Thursday, December 31, 2009
Illinois Drops Northwestern in OT, Open Big Ten with Win
Ranked #25, Northwestern University was hoping for good things from its basketball program heading into Big Ten play at Illinois Wednesday night. What they got was stunned in OT by the Fighting Illini, 89-83, sent home to consider their dubious future, including their next game, hosting #10 Michigan State, on January 2nd.
The Illini joined Purdue and Minnesota atop the Big Ten standings with 1-0 records. Though Illinois has already suffered defeat four times, they are making a habit of beating lower-ranked teams. Beck on december 2nd, they upset then-#18 Clemson on the Tigers' own wood, 76-74. Leading the charge against Northwestern were juniors Mike Davis (20 points, 17 rebounds) and center Mike Tisdale, who led all scorers with a career-high 31 points and hauled down 11 rebounds for his second straight double-double performance.
The Wildcats had no answer for Tisdale whenever he was able to get his hands on the ball in the paint. He hit 11 of 14 shots from mostly point-blank range. The two teams battled to a 74-all tie at the end of regulation, but Illinois outscored the Wildcats, 15-9 in the extra session. It was the 11th straight time Illinois has beaten Northwestern.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Six-for-Six... Unbeaten Teams Remain Perfect
When the balls hit the various floors across the college basketball spectrum on Tuesday, six teams remained undefeated. By the time the final buzzers sounded, all six - Kansas, Texas, Syracuse, Purdue, Kentucky and West Virginia - still had perfect records.
Most of the games were one-sided affairs, though Syracuse had to sweat out a 80-73 win at Seton Hall, aided by Wesley Johnson's huge effort: 20 points and 19 boards.
West Virginia narrowly escaped at home against Marquette, getting a buzzer-beating 20-foot jumper from Da’Sean Butler for the 63-62 win. The Mountaineers are 11-0.
The most impressive performance by a single player came in the most one-sided game of the evening, Kentucky's 104-61 pounding of Hartford. Freshman sensation John Wall scored just 9 points, but set a school record by dishing out 16 assists. The accomplishment is augmented by remembering the exceptional players who passed the rock over Kentucky's 100 years or so of basketball excellence. Wall's effort was the best ever. Now that's saying something.
NOTABLE: Not only did the top six teams in the rankings win on Monday, but so did #7 Duke, #12 Kansas State, #16 Mississippi, and #21 Clemson. The only Top 25 team to lose was #20 Texas Tech. They took a 90-75 loss at #19 New Mexico.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Fredette's 49 Makes Cougars 13-1
For years, college football fans have railed against the BCS for ignoring the smaller conferences in their rankings and bowl selections. The same bias seems to have spilled over into college hoops, where the current crop of Top 25 teams includes just three small conference schools: Temple, New Mexico and UAB, with Butler and Gonzaga dropping out. Pollsters might be wise to respect the results of the last few NCAA tournaments, in which schools from unknown, smaller conferences have made significant impact.
One team from the Mountain West (same conference as New Mexico) that is catching some attention but still hasn't cracked the Top 25 is BYU, now at 13-1, after having pasted PAC-10 foe, Arizona, 99-69, for their 8th straight win and thrid straight against major conference opponents (previous wins include Arizona St. and Nebraska).
Part of the reason for the Cougars' success has to be the play of junior guard Jimmer Fredette, currently among the nation's leading scorers, averaging over 21 points per game. In Monday's win, Fredette poured in a career-high 49 points, on 16-for-23 shooting, including an incredible 9-for-13 from beyond the arc. Fredette, a 93% free throw shooter, missed scoring 50 by failing on just one of his 9 attempts from the freebie line. He also dished out 9 assists, grabbed 7 rebounds and recorded a pair of steals.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Huskies Improve to 9-2 on Robinson's 29
Senior leadership is what Stanley Robinson brings to the Connecticut Huskies, along with plenty of buckets. Robinson, who has tallied in double figures every game this season, scored a season-high 29 points as the Huskies blew past the Iona Gaels, 93-74, improving to 9-2.
