Thursday, March 12, 2009
Syracuse Outlasts UConn in 6 OT Big East Classic
Jim Boeheim's Syracuse Orangemen and Jim Calhoun's Connecticut Huskies staged one for the ages late-night at the Garden with the longest game in Big East history and the second longest game in college basketball history.
The upset-minded Orangemen stayed right with highly-regarded #4 UConn every step of the way, leading through most of the first half, but trailing by as many as 6 points in the second in the nightcap of a wild Big East quarterfinal day at Madison Square Garden.
After a frenetic first 32 minutes, Kristof Ongenaet tied the score with a pair of free throws at 51-all and Andy Rautins gave the Orangemen the lead with a 3-pointer with under 8 minutes left to play. Craig Austrie quickly retied the game with a three of his own, but then Eric Devendorf answered with a trey for Syracuse.
After Jeff Adrian hit a two-point bucket, Syraucse point guard Jonny Flynn hit a driving layup, was fouled and hit the ensuing free throw to put Syracuse up 60-56 with 6:35 to play.
The Huskies had their chances, but Stanley Robinson missed 2 free throws and Haseem Thabeet converted only one of two and missed the front end of a one-and one as time wound under 5 minutes to play. The Orange took a five-point lead on Eric Devendorf's jumper, 62-57 and when Jonny Flynn fed Arinze Onuaku under the rim the Orange had a 7-point bulge with under 4 to go.
UConn responded with a 7-0 run, punctuated by Stanley Robinson's lay-in at 2:25 which tied the game at 64-all.
Arinze Onuaku, one of the worst free throw shooters in the nation at just 30%, made two clutch foul shots with under 2:00 to give the Orange a 2-point edge. Jonny Flynn added a pair, but UConn's Craig Austrie hit a big 3-pointer to cut the lead to 1, with 1:08 to play.
Devendorf was fouled and hit a pair to give Syracuse a 70-67 lead at 0:49. Thabeet cut it to one again with 31 second left.
Ongenaet gave the Orangemen a 2-point edge with 27 seconds left when he made one of two from the line. Kemba Walker scored a tip-in with 1.1 left to tie it at 71-71. Eric Devendorf's 23-foot bomb at the end of regulation was disallowed by the referees after a video review and the two teams headed to overtime.
Stanley Robinson, who hit only one 3-pointer all season, hit his second with 1:37 left in OT to give UConn a 80-76 lead. Rautins responded with a lazar 3-pointer to cut the advantage to 1 point at 1:17. The Huskies missed on their next possession and Syracuse had an opportunity to take the lead with 36 seconds to go, but Rautins missed a three and the Orange fouled Stanley Robinson at 0:15. Robinson hit one of two.
Flynn fed Rick Jackson for a dunk with 8 seconds left and UConn was unable to convert, sending the game to a second OT at 81-all.
With 1:58 to go in the second OT, UConn led by three, 86-83, but Jonny Flynn drove to the hoop, scored and was fouled, and made the free throw to tie the game.
Onuaku then fouled Thabeet on battle for a rebound off a missed Husky shot at 1:18, but Thabeet hit just one of two. At 0:57 Autrie fouled Devendorf, Syracuse's best foul shooter, but he made only one of two for the tie.
UConn could not convert a number of tip-ins on their next possession, and Syracuse has a chance to win it, but could not convert as time ran down sending the game to a third overtime at 87-87.
Syracuse entered the third OT with both of their big men, Onuaku and Ongenaet on the bench, having fouled out. The Huskies took advantage, scoring the first six points of the period. Rautins and Paul Harris each canned a pair of free throws to draw within two at 93-91, but A.J. Price's pair got the Huskies back up by 4. Jeff Adrian's jam at 1:58 pushed it back to a six point edge. Syracuse scored four straight to get back to within two at 97-95 with under a minute to play.
The Orange had opportunities after two missed Husky shots, but UConn controlled the offensive boards both times forcing Devendorf to foul A.J. Price with 21 seconds to go. Price hit just one of two for a three-point bulge. Andy Rautins lined up a three with 11 seconds to play and canned it to tie the game and force a 4th OT at 98-all.
Rick Jackson, Syracuse's 3rd forward, fouled out in the first minute of the 4th OT, but the Orange got a break when the 7'3" Thabeet fouled out just seconds later. Neither team could gain an advantage, as they traded misses and baskets, eventually getting to 104-all with 0:38 left, but neither team could covert: 5th OT.
A.J. Price scored the only points in the first 3 minutes of the first overtime on a 17-foot jumper and two free throws to give UConn a 4-point lead at 108-104. Devendorf fouled out with 2:01 remaining.
Jonny Flynn scored a layup at 1:55, and, after a UConn miss, Syracuse had another chance to tie with 1:30 to go. Flynn drove to the hoop and drew the foul, stepped to the line and hit both with 58 seconds left.
Scotty Haralson hit a bucket with 35 second left, but Flynn canned another pair with 20 seconds left. UConn could not score on their final possession forcing the 6th overtime.
