Rushed Reactions: Miami 90, #2 Duke 63

Posted by nvr1983 on January 23rd, 2013

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RTC’s East Coast Boss was courtside for Miami’s dominating 90-63 win over #2 Duke on Wednesday night.

Five Key Takeaways.

  1. Before the season all of the talk in the ACC was about North Carolina State, but that quickly evaporated as we saw that their run last March was nothing more than a hot streak. Duke stepped in to fill the void as the dominant team in the ACC and appeared for a while to be the best team in the country, but with Ryan Kelly’s injury which we will get to in a bit, the door to win the ACC is wide open and Miami has stepped in. After tonight the Hurricanes are two games up in the ACC with only three truly challenging games remaining — at home against North Carolina and on the road at North Carolina and Duke. While they can certainly slip up in conference road games, they are successfully positioning themselves to be in contention for the ACC regular season title. I’m still not sure how good this Hurricane team is, but they have wins over a Duke and Michigan State at home and North Carolina on the road. All of those teams have their weaknesses, but Miami is looking like it could be a very dangerous team in March.

    Miami Fans Might Be Rushing The Court A Lot This Year

    Miami Fans Might Be Rushing The Court A Lot This Year

  2. Duke really needs Ryan Kelly to come back. I am not sure I can emphasize that enough. Kelly won’t win any Player of the Year awards and he might not even be First Team All-ACC, but the way this Duke team is constructed they might need his presence more than any other player on the team. Mason Plumlee is by far the best all-around player on the squad, but he lacks Kelly’s versatility, which is key when your bench is as short as Duke’s. Having said all of that, Duke needs to weather this stretch without Kelly which should theoretically be close to ending based on earlier reports from the school. Of course, that says nothing of how Kelly is actually healing. If he returns at 100% Duke should be fine, but their performances thus far following his injury demonstrates just how fragile this team is.
  3. Reggie Johnson could be an asset to Miami down the line, but he isn’t there yet. Before the game there had been rumors that Johnson might play tonight, but it wasn’t until just before tipoff that it was apparent that he would play (he was in the lay-up line without any protection on his broken left thumb). Johnson contributed in spots primarily with his girth filling space against a small Duke front line, but his impact was largely minimal (fill in your ground-shaking jokes). Johnson was only out of the lineup for about a month, but his conditioning looks horrible. He will never run up and down the court with the Cody Zellers of the college basketball world, but Jim Larranaga should have put Johnson on the treadmill for the past month. If Johnson can regain his previous form in the next few weeks, he could insert another dimension to this team although his return could affect the obvious chemistry the Hurricanes developed without him. Read the rest of this entry »
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Rushed Reactions: #13 Butler 64, #8 Gonzaga 63

Posted by WCarey on January 19th, 2013

Walker Carey is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after Saturday night’s game between Gonzaga and Butler. You can follow him at @walkerRcarey.

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. The Atmosphere At Hinkle Fieldhouse Was Sublime. With ESPN’s College GameDay broadcasting live from Hinkle Fieldhouse, the Butler fans definitely brought it all night long. Not only did the place fill up long before the opening tip, the place was loud long before the opening tip. The noise level only rose as the night went on, seemingly reaching new heights at different points in the game. The Butler faithful were dead set on letting Gonzaga know just how devoted and faithful they are. Gonzaga did not shoot one free throw without being under a copious amount of verbal harassment from the Butler fans. When Roosevelt Jones nailed the game-winning buzzer-beater, the fans spilled out onto the court and joined the team in what was essentially a mob. As the team made its way to the locker room, the fans stayed on the court to celebrate the hard-fought victory.
  2. Despite Defeat, Gonzaga Once Again Showed Its A Very Good Team. On a night where Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. combined to score just five points, the strength of the Gonzaga frontline was on display all night. Elias Harris, Kelly Olynyk, and Sam Dower each turned in impressive performances going up against a player in Andrew Smith, who had essentially contained Cody Zeller earlier this season. Harris threw in 20 points and collected seven rebounds. Olynyk added 14 points and seven boards. Dower came off the bench and provided a great spark by scoring 20 points – 16 of which came in the first half. Not only did the Zags’ frontline perform well offensively, it also turned in a strong effort on the defensive side of the court. Smith, who entered the game averaging 12 points per game, was held to just seven points and was only able to get off five field goal attempts. While Gonzaga is surely not pleased in defeat, it should be pleased with the effort it got from its interior players.
  3. Never Count Butler Out. Ever. Butler has been college basketball’s darling for quite a few years now and there has been no indication of that changing any time soon. Earlier this season it was sophomore former walk-on Alex Barlow who hit a shot with 2.1 seconds left in overtime to top then number one Indiana. Against Gonzaga, Butler looked to sophomore guard Roosevelt Jones for the late-game heroics. After Butler turned the ball over trailing by one with just 3.5 seconds seconds to play, Jones intercepted the Gonzaga inbounds pass and raced into the lane putting up the game-winning shot a fraction of a second before the final buzzer sounded. Considering Butler’s history in close games against strong opponents, no one should be surprised with how the Bulldogs topped Gonzaga. Butler is a team that has adopted the calm and collected demeanor of its coach Brad Stevens and uses this approach no matter the situation. With Stevens at the controls and Butler playing as a team, there really is no situation this team cannot handle or conquer.

