The Lede. There were a good number of games around the college basketball landscape this evening, but few held any real interest. There was a Big East matchup in Madison Square Garden, though, that was more than interesting; in fact, it was arguably more compelling than the other 49 games tonight combined.
Your Watercooler Moment. We’ll have more on this topic later this morning, but tonight’s watercooler moment came courtesy of Justin Brownlee’s putback of Dwight Hardy’s missed layup attempt that gave St. John’s the final lead over Georgetown in a game that they typically would have lost in recent years. Much will be made of the shifting zones that the Johnnies employed to stifle the long-range threats of the Hoya guards (4-17), but the overall inspiration and confidence that Steve Lavin has enabled in this group of (mostly) seniors to make a run at the NCAA Tournament in their final season is remarkable. Already at 3-0 in Big East play with three tough games under their belt, SJU has an opportunity to all but seal a postseason berth with a .500 record through the rest of January. Their upcoming schedule is a bear, but with their current momentum and some newfound confidence, we’re starting to believe in those cats from Queens. Can we just make the Big East Tournament the East Region and let the other regions handle the rest?
Tonight’s Quick Hits…
- The Binary Triple-Double. We’re not sure we’ve ever seen a perfect triple-double of 10/10/10, but that’s what Milwaukee guard Kaylon Williams gave us tonight in the Panthers’ blowout win over Butler. Williams is a guy that seems to do everything well, but nothing great. His season averages in this, his transfer sophomore year, are 8/5/4 APG, but he’s had a handful of double-figure assist games in his career and has come close in rebounds a few times. Kudos to the young fella on a big night for his school.
- Maybe Florida Should Join the A-10. Two of the Gators’ four best wins of the season have come in the last week against Atlantic 10 teams, with Florida defeating Rhode Island at home tonight and Xavier in Cincinnati last week. The key to tonight’s blowout win over URI is that the multifaceted Chandler Parsons finally got his offensive game back on track, going for 18/12/5 assts for his first double-figure scoring performance in a month. With so many poor shooters on this team, the Gators must have the usually-efficient Parsons higher than fourth on the team in scoring average (9.9 PPG) for Billy Donovan’s team to come anywhere near its SEC and national goals this season.
- Return of the Beard. Jacob Pullen returned from his three-game suspension tonight and put in a business-like 24/5 assts on 9-11 shooting in an easy win over Savannah State. Most everyone has written off Kansas State so far this year as an overrated fraud, but there’s a lot of season left and perhaps a re-focused Pullen coming out of the time off is exactly the medicine that Frank Martin’s team needed. His teammate Curtis Kelly will not be back for another couple of weeks.
… and Misses.
- Dear NCAA: Never Trust Florida State. And this is why — Auburn 65, FSU 60. Yes, the same Auburn team who has found a way to beat only a single team higher than #300 in KenPom’s ratings (Middle Tennessee at #210), picked apart the Seminoles tonight for without question one of the most shocking scores of the season. FSU might be the second or third best team on paper in the ACC, and they couldn’t beat a historically awful Auburn team? Please, NCAA Selection Committee, take note of this when Leonard Hamilton’s squad is on the bubble in March and the ACC offices are lobbying for their inclusion into the Dance.