Rautins gave the Orangemen their first lead after regulation with a 3-ball to open the 6th OT. After a travel by A.J. Price, Paul Harris finally got a layup to go down for a 5-point SU lead. Fatigue took its toll on the Huskies, as they missed badly on their first six shots in the 6th extra session.
Paul Harris made another layup with 2:36 left, was fouled and hit the free throw for a 118-110 lead. Syracuse led by 10, at 122-112 with 1:38 to play and held on for the win as both teams played sloppily the rest of the way.
Syracuse never led in any of the overtime periods except the last. Jonny Flynn scored 34 points, handed out 11 assists, was a perfect 16 of 16 from the foul line and played a Syracuse, Big East and probably a college basketball record 67 minutes. Paul Harris missed at least 6 layups in the last 3 OTs but still finished with 26 points and 22 rebounds. Devendorf had 22 points and Rautins scored 20. The game lasted 3 hours and 46 minutes, beginning just at 9:36 pm and ending at 1:22 am ET.
A.J. Price led the Huskies with a career-high 33 points before fouling out with 2:58 left in the 3rd OT. Four different Huskies had had 10 or more rebounds, led by Jeff Adrien's 16.
The game was the second longest in NCAA history, falling just one overtime short of the Dec. 21, 1981, 75-73 Cincinnati win over Bradley.
It was the sixth straight win for the Orangemen, who advance to the semifinals Friday to face West Virginia, a team they beat at home, 74-61, in the regular season. The Orangemen remained perfect in overtime games, at 4-0 this season.
After the long night (and early morning) Syracuse catches somewhat of a break, getting West Virginia at 9:30 pm tomorrow night. The Mountaineers upset Pitt earlier in the game.
Get some rest, guys.
Sunday, March 08, 2009
Louisville Wins Big East Title; Late Saturday Results
Getting a little help from Pitt, which knocked off Connecticut, the Louisville Cardinals took the opportunity to take the Big East regular season championship with a spirited effort at West Virginia.
The Cardinals enjoyed the luxury of playing UConn and Pitt just once each this season, splitting those games (lost to UConn, beat Pitt) and losing just once more (at Notre Dame) to finish 16-2, a game better than the 15-3 records posted by the Panthers and Huskies.
Senior forward Terrence Williams had one of his best games of the season, scoring 20 points, grabbing 6 rebounds, handing out 7 assists and pulling off 6 steals.
The win gives Louisville byes in the first two rounds of the Big East tournament, meaning they will next see action on Thursday, March 12. Winning the Big East tourney will certainly result in a #1 seed for the NCCA tournament, but the Cardinals are likely to have to face either Pitt or UConn in the finals.
There is now talk of 3 #1 seed coming out of the Big East, though that seems unlikely, since either North Carolina or Duke will get one, as will the winner of the Big 12 tournament, plus, Memphis made their case by completing their thrid straight undefeated Conference-USA season with a 74-47 thumping of Tulane, and are carrying the nation's longest win streak at 22 straight.
The PAC-10 is also being overlooked, even though last season, PAC-10 teams compiled the best record for a conference in the NCAA tourney. It might be a mistake to relegate #16 Washington (which took the conference with a 67-60 win over Washington St. Saturday) to a #2 seed and drop UCLA and Arizona St. to #3 or #4 spots.
While the PAC-10 may have had a down year, the conference as a whole may have simply been exhibiting better balance. Washington was 14-4, UCLA went 13-5 and Arizona State was 11-7. Those top three teams lost just 6 out-of-conference games and the most recent of those was on December 4, ancient history in college hoops.
It will be interesting to see how many PAC-10 teams make the field of 65 (Cal also finished 11-7; Arizona and USC were both 9-9.) and how high they will be seeded. The tournament could provide a relatively easier path to the elite 8 level for a number of PAC-10 squads.
Saturday, March 07, 2009
Big East: Hungry Panthers Devour Huskies
The Pitt Panthers probably won't win the Big East regular season title, but after beating down Connecticut for the second time this season, they left the impression that they are the team to watch from the nation's deepest conference.
The championship went to Louisville, though the Cardinals have to thank the Panthers for their good fortune. Louisville (15-2) has only to wrap up against West Virginia at 9:00 pm ET tonight, though the outcome of that game has limited meaning, since the Cardinals beat Pitt in their only meeting of the season, 69-63, January 17 at Lousiville.
If the Cardinals win, there's no argument, as the Huskies and Panthers each have 3 conference losses.
Pitt built up a big lead early thanks to hot shooting and solid defense, keeping the Huskies in catch-up mode throughout the game.
The Huskies led only twice, at 2-0 and 12-11. Brad Wannameker's 3-pointer made it 23-13 with just under 12:00 left in the first half. Wannamaker, a sophomore guard, has been a valuable addition off the bench all season in Pitt's stacked back court, which includes Levance Fields (leads the NCAA in turnover ratio) and Jermaine Dixon, younger brother of Maryland's Juan Dixon, who lead the Terrapins to a national championship in 2002.