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Rushed Reactions: UCLA 97, #9 Missouri 94 (OT)

Posted by AMurawa on December 29th, 2012

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It was one of the more thrilling games of the young season, an up-and-down affair featuring great individual performances, scoring in bunches, and little of that pesky defense that can serve just to ugly things up. No, this was a track meet, a sprint. And one that needed some extra distance to decide a winner.

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. This is What The Buzz Was About. We spent much of the offseason hearing about how great this UCLA recruiting class was and just how high the ceiling was for this team, but for much of the first month and a half of the season, the Bruins just didn’t live up to the hype. But quietly over the last couple weeks, UCLA has gotten on an offensive roll, racking up efficient offensive performances against questionable competition. Leading the way has been Shabazz Muhammad, one of the top two recruits in this year’s freshman class, depending on whom you ask. Tonight was his, and really, the entire UCLA team’s chance to show the strides that they have made. Muhammad poured in 27 points, including seven of UCLA’s nine points in overtime, and flashed the athleticism and killer instinct that was long rumored about him. While there is still plenty of room for improvement (case in point, he grabbed just one rebound in 34 minutes of play), we’re starting to see what we expected to see. And in proximity to the rumors that had been swirling about Ben Howland’s job being in jeopardy, this win may have come at just the right time.
  2. Phil Pressey. He Good. Phil Pressey, on the other hand, was a guy who had been largely living up to the high standards that he had previously set for himself. Tonight, he found himself facing a team with an up-tempo, minimal defense in which he can thrive. And thrive he did, wowing Tiger and Bruin fans alike to the tune of 19 points and 19 assists, setting a Missouri record for dimes in a game. The assists are the big story, and they came in a variety of ways: whip-aheads on the fast break; drive-and-dish jobs creating easy looks for big guys like Alex Oriakhi and Laurence Bowers; and crisp passes to spot-up shooters for threes. And when he wasn’t handing out assists, he was creating for himself. He knocked down a late three (one of three on the night) in the face of Larry Drew II, he got into the lane and flipped in runners, and he knocked down pull-up jumpers. Just looking at the 8-for-22 effort in the box score could give one pause, but he was everything for the Tigers, accounting for 67 of their 94 points on just his shots and assists alone.
  3. Defense? What Defense? Much of the talk during the game on Twitter was about the lack of defense being played. And, yeah, there is little arguing that this was not exactly a fine example of defensive basketball. When all was said and done, the two teams combined to give up 1.18 points per possession. But you know what? At least for UCLA, that’s something to be okay with — at least there were signs of improvement. While they allowed far too much dribble penetration, at least it was to a point guard the quality of Pressey. And UCLA forced 17 turnovers (five from Pressey) which led to 36 points, quite possibly the difference in the game. At no point is this UCLA team going to be a shining example of Howland’s great defensive coaching, but if the Bruins can bolster its already potent offense by forcing turnovers and creating fast break opportunities, at least that can help to mitigate some of the easy points they give up.

