Friday, December 30, 2011

Friday's Shootaround: Florida upset while Vandy, St. Mary's, Washington roll

Rutgers 85, No. 10 Florida 83 2OT: See here

Vanderbilt 74, No. 13 Marquette 57: This is what Vanderbilt needed. This is the kind of performance that we had been calling for. The talent on their roster in undeniable. How that talent manifests itself on the court is a different story, and the only evidence that we had this season was that Vanderbilt a) couldn't win close games and b) Vanderbilt struggled against teams that were more physical.

Against Marquette on Thursday night, Vanderbilt used a 35-8 run to open the game while simultaneously putting the game out of reach. It was complete and utter domination from the tip. Vanderbilt's defense was stifling -- Marquette made just two of their first 21 shots -- and their offensive attack was balanced and potent. They hit threes, they scored in transition, they had second chance points, they got post touches. Like I said, it was total domination.

The question that I guess we have to ask is what this means for both teams. For Vanderbilt, its a justification for all the people that had this team ranked in the top five coming into the season. Yes, they really are this good when they show up to play. But this isn't exactly new information to us. While its nice to see them play like this against a very good team on the road, the issues or whether or not Vanderbilt is going to be able to win a postseason game or close out a close game hasn't been answered.

For Marquette, I am a bit concerned. I'll chalk up the viciousness of the beating Vanderbilt put on the Golden Eagles to a bit of a fluke event -- Marquette played as bad as they ever will while Vanderbilt was clicking on all cyclinders -- but there is reason to start getting concerned about Marquette. They were coming off of a fairly ugly loss at LSU and have had their big win over Washington get brought back down to earth by the Huskies' struggles. Maybe this Marquette team has a lower ceiling that we all thought.

St. Mary's 98, BYU 82: Welcome to the WCC, bitch.

That's more or less what the Gaels said to BYU, right? St. Mary's used a quicker lineup to torch BYU, who looked completely lost defensively. Rob Jones led the way with 24 points and 15 boards boards, but Matthew Dellavedova chipped in with 18 and 12 assists. More importantly, however, Stephen Holt and Jorden Page finally look like they got on the right track. Holt had 21 points and hit 4-6 from three while Page had 13 points and five assists.

The Gael's weakness in the paint was exposed, however, as Brandon Davies went crazy, finishing with 28 points and seven boards.

Washington 95, Oregon State 80: If Washington is going to make a run in the Pac-12, its going to be Tony Wroten that has to lead the way. Over the last few weeks he has easily been the best Husky. Against Oregon State, he finished with 26 points, nine boards and four assists, including the biggest play of the game: a driving, and-one layup with two minutes left that pushed Washington's lead to eight after Oregon State had cut the lead to three.

Cincinnati 56, Oklahoma 55: The Bearcats struggled throughout much of this game, finding themselves down 47-35 with just six minutes left. But Mick Cronin turned on the press, and Cincy made their run. Cashmere Wright, who had struggled through much of the game, had two driving layups -- one of which was an and-one -- in the final minute to give Cincy their fifth straight win.

Belmont 79, Marshall 74: Marshall wasn't able to complete their sweep of Belmont, meaning that the Thundering Herd are probably going to want to avoid any bad losses in Conference USA play if they want to ensure themselves of an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Scott Saunders had 23 points and nine boards in the win.

Memphis 64, Robert Morris 47: The Tigers finally came out and beat up an overmatched opponent from the tip. Memphis played stifling defense, got on the glass and went ahead by as much as 28 early in the second half.

VCU 76, Akron 75 OT: The Rams trailed for much of the game in this one, but two free throws from Treveon Graham with 32 seconds left forced the extra period. After Zeke Marshall hit two free throws for Akron to give the Zips a 75-74 lead, Brad Burgess found a cutting Darius Theus for the game-winning layup.

Illinois State 65, Northern Iowa 61: Three of the top four teams in the Valley lost their opener. If Creighton beats Wichita State on Saturday, all four of the favorites in the conference will have a loss.

Stanford 60, UCLA 59: In the second half, the Bruins went 0-13 from the floor when they had a chance to take the lead. That's not good. On the final possession, Laz Jones had a runner blocked out to half court. Jones did finish with 26 points, however.

The rest of the top 25:

No. 6 UNC 100, Elon 62: The Heels look like they are starting to hit their stride. Tyler Zeller led the way with 19 points and 13 boards, nine of which came on the offensive end of the floor.

No. 16 Michigan 71, Penn State 53: Tim Hardaway went 1-7 from three but still managed to score 26 points as the Wolverines opened up a 36-22 lead at the half before cruising to an 18 point win.

No. 18 Kansas 89, Howard 34: The score was 42-13 at the half. What else do you need to know?

No. 23 Harvard 67, Boston College 46: Six minutes into the game, Boston College was up 14-3. Harvard outscored them 64-32 the rest of the way.

Other notable scores:

- Davidson 75, Penn 70
- Butler 53, Green Bay 49
- Tennessee 86, Citadel 55
- Fordham 72, Georgia Tech 66
- Milwaukee 57, Valpo 55
- Cal 53, USC 49
- Alabama 72, Jacksonville 55
- Hofstra 83, Iona 75
- NC State 87, Campbell 81

Top performers:

Eli Carter, Rutgers: The freshman has 31 points, seven boards and seven assists as the Scarlet Knights knocked off No. 10 Florida. He hit many big shots, including a three at the end of the first overtime to tie the game and a fall away jumper in the second overtime that ended up being the difference maker.

Matthew Dellavedova and Rob Jones, St. Mary's: I have a feeling we are going to be seeing a lot of stat lines like this out of the Gaels this season. Jones finished with 24 points, 15 boards and four assists while Dellavedova went for 18 points, 12 assists, six boards and four steals.

Will Barton, Memphis: Barton makes some poor decisions with his shot selection and he doesn't always seem like the best leader on the floor, but I don't think there are 10 guys in the country that play the game harder than him. He had another monster double-double on Thursday, finishing with 27 points and 13 boards in a 64-47 win over Robert Morris.

Tony Wroten, Washington: Wroten finished with 26 points, nine boards and four assists against Oregon State as the Huskies won by 15.

Keegan Bell, Chattanooga: The point guard came within one rebound of a triple-double, finishing the game with 10 points, nine boards and 16 assists in a win over Longwood.

Lance Goulbourne, Vanderbilt: Goulbourne had the most impressive line of anyone on the 'Dores in their win over Marquette, finishing with 13 points, 16 boards, three steals and three blocks.

Lorenzo Brown and Richard Howell, NC State: Brown went for 24 points, eight assists and eight boards while Howell finished with 17 points and 17 rebounds.

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