UConn's Hasheem Thabeet kept the Huskies in the game with 14 points, 5 rebounds and 3 blocks in the first half, but Pitt's senior forward Sam Young was more than equal to the task with 16 first half points and five boards. Pittsburgh led by 10 at the break, 38-28, holding UConn to just 34% shooting (11-32).
Pitt led by as many as 14 points twice in the second half, but UConn battled back and when Stanley Robinson elevated for a dunk at 8:26, the Huskies were down by just 2 points, 52-50. Pitt responded with a 9-3 run, punctuated by Sam Young's jam and three-point play at 4:41, to make the score 61-53. After Levance Fields made it 63-53 with under 4 minutes to play, it was all but over.
Playing in his final home game, Sam Young was sensational, leading the Panthers with a season-high 31 points and 10 rebounds. Wannamaker pitched in with 13 from the bench and Fields scored 10 while dishing 12 assists.
Pitt's two wins over Connecticut both occurred when the Huskies were ranked #1 in the national polls. It should now be clear to both voters and fans which team is superior. The Panthers will be in search of a #1 seed in the NCAA tourney as they make their way through this week's Big East tournament. Right now, they clearly look like the best team in the country, finishing undefeated at home, handing UConn their only road loss of the season in the process.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Pitt Grounds Golden Eagles
Pitt needed a win to keep open hopes for the Big East title in their home spot against Marquette, which was trying to avoid three straight losses.
Pitt established an early lead and upped to to as many as 9 in the first half, but Marquette responded out of the break and lead by 5 early in the second half.
The Panthers responded with a 23-5 run that put them ahead 80-65 with under 5 minutes left to play. There was no answer for Pitt's DeJuan Blair in the low post. Blair overpowered inside for a game-high 26 points. Sam Young had 18, Levance Fields pitched in 17.
Pitt next hosts UConn at high noon on Saturday in a game that will determine the Big East regular season champion.
Northwestern 65 Purdue 61
With nothing to gain after Michigan State wrapped up the Big Ten title over the weekend, one might excuse the effort by the Boilermakers. This only serves to render Sunday's game at Michigan St. nearly meaningless for both teams. It will probably more resemble a shoot-around prep for the conference tournament.
#2 North Carolina 86, Virginia Tech 78 - Tar Heels host Duke Sunday for ACC title.
Monday, March 02, 2009
Irish Eyes Aren't Smiling; Longhorns Rebound
Scottie Reynolds scored 23 points and hit 6 of 7 3-pointers, leading the 12th-ranked Wildcats past stumbling Notre Dame. Reynolds had one of his best games of the season, adding a pair of steals, 6 assists and 5 rebounds. Running mate Dante Cunningham provided 18 points and 8 rebounds.
The win left Villanova at 24-6 overall, and 12-5, good for 5th in the Big East. For Notre Dame, the loss may have sealed their post-season fate. The Irish are 7-10 and 16-13 overall, records not likely to land an NCAA bid.
Texas 73, Baylor 57
Following a 59-68 road loss at Oklahoma St. on Saturday, Texas solidified its post-season intentions with a home win, improving to 20-9 (9-6 Big 12), while dropping Baylor into NIT territory at 7-10 and 17-12 overall.
The Bears, after a 3-1 start in conference play, have dropped 9 of their last 11.
Sunday, March 01, 2009
Lousivlle Slips Past Marquette
Concerned about having to replace fallen Dominic James (out for the season with a foot injury) with junior guard Maurice Acker, the #6 Marquette Golden Eagles entered their game at #6 Louisville feeling short-handed.
Despite poor first half shooting by Jerel McNeal (2-13), Marquette found themselves only down by 3 at Louisville, 28-25, as the teams headed to their locker rooms at the break.
The closeness of the game was no doubt due to poor shot selection by the Cardinals, who, despite a big size advantage inside,took most of their shots from the perimeter. Terrence Williams hit 3 of 6 3-point attempts for Louisville, totaling 12 for the half.
That all began to change at the start of the second half. After clanking two outside jumpers, the Cardinals started to press full court, which resulted in turnovers and layups for Louisville, scoring eight straight points on four shots from dunking distance to take a 36-26 lead just three minutes in.
Having established a lead and inside dominance, however, the Cardinals continued to settle for long-range jumpers, allowing the Golden Eagles to close the gap, finally getting to 61-58 with 23.4 remaining on a Lazard Hayward trey.
But that was as close as Marquette would get, despite a no-call on a Marquette 3-point lean-in attempt down just 4 with 16 seconds left and then inexplicably not fouling. Louisville escaped, though their play was not at a level one would expect this time of year.
Both Louisville and short-handed Marquette could become early victims in either or both the Big East tourney or the NCAAs if they don't step up their decision-making and overall percentages.