In their final tune-up before Big East play begins - at Cincinnati, Wednesday - the Huskies mushed out to a big early lead and held it as they emptied the bench in the second half. Robinson played 35 minutes, hitting 13 of 18 shots from the field and converting 2 of 2 free throw attempts. He also pulled down 5 boards, blocked a shot and had a pair of steals.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Mountaineers Top Seton Hall, Remain Undefeated
Apparently, Bob Huggins never heard the phrase, "you can't go home again," or, if he did, hasn't bothered to take its message to heart. Born in Morgantown, West Virginia, Huggins made a long coaching journey - with great success - through places like the University of Cincinnati (1989-2005) and Kansas State (2006-2007), but finally made it back to his home, and since last season has been the head coach of the West Virginia Mountaineers.
Experts figured it would take Huggins a couple of years to reshape he program into a national contender, something he did at Cincinnati, but Huggins appears to be ahead of schedule. After opening the Big East season with a 90-84 overtime win at Seton Hall Saturday, the Mountaineers are 10-0, one of just six unbeaten college basketball teams.
Led by sophomore Devin Ebanks, who matched his career high with 22 points, the forward also nabbed 17 rebounds, his high of the season. Aiding in the effort were Kevin Jones (19 points, 14 rebounds) and Da'Sean Butler (21 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists).
Holding off the Pirates was no easy task as junior guard Jeremy Hazell poured in 41 points, though he hit only 4 of 19 shots from 3-point range. West Virginia rallied from a late ten-point deficit to force overtime, finally putting the Pirates down in the extra session. Seton Hall is 9-2.
NOTABLE: On Friday, USC downed UNLV, 67-56, to capture the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii, led by Marcus Johnson's 19 points and 9 boards. The Trojans, who began the 2009 campaign 2-4, have now won 6 straight, including solid victories over quality foes: Tennessee, Western Michigan, St. Mary's and UNLV.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Wright Lights up Crimson with 34 in Georgetown Win
After losing their first game of the season, to unheralded Old Dominion, 61-57, on Saturday, the Georgetown Hoyas weren't about to drop a home game to Harvard, even though the Crimson seemed to have other ideas, keeping the game tight through most of the first half. Georgetown got a career-high 34 points out of Junior guard Chris Wright, extending a 44-33 halftime lead to a thorough thumping of their Ivy League foe for an 86-70 win. Wright, who hit 13 of 21 shots from the field, including 2 of 5 3-pointers, took over all aspects of the game with 4 assists, 6 rebounds and 6 steals in 35 minutes of playing time. Teammate Greg Monroe, who's quickly turning into an NBA prospect with his low post domination, doubled down with 16 points and 16 boards.
The Hoyas improved to 9-1 in their final tuneup before beginning Big East play, when they host St. John's on New Year's Eve.
NOTABLE: The number of undefeated teams continues to dwindle, with New Mexico the latest to feel the first sting of defeat. The Lobos met their match at Oral Roberts; the Golden Eagles unceremoniously dumping on them, 75-66. The Lobos are 12-1 and still off to their best start since 1973. Their loss leaves six undefeated teams: Kansas, Texas, Kentucky, Syracuse, Purdue and West Virginia. Kentucky is the first team with 13 wins, followed by Syracuse with 12, Kansas, Texas and Purdue at 11-0. West Virginia is 9-0.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Longhorns Deserve #1 Ranking; James Powers Texas Past Spartans
Having pounded two of the better teams in the country - North Carolina and Michigan St. - in consecutive outings, the Texas Longhorns have the look of a #1 and merit serious consideration of making it all the way through the field in March to a national championship. Whether they should be ranked #1 right now would be a value judgement weighed against the current #1, Kansas, and a very small number of other candidates - Kentucky, Syracuse and Purdue - all of which have, like Texas and Kansas, unblemished records.
What compels one to consider Texas begins with the play of future-NBAer Damion James, who put together another highlight reel with 23 points and 13 boards in the Longhorns' 79-68 win over Michigan State. James dropped in 10 of his 18 shots and was the steadiest player on the floor in addition to being the most durable: his 38 minutes was a game high. His effort followed a 25-point, 15-rebound performance just three days earlier against the Tar Heels, so with back-to-back high quality games over ranked opponents, James could be looking at player of the year honors somewhere down the road.
