Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Thursday Morning Shootaround: Dominc James Breaks His Foot, Jerel McNeal Breaks His Ankle

Jim Calhoun became just the seventh coach in college basketball history to record 800 wins as the Huskies knocked off Marquette 93-82 in Wisconsin. The most important news coming from this game, however, was that Dominic James, the Golden Eagles senior starting point guard, is done for the season after fracturing the fifth metatarsal in his left foot. It is a huge blow for to Marquette's season as they were already terribly thin. Maurice Acker, a high school teammate of Jerel McNeal's, will be stepping in at the point.

UConn had control for much of the game, but Marquette put a couple runs on them. Early in the first half, the Golden Eagles went on a 16-3 run to open up a six point lead, but UConn immediately responded by scoring the next 16 points to go up 38-28. UConn eventually led 43-37 at the half. UConn would again go up double digits in the second half, taking a 59-48 lead after AJ Price scored eight straight points, but Marquette had an answer. They scored 12 straight to take the lead, and the two teams would spend the next six minutes trading baskets before a Kemba Walker and-1 lay-up sparked an 11-0 run that put Marquette away.

AJ Price played the best game of his UConn career in this one. He finished the game with a career-high 36 points, 6 boards, and 6 assists, while knocking down a career high eight three's. He also was responsible for Jerel McNeal's broken ankles.

That was dirty. Jerel McNeal might be the best on ball defender in the Big East and Price made him fall, looked down at him, then buried a jumper. I guarantee that gets replayed in Marquette's film session.

Thabeet, as you would expect, controlled the paint on both ends, especially in the second half, as he finished with 14 points, 15 boards, and 5 blocks. But the real x-factor in this game was the play of Stanley Robinson. Sticks has had a bit of an up-and-down season as he has been trying to figure out where exactly he fits in this UConn line-up. Marquette had no answer for him as he was a match-up nightmare, more so that Thabeet or Jeff Adrien (who didn't show up in this one). Sticks finished the game with 19 points, 10 boards (4 offensive), and seemingly every loose ball. When he plays like he did tonight (energy going to the glass, aggressiveness attacking the rim off the bounce) he provides this UConn team with an element that not many teams in the country have.

One thing to keep an eye on. If Sticks continues to play this way, it will help to ease the loss of Jerome Dyson. The guy getting minutes in Dyson's place is Scottie Haralson, a freshman known for his deadly jumper - something UConn hasn't had since Rashad Anderson (he finished 2-5 from deep in this one, with an airball...).

Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews finished with a combined 46 points, 9 boards, and 9 assists for Marquette. The loss of James is really going to hurt the Eagles. He is their senior point guard who has started since day one. As much as losing his leadership will effect this team, it is going to hurt even more when it comes to their depth. Marquette already had a very shallow bench, and now looks like they will be forced to go with a six man rotation. That is going to be a huge factor during the postseason tournaments (can McNeal, Matthews, and Lazar Hayward 40 minutes three straight nights?).

The rest of the night's games:

  • Virginia Tech 80, Clemson 77: Malcolm Delaney scored 17 of his 26 points in the second half as the Hokies got a huge win on the road. The win allowed Tech revenge for a game last month in Blacksburg in which the Hokies blew a 15 point second half lead. The Hokies took control in the second half by knocking down 7-11 three's (they were 11-19 on the game). AD Vassallo, who finished with 21 points, hit two free throws with 12 seconds left to put Tech up three. Trevor Booker had 21 and 13 for Clemson, but he was held to just six second half points. Terrence Oglesby had 22 for the Tigers. With the win, the Hokies get that much closer to cementing a NCAA bid.
  • Duke 78, Maryland 67: Gerald Henderson scored 19 points as Duke was able to hang on against a scrappy Maryland team. Freshman Elliot Williams, starting his fourth straight game, finished with 15 points and 6 boards. The game was blown open at around the three minute mark when Duke went on a 12-3 run that gave them a 72-63 lead. Maryland was lucky to be around as long as they were. Greivis Vazquez sat the majority of the second half after picking up his fourth foul early and fouling out right as Duke started their run. The loss doesn't ice the Terps yet, but they still probably need to win two of their last three down the stretch if they hope to be dancing.

    Nolan Smith got lit up by a Dave Neal screen and did not return to the game. In the telecast, they said that Smith was taken to the locker room experiencing nausea. No word yet on how badly he is hurt.
  • South Carolina 77, Kentucky 59: UK never led and never trailed by less than 18 in the second half. Devan Downey led the Gamecocks with 21, 5 and 5 while Patrick Patterson had 28 and 12 boards in the loss. This loss could really hurt the Wildcats, who still have LSU and Florida on their schedule. USC now owns sole possession of first in the league.
  • Rhode Island 93, Dayton 91 OT: Rhode Island put a serious crimp into the tourney hopes of Dayton thanks to this:

  • Villanova 74, DePaul 72: Villanova barely hung on against a scrappy DePaul team. Dante Cunningham had 14 of his 18 points in the second half. Villanova opened up a 52-44 lead midway through the second frame, but a three-point barrage from Will Walker down the stretch kept DePaul close.
  • Missouri 94, Kansas State 74: Denis Clemente had 33, but it wasn't enough to overcome the Tigers, who jumped out to a 55-32 lead at the half. DeMarre Carroll led Mizzou with 21 and 14. The Wildcats missed on an opportunity to stamp their ticket to the dance.
  • Utah 70, UNLV 60: The Utes got 19 and 13 from Luke Nevill as they managed to stay two games up on BYU in the loss column.
  • Tennessee 81, Mississippi State 76: Scottie Hopson led four guys in double figures as Tennessee stayed a game back of South Carolina in the SEC East.
  • Texas 87, Texas Tech 81: Damion James had 20 and 11 and AJ Abrams added 24 points as Texas turned it on in the second half against the Pat Knight-less Red Raiders.
  • Michigan State 62, Iowa 54: Delvon Roe scored 16 points and Korie Lucious had 12 as the Spartans opened up a game and a half lead in the Big Ten.
  • Notre Dame 70, Rutgers 65: Luke Harangody had 20 and 15 as the Irish kept their name in the tourney hunt with a less-than-convincing win over Rutgers.
  • Davidson 70, UNC-Greensboro 49: Steph Curry had 20, 10 and 5 dimes.
  • Northeastern 47, Drexel 46: Baptiste Bataille tipped in the game winner for NEU with 1.2 seconds left.

1 comment:

Tyson said...

I would not want to play the Utes right now. Winners of 8 straight. Get at me bob.