While Marquette's 35% shooting was due mostly to McNeal's uncharacteristic 3-19 performance, Louisville's 44% effort from the floor and 42% (5-12) from the line, has to be a cause for concern for coach Rick Pitino.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
UConn Ousts Irish; ACC: Wake, Seminoles with Key Wins
Senior Jeff Adrian, playing his final home game, led the Huskies with 25 points on 11-15 shooting, past hopeful Notre Dame, whose NCAA hopes continue to fade. Adrian also packed in 9 rebounds.
Close throughout, Connecticut finally took control in the final minute, scoring the last six points after taking a 66-65 lead.
Notre Dame was clinging to faint hopes of getting an NCAA bid, having won 4 of their last five coming in. That streak was preceded, however, by a 7-game losing streak which put the Irish in serious post-season trouble.
Connecticut's win likely sealed the fate of the Irish, dropping them to 16-12 and 7-9 in the Big East. The Huskies, meanwhile, continue to march toward the regular season Big East title. They improved to 15-2 (27-2 overall), stretching their lead over 13-2 Louisville and 12-3 Marquette, who face each other on Sunday.
Pitt, also 12-3, plays at Seton Hall Saturday night.
In the ACC, #13 Wake Forest and #23 Florida State each won key games, topping Virginia and #12 Clemson respectively.
The Demon Deacons won, 70-60, on the road, while Florida State held court at home, 73-66. Both teams improved to 9-5 in the ACC, while Clemson dropped to 8-6.
Toney Douglas led the Seminoles with 23 points as Florida State likely secured an NCAA bid with the win, beating Clemson for the second time this season. Otherwise, the Seminoles are just 1-4 against ranked opponents, the sole win coming against Florida back in December.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Top 25 Roundup (early games): UConn Tops Marquette
A.J. Price scored 38 points to lead the Huskies to a Big East win that left them alone atop the conference.
The premiere game of the evening matched the #2 Connecticut Huskies at the #8 Marquette Golden Eagles with nothing short of the Big East lead on the line. With Pitt having faltered Tuesday night at Providence, the Huskies came into the game tied with Louisville at 13-2, with Marquette a half game back at 12-2.
The Huskies established a lead in the closing minutes of the first half, taking a 43-37 lead into the break, but Marquette, comfortable on their home court, kept closing. When Wesley Matthews hit a pair of free throws at 7:53 in the second half, the Golden Eagles retook the lead, 60-59.
From there, the two teams exchanged leads back and forth, with UConn eventually grabbing a 8-point edge on a pair of Stanley Robinson three-point plays with 4:32 left in the game. Marquette cut the lead to five, but could get no closer.
Robinson scored 19 points, half of Price's total. Price was sensational, hitting 13-20 from the field, including 8-12 on 3's and a perfect 4-4 from the line.
Jerel McNeal scored 26 to lead Marquette.
At 26-2 and 14-2 in the conference, the Huskies host Notre Dame on Saturday and then get a week off before closing out the regular season in a rematch at Pitt. Winning both would give UConn the title, as they have a win over Louisville already in hand.
South Carolina 77, Kentucky 59
South Carolina punched their NCAA dance ticket on Wednesday night with a serious thumping of SEC East rival Kentucky, establishing an instant lead and hitting from everywhere on the floor in a 77-59 win.
Dominique Archie and Devan Downey led the onslaught. Archie had a perfect first half, going 5-for-5 with 2 3-pointers for 12 points. Downey tallied 10 in the opening period. Eight different Gamecocks scored, as they established a 46-28 lead at the half.
Archie scored just one more point in the second half, but Downey totaled 21 for the game, offsetting Patrick Patterson's 28 for the Wildcats.
South Carolina emerged with a one-game lead in the division, at 9-4, with Kentucky and Florida a game back at 8-5. The Gamecocks are 20-6 overall.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Providence Problematic for #1 Pitt
Providence came out flying, getting 12 first-half points from Jonathan Kale as they shot 53% in the period. Pitt shot a sub-par 37% on 10-27 shooting. At the break, the Friars held a healthy 44-26 edge.
Nearing the midpoint of the second half, Pitt had cut the Friars' lead to 10 points, but consecutive fouls by DeJuan Blair over a 14-second span sent the Pitt star to the bench with four personals.
Providence quickly built its lead back to 17 points, as Sam Young valiantly fired away, but the usually-reliable swimgman could not carry the load alone. Young finished with 16 points on 7 for 18 shooting (1-for-4 from 3-point range).
The Panthers weren't helping themselves much, putting Providence in the double bonus with 5:21 to play. That's when Blair returned, but by then the Friars were still up by 14.
The Panthers could cut the gap to no closer than 5 points down the stretch as Providence snapped their own 2-game losing streak.
Five Providence players hit double figures, led by Weyinmi Efejuku's 16 points.
The Friars are now 9-7 in the conference and 17-11 overall, and suddenly have a much better shot at getting that NCAA invitation.
Eslewhere in the Big East, Syracuse got a much-needed win at St. John's, mauling the Red Storm, 87-58. Jonny Flynn led the Orangemen with 21 points to go with 8 assists.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Louisville Grabs Big East Share
Louisville shot 70% in the first half - hitting all 6 of their 3-point attempts - and raced off to a 41-31 lead at Georgetown. Samardo Samuels and Earl Clark each had 9 points.