Texas has won all 11 of their games by a minimum of 11 points, have exceeded the century mark three times and they are also one of the best defensive teams in the nation. Besides Carolina's 90 and Long Beach State's 78, Michigan State's 68 points was the most they've allowed all season. One of the reasons Texas defends so well is the play of Turkish-born guard, Dogus Balbay, who demonstrated his denial skills by holding Spartan point guard, Kalin Lucas, to 11 points on 3-of-11 shooting, and just 2 assists. Lucas averages 15 points on 48.5% shooting and 4.3 assists. Balbay was instrumental in forcing Lucas into 6 turnovers and 22 total for the Spartans. He had 3 steals of his own.
The Pollsters probably won't elevate Texas to #1 until somebody beats the Jayhawks, or, if Texas does when the Big 12 foes meet on February 8. Prior to that a stretch from January 16-27 will be crucial for the Longhorns, as they host Texas A&M and Texas Tech and play at Kansas State and UConn during that span. All four of those opponents are currently ranked in the Top 25.
NOTABLE: North Carolina's offense is beginning to take shape in big ways, and they look like the team to beat in the ACC. With Tuesday's 98-61 trampling of the Marshall Herd, the Heels have put up their three highest point totals of the season back-to-back-to-back. After dropping a 68-66 decision at Kentucky, Roy Williams' kids have scored 103, 90 and 98. That's big-time production, no matter who you're playing.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Providence's Peterson Provides Punch; Kentucky First to 2000 Wins
Last season was a forgettable one for the Providence Friars. Finishing near the bottom of the Big East standings, Providence was ousted from the NIT tourney in the first round by ACC foe, Miami. With a 19-14 record, all the team could do was look ahead to next year.
Well, next year is here, and the Friars, though not exactly a powerhouse, could be better than they were last season, thanks in part to the play of sophomore forward Jamine Peterson, who played as a true freshman, but redshirted last year. In Monday's 87-78 win over Yale, Peterson led all scorers with 25 points and pulled down a game-high 13 boards for his 7th double-double of the season. The 6'6" wingman hit 12 of 22 shots and fell just 2 points short of his career high point total. He leads the Friars in both points and rebounds. Providence, playing their final game before Big East play begins - at Notre Dame on Dec. 30 - is 8-4.
NOTABLE: The Kentucky Wildcats doubled up Drexel, 88-44, to become the first team in NCAA history to reach 2000 wins, getting to the number just ahead of North Carolina (1992) and Kansas (1980). In 107 seasons, the Wildcats have been a paragon of excellence, with a record of 2,000-635-1 (75.87). while the Tar Heels are a cinch to attain 2000 wins sometime in January or early February at the latest, the Kansas Jayhawks will likely hit the number either during their conference tournament or in the NCAAs. Kansas is currently ranked #1, at 10-0, and have 21 games remaining on their regular season schedule.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Robinson's 26 Sparks Huskies
Ten days off took its toll on the Connceticut Huskies, who found themselves trailing little UCF, 25-20, at the half. Since their loss to Kentucky on December 9, the Huskies hadn't had a game, and it showed.
The second half was a different story, at least for senior forward Stanley Robinson, who put the team on his back and rallied them, scoring 23 of his game-high 26 points over the final twenty minutes. As a team, Connecticut shot just 44%, while Robinson hit 9 of 13 from the field (69%) and converted 7 of 11 free throws. Jerome Dyson hit 4 of 6 3-pointers as the Huskies pulled away late for the 60-51 final, outscoring the Knights, 40-26, in the second half.
Robinson's point total was his best of the season. He's scored in double figures every game this year for the 7-2 Huskies.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Longhorns Gore Tar Heels 103-90; Duke Defense Prevails over Gonzaga
Of all the teams across the nation, North Carolina probably has more height than any with a slew of 6'8" and taller players occupying the floor at any given time, but their size was no match for the intensity brought by the Longhorns big men as Texas thumped the Tar Heels, 103-90, in the first game ever at Cowboy stadium. Forward Damion James scored 25 points and had 15 boards and center Dexter Pittman posted season highs with 23 points and 15 rebounds (12 offensive).
Texas outrebounded North Carolina 60-41, a stat that bears respect, because if the Longhorns can dominate the paint against a team like North Carolina - and all that up front size - there may not be any other squad out there capable of handling them in the post. The win put Texas at 10-0, even with conference rival Kansas, who punched out a 74-65 win over Michigan earlier in the day. The Jayhawks and Longhorns are ranked 1-2 in the polls. North Carolina, which was #10 coming in, will surely drop down, having lost their 3rd game in 11 starts. Their two other losses - to Syracuse and Kentucky - were also on the road.
