Monday, January 14, 2008

College Basketball 1/14 - Roy Hibbert Are You KIDDING Me?

Georgetown 72, UConn 69
Congratulations to Kentucky for finally playing like themselves and handing Vanderbilt their first loss, but as much as it kills me to do this, Georgetown's 72-69 victory over UConn on Saturday is my GOTW. This was a great game from start to finish, as the crowd and both teams seemed to have a little extra energy in what has been a rejuvenated rivalry the last few years. Georgetown jumped out to a quick 9-1 lead and kept the lead for essentially the entire first half. AJ Price and the hot first-half shooting of Doug Wiggins (5-5, 13 pts) kept UConn within four at halftime (42-38) despite Jerome Dyson and Hasheem Thabeet both picking up two fouls.

The second half was a different story as UConn, still in foul trouble, started to get easy buckets on fast breaks and Georgetown started to miss some 3's. But that changed. Down 63-58, freshman Austin Freeman hit a three from the wing, and after a Jeff Adrien jump-hook and a thunderous fast break dunk from Dyson that put UConn up 67-61, Freeman hit another triple. On Georgetown's next possession they got two offensive rebounds, the second of which led to a wide-open three from Jesse Sapp which tied the game. Two Thabeet free throws and a Patrick Ewing Jr. lay-up had the score tied with under a minute left, but Price missed a tough lay-up off the glass (he got fouled ...) that would have put UConn ahead. At the other end, the Hoyas wasted 33 seconds off the shot clock before Roy Hibbert (yes, that Roy Hibbert, the 7'2" center) hit a three from the top of the key with four seconds left in the game. I'm still in shock.

The biggest problem the Huskies have right now is that they cannot defend three-pointers well at all, mostly because they are a poor shooting team and thus don't get practice defending the three. It cost them against Notre Dame (late three's by Rob Kurz and Kyle McAlarney) and it cost them again Saturday. Even in the Gonzaga loss, second half three's by Jeremy Pargo hurt them down the stretch. Until the last six minutes, UConn had done a pretty good job against Georgetown (6-18, Jonathon Wallace was only 1-7), but Georgetown hit four of their last five treys to win it.

Kevin Love, UCLA
Love averaged 19ppg, 10.5rpg, 4apg, and shot 67% from the floor in a 2-0 week for the Bruins in Pac-10 play, but it was his performance against previously unbeaten Washington State that earned him POTW honors. He had 27 points and 14 rebounds and dominated the paint in a game that was not as close as the final score (81-74) indicated. Love dominated the match-up against 6'11" Aron Baynes, holding him to 8 points and 7 boards. In a game that was billed as a match-up of the two best teams in the Pac-10 and two final four contenders, UCLA came out looking like a much better team.

Kentucky only played one game this week, but it was a dandy - a double-OT thriller over then-undefeated Vanderbilt. As I've discussed previously in this blog, the Wildcats have had a very tough year this year. Heading into their SEC opener against Vandy, they were 6-7 and coming off a blowout loss to rival Louisville. They needed this win to not only boost morale and start the SEC season off right, but if they have any hope of making the NCAA tournament they are going to need to make a great run in conference play. Tonight may have been just the kick start they needed. Kentucky was up big the entire game, and blew a 16 point second half lead to allow Vandy to force overtime. Earlier in the season they would have folded, but against the Commodores Kentucky kept fighting and kept scrapping and willed out a six point victory. They were led by freshman center Patrick Patterson (23 points and 12 boards) and PG Ramel Bradley scored 20 points and made big play and big play down the stretch.

1/14 Georgetown @ Pittsburgh: Two of the best in the Big East square off. Pitt is coming off a couple losses and trying to prove they can still compete in the league with injuries piling up.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: DeJuan Blair and Sam Young, Pitt - Can these two rising stars compete with the Hoyas dominating front line of Roy Hibbert, Patrick Ewing Jr., and DaJuan Summers.

1/16 Florida @ Mississippi: Both teams are looking to prove that they belong among the big boys in the SEC.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Marreese Speights, Florida and Dwayne Curtis, Mississippi - Great match-up of under-the-radar post players - Speights' athleticism vs. Curtis's strength.

1/17 Vanderbilt @ Tennessee: It looks as if the SEC title will come out of the Volunteer State this year.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Shan Foster, Vanderbilt and Chris Lofton, Tennessee - Maybe the two best shooters in nation, look for both to have big games with the spread-the-floor styles of these teams.

1/19 Clemson @ Duke: After starting the year on a long winning streak (again), Clemson has lost three out of five before bouncing back against FSU. The Tigers are looking to avoid another collapse like last year. Beating Duke would help.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Trevor Booker, Clemson and Kyle Singler, Duke - Can Singler (and Duke) match-up with Booker's (and Clemson's) athleticism?

1/19 Notre Dame @ Georgetown: Two similar teams with very similar styles of play. If you like great shooting, watch this game.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: DaJuan Summers and Patrick Ewing Jr., Georgetown - No one on Notre Dame can match-up with the size, athleticism, and mobility of these two forwards.

1/20 Marquette @ Connecticut: Great backcourt match-up. UConn still needs to get over the hump against the best teams in the league, and could use a signature win.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: AJ Price, UConn and Dominic James, Marquette - Both came in as freshman the same year, with Price receiving McDonald's All-America. Now, James is receiving the honors.

1/20 Oregon @ Washington State: Wazzu shut down the high powered offense of USC. Can they do the same against a better Oregon squad?
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Maarty Leunen, Oregon - The 6'9" forward has been playing great, averaging 15 and 10, and his three-point shooting ability will be key if the Ducks hope to spread the floor.

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