postseason bid.

TCU

Looking back: The Horned Frogs became the third MWC team to lose to Northern Colorado, as they fell to the Bears on Wednesday night by 11.  After a close first half, a 14-4 run gave Northern Colorado a comfortable working margin and the Frogs were never within a possession of the lead the rest of the game.

For a fairly talented team that looked like a solid middle-of-the-pack MWC at the beginning of the year, the month of December has been tough for the Frogs as they have only posted one win over a Division I school in five tries, adding a win over an NAIA school along the way.  While fairly effective offensively and featuring several very skilled players, they have been absolutely abysmal defensively, ranking near the bottom of Division I in a variety of statistics, and their only wins on the season have come against the dregs of D-I.  The Horned Frogs have played a very difficult schedule in the early season (KenPom ranks it the 36th toughest schedule in the nation), but have thus far shown an inability to hang with good teams.

Looking ahead: TCU hosts Rice in their final non-conference game on Saturday, then hosts Air Force on Wednesday in their conference opener.

With a 6-7 record at this point, TCU would have to play their conference schedule above .500 to have postseason hopes.  Given their defensive struggles to this point, that seems increasingly unlikely.  While they feature an very good offensive point in sophomore Ronnie Moss, an excellent shooter in senior Edvinas Ruzgas, a skilled big man in senior Zvonko Buljan and a hustling glue-guy in sophomore Kevin Butler, they lack the athleticism to guard effective offensive teams well enough to compete with the elite MWC teams.

Wyoming

Looking back: Wyoming’s home court advantage at 7000-plus feet of elevation didn’t seem so scary Wednesday night as Akron was the team to finish strong, posting a 16-7 run in the final four minutes to finish off the Cowboys.  Wyoming played without freshman point guard JayDee Luster who sat out with an injured shoulder, and Akron’s tiny point Humpty Hitchens got off for 16 points and three three-pointers to lead the Zips.

While Wyoming plays at one of the highest tempos in the nation, their offense has been horribly inefficient, averaging significantly less than a point per offensive possession.  While some key injuries (to Luster, who has yet to be healthy this season, and sophomore leading scorer Afam Muojeke, who missed four games with a knee injury) and the overall youth of the team (eight sophomores and freshmen among the 10-man rotation) are to blame for some of it, this just isn’t a very talented Wyoming team.

Looking ahead: Wyoming hosts Adams State on Saturday to round out their conference schedule and likely get them back to .500 for the season before hosting Colorado State in their MWC opener on Wednesday.

The Cowboys are another in a line of teams at the bottom of the MWC conference who have dug themselves a hole in their non-conference play.  They’ll need to compile a .500 or better record against a tough conference to give themselves a chance at any type of postseason play (the NCAAs are out of the question), and given their inability to get quality possessions offensively, there is no reason to suspect that the Cowboys are capable of playing .500 ball the rest of the way.  Likely, the rest of this season will be dedicated to finding out who they have that they can build upon next year, especially with Luster and fellow freshman guard Desmar Jackson.

Utah

Looking back: The Utes got things headed back in the right direction by hanging one on a solid Texas-San Antonio team Tuesday night.  Sophomore center David Foster returned from a turned ankle to block six shots, while senior Luka Drca added 19 points and the Utes held UTSA to 33% shooting and only three assists on their 16 field goals en route to a 22 point Utah win.

It’s been a disappointing early season for the Utes, still fighting to get back to .500 after a recent three-game skid and some bad losses (Idaho, Seattle, Pepperdine) throughout the schedule.  The Utes have been terribly inefficient offensively, have struggled shooting the ball (especially from deep) and have even struggled on the glass, which is completely unacceptable for one of the tallest teams in the country.  And yet, the Utes have shown that they are talented enough to play with some good teams, having defeated Utah State and Michigan at home and Illinois on a neutral court.

Looking ahead: The Utes wrap up non-conference play with a trip to Baton Rouge on Saturday for a battle of underperforming teams.  Conference play starts with a home game against TCU on the following Saturday, backed up by a trip to the Pit to face the Lobos on January 13th.

About the only thing to be sure of for the rest of the Ute season is inconsistency.  Coach Jim Boylen is an excellent teacher, so the Utes are sure to get improvement out of its younger players, but the lack of consistent outside shooting up and down the roster seems destined to doom this Utah basketball squad to mediocrity.  There is enough talent and size here to be sure that the Utes will probably knock off teams like BYU, New Mexico and UNLV at some point this season, but it shouldn’t surprise anyone to see wins like that followed with losses to teams like Air Force, Colorado State and Wyoming.  And yet, if this team gets hot at the right moment in March, they could certainly win three games in three days and find themselves dancing.  But don’t hold your breath.

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Ten Tuesday Scribbles…

Posted by zhayes9 on December 29th, 2009

RTC contributor and bracketologist Zach Hayes will deliver ten permeating thoughts every Tuesday as the season progresses.