Notable: Was it the Duke defense or Gonzaga's poor shooting that produced the 76-41 Blue Devil blowout at Madison Square Garden Saturday? On the one hand, the Zags were awful from the field, hitting just 15 of 54 shots (28%), including 1 of 10 from the 3-point area. While nine different players scored for Gonzaga, none hit double figures, but the play closest to the hoop was more than likely a function of inexperience, as freshman forward Elias Harris went 2-for-8 and sophomore center Robert Sacre - who led the Bulldogs in scoring with 9 points - was 2-for-11, mostly on contested shot in the paint. Gonzaga turned the ball over 18 times and were outrebounded 45-35, but they were also just 10-for-21 from the free throw line, and that doesn't involve any defense. Give Duke credit for solid defense, but the Zags just didn't have much zip in their game on this occasion.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Samhan Steady for 9-1 Gaels
Looking to get back to the NCAA tournament, the St. Mary's Gaels of the West Coast conference seem to have the players and chemistry to get there as they improved to 9-1 on Friday with a 80-65 thumping of Pacific.
The Gaels, despite finishing the 08-09 regular season with a 26-6 record, were denied an invitation to the Big Dance, eventually falling in the quarterfinals of the NIT. In 07-08, they lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament to Miami, after going 25-6. A mainstay in both of those seasons was 6'11" center Omar Samhan, now a senior, who's scored in double figures every game this season and has six double-double games this year.
In Friday's game, Samhan tallied 28 points, adding 8 boards and 4 blocks. He leads the Gaels in all three categories. Visting Vanderbilt, one of the top SEC teams this year, handed the Gaels their only loss of the season on November 20, 72-70. The season's biggest tests come on January 14 and again on February 11, when St. Mary's hosts, then plays at, Gonzaga.
Transfer Bowles Gets 37 and 15 for James Madison
Denzel Bowles finally get his chance to play and the James Madison Dukes are a better team for it. By NCAA rule, Bowles sat out spring semester of last season and the first six games of this year after transferring from Texas A&M, but finally got into action on December 12 at Eastern Michigan, though his 14 points couldn't help the Dukes from dropping a 75-64 decision and falling to 4-4 on the year.
Thursday night at Gardner-Webb, it was a different story, as Bowles exploded for 37 points and 15 rebounds, leading the Dukes to a 78-57 pasting of the Runnin' Bulldogs. A 6'10" junior, Bowles dominated in the paint, hitting an amazing 68% of his shots (17-25) in 32 minutes, much of it over, under and around the rim.
James Madison already has one loss in the Colonial Athletic Conference, losing 49-44 to Georgia St., but that was just before Bowles became eligible. When conference play begins in earnest on January 2 at Northeastern, Bowles and his Dukes should begin making some noise and offer a challenge to the traditional leaders - VCU and George Mason.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Booker Pushes Clemson Past Pirates
Looking to make its annual appearance in the Top 25, the Clemson Tigers won for the 9th time in 11 starts, plundering the Pirates of East Carolina, 80-63, as senior forward Trevor Booker played another of his usual all-around solid games, scoring 13 points to go with 12 boards, 9 assists and 3 blocked shots. Booker has scored in double figures in all but one of Clemson's outings in 2009 and leads the Tigers in minutes, points and rebounds.
Teammate Tanner Smith, a sophomore, made his presence felt with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Clemson went 23-9 last season and looks to make noise in the contentious ACC.
Notable: Mississippi's Chris Warren poured in a career-high 32 points as the Rebels outgunned the UTEP Miners, 91-81, improving their record to 9-1. Warren nailed 5 of 10 3-pointers and 13 of 15 form the free throw line.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Golden Gophers Win 4th Straight on Hoffarber 3s
A perennial 20-win team, the Minnestoa Golden Gophers have been streaky this season, beginning with four straight wins, then three straight losses. Since the insertion of Blake Hoffarber into the lineup, however, they've won their last four, including Tuesday's 89-48 mushing of the Northern Illinois Huskies.
A 6'4" junior guard, Hoffarber is blessed with a pure outside stroke, which was on display as he banged home 8 of 10 3-pointers (9 of 11 overall) against the Huskies en route to a career high 26 points. While looking for his shot, Hoffarber did not neglect his other duties on the floor, dishing 4 assists and bringing down 6 rebounds.