Stars of the GameThe Wear Twins. Yeah, this should probably go to Pressey. Or maybe if you really want to hand it out to a player on the winning team, Muhammad. But I’ve already talked plenty about those two. How about the Wear twins though? Though they are a pair much maligned by large fan bases on both coasts, they were both excellent tonight. Travis Wear set a new career high, knocking in 22 points, grabbing nine boards and swatting a couple of shots. His brother, despite some early foul trouble, made all seven of the shots he attempted from the field on his way to 16 points and six boards. And, while a guy like Alex Oriakhi will get more attention as the big athletic dude in the middle, the Wears outplayed him, frustrated him, and, frankly, out-toughed him. Now there’s a sentiment I never thought I’d have. And, finally, with the game on the line, it was not Muhammad, it was not Jordan Adams (who was on the bench with leg cramps after being the guy called on at the end of regulation), it was not Kyle Anderson to whom the Bruins turned in the final moments of overtime. It was Travis Wear, who responded with a nice turnaround jumper to put UCLA up three with 13 seconds remaining.

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Rushed Reactions: New Mexico 55, #10 Cincinnati 54

Posted by rtmsf on December 27th, 2012

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Some quick thoughts from tonight’s inter-regional battle between New Mexico and Cincinnati

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. Unbeaten No More. Cincinnati is #8 in the AP Poll, #8 in the ESPN/Coaches Poll, and #10 in the RTC Poll this week, but we are not sure anyone actually believed the Bearcats were that good or if simply the momentum of an unbeaten campaign had put them there. They play hard and defend well, but this is a guard-heavy, flawed team. And when the guards are not hitting — the starting backcourt of Cashmere Wright, Sean Kilpatrick and JaQuon Parker went 14-of-42 including an astonishing six total makes from inside the arc — Cincinnati has a lot of trouble scoring. The good news for Mick Cronin\’s team is that his squad can put the flawless record behind them as Big East play approaches. His team is good enough to finish in the top quarter of the league this season, but they have to find a way to get more balance in their offense (11 points from the front line) before we will see them pushing the upward boundaries of the polls again.
  2. Still Uncertain About New Mexico. Steve Alford’s squad is a tough team to get a read on this season. They have beaten a bunch of good-not-great teams but it is tough to discern what they actually do very well. Tony Snell and Kendall Williams are certainly capable players, but neither will take a game over in the same way that some of the other stars in the Mountain West will. Their defense and length was solid tonight, but they were playing a smallish, guard-oriented team in the Bearcats. They appear well-coached, but it\’s difficult to say how much that will matter against conference foes that already know who they are dealing with. The gut says that the Lobos are an NCAA Tournament team again — probably somewhere in the neighborhood of a #7-#10 seed — but that they are not quite in the same class with UNLV and San Diego State this season.
  3. Impressive Effort From New Mexico’s Role Players. Everyone is familiar with the talents of Lobo stars like Tony Snell and Kendall Williams (who combined for 26 points and six rebounds), but I also came away impressed with the skill and effort level of two of New Mexico’s lesser-known players, Alex Kirk and Cameron Bairstow. Neither is the type of player for whom you run offensive sets, but both guys exhibited a knack for getting their hands on the ball near the basket, resulting in 22 points, 13 rebounds and an untold number of tips, scrapes, and clear-outs with their aggressive dispositions.

Star of the Game. Alex Kirk, New Mexico. As mentioned above, Kirk’s activity around the basket was impressive enough tonight on its own merits, but his proper positioning to maneuver in place to reject Sean Kilpatrick’s long jumper attempt with two seconds remaining ensured the big road win for the Lobos. Throw in 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting, seven rebounds and countless hustle points, and it was clear that the seven-foot sophomore was the difference in tonight’s game.

Quotable.

  • “I thought I had him… I coulda drove him left but I didn’t.” – Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick, referring to the final play of the game where his long jumper was blocked by Alex Kirk.
  • “Sorry I’m late, I had to talk to Coach Knight. I wasn’t leaving until he said I was finished.” – New Mexico head coach Steve Alford, proving that a quarter-century of time doesn’t always change relationships.
  • “That’s why you gotta be able to dance to every dance.” – Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin, on playing different styles successfully.

Sights and Sounds. For much of the game Cincinnati fans’ eyes and ears were split between the game on the court and the school’s football team playing Duke in the Belk Bowl. With all the plasma screens in the luxury boxes tuned to the football game, it was easy enough for much of the crowd to keep tabs on the Bearcats’ gridiron fortunes. When arena staff flashed that UC had taken a seven-point lead with a minute remaining, Fifth Third Arena erupted.

