Forget the BCS. None of the big college football matchups this weekend were worth your time – Texas Tech/Oklahoma: blowout; Ohio St/Michigan: blowout; Penn St/Michigan St: blowout; Utah/BYU: blowout – so hopefully you found some good hoops to watch instead.
The Return of our Lord and Savior Tyler Hansbrough. UNC 84, UC Santa Barbara 67. This game was a little past RTC’s bedtime on Friday night, so we’ll cover it now. Did you guys hear? Tyler Hansbrough made his triumphant return to UNC’s lineup Friday night! The stress reaction is no longer reacting! There was to be no Santa Clara Pt. 2, as Psycho-T returned for 25 minutes of action and 13/7 in the box score. The Heels put all five starters in double figures (led by Ty Lawson’s 19) + Ed Davis off the bench, but didn’t really start to pull away until the mid-second half. James Nunnally had 22/7 off the bench for UCSB, who packed the Thunderdome for its first game against a #1 team in 18 years. Mild cause for concern? UNC is allowing its opponents to shoot 44% from the field in three games thus far this season.
Why Do We Ever Sleep on Xavier? Xavier 63, Memphis 58. Sean Miller just continues to get it done at Xavier year after year. Memphis won’t need this game in March, but Xavier just might, and like Wisconsin, we should just go ahead and put the Muskies in the top 25 no matter what players they’re returning in a given year. We watched this game, and guess what area of basketball once again bit Memphis in the arse? Would you believe FREE throws?!? Yep, 15-30 from the line, including missing seven of the last nine AND the last four as the game still hung in the balance. Robert Dozier had a double-double (10/11) but Memphis isn’t very good at shooting the ball outside of the paint (24% from three this season), and this area of the game might be their major bugaboo this year. Xavier exhibited a balanced attack, but Terrell Holloway’s 10-10 from the line helped XU secure the victory and the Puerto Rico Tipoff Championship.
Introducing Samardo Samuels. Louisville 79, Morehead St. 41; Louisville 81, S. Alabama 54. Samardo Samuels was the clincher as to why we chose Louisville to win the national title over UNC next April, and if his first weekend of games is any indication, we might start patting ourselves on the back soon. Samuels is averaging 21/5 in his first two games, while shooting 17-22 from the field (over half of which were dunks). Pitino is calling him the best freshman he’s ever coached, which is fairly high praise considering Jamal Mashburn, Antoine Walker, Ron Mercer and Francisco Garcia were all pretty solid players for Pitino in their first seasons. Louisville has held its first two opponents to 32% from the field thus far.
Will the Hansbrough Effect Kill Another Big 12 Beast? Oklahoma 80, Gardner-Webb 76. Everyone pretty well knows that Tyler Hansbrough is going to win the NPOY awards again this year (assuming his stress reaction days are behind him). But is he going to win it over a more deserving Big 12 big man for the second year in a row? Google Michael Beasley/Kansas State for a comparison. It’s still early, but indications are that Blake Griffin is going to absolutely pulverize everyone that gets in his way this year. After four games, Griffin is averaging an utterly PREPOSTEROUS 26/20 on 75% shooting from the field. The reason he won’t win is because of games like this one, where poor shooting (42% FG, 26% 3FG) nearly doomed Oklahoma who probably should have lost to a vastly inferior team (and the fact that TH will have 30+ games on national tv, whereas Oklahoma will be lucky to have a third of that). Griffin set personal records with 35 pts, 21 rebounds and 5 assists, but it was his three-point play with 2:36 remaining that finally gave OU a secure lead. Gardner-Webb, now 0-3, was very close to making a name for itself for the second consecutive November.
Upset of the Weekend. Missouri 83, USC 72. This isn’t much of an upset, but it was a light weekend in that department. USC was once again the Jekyll and Hyde team in terms of the tale of two halves. They led Mizzou by six going into the break, but were outscored 46-29 in the second half to lose for the second time in three days. Demarre Carroll blew up for 29/11 for the Tigers, who are 4-1 with their only loss to Xavier and appear to be finally turning the corner a little bit under Mike Anderson. It’s going to take time for USC, as Demar DeRozan hasn’t adjusted to the college game yet (9/5) and Floyd’s teams usually get off to a slow start anyway. What has to be distressing for Floyd is where the Trojans’ are going to get some outside shooting – they’re currently at 23% from deep this year, and if that keeps up, nobody will bother to cover them outside of the paint this year.
Ridiculous Score of the Weekend. San Francisco 74, Academy of Art 23. Seriously, we think if you choose to schedule art schools and multi-directional high schools, then you should automically cede all claims on an NCAA Tournament berth.