The Huskies are now, 8-3 during a busy early schedule, and while unranked, may pose a serious threat to Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State in the upcoming race for the Big Ten title. Averaging around 22 minutes per game, Hoffarber has tallied in double figures in each of his last four outings.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Lawal Pumps in 29 for Yellow Jackets
Last season, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets suffered through one of their worst seasons in the ACC, going 4-19 in the conference and 12-19 overall. Things are looking up this season, as the Yellow Jackets have begun the 2009-10 campaign with a 7-1 start, including Monday's stinging 95-64 win over Chattanooga. The 31-point margin of victory was the largest in a road game in more than two years, but the Jackets may become accustomed to winning by big numbers with their very capable front court of Gani Lawal and Derrick Favors doing the heavy lifting in the paint.
Lawal scored a season-high 29 points in just 17 minutes against the Mocs, hitting all 8 of his shots from the field and canning 13 of 19 free throws as the smaller Chattanooga players just couldn't handle him in the low post. Lawal, who has scored in double figures in all but one game this season and has double-doubles in four contests, finished with 7 rebounds. Favors, a 6'10" freshman, scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his 3rd double-double of the year. He's scored in double figures every game in '09.
The Yellow Jackets are currently ranked #24 in the AP poll.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Fernandez Scores 33 as Owls Top Villanova
The Temple Owls handed the Villanova Wildcats their first loss of the season, 75-65, getting 33 points from sophomore guard Juan Fernandez who tallied a career high on 11-of-15 shooting, including 7 of 9 3-pointers. While the Owls were shooting 52% overall, Villanova was struggling from the field and in the paint, as forward Lavoy Allen grabbed a season-high 17 rebounds and scored 10 points for a nifty double-double effort, his third of the season.
Villanova dropped to 9-1, while the Owls improved to 10-2. The Wildcats had been ranked #3 heading into the contest. Temple was unranked, but may get some consideration when the latest poll arrives on Monday.
NOTABLE: Xavier's Jason Love snatched 19 rebounds as the Musketeers dropped the Cincinnati Bearcats, 83-79 in double overtime. Teammate Terrell Holloway scored as season-high 26 points, to pace all scorers.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Henry Notches 31 as Jawhawks Roll to 9-0 Record
Baseball has Spring Training; pro football has exhibition games; the college basketball equivalent is the month of December, when perennial powerhouses like Kansas get to flex their muscles, test new players and generally beat up on lesser rivals like La Salle.
Now, the La Salle Explorers aren't a bad team. In fact, when they waltzed into Rupp Arena to take on the Jayhawks on Saturday, they were a respectable 6-2. They left with the unmistakable imprint of #1 Kansas dealing them their third loss of the season.
Kansas dominated just about every aspect of the game. They shot 53%, had 44 rebounds and blocked 11 shots. La Salle's numbers, for comparison: 36%, 34, 2. Yes, it was a rout, with the Jayhawks winning, 90-65, for their 9th straight win without a loss. It was the sixth time Kansas had scored 90 or more, this time with a little less balance than normal, as freshman senation Xavier Henry went off for a career-high 31 points on 10-for-15 shooting, including 4 of 5 3-pointers and 7 of 9 from the line. Low post specialist Cole Aldrich chipped in with 19 points of his own. Together, Aldrich and Henry accounted for 2/3rds of the Jawhawk points. Henry has scored in double figures every game this season.
NOTABLE: The Butler Bulldogs got back to their winning ways with a late surge to top Ohio Sate, 74-66. Gordon Hayward scored 24 for the second straight game, as the Bulldogs improved to 7-3. Ohio State dropped to 7-2. Both teams should remain ranked when the new polls come out on Monday.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Hassan's Nine 3-pointers Lead Sacred Heart to 1st Road Win
After losing road games at Fordham, Xavier and Penn State, the Sacred Heart Pioneers finally won one away from the home hardwood, dropping Hartford, 76-65, on the back of Corey Hassan's 29 points and 9 rebounds. Hassan, a 6'4" guard and the nation's 8th-leading scorer (24.4 ppg), drilled a season-high 9 3-pointers on 14 long-range efforts and was 9 for 16 overall.