Clark scored a game-high 22. Terrence Willimans had 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Louisville moved into a tie for first place in the Big East with Connecticut at 13-2. Winners of five straight, the Cardinals next host #8 Marquette on Sunday, March 1.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Big East: Huskies, Cardinals, Golden Eagles Keep Winning
Thabeet scored a game-high 21 points on 7-for-10 shooting. Teammate Jeff Adrian huled down 14 boards to go with his 9 points.
#7 Louisville cruised to a 72-63 win at Cincinnati, for their 6th conference road win in seven tries. The Cardinals (21-5, 12-2) kept pace, second in the tight Big East race.
Terrence Williams led the scoring with 20 points. He also snatched 9 rebounds.
#10 Marquette survived a tussle at Georgetown, hitting their free throws down the stretch while maintaining a 6 to 9-point lead in a testing 78-72 win.
Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews provided most of the scoring punch for the Golden Eagles, with 22 and 21 points, respectively. Lazard Hayward added 17, with 10 rebounds.
Marquette also improved to 12-2 (23-4 overall) in the Big East. Pittsburgh looks to get to 12-2 when they host DePaul at 8:00 pm tonight.
Ryan Ayers hit 7 of 11 three-pointers and scored 28 points as unranked Notre Dame crushed Providence, 103-84. Both the Irish and Friars remain on the bubble for an NCAA bid.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Illini Fall to Penn St.; Top 25 Wrap-up (part 1)
In one of the uglier games of this - or any - college hoops season, Penn State pulled off the upset of #18 Illinois, 38-33, in a game in which neither team shot 30% from the floor. Illinois was 15-52, 29%, going 3-17 from 3-point range, while the victors were 13-47 (28%), and 3-18 beyond the arc.
The difference was the Nittany Lions' success at the foul line, where they went 9-11. In a statistical oddity, the Illini didn't make it to the free throw line even once throughout.
Penn State's Talor Battle was the only player from either team to score in double figures. He finished with 11 points.
No Curry, No Win for Davidson
Stephan Curry, the nation's leading scorer, sat out Davidson's home tilt with the Citadel, and the Wildcats really missed him, dropping a 64-46 decision in the Southern Conference.
Curry, who is scoring at a 29 ppg clip, sprained an ankle in Davidson's win over Furman Saturday, and was missed by the Wildcats. Despite the loss, Davidson still owns a two-game edge over the Citadel in the South division of the conference. Davidson is 15-2. The Citadel is 13-4.
More Road Blues for Irish
Notre Dame lost another Big East road game, this one at West Virginia, 79-68, as Alex Ruoff scored 24 points for the improving Mountaineers. West Virginia improved to 6-6 in the conference and 17-8 overall, putting themselves in position for a possible NCAA tourney bid.
The Mountaineers beat Villanova, 93-72, on Friday and now have won three of their last four.
The Irish had halted a 7-game skid (5 on the road) with wins over Louisville and Seton hall last week, but seem to be back to their old ways on the road. Notre dame is now 5-7 in the Big East and 14-10 overall, in danger of missing out on a trip to the big dance.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Pitt Tops Huskies, 76-68, for 6th Straight
The game was close throughout, with the teams changing leads a number of times, but Blair was impressive under the iron throughout, finising with 22 points and 23 rebounds. Sam Young kept Pitt in the game throughout, registering a game high 25 points on 8-14 shooting from the field, including 4-7 on threes and 5-6 from the line.
Down the stretch, Pittsburgh's Jermaine Dixon made a 23-foot three-pointer at 4:31 in the second half, giving the Panther's a 59-58 lead. But the huskies came right back, as Jeff Adrien hit a layup at 4:09.
After a pair of Sam Young free throws the Panthers led again, 61-60.
Hasheem Thabeet hit a free throw for UConn, but Levance Fields responded a pair of three-pointers at 3:10 and 2:22, upping Pittsburgh's lead to 67-61 with 2:20 left.
Fields then hit a couple of freebies with 0:52 left and the Huskies were left with only the opportunity of desperate throws from beyond the arc.
Fields totaled 10. Jermaine Dixon scored 11 points.
The win may vault Pitt back to the top of the heap next week, though the AP Poll was released only today, so there's six more days of games prior to the next voters' decision and they'd have to leapfrog both North Carolina and Oklahoma to get to #1.
Connecticut will likely fall to no further than 6th.
The Huskies still lead the dead tight Big East standings by a half game at 12-2. Pitt improved to 11-2 and 24-2 overall. Louisville and Marquette are another half game back at 10-2.
Pittsburgh won its 6th straight and hosts Marquette on March 4 and Connecticut on March 7 to close out the regular season.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Pitt Rips It Up; Shoots 67% in Win over Bearcats
Led by 7-for-9 shooting by both Sam Young (18 points) and DeJuan Blair (17), the Panthers shot a blistering 67% from the field, hitting 31 of 46 shots. Excluding 3-pointers (5-12), the Panthers were an astounding 26 of 34, for a 76.5% mark inside the arc.
