Three more Coaches vs. Cancer games tonight, and exactly zero of them were good games. Here’s how bad it was. The three favorites — UNC, Syracuse and California — were collectively favored by 80 points in Vegas, and all three easily covered the spread. Still, that doesn’t mean that the games weren’t interesting. RTC Live was at Cal for the second time in three nights, and we were rewarded with some of the excellent long-range shooting that the Bears have become noted for. Let’s take a look at each game.
Rautins Gets His Revenge. Syracuse 100, Robert Morris 60. A sterling performance and total effort for the Orange tonight against a Colonials team that returned three starters from the NEC champions of a year ago. Andy Rautins, two nights after missing all six of his shot attempts and rolling his left ankle, drained seven treys on ten attempts against Robert Morris in the triple-digit Syracuse scoring output, just two three-balls shy of Gerry McNamara’s school record. Overall, Syracuse shot 13/26 from downtown after a 2/17 performance against Albany, including two from Mookie Jones, James Southerland and, most importantly, Wesley Johnson. Big man Arinze Onuaku had a field day in the paint against the outmanned Colonials (7-8 FG) and Rick Jackson (4-5 FG, 10 pts, 5 reb) continues to improve. As far as the ever-changing point guard competition, both Scoop Jardine (6 pts, 9 asst, 2 stl, 3 TO) and freshman Brandon Triche (4-5 FG, 4-4 FT, 12 pts, 7 asst, 1 TO) contributed stellar efforts. Coach Jim Boeheim even elected to play both points on the floor at the same time when Rautins took a breather, a trend you could very well see extend further into the season. Overall, Syracuse fans have to be pleased with impressive back-to-back efforts to begin the year after the stunning Le Moyne loss during the exhibition season. They’ll battle California in the semifinals of what should be a memorable 2K Sports Classic in NYC next weekend.
Heels Win a Glorified Scrimmage. North Carolina 89, NC Central 42. The only question unanswered during the waning minutes of NC Central’s death march into Chapel Hill Wednesday night was whether Carolina could cover their 45.5-point spread. Although the 18 turnovers (including four from starting PG Larry Drew II) against this competition is still eye-opening, the Heels pretty much put an exclamation point on this one. The highlights: Tyler Zeller (who looks like Roy Williams’ most complete player in the early going) went 6-6 from the floor and added five boards, freshman backup point guard Dexter Strickland drained three treys, while elder statesmen Marcus Ginyard (17 pts, 3 reb, 3 asst, 3 stl, 7-10 FG) and Deon Thompson (13 pts, 6 reb, 5-9 FG) both chipped in on the cakewalk. Carolina invites Valparaiso to the Dean Dome before battling Ohio State in the 2K Sports Classic semifinals at Madison Square Garden.
Cal Shakes off Detroit in Second Half. California 95, Detroit 61. Cal’s big three of Jerome Randle, Patrick Christopher and Theo Robertson outscored Detroit by themselves (62 pts on 17-32 FG, 7-14 3FG and 21-22 FT), using a strong second-half surge to put away the pesky Titans from Detroit tonight. It was clear after Monday night’s game that Randle was not pleased with his play, and tonight he started off quickly with 16 first half points to lead Cal until his teammates (most notably Christopher and Robertson) heated up. Cal’s defensive energy was significantly better than Monday night, holding Detroit to 35.7% shooting for the game, although often the Titans forced up bad shots making it easy for the Bear defense. And despite actually being smaller that the Titans inside the paint for much of the game, Cal dominated the boards (41-25). Our observation is that Detroit had some talent on the floor, especially the raw but capable Eli Holman (the IU transfer who threw a potted plant at or near Tom Crean 2 years ago), but it’s clear that the players haven’t quite figured out how to play together yet. As for Cal, it’ll be very interesting to see how they handle the trip to New York and the long Syracuse zone defense. You’d initially think that a great three-point shooting team would have an advantage against a zone, but it’s doubtful the Bears have seen such an athletic zone before.
On Tap Thursday (all times ET). Two games tomorrow night — one is in the CvC and the other is something called the Glenn Wilkes Classic.
- James Madison @ Ohio State (BTN) - 7pm. This is worth watching just to see what Evan Turner can do again.
- Georgia State @ NC State – 7pm. And the Sidney Lowe Watch begins.