Hassan has scored in double figures in each of the Pioneers' 8 games, including a season-high 33 in the loss to Fordham. Sacred Heart is 5-3 overall and 1-0 in the Northeast conference. Hassan leads the team in points, rebounds (8.3), 3-point percentage (48%) and steals (1.6).
Friday, December 11, 2009
Orangemen Tame Gators on Jackson's 21 and 11
After Kentucky's narrow win over Connecticut on Wednesday, the Syracuse Orangemen struck a blow for the Big East conference, knocking off #10 Florida, 85-73, in the second day of the SEC/Big East Invitational at Madison Square Garden.
Syracuse led almost the entire game, pulling away late in the second half as the Gators kept themselves in it by nailing 12 of 30 3-pointers. Junior forward Rick Jackson led the scoring charge with 21 points and was one of three Orangemen registering double-doubles as he hauled in 11 boards, 7 of them on the offensive end. Wes Johnson kicked in 17 points and 10 rebounds; Kris Joseph had 10 and 12.
The conferences are tied at 2 wins apiece, as Mississippi State stopped DePaul, 76-45, and Cincinnati defeated Miami, 63-59.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Wildcats' Wall Throws No Bricks
In one of this season's best inter-conference contests, the Kentucky Wildcats barely outlasted the UConn Huskies, 64-61, as the legend of freshman John Wall extended through Madison Square Garden.
The Wildcats broke out to an early 12-0 lead, only to have the Huskies come back and take a 29-23 lead into half time. In the second half, Kentucky took control early, outscoring the Huskies by 9 in the period, paced by Wall's career-high 25 points. A time ticked down to the final buzzer, Wall took over the game, scoring 12 of Kentucky's final 12 points, including a dazzling drive to the hoop, bucket and foul for a three-point play that put the Wildcats ahead for good.
Wall hit 10-of-16 shots overall, including 1-1 from 3-point range. He hit all four free throw attempts, and, despite turning the ball over 7 times, made 6 steals.
#4 Kentucky improved to 9-0, while the #14 Huskies dropped to 6-2.
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Georgetown's Monroe Sends Hoyas Past Butler
Following a disappointing season in which the Hoyas finished 16-15 and did not receive an invitation to the NCAA Tournament, Georgetown looked forward to a better 2009-10 campaign with a number of solid returnees, including guards Jason Clark and Chris Wright and center Greg Monroe. With a promising freshman class filling some roles, Monroe has emerged as a leader on the court, and that was evident as the 6'11" sophomore achieved career highs in both scoring and rebounding in Georgetown's handy 72-65 triumph over #22 Butler.
Monroe tallied 24 points on 9-for-20 shooting and snatched 15 boards in a dominating performance as the 15th-ranked Hoyas improved their early-season record to 7-0. Playing at Madison Square Garden in the Jimmy V. Classic, the Hoyas were never seriously threatened, upping their lead to as many as 17 points during the second half. Monroe is averaging a double-double thus far in 2009-10 with 15.3 points and 10.7 rebounds per game.
While the Hoyas were soaring past the Bulldogs, Butler was en route to its third straight loss against Top 25 opposition. Now 6-3, the Bulldogs have already dropped home games to Minnesota and Clemson.
NOTABLE: In the first game of the Jimmy V. Classic, Indiana prevailed over Pitt, 74-64, but the Panthers seemed to be intent on getting sophomore Ashton Gibbs the maximum number of looks from the perimeter. Gibbs threw up a boatload of shots - 25 in all and 15 from 3-point range - as he led all scorers with a career-high 25 points. Gibbs was only 5-of-15 from beyond the arc, but the experience should pay benefits down the road when the youthful Pitt squad faces Big East opponents.
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Sloan Powers Aggies to 8-1 Record
Donald Sloan, a senior guard, led all scorers with 21 points in Texas A&M's 75-65 win over North Texas Monday night. Sloan was in double figures for the 7th time in 9 starts for the 8-1 Aggies, hitting 5-of-8 shots from the floor, including 1-of-2 3-pointers, and was a perfect 10-for-10 from the foul line.
Monday, December 07, 2009
Morris Lights Up Bruins as Jayhawks Go 7-0
Markieff Morris led all scorers with a career-high 19 points on 8-for-11 shooting as the Kansas Jayhawks improved their unbeaten record to 7-0, fending off a UCLA team in obvious rebuilding mode, 73-61 at Pauley Pavilion in LA. Cole Aldrich continued to be a rebounding machine for Kansas, pulling down 12 boards, 6 of those on the offensive end.
