Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Nothing's Easy in Big 12, but Kansas Has Winning Look
Missouri got off early against Oklahoma, had a 15-point lead midway through the second half and cruised to an upset win over the 3rd ranked Sooners, 73-64.
With the Missouri-Oklahoma score flashing on the scoreboard, Kansas knew they could capture the Big 12 title outright with a win at Texas Tech or at home against Texas on Saturday.
Kansas shot just 32% in the first half (8-25) as the Red Raiders forged a 39-28 lead at intermission, but the Jawhawks used an 11-2 run to start the second, drawing to within two of Tech. But the Red Raiders went on a run of their own, quickly rebuilding their 11-point edge.
The game devolved as time wore on and Tech continued to pour in threes. Kansas cut the lead to five at one point, but the players knew the game had lost much of its meaning. Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins suffered through horrible shooting nights, going a combined 4-22 and scoring a season low 19 points between them.
Kansas hosts Texas at 4:00 pm ET on Saturday.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Washington Clinches PAC-10 Tie: Duke, Sooners Win
Jon Brockman scored 19 points and pulled in 9 rebounds and Isaiah Thomas tallied 19 as well, putting the Washington Huskies in an excellent position to win their first PAC-10 title in 24 years. Their win over Arizona clinched at least a tie with one game left, against Washington St. on March 7. The Huskies knocked off the Cougars back in January, 68-48.
Trailing most of the game, the Huskies ran off 10 straight points, turning a 6-point deficit into a 66-62 lead with less than 6 minutes left in the second half. The two teams traded baskets and free throws down the stretch, but the best the Wildcats could do was tie the game at 68-all. From there, the Huskies hunkered down on defense and canned key buckets and free throws as time wore down.
Jordan Hill led Arizona with 27 points on 12-18 shooting. The Huskies improved to 13-4, 22-7, while Arizona kept slim post-season hopes alive despite the loss. They are 8-8 in the PAC-10 and 18-11 overall.
#7 Duke 72, Virginia Tech 65
The Blue Devils (24-5, 10-4) continued their relentless pursuit of North Carolina in the ACC, winning on the road in Blacksburg to remain within striking distance of the Tar Heels.
Gerald Henderson was Duke's leader again. He and Kyle Singler led all scorers with 21 points each. Henerdson grabbed 6 rebounds and dished 6 assists. He has led the team in scoring in three straight wins, with 19 against St. John's and 35 in the Blue Devils' win over Wake Forest.
After a home game against Florida State on March 3, Duke closes out the regular season at North Carolina, March 7.
#3 Oklahoma 78, Texas Tech 63
Blake Griffin returned to the lineup and the Oklahoma Sooners promptly ended their 2-game skid.
The aftereffects of a concussion suffered against this same Red Raider team apparently long gone, Griffin had 14 points and 9 rebounds in the opening half and finished with 20 and 17. Griffin's older brother, Taylor, a 6'7" senior, pitched in his own double-double leading all scorers with 22 points and 10 rebounds.
The Sooners (26-3, 12-2) still have a shot at the Big 12 regular season title, though they trail Kansas by 1/2 game. The #15 Jayhawks have an important date with #11 Missouri tomorrow.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Jayhawks Jump Sooners, Take Big 12 Lead
By knocking off the Sooners, Kansas took over sole possession of first place in the Big 12 standings. Oklahoma was playing without its star and potential player of the year, Blake Griffith, who was sidelined due to a concussion suffered against Texas on Sunday.
Freshman Tyshawn Taylor scored a career-high 26 points and Sherron Collins equaled him with 26 of his own to lead the Jayhawks. Cole Aldrich had no match in the low post, scoring 15 points and hauling in 20 rebounds for his 16th double-double of the season.
#15 Kansas improved to 12-1 in the conference and 23-5 overall. The Sooners have lost two straight for the first time this season and trial Kansas by one game at 11-2, followed by #11 Missouri at 10-2.
Kansas hosts Missouri on Sunday, March 1, while the Sooners expect Griffith to return for their game at Texas Tech on Saturday, Feb. 28.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
NCAA Hoops Saturday Wrap: Sooners, Bruins Fall
The #2 Sooners could be forgiven for their 73-68 loss at Texas, since their All-American, Blake Griffin, left the game just 11 minutes in with a concussion. But, even without Griffin, shouldn't the Sooners have been able to handle the Longhorns, a team which had lost four of their last six games?
