Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday's Shootaround: Where we catch up from Thursday's day off

Seeing as yesterday was Turkey Day, we decided to hold off on doing a Morning Shootaround because, well, we wanted to travel to see our loved ones, too. Just because we're basement-dwelling bloggers doesn't mean that we don't have fellow basement-dwelling bloggers that love us.

Seeing as I'm reasonably sure that you did nothing but watch football, eat and get drunk yesterday, we're throwing in a recap on Wednesday's games in here as well. That's how much we love you.

Preseason NIT

No. 5 Syracuse 69, Virginia Tech 58: See here.

The column I wrote off of this game was on Dion Waiters and Syracuse, but I do want to make a quick note about Virginia Tech: I was very impressed with this team. Syracuse is good and the Garden is a de-facto home game, but the Hokies swung first and swung hard on Wednesday night. They had some trouble beating Jim Boeheim's 2-3 zone in the second half and didn't have an answer for Waiters down the stretch, but this is a group that could very well finish fourth in the ACC. Jarell Eddie was quite impressive, going for 17 points and five assists (without a turnover) as the high post option in the zone offense. Dorian Finney-Smith has been a double-double machine through the first couple of weeks of the season. Throw in the back court of Dorenzo Hudson and Erick Green, and Seth Greenberg has plenty of options.

Can we just throw them on the bubble now?

Stanford 82, Oklahoma State 67: See here.

Maui Invitational

No. 6 Duke 68, No. 14 Kansas 61: First and foremost, what a game. It doesn't really get any better than that. Two high-powered programs, a raucous atmosphere, a back-and-forth game and the unlikeliest of heroes. Everything that makes college basketball great, right there.

As far as what happened, I have a lot to say about it, so I'll do it in bullet form:

- Was impressed with Mason Plumlee's back to the basket game. He's gotten better. Now he needs to be more consistent. I was not impressed with Ryan Kelly.

- Jeff Withey has a chance to be an all-Big 12 player. He blocks shots, he's a legit seven-foot and he's got some mobility and athleticism. I love Thomas Robinson as much as anyone because he plays as hard as anyone in the country. But he needs to add more skill to that effort; I don't think his 6-15 performance will be an outlier.

- Austin Rivers looks closer to a finished product every time he steps on the floor. He's got a lot to learn, but you can see him getting better. The terrible shots and dumb turnovers are getting fewer and farther between. When he puts it all together, his ability to create will make Duke a much better team; the rest of their back court has some solid role players.

- Wasn't that the quintessential Tyshawn Taylor? 17 points, four assists, a couple stretches where he looked unstoppable ... and 11 turnovers?

- Duke will give UNC a run for the ACC title, but it will be an upset if they win it. Kansas, on the other hand, should be considered the favorite in the Big 12 still. If nothing else, the mediocrity in that conference pushes them to the top.

- Kansas got one shot from their bench. Not one basket, one shot. As in, their bench was 0-1 from the floor.

Was that as good for you as it was for me?

Georgetown 91, No. 8 Memphis 88 OT: The Tigers are absurdly talented. We all know that. But their collective basketball IQ is atrocious. They take so many bad shots early in the shot clock and have no concept of time-and-score. They had three chances to run the clock and put the game out of reach in the final minute and took a rushed three early in the shot clock, nearly turned the ball over by throwing it out of bounds, and finally turned the ball over when Joe Jackson penetrated and threw into a crowd with 30 seconds on the shot clock and 39 on the game clock. As I tweeted on Wednesday night, "Memphis has the late-game execution of a 12 year old travel team. Josh Pastner couldn't coach that team, either." How long will it be before he admits that hiring two NBA players was a mistake?

As for Georgetown, this team has some promise. The lack of playmaking in their back court is worrisome, but Jason Clark and Hollis Thompson both showed off a knack for being able to score in the clutch. Clark had 26 points and hit a number of big shots. Henry Sims has been the most impressive player on the Hoyas. Against Memphis -- and their sophomore stud Tarik Black -- Sims had 24 points, eight boards and five assists. He can score on the block, he can knock down a 17-footer and he can pass very well, leading the Hoyas with 21 assists in five games. Most importantly, however, is that he is playing with a tremendous amount of confidence. If he remains a poor man's Roy Hibbert all year long, the Hoyas could very well end up being a tournament team this year.

