News & Notes. First, a few notable pieces of news from the weekend.
- As many as six of Arizona’s players could be ineligible for their opener Monday against Florida Atlantic in the Preseason NIT. This relates to the ‘big mistake’ that Lute Olson made by allowing a letter with his name affixed to it go out to boosters seeking financial support for a local AAU Tournament (an NCAA violation). The named players may have received impermissable expenses during this AAU event.
- We’re shocked, shocked we tell you, in finding Ole Miss and West Virginia (of all places) received Fs in a minority hiring report. Not sure what’s up with Dayton, though.
- South Carolina starting guard Brandis Raley-Ross will miss 3-4 weeks with a sprained left knee. Similarly, Villanova guard Dwayne Anderson will join teammate Shane Clark on the injury roll with a stress fracture in his left foot – he’ll be out indefinitely.
- This Quinnapiac racial threat thing is just getting more and more bizarre – now the victim is harassing one of the other victims? Get a grip, folks.
- And here’s another example of Nebraska pushing into the gray area with the rules relating to their supposedly non-public scrimmage with Marquette last week.
Game of the Weekend. Duke 82, Rhode Island 79. Maybe it was the light blue uniforms. Mere days after barely surviving Brown, URI nearly pulled off a major upset by going into Cameron Indoor Stadium and leading the Blue Devils most of the way before losing at the end in a hard-fought 82-79 battle. Jimmy Baron’s 24 (8 threes, several of which were ridiculous) led the way for the Rams, but the Devils scored on their last seven possessions to erase a 7-pt deficit with four minutes to go. Duke was led by Kyle Singler’s 21/5/5 assts and Jon Scheyer’s 23, but it was Duke’s defense that put the Devils in danger of breaking their 62-game home court non-conference winning streak (dating back to 2000). They gave up 10-14 from three and allowed URI to shoot 55% from the field. This game was on the U, so of course we couldn’t actually watch it – if anyone did get to see it, feel free to leave comments below.
Upset of the Weekend. Mercer 72, Alabama 69. The middle of the SEC looks pathetic so far this season. Already there were the Friday night debacle at Kentucky (VMI) and the near-miss at Arkansas (SE Louisiana); well, tonight Mark Gottfried was back to his old underachieving tricks. The Crimson Tide are projected to be in the SEC West mix for a division title and NCAA bid, but tonight’s game exposed some serious issues with this team. First, other than Ronald Steele (the good news for Bama fans is that he finally appears healthy), who put up 25 pts tonight, and JaMychal Green (17/12/3 blks), where will points come from? Alonzo Gee contributed a mere four points, and only one other player reached double figures (Mikhail Torrance). Perhaps even more importantly, the Tide were outrebounded by the smaller Bears, 49-32, which is simply inexcusable for an SEC team with vastly superior size. (like anyone in Alabama cares about hoops right now…) As for Mercer, this is becoming old hat for them. You may recall last year that Mercer went into USC and dropped the Trojans in their home opener, 96-81. They then promptly lost their next five games en route to an 11-19 campaign – will this year be any different? James Florence led the way for Mercer with 23/6/5 assts.
- Northeastern 70, Providence 66. New Friar head man Keno Davis didn’t want to start like this. Providence is facing a tough enough conference season in the Big East; they didn’t need to put themselves behind the RPI eight-ball with an opening home loss to a mid-major. Northeastern has a good team, but what happened to Sharaud Curry (1-8 for 2 pts)? Matt Janning killed PC with 24/6 on 10-14 shooting.
- Portland 80, Washington 74. Ditto for Lorenzo Romar. Washington is a trendy pick to make some noise in the Pac-10 this year, but if the Huskies find themselves on the bubble next March, they will lament losing this game. Jon Brockman had 30/14, but he got absolutely no help on the inside (Quincy Pondexter in particular laid an egg with zero points). An old bugaboo killed Washington – the free-throw line (19-32, .594). Nik Raivio (Derek’s little bro) led a balanced Portland attack with 19/7 rebs.
How’d #1 Look? UNC 86, Penn 71. The nation’s #1 team had a solid, if spotty, performance without reigning POY Tyler Hansbrough and their best defender Marcus Ginyard on the court Saturday. Six players reached double figures, including two freshman bigs, Tyler Zeller (18 pts) and Eric Davis (10/14). Bobby Frasor played 21 minutes, despite reports late last week to the contrary. Penn managed to get the game down to a ten-point deficit with four minutes remaining behind 11 threes and a big game from guard Tyler Bernardini (26 pts), but they never seriously threatened. All in all, considering what UNC didn’t have on the court in this game, we’d have to believe Roy feels pretty good about his team’s performance.
Mid-Major Corner. These games matter on resumes in March.
- George Mason 80, Vermont 79 (OT). This looked like a tremendous battle of mids in Burlington, VT, on Saturday. GMU’s Darryl Monroe was awesome, tallying 19/17 including a beastly nine offensive rebounds and the game-winning FTs with 0.7 showing on the clock. Marquis Blakely, his counterpart on Vermont, was equally effective, going for 24/8/4 stls/4 blks in a game that was back-and-forth until the last possession.
- Butler 58, Drake 48. Butler held Drake to 31% shooting and 14 first-half points in a methodical road win between two prominent mid-majors. Is Drake finished now that Keno Davis is gone?