What’s Next. The immediate future gets no easier for either team, as both squads will suit up on New Year’s Eve for tough road games. Cincinnati travels to Pittsburgh for its AFC Central Big East opener, while New Mexico continues its tour of the Midwest by traveling to St. Louis.

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Rushed Reactions: Kansas State 67, #8 Florida 61

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 22nd, 2012

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Brian Goodman is an RTC editor. He filed this report from the Hy-Vee Wildcat Classic in Kansas City, where Kansas State held off Florida for an important non-conference win.

Five Key Takeaways.

  • Kansas State Scores Crucial Non-Conference Win: Nabbing an important non-conference victory on Saturday was important for Kansas State, which came up short against Michigan and Gonzaga earlier this season. As time passed, Saturday’s game became even more crucial for the Wildcats’ Tournament resume as the Big 12 has revealed itself to be lacking in marquee competition beyond the top tier. Though the calendar hasn’t yet turned to 2013, Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber acknowledged the dwindling number of opportunities his team had as a significant part of his team’s preparation. Saturday’s outcome may be for naught if the Wildcats struggle in league play as the team continues to embrace Weber’s system and evolve, but credit is due to Kansas State in the moment for capitalizing on the opportunity and realizing the impact tonight’s game could have come Selection Sunday.
k-state florida

K-State Got a Huge Win Over Florida Tonight

  • Wildcats, Led By Henriquez, Dominate On Defense: The main discussion point entering Saturday’s game was how Kansas State’s stout defense would fare against the versatile, potent Florida attack. The Wildcats’ muscle turned out to be the difference in KSU’s victory, with forward Jordan Henriquez swatting five shots and altering several others in 18 terrific minutes off the bench. Rodney McGruder and Will Spradling hassled the Gators’ three-point shooters into a season-worst 26.3% performance beyond the arc, accentuated by Mike Rosario and Kenny Boynton’s combined 1-of-9 mark from deep. The Gators clawed back from a double-digit halftime deficit, but made just two shots over an eight-minute stretch, buying time for Kansas State to climb ahead for good. Patric Young’s double-double (19 points and 10 rebounds) may look good on a stat sheet, but it would be remiss to not acknowledge that a handful of Young’s points came after the game had been decided and Kansas State focused its defensive effort on the perimeter to prevent a late comeback. Read the rest of this entry »
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Rushed Reactions: #22 Notre Dame 81, Purdue 68

Posted by WCarey on December 15th, 2012

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Walker Carey is an RTC correspondent. He filed some quick thoughts from this afternoon’s showdown between Notre Dame and Purdue

Three Key Takeaways.

Jack Cooley and Notre Dame Handed Purdue Easily Today

Jack Cooley and Notre Dame Handed Purdue Easily Today

  1. Purdue Is Definitely In A Rebuilding Season. In his eighth season as the head coach of the Boilermakers, Matt Painter has faced the tall task of attempting to replace Purdue legend Robbie Hummel. Thus far, the task has proven to be quite difficult. The Boilermakers sit at just 4-6 on the season and have already suffered losses to two mid-major programs (Bucknell and Eastern Michigan). Throughout the season, Purdue has struggled mightily with turnovers and its shooting percentage. Its struggles in both areas have thus far prevented the Boilermaker offense from establishing an identity on offense. Today’s starting lineup featured a redshirt freshman and two true freshmen, so it is easy to understand why the Boilermakers are battling through some pretty significant humps.
  2. Jack Cooley And Garrick Sherman Provide Notre Dame With A Formidable Frontcourt. Both the senior Cooley and the junior Sherman had productive afternoons with Cooley tallying 18 points and nine rebounds and Sherman pitching in 11 points and three rebounds. While Cooley starts and Sherman comes off the bench, there are many instances where the two are on the court together. Those instances provide the Irish with an interior-size advantage that has not been too common during the tenure of Mike Brey. The Big East is always a fairly rugged league, so this size advantage will undoubtedly help the Irish when conference play commences.
  3. Notre Dame’s Experience Helps The Irish Greatly. This season’s Irish returns all five starters from last season’s team and that gives them an experience advantage in almost every game it will play this season. You can sense this team’s experience while watching them play. Purdue went on a 16-2 run in the middle of the second half and the Irish never once became rattled. The Irish tri-captains — junior Eric Atkins, senior Jack Cooley, and senior Scott Martin — have seen a little bit of everything during their collegiate careers, so it is pretty easy to see why the team does not get rattled no matter the circumstance.