No. 15 Michigan 79, UCLA 63: There isn't much to say about either of these teams that hasn't already been said the past two days, but think about this: we are now past Thanksgiving, and UCLA is still without a Division I win. Hell, they are still without a loss that has been single digits.

Tennessee 86, Chaminade 60: The only note-worthy stat from this game is that Jeronne Maymon only played two minutes because of tightness in his achilles.

The rest of the top 25

No. 2 Kentucky 88, Radford 40: Kentucky was up 29-6 and 45-14. This one was ugly.

No. 3 Ohio State 107, VMI 74: You want to know how you can tell a game is a blowout? Thad Matta uses 12 people for more than seven minutes and ten players for more than 14 minutes.

No. 10 Baylor 75, UT-Arlington 65: The Bears will finally be getting Perry Jones back the next time they take the floor. Its too bad that Jones isn't a point guard, however. AJ Walton went scoreless, and while he handed out seven assists, he also had six turnovers. Pierre Jackson had 16 points, but eight of them came on free throws late and he had just two assists and three turnovers.

No. 13 Alabama 82, Alabama A&M 45: The Crimson Tide were playing without JaMychal Green and lost Tony Mitchell to an ankle injury -- which didn't turn out to be too serious -- and still managed to hold A&M to just 1-17 shooting in the first half. Their defense is scary.

San Diego State 61, No. 23 Arizona 57: I have to give credit to the Aztecs. I've underrated this team. Given the struggles that New Mexico has had this season and the question marks that UNLV still has this year, I think its safe to say that SDSU has a puncher's chance of winning the Mountain West this season. SDSU jumped out to a 21-4 lead on Arizona at the McKale Center, a tough place to get a win, and held on thanks to 17 points from Chase Tapley. SDSU has a strong perimeter attack, but their front court is fairly weak, so it must be pointed out that Arizona's big men are young and/or small as well. But regardless, SDSU appears to be a top 40 team this season, which is more than what I would have said a week ago.

Iona 104, St. Joe's 99 2OT: We may only be two weeks into the season, but I think that we can say with a fair amount of confidence that there aren't five teams in the country more entertaining to watch than the Gaels. After a shootout with Purdue last week, the Gaels hosted a surprising St. Joe's team, and the result was a shootout. The Hawks jumped out to a 13 point lead during the first half, but Iona battled back to cut the lead to just two at the half. The second half went back and forth before Scott Machado found Taaj Ridley for a layup with eight seconds left to force overtime.

Iona opened up a five point lead in overtime, but St. Joe's battled back. Carl Jones hit two free throws to cut the lead to two with a minute left, and after a Momo Jones turnover, Ronald Roberts grabbed an offensive rebound and scored to force a second overtime. Trailing by three at the end of the OT, Langston Galloway missed a three pointer and Machado scored at the other end for the final margin. Machado finished with 33 points, 10 assists, five boards, four steals and just three turnovers in 48 minutes. Michael Glover might have been more impressive, finishing with 34 points and 15 boards, nine offensive.

Denver 70, St. Mary's 58: The Gaels were supposed to be one of the favorites in the WCC, and while losing on the road isn't exactly a bad thing in college hoops, it is when you are a team trying to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The WCC has had a couple less-than-stellar losses early, which makes this hurt even more. That said, Denver is now undefeated at 4-0 with a win over Southern Mississippi. We'll find out soon enough. They travel to Cal and Utah State before the end of the month and host Iona in two weeks.

Battle 4 Atlantis

No. 4 UConn 73, UNC-Asheville 63: Alex Oriakhi has been playing very poorly, so Andre Drummond got the start over him. He wasn't too happy. I don't think Jim Calhoun will be too happy about his tweets. Anyway, Shabazz Napier and Jeremy Lamb continued to play like killers, combining for 46 points, nine assists, eight boards and four steals.

No. 20 Florida State 73, UMass 53: Michael Snaer had 18 points and 10 boards and the Seminoles used a 17-1 run that spanned both halves to break open a close game. The Seminoles advance to play Harvard, which will be one of the most entertaining games of the day.

Central Florida 74, Charleston 63: Keith Clanton had 28 and 14 as the Golden Knights notched a nice win against Charleston.