- UNLV 65, San Diego 60. An undermanned USD team with three players serving suspensions still nearly pulled the upset at UNLV Saturday night. This game was close throughout until UNLV, led by Wink Adams’ 19/4, made six key FTs down the stretch. Rob Jones led San Diego with 19/10/4 assts.
- Creighton 82, New Mexico 75. Incredibly named P’Allen Stinnett (30 pts) and Booker Woodfox (26 pts) led a huge second-half surge for Creighton (19-3 in the final three minutes) to start its season off with a nice win.
FIrst Looks. Some coaches had their first games at new schools this weekend.
- LSU 79, Jackson St. 65. Trent Johnson started his LSU career with a victory fueled by a late 17-6 run. Tasmin Mitchell had 17/7.
- Indiana 83, Northwestern St. 65. Devan Dumes scored 21 pts in Tom Crean’s Hoosier debut. This was a good win for this program no matter what happens the rest of the way.
- California 68, Pacific 56. Monty returned to coaching on the other side of the Bay by winning his first home game, a hard-fought victory led by Jerome Randle’s 24 pts and Patrick Christopher’s 18 pts.
Statistical Oddities. More like, offensive offensiveness.
- Manhattan 56, NJIT 32. The abomination continues. NJIT shot a blistering 23% in tying the NCAA record for consecutive losses (34). Up next: @ Penn St. Monday night for the win, er, loss.
- Washington St. 76, Mississippi Valley St. 25. Memo to MVSU: stop scheduling Wazzu. In the last two years, Washington St. has outscored MVSU 147-51 (or, the score of one of Wazzu’s Pac-10 football games).
Saturday Games of Interest.
- Gonzaga 83, MSU-Billings 52. If Josh Heytvelt is once again healthy, this team is legit, and it appears that he is (15/8/3 blks). Austin Daye added 15/12/4 blks for as talented a front line as there is in the country.
- Tennessee 114, UT-Chattanooga 75. UT set a new record for assists (32) as it won its 33d straight home game in a rout. Six Vols reached double figures, led by Tyler Smith’s 21/4/5 assts.
- Memphis 90, Fairfield 63. Tyreke Evans came off the bench to lead the Tigers with 19/5/3 in his debut for Memphis. Despite the blowout, Calipari was upset with his defense – the Tigers allowed Fairfield to shoot 50% from the field and 44% from three.
- USC 78, UC Irvine 55. USC struggled for a half before blowing out UC Irvine behind freshman sensation Demar DeRozan’s 14/3. Dwight Lewis added 18/7 and Taj Gibson 17/6.
Sunday Games of Interest.
- Florida 81, Bradley 58. The Gators rode fourteen threes to an easy win over a decent Bradley squad. Nick Calathes dropped 13/7/6 asst/4 stls, and Dan Werner had Walter Hodge each contributed 17 pts.
- Clemson 76, Temple 72. Clemson held on after blowing a 14-pt second half lead by hitting some big FTs down the stretch in the Charleston Classic. CU’s Trever Booker had 15/16, while Temple’s Dionte Christmas was relatively quiet with 14/5 and six turnovers.
- Virginia 107, VMI 97. No upset magic today for VMI, coming off of its miraculous upset at Kentucky. UVa was led by Sylven Landesberg’s 28/8/8 assts, who set a freshman debut scoring record for the school.
- Wisconsin 68, Long Beach St. 61. Marcus Landry’s (23/4/3 blks) huge three with 22 seconds remaining gave UW just enough cushion to avoid the home upset. Of some concern for Bo Ryan will be the Badgers allowing 48% shooting from their Big West foes.
- Michigan St. 100, Idaho 62. MSU cruised behind Chris Allen and Raymar Morgan’s twin 21-pt performances.
- Holy Cross 73, St. Joseph’s 69 (OT). This is a really good early win for the Patriot League against an A10 stalwart.
- Notre Dame 94, USC-Upstate 54. Luke Harongody blew up for 30/14, including his fourth career three-pointer, in a blowout at home. Luke Zeller added 18/5 off the bench.
- Kansas 71, Missouri-Kansas City 56. KU shook off a 1-13 shooting night from three to pull away from UMKC in the second half on the strength of their defense, which held their opponent to 29% shooting.
On Tap Monday (all times EST).
- Davidson (-17.5) v. James Madison – 6pm (NIT)
- Connecticut v. Hartford (ESPN FC & 360) – 7pm
- Boston College (-13.5) v. Loyola (MD) (ESPNU) – 7pm (NIT)
- Pittsburgh (-14) v. Miami (OH) (ESPN FC & 360) – 7pm
- Purdue (-20.5) v. E. Michigan (ESPN2 & 360) – 7pm (NIT)
- UAB (-10) v. Santa Clara - 8pm (NIT)
- Missouri (-14) v. UT-Chattanooga (ESPN FC & 360) – 8pm
- Oklahoma St. (-11) v. N. Texas (ESPN FC & 360) – 8pm
- Marquette v. Chicago St. (ESPN FC & 360) – 8pm
- Belmont v. Austin Peay – 8pm
- Texas Tech v. Sam Houston St. (ESPN FC & 360) – 8pm
- Oklahoma (-30) v. Miss. Valley St. (ESPNU) – 9pm
- Arizona (-18.5) v. Florida Atlantic (ESPNU) – 11pm (NIT)