Star of the Game. Pat Connaughton, Notre Dame. While Jack Cooley put up another workmanlike effort for the Irish inside, it was the sophomore Connaughton that stood out on both ends of the court. Offensively, the swingman contributed 16 points, including a late three-pointer that put the late Purdue surge to rest. Defensively, Connaughton was in the face of Purdue sharpshooter D.J. Byrd all night and never allowed the senior to get into a groove offensively.

Quotable.

  • “We are flowing really well right now. No one is being selfish, which is great to see.” – Notre Dame forward Jack Cooley, acknowledging the strides the Irish offense has taken in its recent games.
  • “I thought that was really business-like by us today.” – Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey, referencing his team’s steady effort in the victory.

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Rushed Reactions: Butler 88, #1 Indiana 86 (OT)

Posted by WCarey on December 15th, 2012

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Walker Carey is an RTC correspondent. He filed some quick thoughts from this afternoon’s showdown between Indiana and Butler

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. It Is Very Possible That Brad Stevens Is The Best Coach In The Country. How many other coaches could have led their team to victory against the number one team in the country with three players fouled out? If any others, the answer to that question is a very small number. Butler entered the overtime period against Indiana with swingman Roosevelt Jones and center Andrew Smith already disqualified due to fouls; then, early in the extra time, forward Erik Fromm picked up his fifth foul. With these three relegated to spectator status, Butler used a much smaller lineup consisting of Alex Barlow, Rotnei Clarke, Kellen Dunham, Chase Stigall, and Khyle Marshall. This lineup proved to be very effective for Butler, as the Bulldogs made five of their seven shots in the extra period. Reserve Stigall and rarely-used Barlow, who only recorded one field goal during the entire 2011-12 season, made the two biggest shots of the game for the Bulldogs. Well-coached teams are squads that never step down in the face of adversity and that is what Butler did this afternoon. You also have to credit the coaching staff for having players like Barlow and Stigall ready to contribute in the late minutes.
  2. Butler Is A Very Balanced Team. While Rotnei Clarke deservedly draws most of the national praise, this Butler team can hurt you in a variety of ways. Before fouling out, Andrew Smith more than held his own against Cody Zeller, who is without question one of the best players in the country. Smith finished the afternoon with a very workmanlike 12 points and nine rebounds. Roosevelt Jones had a huge afternoon for the Bulldogs too, as he finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists. Khyle Marshall and Erik Fromm were also double-figure scorers for Butler, finishing with 12 and 10, respectively. Alex Barlow, Kellen Dunham, and Chase Stigall all contributed to the scoring column down the stretch with huge field goals that helped contribute to a truly “team” victory. Butler’s balance this afternoon had to have been a great sign for Brad Stevens, as he now knows he can rely on other guys if and when Clarke has an off night.
  3. Indiana Certainly Did Not Play Like The Best Team In The Country. This might be a little obvious considering the fact that the Hoosiers lost the game, but they did not play a very good game. Standout sophomore Cody Zeller was stymied inside all afternoon by Butler’s interior defense and only managed nine field goal attempts. It is usually not a good sign when your National Player of the Year candidate only takes nine shots. Senior forward Christian Watford was a non-factor for most of the afternoon, as he was saddled with early foul trouble. Watford finished the game with 10 points, but did so while only converting one field goal. Senior guard Jordan Hulls had a rough day shooting the ball, as he converted just four of his 11 field goal attempts and did not make a single three-pointer. Freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell and junior swingman Victor Oladipo each made terrific plays down the stretch in regulation to force overtime, but both players battled turnover issues all game long – each finishing with six. If Indiana wants to be in the top team discussion this season, it is going to need more efforts where it plays like a great team consistently throughout the game.
Butler Deserves to Celebrate Another Huge Win

Butler Deserves to Celebrate Another Huge Win

Star of the Game. Roosevelt Jones, Butler. A case could be made for Rotnei Clarke or Andrew Smith, but I just have to go with Jones. The scrappy sophomore filled up the stat sheet for the Bulldogs by finishing with 16 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists. Throughout many stretches of the game, Jones was the best player on the court for either team. Jones’ strong play in the first half kept Butler very much in a game that Indiana could have ran away with early.