Pitt actually had a better shooting eye from the field than the foul line (67%-61%).
The win was the 5th straight for #4 Pitt (23-2. 10-2). Despite their gaudy record, they continue to trail #1 Connecticut by a 1 1/2 games. The Huskies are 12-1 in the Big East and 24-1 overall. UConn whipped Seton Hall, 62-54 in New Jersey in preparation for hosting Pitt Monday night in a Big East showdown.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Wildcats On the Prowl; Claw Marquette, 102-84
Villanova took the lead with minutes remaining in the first half, heading into the break up by five and were never seriously threatened after that.
Reynolds set a personal home court season high on 10 of 17 shooting, including 5 of 11 three-pointers. He previously scored 40 at Seton Hall and 31 at Providence.
Corey Fisher scored 20; Shane Clark was a perfect 6-6 from the floor (3-3 on threes) for 16, Dante Cunningham had 15 and Dwayne Anderson added 10 points for 'Nova.
Jerel McNeil and Lazar Hayward led the way for Marquette with 23 and 20, respectively.
The win was Villanova's sixth straight, improving to 8-3 in Big East play and 15-4 overall. Marquette lost for just the second time in conference play, dropping to 9-2 and 20-4.
Villanova continues on a mini-scoring streak, notching over 100 for the thrid time this season and for the second game in a row. Over their last three outings, the Wildcats have scored 97, 102 and 102.
The Golden Eagles shot 51%, but the Wildcats were better, canning 59% in one of their best outings of the season.
Sunday, February 08, 2009
Villanova Uprising Sinks Syracuse
Despite a poor 3-11 shooting performance from standout Scottie Reynolds, the Wildcats got plenty of scoring and hustle from the rest of their roster with five players - including Reynolds' 10 points - in double figures.
Corey Stokes scored 16 points, Shane Clark had 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Corey Fisher had 14, Both Stokes and Fisher notched three 3s.
Villanova improved to 19-4 on the season and is now 7-3 in the Big East. Their losses have come against the most solid teams in the conference: Louisville (by one point), Marquette and Connecticut. A 67-57 win at Pittsburgh on January 28 is indicative of the Wildcats' mettle.
Meanwhile, the Orangemen are slipping quickly, having lost five of their last seven, all to Big east opponents. The Villanova loss was the second time this season that Jim Boeheim's troops have given up 100 or more points. Providence beat Syracuse 100-94, also on January 28.
Syracuse is now just 6-5 in league play and seems destined to drop out of the Top 25. That would leave the Big East with just 5 ranked teams: Villanova, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Marquette, and, of course, #1 Connecticut.
While Syracuse struggles, look for Cincinnati to fill the void. On Saturday, the Bearcats dropped Georgetown in overtime, 64-62 and are 6-5 in the conference.
Another up-and-comer is West Virginia, a winner Saturday over Providence, 86-59, though the Mountaineers already have suffered defeat at the hands of UConn, Pitt, Marquette, Syracuse and Louisville. They are 5-5 in the conference and 16-7 overall.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Hot Game Picks for Conference Tourneys
Central Connecticut State 74 Sacred Heart 70 - The Blue Devils of Central Connecticut got big games from their upperclassmen guards, junior Tristan Blackwood and senior Javier Mojica, who combined to hit 9 of 16 3-pointers and tally 46 points overall. Those efforts led to a win over Sacred Heart in the finals of the Northeast Conference tournament and the right to play on in March. Central Connecticut was easily the class of the conference at 16-2, with a 22-11 record overall.
The Blue Devils look very much like a one-and-done kind of team, as their record prior to conference play was an underassuming 3-9, with losses to such stellar powerhouses as St. Bonaventure, Lehigh and Harvard (you really have to work to lose to an Ivy League team). Wherever these guys get seeded, they should at least be able to generate some offense. They scored 70 or more points in 11 of their last 13 games.
Weber St. 88 Northern Arizona 80 - Out in the Big Sky, a trio of scorers -
Dezmon Harris (20 points), Juan Pablo Silviera (21) and David Patten (22) - led the Wildcats to victory in the championship game. Weber St. and No. Arizona had tied for first place in the regular season at 11-5, but the Wildcats shot a blistering 66% (29-44) from the field, opened up a 16-point halftime lead and coasted home.
The Wildcats had already beaten the Lumberjacks twice during conference play, so completing the trifecta was a crowing achievement. They finish up at 20-11 and played just one then-ranked team, losing to Washington in December, 80-51.