The Bruins have not gotten off to a very promising start in 2009, with the loss to Kansas their 5th in just 7 games. Scratch the Bruins from the PAC-10 contender list this season as their talent from the past two years has been badly diluted by graduation and players going to the pros. The Bruins shot just 36% on the night, while the Jayhawks, who led the entire game, were held to a season-low 44%, but still easily prevailed.
NOTABLE: The Connecticut Huskies barely escaped their trip to the Ivy League with a 79-73 win over the 6-2 Harvard Crimson and their outstanding senior guard, Jeremy Lin. Lin scored a season-high 30 points, nailing 11 of 18 shots from the field (2-3 on 3s) and 6 of 8 from the foul line. Nine boards, 3 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocked shots rounded out Lin's memorable performance.
Senior guard Jerome Dyson led the Huskies with 24 points, 14 rebounds and 9 assists. Dyson has carried the Huskies to a 6-1 record, averaging 20 points per game, but even UConn coach Jim Calhoun thinks Dyson - who is playing more than 34 minutes per game - needs help, saying, "we don't have a bench."
Sunday, December 06, 2009
Charlotte Dump Louisville on Braswell's 21
The Louisville Cardinals, playing without injured guards Jerry Smith, Peyton Siva and Preston Knowles, were routed by the Charlotte 49ers of the Atlantic-10, 87-65, as Charlotte guards let fly from outside the 3-point line and freshman Chris Braswell controlled the inside with game highs in points (21) and rebounds (14). The freshman forward, who had been averaging less than 6 points per game, but recored a double-double each time he saw more than 24 minutes of floor time, hit 9-of-12 shots from the field and all three of his free throw attempts in 24 minutes of play. It was his third double-double of the season.
While doing his damage inside, Braswell's front court mates were tossing bombs into the ocean from long range. Derrio Green hit 4-of-8 from beyond the arc for 20 points, and Shamarr Bowden - 5-of-12 from long range - pitched in with 17 points.
The win was remarkably easy for the underdog 49ers, who led 47-32 at the half and upped their season record to 6-1. Their only loss was a 101-59 loss at Duke. Having played all but one game on their home hardwood, Louisville is 5-2, with a 76-71 road loss at UNLV marring their record.
NOTABLE: The Syracuse Orangemen, ranked #8 in the nation, overwhelmed the Maine Black Bears, making them look more like Cubs, in a 101-55 rout Saturday night at the Carrier Dome. Six different players scored in double figures for Syracuse, but what stood out was the score at the half, when the Orangemen led 60-12. Syracuse was 24-of-35 (68.6%) in the half while Maine hit just 4 shots from the floor.
Saturday, December 05, 2009
Morgan On Track in Spartan Win
After a disappointing loss to North Carolina in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, Tom Izzo's Michigan State Spartans quickly rebounded with a solid win over Wofford, taming the Terriers, 72-60, behind Raymar Morgan's 19 points and 11 rebounds, both game highs.
Often hindered by injuries, Morgan, when healthy, is one of the top forwards in the country, and it appears that over his last three games he's begun to find an All-American stride, scoring 17, 18 and 19 points in successive contests. The 6'8" senior should help the 6-2 Spartans to a compete for a second straight conference title this season.
Friday, December 04, 2009
Roberson Leads Red Raiders to Upset Over Huskies
Quincy Pondexter scored a career-high 31 points for Washington, the only ranked team in the PAC-10, but it wasn't enough as Texas Tech whipped the Huskies in overtime, 99-92. Paced by a season-high 25 points from junior point guard John Roberson, the Red Raiders remained undefeated in 2009 with their 8th straight win, this one the first over a ranked opponent. Roberson, who added 7 assists and a couple of steals, hit 6-of-10 shots from the field and was a perfect 13-of-13 from the foul line. He also scored 6 points in the overtime session when the Red Raiders outscored the Huskies, 19-12.