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Rushed Reactions: NC State 69, Connecticut 65

Posted by Brian Otskey on December 4th, 2012

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Brian Otskey is an RTC correspondent. He filed these thoughts from NC State’s victory over Connecticut in game two of the Jimmy V Classic. Follow him on Twitter @botskey.

  1. NC State made the winning plays. Give Connecticut a lot of credit for its tenacity and scrappy style of play but NC State made the plays you need to make down the stretch in order to win big games. Whether it was huge offensive rebounds or Scott Wood’s pick-and-roll, the Wolfpack did what they had to do in order to come out on top. That’s a sign of a good basketball team and this is a win that should boost NC State’s confidence after a shaky start to the season.
  2. Connecticut just didn’t shoot the ball well enough to win. The Huskies made a bunch of threes early in the first half but that proved to be fool’s gold, as hot three-point shooting out of the gate usually does. Connecticut wound up shooting only 40.3% for the game while NC State finished seven percentage points higher. Ryan Boatright and Shabazz Napier took the most shots for the Huskies as usual but they were not efficient (14-34 combined). This overreliance on two players is going to win Connecticut some games this season but also cost them, especially against top notch competition like NC State. The Huskies can be good but they need to share the ball more.
  3. NC State’s rebounding helped it win this game. When you look at the rebounding numbers you see NC State was only +4 overall on the glass. However, a lot of the rebounds pulled down by the Wolfpack were on the offensive end and/or at key points in the game. Richard Howell in particular did a great job working for position on the offensive glass and earned his team a bunch of extra possessions. Connecticut had not been a good rebounding team coming into the game and, while it held its own, NC State took advantage of that at critical points in the game.

CJ Leslie’s Late Dunk Helped NC State Finish Off the Game (E. Hyman/RNO)

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Rushed Reactions: #11 Georgetown 64, Texas 41

Posted by Brian Otskey on December 4th, 2012

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Brian Otskey is an RTC correspondent. He filed these thoughts from Georgetown’s victory over Texas in game one of the Jimmy V Classic.

Three Takeaways:

  1. Texas is brutal offensively.  Most of this can be attributed to the Longhorns missing Myck Kabongo (eligibility) and Jaylen Bond (injury) but man, are they bad. Texas had just 33 points with less than four minutes remaining in the second half and finished the game with a total of only 41. Rick Barnes’ club shot 29.2% for the game and made just two three-pointers all night. Georgetown was a bad match-up for Texas because of its basketball IQ and strong defense but that’s no excuse. This was a pathetic effort by Texas offensively. In addition to the poor ball movement and poor shooting, Texas displayed incredible ineptitude with the ball. Twenty-two turnovers gave Georgetown plenty of extra shots, many more than it needed to win the game. This team needs Kabongo and Bond back in the worst way or else it’s going to be a long Big 12 season in Austin.
  2. Georgetown is steady seemingly every game. I saw the Hoyas take Indiana to the wire a few weeks ago in Brooklyn and while this game was as boring as that one was good, Georgetown’s style of play remains incredibly consistent. Not many teams in America can go out night after night and excel in a system that requires so much knowledge and discipline. It’s a tribute to John Thompson III’s coaching acumen and the willingness of his players to embrace the team concept. It’s not the most exciting style but no matter the opponent, Georgetown plays the same way every time out. You don’t see that too often in college basketball today.
  3. The Longhorn defense did not impress me. Texas is going to have to win games with incredible defense because of its inability to score points. Holding teams under 65 or even 60 points is not easy but that’s what Texas must do to win games this season. This team entered tonight’s game ranked third nationally in defensive efficiency but did a poor job containing Georgetown’s deliberate offensive attack. Georgetown shot 41% for the game but the Hoyas built a 13-point halftime lead (it didn’t feel that close) thanks to 48.3% shooting in the first half. Texas can’t win games without playing good defense for a full40 minutes, it’s that simple.

Barnes Faces Perhaps His Toughest Season in Austin (photot credit: F. Franklin)

Star of the Game: Otto Porter, Georgetown. Porter is a stat-sheet stuffer and did it again tonight. He was all over the floor on both ends, posting 14 points, eight rebounds, three blocks and three steals. Georgetown’s best player didn’t have a great shooting night but he still managed to lead all scorers. Only a sophomore, Porter is one of the most versatile players in the country. John Thompson III knows exactly how to utilize him and Porter plays within himself — that’s a dangerous combination for Georgetown’s future opponents.