Conference Tourney Scores -
Syracuse 78 Connecticut 65
#18 Marquette 76 St. John's 67
Villanova 75 DePaul 67
West Virginia 92 Providence 79
Washington 59 Arizona St. 51
California 70 Oregon St. 51
Today's Tourney Picks
12:00 pm Florida St. vs. Clemson (-1.5) - Take the Seminoles to move on. Al Thornton scored a career high 45 points in the season finale over Miami. The senior forward is a big time scorer and leader. Clemson won their regular season tilts, 68-66, and 71-58 at Clemson, but Florida St. will have home fans on hand in Tampa. Look for Toney Douglas to add some spark for Florida State.
12:00 pm Georgetown (-5) vs. Villanova - End of the line for the Wildcats. If they lose, their 23-10 record could still be good enough to get a bid. The Hoyas are too big up front and should blow 'Nova away.
1:00 pm Kentucky (-4) vs. Alabama - The Wildcats are no great shakes and Alabama's late season woes are also well-documented. Both teams collapsed late in the season, losing 5 of their final 7 games. The only meeting this season was at Alabama, where the Tide prevailed, 72-61. There's a good chance that neither of these teams will make the field of 65. In what should be an ugly (but close) game, you must take the points.
2:00 pm Notre Dame (-1.5) vs. Syracuse - The Orangemen got hot at the right time, winning 5 straight before dropping their season finale at Villanova. Their win yesterday over UConn was a nice start and they're fully loaded for this one. The Irish beat them 103-91 at the Carrier Dome earlier in the season, one of only three Notre Dame Big East road wins. The Irish ride a 5-game win streak and look good off the first round bye. Tough call, as the Irish don't generally play well at the Garden, but they have the firepower to prevail. Syracuse should get a bid even if they lose here.
3:00 pm Arizona (-2) vs. Oregon - Arizona struggled through the PAC-10 schedule, but won 5 of their last 7 to finish 10-8. One of those wins was a 77-74 win on February 10 at Oregon. Following that game, the Wildcats lost at home to USC and UCLA, but finished up with three straight road wins. Oregon also lost their first meeting, 79-77 at Arizona, so they really are up against it. I'm taking the Ducks to pull off the upset. They can't be too happy losing two close games to the Wildcats.
7:00 pm Duke (-9.5) vs. North Carolina State - The Blue Devils have struggled all season mostly because they don't have a third scoring threat after DeMarcus Nelson and Greg Paulus. Duke finished with losses to Maryland and at North Carolina and are really not on the bubble, though they should be. They crushed NC State back in January, 79-56, and the Wolfpack has been a blowout victim to most of the better teams in the ACC. Duke should handle this one with ease.
9:45 pm Tennessee (-2) vs. LSU - LSU has Big Baby Glen Davis in the middle, but the Vols have Chris Lofton on the perimeter and he should prove to be the decisive factor. Tennessee closed out the regular season with four straight wins including triumphs over Alabama and Florida, so they are rarin' to go and should seal a tourney bid with a win here. The last meeting between these two resulted in a 70-67 Volunteer win. At 16-14, LSU must win the tournament to get an NCAA bid, but dreams die hard this time of year.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Spartan Slaughter: Badgers Besieged
Not to be outdone, Providence and UNLV scored upsets over ranked teams as well.
#1 Michigan St. 64 Wisconsin 55 - Wisconsin's Alando Tucker was 6-15 from the floor, scoring 16 points, but running mates Kammron Taylor and Brian Butch might have done better sitting this one out. Taylor was a pathetic 0-6 in 39 minutes and finished with just a pair of free throws for 2 points. Butch was 1-4 and 1-2 from the charity stripe for a measly 2 points.
Meanwhile, the Spartans were making March Madness noise a week early. Junior guard Drew Neitzel was unstoppable, filling it up with 28 points on 10-17 shooting including 6-11 3-pointers. The Spartans held Wisconsin to 36% shooting (19-52) and outrebounded them badly, 41-24. Obviously, the kids at Michigan State didn't think much of the Badgers' #1 ranking and suddenly, at 20-8 and 7-6 in the Big 10, look likely to get an invitation come March.
UNLV 60 #14 Air Force 50 - Come on now. The Falcons fell into a tie for second place with UNLV at 10-4, behind 10-2 BYU in the Mountain West. All three of these teams may get an invite, but only the winner of the conference tournament is guaranteed entry. Air Force shot just 30% as the host Rebels shut down their suspect offense.
It was the 4th time this season the Falcons have been held to 56 points or less - all losses - and they haven't played a ranked team this season. Top 25 material? Hardly. At least UNLV played some ranked teams and beat 2 of them in 4 tries. BYU, finally ranked this week at #21, may not be much better than the Falcons. The only ranked teams they've played are UCLA and Air Force, and while they beat the Falcons, the 82-69 loss to UCLA isn't very heartening.
My point is that the Mountain West should get just one invitation because whichever team emerges from this mediocre conference looks very much like a first round victim.
#19 Texas 80 Texas Tech 51 - Kevin Durant had an off night, scoring only 16 with just 8 rebounds, but 4 other Longhorns scored in double figures while the Red Raiders were hitting just 29% of their shots (20% on 3's). The win was one of the easier home games for the Longhorns who still have a shot at the Big 12 title. They play at Oklahoma on Saturday, but then close out the season hosting Texas A&M on Feb. 28 and at Kansas on March 3. The Longhorns trail A&M by 1/2 game and Kansas by 1 game.