Oklahoma allowed A.J. Abrams to get off for 23 points - 16 in the final 8 minutes - to pull off the upset, rivaling Maryland's win over the Tar Heels. The Longhorns (7-5, 18-8) look more like the 4th Big 12 team that will receive an invite to the Big Dance, despite beating a handicapped Sooners squad.
#20 UCLA gets no such free pass in the 82-81 home loss to gritty Washington State. The Cougars (14-13, 6-9) are not, in all likelihood, going to the NCAA tournament, and the Bruins' loss demonstrates how weak the PAC-10 is this season, where arguably the best team cannot knock down a double-digit underdog on their home court.
There's some possibility that the Bruins won't be ranked after Monday. Washington and Arizona St. already have better records than they do, and unranked Cal may move into UCLA's slot. More clarity will come after the result of Sunday night's Arizona-Arizona State tilt.
There were more than a fair share of winners on Saturday's smorgasbord. #4 Pitt (which may end up as #1 on Monday night) made quick work of DePaul, winning by a 80-61 margin.
The Panthers got 20 points and 18 boards from sophomore star DeJuan Blair, who should be getting more mention in the player of the year circles. He's averaging a double double (15.8 points and 13 boards), and his Panthers have lost just twice, both on the road, at Louisville and Villanova.
Pitt should get the #1 ranking this week and very possibly will be a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Getting back to the Big 12, #11 Missouri and #15 Kansas were both victors Saturday. Missouri got 16 points and 13 rebounds from Leo Lyons in a 66-53 romp at Colorado. The Tigers may be the most dangerous team in the Midwest, having won six straight while compiling a 10-2 conference record and a 23-4 mark overall.
The Tigers play at Kansas on March 1 and host Oklahoma March 4. Those games are enormous in significance.
Kansas improved to 11-1 in the conference and tied the Sooners in the standings, knocking off Nebraska, 70-53. As usual, the Jayhawks rode their two big horses for the win. Sherron Collins led the way with 22 points; Cole Aldrich tossed in 18 with 12 boards.
#5 Memphis topped UTEP, 70-63, for their 53rd straight Conference-USA win and 18th straight win, the longest win streak in the nation. Tyreke Evans scored 25 points to lead the Tigers. Memphis can clinch the C-USA title outright with a win at UAB Thursday night.
Bringing up the rear of the standings, #22 Washington bumped off USC, 60-51; #17 Gonzaga romped, 92-58, past Pepperdine; #25 Dayton dropped a road game at St. Louis, 57-49; and #23 LSU continued to impress in the SEC, winning their 8th straight, 79-72, over Auburn.
LSU (11-1, 23-4) clinched the SEC South division with the win, and are clearly heading to the NCAA tourney. The Tigers will likely be the only SEC South division representative. Kentucky, South Carolina and Florida - all in the North - look like the other probable bid recipients.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Top 25 Roundball Roundup
(1) Connecticut 63, Syracuse 49 - Top-ranked Connecticut buried Syracuse, sending the Orangemen to their 6th loss in their last 8 games. The Huskies won their 12th straight, and are now 23-1 overall and 11-1 in the Big East. UConn looks to be the #1 overall seed in the NCAA tourney, though they have to navigate the remainder of their Big East schedule and the conference tournament. They have six regular season games left, two with Pitt and one with Marquette.
(2) Oklahoma 78 Baylor 63 - Blake Griffin recorded his 21st double-double of the season with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Oklahoma improved to 24-1.
North Carolina State 82 (7) Wake Forest 76 - Unranked NC State knocked off a serious ACC foe in the night's biggest upset. The Wolfpack improved to just 3-6 in the conference and 13-9 overall, while the Demon Deacons lost for the 4th time in their last 6, looking very vulnerable as the season progresses.
(8) Memphis 63 Tulsa 37 - Robert Dozier scored 23 points, as the Tigers humiliated Tulsa. Memphis is 21-3 and undefeated in Conference-USA at 9-0.
Dayton 71 (14) Xavier 58 - Eleven different players scored for Dayton, as the Flyers overmatched #14 Xavier and tightened the Atlantic-10 race. St. Joseph's leads the conference at 7-1, with unappreciated Dayton and Xavier tied at 8-2. Dayton already holds a 69-58 win over St. Joseph's. The Flyers are flying just beneath the national radar, but could make a good deal of noise in March.