Tech, which had battled back from a 9-point half time deficit to tie the score at 80, thought they had won the game in regulation on Mike Singletary's 3-pointer at the buzzer, but, as fans streamed onto the court in celebration, the officials reviewed the tape and determined that the ball was still touching Singletary's fingers when the clock turned to all zeroes. Despite the setback, the Red raiders were undeterred and continued playing pressure defense to force turnovers in the extra session. Singletary finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Wisconsin, Illinois Lead Big Ten over ACC
It took eleven years, the biggest comeback in Illinois basketball history and a nail-biting win by Wisconsin over Duke, but after ten years of frustration, the Big Ten finally beat the ACC in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, taking six of the eleven games, with three wins coming on the final night of competition.
In their 76-74 win at Clemson, the Fighting Illini lived up to their name, coming back from 22 points down in the second half for the biggest comeback in school history. Led by Mike Davis' 22 points (9-11, 4-4 free throws) and 9 rebounds and freshman Brandon Paul's 20, the Illini kept Big Ten hopes alive with an unlikely road win after dropping their last two games. Clemson, which took a 20-point lead into the half, appeared to be cruising to the win when the Illini went on a 22-2 tear, and finally caught the Tigers when Paul stole the ball and went in for a layup to tie the game at 61 with 5 minutes left.
The Tigers didn't fold, however, and actually had a lead late, but the Illini were undeterred as they improved to 5-2, haning the Tigers their second loss of the season (6-2). The win by the Illini kept the Big Ten close, but the ACC led, 5 games to 4 with just two left to be played in the challenge.
Wisconsin led from the opening bucket, sending the Duke Blue Devils to a loss for the first time in the eleven years of the Challenge, 73-69. The Badgers opened the game with a barrage of three-pointers to take an early lead, then let guard Trevon Hughes loose in the lane and on the perimeter. He scord a game-high and personal season-high 26 points in leading the Badgers to their 5th win in 6 tries this season. Hughes hit 9 of 16 shots from the floor, including 4 of 8 from three-point land. He added a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line to match Duke's Kyle Singler point for point.
Moments later, when Ohio State beat Florida State, 77-64, the Big Ten could finally exhale and celebrate the conference's first win over the ACC.
The three other wins for the Big ten were provided by Penn State, Purdue and Northwestern.
ACC winners were Miami, Boston College, North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia Tech.
Tar Heels Help Even Big Ten/ACC Challenge
After Penn State got the Big Ten off to a winning beginning with a 69-66 win over Virginia Monday night, the ACC, which has won this early season measuring stick each of the last ten years, roared back with a trio of victories to even the score at three games per conference.
Maryland whipped Indiana, 80-68; Virginia Tech schooled Iowa, 70-64; and the North Carolina Tar Heels stepped past Michigan State, 89-82, in a rematch of last year's national championship final.
Even though North Carolina lost four starters and super sub Danny Green to the pros from last season's championship team, the Tar Hells have reloaded in a hurry, sporting more height and depth on a squad made up primarily of underclassmen.
While seniors Marcus Ginyard and Deon Thompson got the most floor time, major contributions were made by a pair of rising sophomores, 6'10" forward Ed Davis and 6'2" point guard Larry Drew II. Davis, who is averaging nearly a double-double (16.7 points, 9.4 rebounds), scored a game-high 22 points to go with his 6 boards and 2 assists, as he dominated the interior. Drew pumped in 18 points, on 6-0f-7 shooting, missing just one of his two 3-point attempts while shutting down the Spartans' Kalin Lucas, one of the nation's top ball-handling guards. He and freshman Dexter Strickland limited the Michigan State star to a poor shooting performance (6-of-17, 15 points), keeping Lucas on the perimeter and denying him driving and passing lanes.
The Heels sizzled at 58% from the floor, hitting 5-of-10 3-pointers. Michigan State, hampered by the Tar Hell height and length, shot just 43%, including a miserable 10% (1-of-10) from beyond the arc. One standout for the Spartans was Raymar Morgan, the Spartan's high-scorer, with 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting and 6 rebounds.
The Big Ten/ACC Challenge concludes on Wednesday night with five more games, capped off by #6 Duke at Wisconsin at 9:15 pm from Madison and #21 Florida St. at #15 Ohio State at 9:30 pm from Columbus. Earlier games include Illinois at Clemson, Minnesota at Miami and Boston College at Michigan.
Earlier wins by the Big Ten included Purdue over Wake Forest, 69-58, and Northwestern's surprisingly easy 65-53 win over NC State.