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Rushed Reactions: Notre Dame 64, #8 Kentucky 50

Posted by WCarey on November 29th, 2012

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Walker Carey is an RTC correspondent. He filed some quick thoughts from tonight’s showdown between Kentucky and Notre Dame

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. The Atmosphere At The Purcell Pavilion Was Electric Tonight. And the electricity began way before the game even tipped off. Notre Dame distributed black t-shirts to all fans in an effort for a blackout at the Purcell Pavilion. The blackout effort was successful (even though there was some Kentucky blue scattered throughout the crowd). The Irish basketball team did its part in the blackout by unveiling brand new black jerseys. Big Blue Nation is known for its road presence, but the Notre Dame faithful were successfully able to drown out the voice of the visiting fans. The Irish are now 41-1 in their last 42 non-conference home games and the electrifying atmosphere of the Purcell Pavilion continues to play a key role in that strong mark.
  2. Notre Dame’s Defensive Effort Was Outstanding. The Irish held Kentucky to just 50 points, which is 18 points lower than its previous season-low. Kentucky shooters were frustrated early and often by the stingy Irish defense, as the Wildcats only managed to finish the game at 40.4% from the field. The Irish defense was particularly tough in the first half, holding Kentucky to just a 37.5% shooting mark. Notre Dame’s terrific defensive pressure also forced Kentucky into a number of abysmal possessions, some of which led to 12 Wildcat turnovers. Wildcat freshmen Archie Goodwin and Nerlens Noel were stymied all night, as they combined to convert just 5-of-17 field goal attempts. Goodwin, in particular, had a very frustrating night as he was held to just three points, which was 16 points below his season average.
  3. Notre Dame’s Captains Provide Great Leadership. In a game where Notre Dame had the definite advantage in terms of experience, the Irish veteran captains stepped up and willed the team to victory. Junior guard Eric Atkins led the way for the Irish with 16 points and four assists. Atkins’ defensive effort on Kentucky point guard Archie Goodwin was also notable, as he frustrated the talented freshman all night. Senior forward Jack Cooley put up another double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Cooley’s interior defense left Nerlens Noel frustrated and Alex Poythress in foul trouble. Senior swingman Scott Martin also put forth a steady effort for the Irish with eight points and four rebounds. If the Irish can consistently get great efforts from these three guys, they will be a tough team to beat when Big East play commences.

Star of the Game. Eric Atkins, Notre Dame. Notre Dame’s offensive effort was rather balanced tonight, but it was Atkins, who really set the tone early for the Irish. Scoring 13 of his 16 points in the first half, Atkins helped the Irish take an 11-point lead into the half, which allowed them to control the pace of the game in the second half. While Cooley, junior guard Jerian Grant, and freshman guard Cameron Biedscheid put together impressive performances, it was Atkins who emerged as the best player on the court for the winning team. Quotable.

  • “What disappointed me is that we did not compete. We did not execute. We did not play together.” Kentucky head coach John Calipari in response to what he thought went wrong for his squad tonight.
  • “We really prepared like an experienced group the past two days and we played like an experienced team tonight.” Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey when asked how much of an advantage his team’s experience gave them in tonight’s game.

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Rushed Reaction: Miami 67, #12 Michigan State 59

Posted by nvr1983 on November 28th, 2012

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A few takeaways from Miami‘s impressive eight-point win over Michigan State tonight:

