Thursday, January 28, 2010

Wednesday Shootaround: Vandy, New Mexico, and Charlotte all pick up big wins

Vanderbilt 85, Tennessee 76: Is it safe to say Vanderbilt is for real now? The Commodores extended their winning streak to 10 games and remained in sole possession of first place in the SEC by going into Knoxville and knocking off the Vols. After a Skylar McBee steal and lay-in gave Tennessee a 51-45 lead, Vanderbilt too this on over. They went on an extended run, outscoring the Vols 29-9 over the next eight minutes. Jermaine Beal, who scored 25 big points, had 13 of Vandy's 29 points in the run, including eight points in under a minute that capped the run and pushed the lead to 14.

I really like this Vandy team. They have size, depth, athleticism, shooting, and a closer in Beal. Last night, they had four other players reach double figures, and Andre Walker had 9 points, 7 boards, and 5 assists. They travel to Rupp on Saturday, and if they can somehow pull out a win there, the 'Dores will be two games up in first place.

New Mexico 76, BYU 72: The Lobos lost three of five earlier this season, but have bounced back very nicely, knocking off BYU at home for their fifth straight win. The Lobos jumped out to an early lead, and were in control for much of the game. BYU made a few runs - tying the game at 46 and taking a 64-62 lead - but in both instances, New Mexico immediately responded. The Lobos looked comfortable and confident throughout, despite getting just five points from leading scorer Darington Hobson. Lobo point guard Dairese Gray played the best game of his young career, as he went for 25 points, hitting a number of clutch shots and big time free throws down the stretch. Jimmer Fredette had 27 points and 7 assists to lead the Cougars.

The most important part of this win is that it kept UNM in the hunt for the MWC title. BYU had taken a two-game led on the rest of the pack, and if New Mexico had lost, their hopes for a title were all but gone. Now? New Mexico, and UNLV, sit just a half-game back.

Charlotte 74, Temple 64: Charlotte has officially made the top of the A-10 an unsightly mess. Temple had a chance to create some separation between themselves and the rest of the conference, but the Owls blew a ten point lead as they were never quite able to figure out Charlotte's zone. Derrio Green scored 26 points and added 5 assists for the 49ers, but just as important was the contribution Bobby Lutz got from his three big men - Shamari Spears, Chris Braswell, and Phil Jones. The three combined for 34 points and 20 boards.

I really like this Charlotte team. They have a major conference front line (Spears went to BC for a year, Braswell was a Georgetown recruit), Green is a guy that can go for 25 on a given night, and they have a couple of talented role players (AnJuan Wilderness, DiJuan Harris). The issue for this team is going to be shot selection. They have a tendency to take quick shots and forget about Spears in the paint.

Texas 95, Texas Tech 83: After back-to-back losses, the Longhorns bounced back nicely in a win over the Red Raiders. Damion James continued his player of the year season, going for 28 points and 13 boards (including a vicious tip-dunk) which set the Big XII career record for double-doubles, but it was the play of Justin Mason and Dogus Balbay that was the difference. The two combined for 31 points and 12 assists on 13-20 shooting. Neither Balbay or Mason is lauded for their scoring ability, which means that team will sag off of them and help down on the inside with Pittman and James.

One thing to note in this game was that Rick Barnes reduced his bench. Jai Lucas and Alexis Wangmene barely saw the floor, while Clint Chapman never got off the bench. A lot of people had been critical of Barnes for having too deep of a rotation, limiting the minutes of some of his players.

Other notables scores

  • Providence 81, UConn 66: The Huskies looked lost without Jim Calhoun in this one. They jumped out to an early seven point lead, but PC kept hanging around before the Friars eventually took control in the second half. Providence went on a 14-0 run to take a 69-58 lead, and the Huskies had no answers. Greedy Peterson led the way with 23 points and 14 boards.
  • Ohio State 65, Iowa 57: Iowa is pesky this season. They held a late seven point lead, but 18 second half points from David Lighty and 10 points, 5 boards, and 3 steals from Evan Turner in the final seven minutes sealed the win.
  • Villanova 90, Notre Dame 72: Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher both scored 17 points as Villanova used a late 11-0 run to seal this one. Luke Harangody had 21 points and 9 boards, but it wasn't enough to keep Villanova from their 10th straight win or their 8th straight to start Big East play.
  • Duke 70, Florida State 56: The Blue Devils go 22 points from Jon Scheyer and 20 from Kyle Singler, as they used a late 15-4 run to knock off a feisty FSU team.
  • Illinois 77, Penn State 67: The Illini picked up a much needed win over Penn State as they got 20 points from DJ Richardson. It was their defense, however, that won this one down the stretch, as they made their run during a five minute scoreless stretch by the Nittany Lions.
  • Florida 87, Georgia 71: Alex Tyus scored 23 points and Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton poured in 21 a piece as the Gators won in easy fashion. Florida is now 4-2 and setting themselves up nicely for a run at the tournament.
  • Memphis 75, Marshall 72: Elliot Williams scored an and-one layup with a minute left to give the Tigers a 73-72 lead, and Marshall missed three field goals and two free throws over the next 34 seconds as the Tigers remained a game out of first in the C-USA. Hassan Whiteside had 22 points, 8 boards, and 7 blocks for Marshall.
  • Oklahoma State 76, Texas A&M 69: The Cowboys solidified their tournament status with a nice win over the Aggies on the ninth anniversary of a place crash that killed 10 people associated with the team. Obi Muonelo had 24 points, while James Anderson added 19.
  • Oklahoma 89, Iowa State 84: Tommy Mason-Griffin scored 38 points and added 6 assists as the Sooners won despite playing without Willie Warren and Tony Crocker.
  • Northern Iowa 67, Drake 51: Adam Koch scored 14 points to lead UNI to the win and a 9-1 record and two game lead in the Valley.
  • Drexel 61, Northeastern 48: The Dragons snapped the 11 game winning streak that Northeastern had going, dropping the Huskies into third in the CAA.
  • George Mason 77, Delaware 66: Cam Long scored 18 points as the Patriots officially moved into first place in the CAA.
  • James Madison 65, William & Mary 63: That's it. We're officially no longer allowed to talk about W&M.
  • VCU 112, Towson 53: Towson isn't very good, but they lost by 59 points in a conference game? To VCU? Wow.
Wednesday's Best
  • Hofstra's Charles Jenkins only had 24 points in a blowout win, but he scored 8 on one possession. He finished a fast break lay-up, and was fouled. The foul was called an intentional, and that player picked up a tech arguing. Jenkins hit all four free throws, and the Pride got the ball back. Jenkins scored, giving him eight points on one possession.
  • Tommy Mason-Griffin of Oklahoma may end up being pretty good. He had 38 points and 6 assists in the Sooners win as Tony Crocker and Willie Warren sat out.
  • UTEP's Julyan Stone had just four points, but he checked in with 13 boards, 9 assists, 2 blocks, and 2 steals in the Miners win.
  • Wyoming's Adam Waddell had 13 points and 22 boards in win over Utah.
  • Hassan Whiteside, who may be the season's biggest surprise, had 22 points, 8 boards, and 7 blocks in a loss to Memphis.
  • Emmanuel Bidias a Moute, Luc Richard's twin brother, had 7 points, 15 boards, 8 assists, and 4 blocks in a win for Texas State.
  • Vlad Moldoveaneu had 37 points and 9 assists for American in their win over Navy.

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