1. The most competitive conference in the land this season should spark the most competitive Player of the Year race come March. Top-seeded Kansas boasts three potential candidates once center Cole Aldrich starts to play with a more aggressive mentality on the offensive end. Senior point guard Sherron Collins has the skill set to explode come conference play and should provide the Jayhawks with more than one clutch play the season wears on. Freshman Xavier Henry has surpassed everyone’s expectations early in Lawrence as the Jayhawks early scoring leader. Nipping at the heels of #1 Kansas is #2 Texas and their all-time rebounder Damion James. James has exploded onto the scene the last week-plus with two masterful performances against North Carolina (25/15/4 stl on 8-22 FG) and Michigan State (23/13 on 10-18 FG). You’d be hard-pressed to find someone that argues James isn’t the current frontrunner for Big 12 POY and deserves definite consideration for first team All-America honors. Kansas State has been one of the bigger surprises in college basketball through the first month and a half behind sharp-shooting guard Jacob Pullen. The junior went on a tear recently scoring 28 in a big road win at UNLV then topping himself with 30 points at Alabama. In his last three games, Pullen has nailed an incredible 16 of his last 25 threes. Lurking in the shadows is Oklahoma State’s James Anderson (21.8 PPG, 6.0 RPG) and Iowa State forward Craig Brackins (17.5 PPG, 8.1 RPG) with Baylor’s Ekpe Ugoh and Oklahoma’s Willie Warren also making large impacts on their respective squads.

2. It’s fairly clear the top two teams in a weaker Pac-10 conference will be Washington behind Isaiah Thomas and Quincy Pondexter and California behind their big three of Jerome Randle, Theo Robertson and Patrick Christopher. While both teams have encountered their early season struggles, Washington knocking off an emotionally scarred Texas A&M squad at home Tuesday and California hanging in with Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse should convince most critics that those two will compete for the Pac-10 title. Prior to the season, many believed UCLA would be that third team in the Pac-10 to cause some damage and sneak into the NCAA field. But with a week that included wins over Tennessee, St. Mary’s and UNLV, it’s becoming quite evident that USC might very well be that team. Even with early season home defeats at the hands of Loyola Marymount and Nebraska and blowout losses at Texas and Georgia Tech, the Trojans are coming together behind newly-entrenched point guard Mike Gerrity and coach Kevin O’Neill. The two-time transfer Gerrity is already the Trojans leading scorer and far and away their best assist man. He won’t blow anyone away with flash and speed, but he knows how to run an offense and play the position with efficiency. A starting five of Gerrity, Nikola Vucevic, Alex Stepheson, Dwight Lewis and Marcus Johnson all of a sudden doesn’t look too shabby, does it?

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Checking in on… the Big 12

Posted by jstevrtc on December 17th, 2009

checkinginon

Patrick Sellars is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12 Conference.

Power Rankings:

  1. Kansas (9-0)- The Jayhawks dominated Radford and La Salle at home this last week, but now the schedule gets much harder.  A Michigan team that is in need of a big win will visit Lawrence on Saturday.
  2. Texas (9-0)- The Longhorns blow out every team they play, probably because they have such an easy schedule, but also because Damion James is averaging a double-double. The matchup between the frontcourts of Texas and North Carolina may provide us with the most evenly matched game of the season, between two final four contenders.
  3. Kansas State (9-1)- Sorry Red Raiders fans, but I have to give the three-spot to the Wildcats despite TTU being the only other team in the conference outside Texas and Kansas that is undefeated. In my opinion, a road win against UNLV is better than a home win over Washington.
  4. Texas Tech (9-0)- John Roberson put the team on his back against TCU after being down five at halftime. Roberson played all 40 minutes and finished with 21 points on 7-11 from the field.
  5. Texas A&M (8-2)- Losing to New Mexico is nothing to be ashamed of; the Lobos can play with anyone in the power conferences.  The Aggies need to look at their game against Washington on December 22nd to get their name back in the national spotlight.
  6. Oklahoma State (9-1)- James Anderson is continuing his great play, and if Marshall Moses keeps averaging a double-double, Oklahoma State will be a hard team to beat in this conference.
  7. Oklahoma (7-3)- The Sooners have a good streak going, and they should have two more wins before they play on the road against Gonzaga.
  8. Baylor (8-1)- The Bears were off last week, but they’re win over Xavier looks a lot better after Xavier beat Cincinnati.
  9. Iowa State (7-3)- Beating their in-state rivals should get this team back on track.  The Cyclones have a lot of talent, they just need everyone to play well at the same time.
  10. Missouri (6-3)- Losing to Oral Roberts?  That’s a sign of a team that is in rebuilding mode.
  11. Nebraska (7-2)- A very ugly win over Oregon State, but it was a win nonetheless.
  12. Colorado (6-4)- Losing against Colorado State, a team that has been dwelling in the basement of the MWC the last few seasons, won’t get anyone in Boulder excited about basketball.

Team of the Week:  Kansas State WildcatsJacob Pullen had a huge night against UNLV (28 points, and 7-10 from behind the arc), which helped lead the Wildcats to their second big win of the week.  Denis Clemente and Pullen can lead this team to a deep run in the NCAA tournament when all other parts of the team are running smoothly.