  1. The Hurricanes should be near the top of the ACC. This isn’t so much a reflection of the Hurricanes being a great team as it is of how weak the ACC is this season (outside of  Duke). North Carolina and North Carolina State have the pieces to be very good (particularly the Wolfpack), but we haven’t seen any indications of that so far this season. The Hurricanes are a step below the Blue Devils and likely the Wolfpack too when they get their act together, but they should be in the next tier competing against UNC, FSU, and Maryland. This win should also be a resume-booster when Selection Sunday rolls around as the Spartans will probably pick up plenty of solid wins in the Big Ten making this win even more impressive for the Hurricanes. The improvement Miami has shown from its embarrassing loss to Florida Gulf Coast can be explained in large part by the return of Durand Scott, but he didn’t do it by himself tonight as he was helped out by Trey McKinney Jones and Shane Larkin, who both had big games in scoring 33 of the team’s 67 points.
  2. Michigan State is still going through growing pains without Draymond Green, who was a huge part of the Spartans’ success last season, and it has been evident early in the year even if they were able to pull out a last-second win earlier this month against Kansas. In his postgame press conference, Tom Izzo stressed the difficulty he has had finding a rotation with the injuries the team has had so far this season. He also harped on his team’s inability to guard ball screens and after initially trying to go with the “unnamed player” line, he called out Keith Appling, who he said had his worst game as a Spartan. As always we expect this Spartan program to be around in March, but they still have quite a bit of work left before they are ready to compete against Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio State and even then they may not have enough to be a serious threat to those three.
  3. He went through some rough patches tonight as you would expect from a freshman returning from injury, but it is clear that Gary Harris will become the go-to guy for this Michigan State team if they are going to approach their typical lofty standards. Travis Trice and Keith Appling are solid players, but Harris is the one with the potential to become a star and is the only Spartan who has the ability to get to the basket when the team needs him to do so. As Izzo pointed out in the postgame press conference, Harris is not at 100% as he recovers from a shoulder injury, but when he does he should be a force in the Big Ten. Harris is one of the most highly touted players to come to Michigan State and while it is still early in the season all signs are indicating that he will live up to the hype.

Miami Students Rush the Court.

Offered without comment…

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Rushed Reactions, Maui Style: Illinois 78, Butler 61

Posted by rtmsf on November 21st, 2012

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Some quick thoughts from today’s first Maui Invitational championship game between Illinois and Butler

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. The Illinois Guards Played Like a Weight Has Been Lifted From Their Shoulders. The old joke goes something like this: Former Illinois head coach Bruce Weber happened upon a Champaign bank robbery a while back, but the suspects got away because he wouldn’t let the guards shoot. Hey, we didn’t make it up — we’re just repeating it. But regardless of the joke’s origin, the fact is that John Groce has unleashed the creativity and talents of his senior guards, Brandon Paul and DJ Richardson, as well as sophomore Tracy Abrams, in a way that we haven’t seen from these players previously in their careers. As a result, they’re confident and they’re producing — Paul was the MVP of the tournament, while Richardson was on all the all-tournament team. As Brad Stevens said about Paul in particular after the game — “he’s a big-time pro” — we’re finally getting to see what he can do on a regular basis. He averaged 20/4/3 APG over the three days — nobody was able to really figure him out.
  2. Butler Struggles When It’s the Rotnei Clarke Show. It probably goes without saying, but in three games here in Maui this week, the Bulldogs were at their best when Rotnei Clarke was acting as distributor while also picking his spots to shoot. When he found open teammates tonight, the shots simply weren’t falling — there were several in particular with Kellen Dunham (0-9) and Chase Stigall (0-2) where it was clear that their legs just weren’t under them after three games in three days. Clarke finished with 27 points on 10-19 shooting, but at the under-four timeout, he had accounted for exactly 50% of Butler’s points. None of the other players who had been so effective in the North Carolina game — Khyle Marshall, Andrew Smith, Dunham, Stigall — were able to do much tonight. Without their contributions, Butler won’t win many games relying solely on Clarke’s shooting prowess.
  3. Long-Term Prognosis of Both Teams. It says here that Illinois and Butler are both NCAA Tournament caliber teams, but they have obvious weaknesses that will be exploited during conference play. We’re guessing that the Illini have the higher ceiling, though. They’re not going to win the Big Ten without a legitimate big man inside (where have you gone, Meyers Leonard?), but the guard play should be enough to push John Groce’s team into the top of the middle of that league behind the likes of Indiana, Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State. Butler is on a bit more shaky ground, though. So much of the offense needs to flow through Rotnei Clarke that the ceiling for the Bulldogs will largely depend on the ongoing development of players like Khyle Marshall, Andrew Smith and Kellen Dunham. The pieces are there for Butler to make a run at the top three in the Atlantic 10, but the margin for error seems considerably large this year.

Star of the Game. Brandon Paul, Illinois. Paul’s numbers were good — 20/3/4 assts — but it was how he set the tone from the opening tip that impressed tonight. He had an assist on a three and knocked down two jumpers of his own before the first TV timeout to help give the Illini a working lead of 13-5, and Butler never got the margin under five points the rest of the way. If he plays this way all year, he’ll be an All-American to go along with his Maui Invitational MVP trophy.

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