Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thursday's Shootaround: UNC rolls

No. 6 UNC 82, Texas 63: Texas barely had a chance to get their legs under them before the Tar Heels put this thing away. UNC used a 13-1 run midway through the first half to break the game open and never looked back. Myck Kabongo was a no show on Wednesday night, finishing with one point and one assists to go along with four turnovers in 15 minutes. Jonathon Holmes and Sheldon McClellan both played well, but it wasn't enough for the 'Horns, who shot an abysmal 34.9% from the floor.

This game was less about Texas, however, than it was about UNC. The Tar Heels looked determined. This is a team that has fallen out of the national consciousness following losses to UNLV and Kentucky, seeing their name dropped behind the likes of Ohio State and Syracuse when discussing national title contenders. Roy Williams' club played like they wanted to make a statement.

In particular, Harrison Barnes was terrific. He finished with 26 points and 10 boards on 9-15 shooting. He wasn't settling for jumpers, either. Barnes was attacking the rim off the bounce, showcasing what appeared to be a better all-around game than he is sometimes given credit for. Maybe he's started to hear his doubters, the people saying that he is nothing but a jump-shooter and will be a bust as an NBA player. One other note: I love the was Reggie Bullock has been playing of late. Not only is he scorching the nets, but he -- along with Dexter Strickland -- have become shut-down perimeter defenders.

Alabama 69, Oklahoma State 52: The Crimson Tide, playing without JaMychal Green, hit five of their first six threes and jumped out to a 19-4 lead within the first five minutes. Trevor Releford had 19 points and Tony Mitchell (aka Mr. DVR, let's make that happen) added 16 points, 11 boards and four blocks as Oklahoma State was only able to get the lead into single digits once. The win was nice, but it was Fool's Gold. There is a reason Alabama is 337th in the country shooting threes, and its the 2-9 they shot after the first five minutes of the game.

Middle Tennessee State 68, Ole Miss 56: Raymond Cintron led four players in double figures with 18 points and sparked a second half surge that saw the Blue Raiders pull away from the Rebels. Jelan Kendrick saw the first action of his college basketball career, finishing with eight points, three assists and four steals. The key here, however, is that Murphy Holloway had his ankle rolled up on. He couldn't put any pressure on it when he left the floor. How bad will that injury turn out to be?

Seton Hall 69, Dayton 64: Its time for us to start taking the Pirates seriously as they improved to 10-1 on the season after going into Dayton and knocking off the Flyers. Seton Hall was in control for much of this game, keeping Dayton at a two possession deficit for much of the second half despite Herb Pope battling foul problems. Pope finished with 14 points, nine boards, five assists and three blocks while Jordan Theodore added 14 points and eight assists, but the star of this show was Patrick Auda, who went for 18 points. I'm not ready to call SHU a Big East sleeper or a bubble contender because I simply haven't seen this team handle quality competition well enough yet. But keep an eye on this team. Theodore and Pope are as good of a duo as there is in the league.

Duquesne 75, George Mason 64: Impressive win for the Dukes, as they went to Fairfax and knocked off Mason handily. The Patriots simply committed too many turnovers down the stretch to make a serious run, and anytime GMU would string a couple of basketball together, Duquesne had an answer at the other end.

Houston Baptist 72, Santa Clara 71; Morgan State 69, Loyola Marymount 45: Rough night for the WCC.

No. 22 Murray State 78, Tennessee-Martin 54: UTM was never in this one. Isaiah Canaan had 10 points, six boards and seven assists.

Other notable scores:

- Wake Forest 87, UNC-Wilmington 78
- Cincinnati 101, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 53
- St. joe's 81, Coppin State 72
- St. John's 66, UT-Pan American 61
- Texas-Arlington 74, Kent State 73
- Vanderbilt 89, Lafayette 58

Top performers:

Saah Nimley, Charleston Southern: Nimley had 23 points and 12 assists as the Buccaneers knocked off Stetson.

Kevin Olekaibe, Fresno State: Kevin Olekaibe hit a 3-pointer with 29.9 seconds remaining as Fresno came back from 12 down at the half at Arizona State for a 68-65 win. Olekaibe had 30 in the win.

Rayvonte Rice, Drake: Rice finished with 29 points, five boards and four assists as Drake blew out Central Arkansas.

Mike Scott, Virginia: Scott had 33 points and 14 boards as Virginia traveled across the country to take on Seattle, barely squeaking by with an 83-77 win.

Adam Smith, UNC-Wilmington: Smith went for 32 points and hit seven threes, but UNCW lost a tough one to Wake Forest.

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