Providence 64 #22 West Virginia 61 - The Providence Friars kept their Big Dance hopes alive by rallying at home to upset the Mountaineers. Sophomore guard
Weyinmi Efejuku (yeah, remember the name) dropped in 24 points, including 4-7 from beyond the arc while his teammates ruled the boards, holding a 41-33 rebound advantage over the hops-challenged Mountaineers.
Providence improved to 7-6 in Big East play and 17-9 overall. They're floating on the NCAA bubble right now, but may be finding their best stride at the right time. Their last three losses have all been on the road, by 7 to Marquette, by 4 at Pitt and by 3 at Notre Dame. If they win 2 of their final 3 conference games and make some noise in the Big East tourney, a ticket to the dance could be in the offing.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Border War: Kansas Holds at Home
The Longhorns can improve to 4-0 tonight if they can win on the road against #11 Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are still smarting from their 87-57 loss at Kansas on January 10. Their Saturday game at Nebraska was postponed due to the ice storm that ravaged much of the Midwest. Texas has won five straight (13-3 overall) on the strength of play from freshman Kevin Durant, who is averaging 23.7 points and 11 rebounds per game - both team highs. Point guard D.J. Augustin is averaging 6.7 assists per contest, and has a 2-1 assist-turnover ratio. This game should be a true indicator of the real power in the Big 12.
In the Big East, the Pitt Panthers should handle the UConn Huskies and improve to 4-0 in conference play. Coach Calhoun's kids are all underclassmen and will get a baptism of fire this season in one of the toughest conferences in the nation.
The Panthers are on cruise control, especially after the much-anticipated matchup of power centers Aaron Gray and Georgetown's Roy Hibbert failed to materialize. Both centers had 11 points, Hibbert grabbed 2 boards and Gray hauled down only 4. Pitt forward Mike Cook - who finished with 18 points - helped the Panthers build a big, early lead and coast to a 74-69 win. Pitt has won 6 straight after a pair of road losses to Wisconsin and Oklahoma State in which the Panthers allowed 89 and 95 points respectively. Other than those games, the most points scored against Pitt this season is 69, by Georgetown in their most recent win. Pitt is 16-2 and ranked #6 in this week's AP Poll.
In other Top 25 action tonight, #13 Air Force is at Utah, #17 Memphis hosts UAB and #25 Kentucky is at South Carolina.
Monday, January 08, 2007
Big East Imbalance
What's intriguing about the Big East is that it is just one big party. No divisions, and the unbalanced schedule (some teams will play each other twice, others once, some, not at all) make for interesting comparisons in and out of the conference.
Take Pitt for example. Through their 16-game conference schedule, the Panthers play home-and-away games with Georgetown, Marquette and West Virginia. Notre Dame and Rutgers are not on the schedule. The other 10 teams will play the Panthers once.
That makes the Panthers' itinerary a bit more daunting than, say, that of South Florida, which has to play Louisville, DePaul and Notre Dame twice each while skipping over Georgetown and Villanova.
The unbalanced schedule makes comparisons difficult, if not impossible. Teams with relatively weak-strong schedules could end up with similar conference records, though one team could be nationally ranked with the other just a blip on the NCAA radar. Of course, the great equalizer is the annual bash in NYC known as the Big East Tournament, where the weak and the strong each have equal chances on a neutral site.
What the Big East and their cockeyed schedule does is create havoc for the NCAA tournament committee, which has to weigh all these schedules and then decide if the biggest conference gets 6, 7 or 8 teams into the Big Dance.
An indication of how the balances may tip in the conference came just last night as Syracuse burst into Marquette and dumped the Golden Eagles, 70-58. The loss was the second straight conference defeat for 15th-ranked Marquette. They took it on the chin in Providence, 74-59, on Thursday and are 0-2 in the Big East (not to be confused with Big Easy).
Upcoming for the Golden Eagles are Wednesday, 1/10 at (18) Connecticut, Saturday, 1/13 vs. (25) West Virginia, Monday, 1/15 at Louisville and Sun, Jan 21 at (10) Pittsburgh. Hoo-boy. If Marquette finds its way back into the Top 25 ever again this season, it will be a mean feat.
In other action from Sunday, North Carolina rolled past Florida State, 84-58. with UCLA's loss to Oregon, the Tar Heels could find themselves ranked #1 later today.
#9 Kansas improved to 13-2 with a non-conference win over South Carolina, 70-54. The Jayhawks open Big 12 play on Wednesday (1/10) against #12 Oklahoma State.
#19 Tennessee opened their SEC schedule with a 92-84 win over Miss. St. The 13-2 Vols have a date with Ohio State this Saturday in Columbus. The game will offer the Buckeyes a chance for redemption against the SEC after their earlier trip to Florida ended up as a 86-60 blowout for the Gators. Should be interesting.