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ATB: Bearcat Hangover in Birmingham

Posted by rtmsf on December 17th, 2009

atb

Upset of the Night. UAB 64, Cincinnati 47. Hangover, anyone? Three days after playing the game of the year in the Crosstown Shootout against Xavier, Cincinnati travels to Alabama, shoots miserably, and falls 12 points short of their previous season low. No disrespect to the Blazers, though; they were responsible for more than their share of the Bearcats’ lackluster showing. UAB was obviously the fresher team, coming off of a 12-day stretch with no games, a time they used to improve themselves on the defensive side of things. UAB coach Mike Davis said afterward, “We knew how important it was for us to come out and really play with a lot of intensity on defense. It was the best performance we’ve had all season on defense.” The combination of fatigue (both mental and physical) and UAB defense forced UC into a 31.7% shooting night, including an atrocious 3-22 (13.6%) from behind the three-point arc. The Blazers weren’t exactly lacking on offense, either. Elijah Millsap was formidable, stepping up with 22 points and 15 boards, and Howard Crawford added 14/5. Dion Dixon, the Bearcats’ only player in double-figures (13/3), minimized the possiblity of a post-Xavier hangover when asked about it after the game, saying, “That didn’t have anything to do with it. We’re a young team, we haven’t played many games on the road.” Really? It’s true, not all of them are major contributors, but eight of UC’s 14 players are juniors or seniors. And five of their nine games this year have been away from their home floor. The most damning evidence that the Bearcats’ minds and bodies weren’t totally into this one, though, is that Cincy came in as the 10th best rebounding team in the nation, averaging 40.2 a game. UAB ranks 179th (32.6 RPG). Tonight UAB owned the boards, 44 to 29. No doubt, Cincinnati will be back, but it was UAB, now 9-1, who served notice to the rest of the nation tonight.

UAB Drove Around Cincy All Night (AP/Butch Dill)

UAB Drove Around Cincy All Night (AP/Butch Dill)

RTC LiveOklahoma State 71, Stanford 70. RTC Live visited Maples Pavilion for the first time this evening, and although the fans weren’t all that excitable throughout the game, we were treated with a near-miraculous finish as Stanford hung around just long enough to have a shot in the air to win this one.  It didn’t happen, as Andrew Zimmermann’s drive to the left and subsequent shot attempt went long and fell harmlessly off the glass into the hands of an OSU player, but for most of this game it appeared that the Cowboys were the far superior team, so the fact that Stanford was even in that position had to be a positive for Johnny Dawkins’ team.  The two stars for the respective teams both had big nights — OSU’s James Anderson dropped 28/6/3 assts, including several very difficult three-point plays the old-fashioned way and a few deep threes the modern way in the second half.  Stanford’s Landry Fields had 22/12/4 assts to keep the pace, and it was his playmaking down the stretch that led to open looks for Stanford to crawl back into the game.  Dawkins has to be kicking himself a little bit, though, as the Cardinal committed 11 fewer fouls than Oklahoma State, shot thirteen more FTs, yet only earned four more points from the stripe — that’s what 12-24 will do to you.  It was OSU’s second-half three-point shooting (6-12) that gave the Cowboys as much as a 15-pt lead, but Stanford’s Jeremy Green (19/7) stepped up with a few timely shots to keep his team within striking distance.  We came away not very impressed with either team tonight, but clearly Oklahoma State should feel good about itself in getting a road win, even one against a Pac-10 team with half the fans not in the building tonight.

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RTC Live: Oklahoma State @ Stanford

Posted by rtmsf on December 16th, 2009

RTCLive

Hello again everybody, it feels like it’s been a long layoff since we last did an RTC Live, but truth be told, it’s only been three days.  Still, by our count, this will be our 49th RTC Live game of the season, and we’re only about five weeks strong.  Tonight we’ll be heading to a new venue (for us), Stanford’s Maples Pavilion, for the eleventh game of the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series, which so far the Big 12 has dominated by a score of 8-2.  Both of these teams come into tonight’s game with question marks.  For the home team, Stanford has played up and down all season, losing games at San Diego and vs. Oral Roberts, yet taking the now-unbeaten and super-talented Kentucky Wildcats to overtime in the Cancun Challenge (a game that Stanford should have won).  Senior forward Landry Fields is their do-it-all player, coming into this game averaging 23/8/3 assts/3 stls per game as a high-volume contributor in both minutes and shots.   Sophomore guard Jeremy Green has become Johnny Dawkins’ second option, coming into this one averaging 15/4 and over three treys a game this year.  As for Oklahoma State, the Cowboys come into this game at 8-1 overall, but they lost their only true road game badly at Tulsa two weeks ago.  James Anderson is the foil to Landry, averaging 20/7 from the wing and featuring a vast array of athletic moves that create scoring opportunities.  That matchup should be an interesting one all night.  Maples is not an easy place to play when the fans are engaged, so this one (simulcast on FSN) should be a great environment for some December college hoops.  Join us for all the action tonight. 

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