Harvard 75, Utah 47: An Ivy League team beat a Pac-12 team by 28 points and pulled their starters early in the second half. Think about that.

76 Classic

St. Louis 62, Boston College 51: The Billikens shook off a sluggish start and used 20 points and four assists from Kwamain Mitchell to roll past the Eagles.

Villanova 71, UC-Riverside 46: Maalik Wayns had 23 points, seven assists and just one turnover as the Wildcats used a 32-6 to blow this game open. But Wayns was 0-5 from three. They need him to become a more consistent shooter to thrive.

Santa Clara 79, New Mexico 76 OT: In the best game of Turkey Day, Kevin Foster and Evan Roquemore combined for 50 points, nine assists and eight rebounds as the Broncs outlasted New Mexico. Santa Clara did blow a six point lead in the final two minutes as Tony Snell knocked down a couple of threes, but Snell fouled out midway through overtime and the Broncs held on to advance.

While it is a good sign for Santa Clara that they can knock off a team with the talent of New Mexico even without Marc Trasolini healthy, the bigger issue here is New Mexico. The Lobos lost to New Mexico State last week and cannot find a way to get Drew Gordon or Kendall Williams involved in the offense. If this is truly a top 30 team, as many projected in the preseason, they have a long way to grow. The key may end up being Hugh Greenwood sliding over and taking over the point guard spot.

Oklahoma 74, Washington State 59: The team that played harder won. Wazzu looked, frankly, apathetic.

Old Spice Classic

Indiana State 60, Texas Tech 49: Indiana State is a team you need to keep an eye on this season. They are now 5-0 and have one of the best mid-major point guards in the country in Jake Odum.

Minnesota 86, DePaul 85: DePaul played a fantastic game, getting 43 points out of Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young, but Minnesota was able to pull the win out in the end. More than anything, this was a bad matchup for the Gophers -- DePaul loves to press and Minnesota doesn't have a point guard. Trevor Mbakwe had 16 points and 12 boards.

Dayton 80, Wake Forest 76: Paul Williams scored 18 points and Chris Johnson hit a tiebreaking three in the final minute as Dayton used 15 offensive rebounds to beat Wake Forest.

Fairfield 55, Arizona State 44: Rakim Sanders had 21 points as Fairfield opened a 39-22 lead on the Sun Devils and held on to win. This wasn't much of a surprise, but Arizona State's struggles are still surprising. They had six assists and 22 turnovers, and now have 40 assists and 78 turnovers on the season.

Other notable scores:

- South Florida 66, Georgia Southern 46
- Georgia Tech 72, Siena 44
- Richmond 58, Rutgers 53
- Michigan State 68, Milwaukee 55
- Butler 68, Gardner-Webb 66
- Colorado 76, Air Force 73 OT
- George Washington 77, Bowling Green 56
- Purdue 80, Western Michigan 37
- South Alabama 79, LSU 75 OT
- VCU 68, Western Kentucky 45
- Oregon 83, Nebraska 76
- Colorado 76, Air Force 73 OT
- Illinois 63, Illinois State 59
- Campbell 77, Iowa 61
- Vermont 65, Old Dominion 63 OT

Top performers

Keith Clanton, Central Florida: Clanton had 28 points, 14 boards, three blocks and two steals while helping get Adjehi Baru in foul trouble.

Jason Clark and Henry Sims, Georgetown: Clark had 26 points and hit a number of big shots down the stretch while Sims added 24 points, eight boards and five assists as the Hoyas beat Memphis in overtime.

Tim Frazier, Penn State: Tim Frazier had his third 20-10 game of the season, going for 26 points and 11 assists as the Nittany Lions knocked off Youngstown State.

Michael Glover and Scott Machado, Iona: Glover had 34 points and 15 boards (nine offensive) and Scott Machado went for 33 points, 10 assists, five boards, four steals and just three turnovers in 48 minutes as the Gaels beat St. Joe's in double overtime.

Eric Griffin, Campbell: Griffin had 23 points, 13 boards and six blocks as Campbell beat Iowa by 16. You should recognize the name.

Michael Lyons, Air Force: Lyons had 31 points and seven boards, but the Falcons lost to Colorado in overtime.

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