- Georgetown 81, Drexel 53. Greg Monroe was a beast, contributing 20/8/4/3 stls/3 blks in his second game as a Hoya. Georgetown held Drexel to 25% FG shooting for the game.
- Georgia Tech 82, Mercer 76 (OT). Ga Tech barely escaped its trip south to Mercer’s home court by storming back from an 18-pt deficit to tie the game with 32 seconds remaining and getting a stop to send it to overtime. Georgia Tech was led by Gani Lawal’s 27/9, but it was Mercer’s 27 TOs that ultimately killed the Bears. Still, Mercer is making a name for itself this year in the deep south.
- St. Louis 53, Boston College 50. In a game that both teams needed to win, Rick Majerus’ SLU team made just enough plays down the stretch to seal the game. BC’s Tyrese Rice and Joe Trapani combined for 4-22 from the field.
- Pittsburgh 86, Indiana (PA) 60. Dejuan Blair ripped apart the other Indiana for 27/18 in a mere 21 minutes of play.
- Purdue 66, Coppin St. 46. Robbie Hummell had 20/11 and E’Twaun Moore had 10/8/5 assts/3 blks in an easy win for the Boilermakers.
- Rhode Island 92, VCU 86. In a game that must have been played with absolutely no defense, URI put five players in double figures while shooting 54% from the field, while VCU shot an even better 61% led by Eric Maynor’s 22/6/8 assts (he also had an ungodly ten TOs). So how did URI win? Home court – the Rams shot 16 more FTS (making 11).
- Clemson 71, Charlotte 70. In a game Charlotte really needed to win at home if it intends on making a case for an at-large later this year, Clemson managed to hang on led by Demontez Stitt’s 16/4/4 assts. KC Rivers (12/8) put the Tigers ahead for good with a driving layup with 43 seconds left.
- Missouri St. 62, Arkansas 57. Can we go ahead and put the SEC in the mid-major grouping yet? Another loss to a mid-major – at least this one was on the road.
- Marquette 100, UW-Milwaukee 80. Marquette’s Wesley Matthews and Lazar Hayward each had 25 pts in a blowout win over crosstown rival UW-Milwaukee. Matthews is up to a fantastic start this year, averaging 26/7/4 over three games.
- Nevada 79, Oregon St. 71. We’ll say this for Craig Robinson’s first year at OSU – he has his team playing competitive basketball on the road, and Nevada is no easy venue for a visitor to get a win. Luke Babbit had 20/7 for the Wolfpack.
- Duke 78, Montana 58. Greg Paulus didn’t play because of a bruised ego elbow, but Duke still had no trouble putting down the Grizzlies, despite playing four games in the last eight days.
- Arizona St. 61, Pepperdine 40. This is a vintage Herb Sendek score, as James Harden’s 33/12 led ASU to a win over a Waves team that literally couldn’t throw it in the ocean (27% FG).
- Connecticut 76, Miami (FL) 63. UConn advanced to the finals of the Paradise Jam (vs. Wisconsin) by holding Miami to 35% shooting, helped by Hasheem Thabeet’s patrolling of the inside (19/14 to go with 7 blocks). The game was essentially decided when UConn held Miami to 8 pts for a nine-minute stretch of the first half. Jack McClinton had 27/5 for Miami and his teammate Dwayne Collins had 16/14 in the losing effort.
- Wisconsin 64, San Diego 49. The Badgers pulled away late from San Diego, ensuring that there will be no UConn-SD rematch from last year’s NCAAs. Trevon Hughes appears to be the new stud in the Badger system, going for 22 pts tonight after 21 the night before. Some things never change – UW held SD to 35% shooting while going for 51% themselves.
On Tap Monday (all times EST). Feast Week is our favorite basketball week until Championship Week starts in March. There are so many good early-season tourney matchups, between the Maui Invitational, the Preseason NIT semis and finals, the Old Spice and Anaheim Classics, the Las Vegas Invitational, and even the ridiculous CBE and Legends Classic final rounds. Here are the highlighted games for tomorrow.
- Texas (-9) v. St. Joseph’s (ESPN2 & 360) – 3pm (Maui Invtl.)
- Notre Dame (-13.5) v. Indiana (ESPN2 & 360) – 5:30pm (Maui Invtl.)
- Miami (FL) v. San Diego – 6pm (Paradise Jam)
- Florida (-3) v. Syracuse (ESPN2 & 360) – 7:30pm (CBE Classic)
- Connecticut v. Wisconsin – 8:30pm (Paradise Jam)
- UNC v. Chaminade (ESPNU) – 9:30pm (Maui Invtl.)
- Kansas (-5) v. Washington (ESPN2 & 360) – 9:30pm (CBE Classic)
- Alabama (-2.5) v. Oregon (ESPN2 & 360) – 12am (Maui Invtl.)