Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wednesday's Pregame Beat: UT-UNC and Ole Miss getting upset?

Game of the night: 7:00 pm: Texas @ No. 6 North Carolina

This was supposed to be the year that Texas was rebuilding. Without a roster stocked with lottery picks for the first time in about five years, the general line of thinking was that the Longhorns were going to be in trouble. It didn't help matters that, just four games into the season, Texas had lost a pair after a) blowing a late lead against Oregon State and b) seeing an 18 point lead evaporate against NC State thanks to a technical foul that J'Covan Brown earned.

But this Longhorn team is one to keep an eye on. J'Covan Brown, technical fouls aside, is having a terrific year as a scorer. His jumper has been a bit erratic in the last couple of games, but he is scoring the ball and creating for his teammates as well as he has in his career, and he's doing all of that without committing turnovers. Throw in the surprising play of Julien Lewis and Shelden McClellan and a solid four-man front court rotation, and the Longhorns have themselves a solid squad.

The guy that makes them click, however, is Myck Kabongo, a supremely talented point guard that is finally starting to put it all together. Kabongo right now is like Lance Armstrong going mountain-biking; he has all the skills you need to be one of the best point guards in the country, but the freshman is still learning how to play under control and within the confines of an offense. His last six games, however, he is averaging 12.8 ppg and 6.7 apg, including a career-high 18 in a 12 point win over Temple. Kabongo will be counted on to run efficiency half-court offense against North Carolina tonight. If he can, Texas has a real shot to win this game.

Who's getting upset?: Ole Miss

The Rebels are taking on a Middle Tennessee State team that has already beaten UCLA and Belmont this season. The Blue Raiders have a trio of quality front court players in LaRon Dendy, Marcos Knight and JT Sulton that should have enough size and athleticism to matchup with Ole Miss' duo of Terrance Henry and Murphy Holloway. The key for MTSU is going to be slowing down Dundrecous Nelson, Andy Kennedy's powerful, 5'11" combo-guard. He's averaging 20.0 ppg and made 10-15 from three the last two games.

Mid-major matchup of the night: 8:00 pm: Duquesne @ George Mason

Andre Cornelius will finally make his senior season's debut against the Dukes on Wednesday night, but GMU will be without another back court member as Paris Bennett has been suspended following a violation of team rules. That will leave what has been a depleted Patriot back court once against shorthanded against Duquense and the talented TJ McConnell.

Also keep an eye on:

7:00 pm: Seton Hall @ Dayton: Regardless of the outcome of this game, we are not going to know what to make of any win. Dayton is the most inconsistent team on the country while Seton Hall is 9-1 but a virtual unknown. Seeing Kevin Dillard go up against Jordan Theodore will be fun, but the real question is going to be whether any Flyer is going to be able to guard Herb Pope, who is currently leading the Big East is scoring and rebounding.

9:00 pm: Oklahoma State @ Alabama: LeBryan Nash vs. Tony Mitchell and JaMychal Green? That should be fun.

The rest of the top 25:

8:00 pm: Tennessee-Martin @ No. 22 Murray State: The Racers are still undefeated. They should remain that way.

Other notable games:

- 7:00 pm: Arkansas-Pine Bluff @ Cincinnati
- 7:00 pm: Texas-Pan American @ St. John's
- 7:00 pm: Iona @ William & Mary
- 7:00 pm: Coppin State @ St. Joseph's
- 8:00 pm: Lafayette @ Vanderbilt
- 8:05 pm: Oregon State @ Chicago State
- 8:30 pm: Belmont @ Austin Peay

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