Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tuesday’s Shootaround: Kansas makes a statement, Syracuse rolls

No. 1 Syracuse 71, Pitt 63: Dion Waiters scored 16 points and Scoop Jardine added 12 points and 10 assists as the Orange finally landed a win against the Panthers. It was the first time that anyone on the Syracuse roster has beaten Pitt. The irony in that? The loss is another step in the right direction for the Panthers, who fall to 0-6 in the Big East after suffering their seventh straight loss.

Pitt's last two games have been a five point loss at Marquette and an eight point loss at Syracuse. Close losses on the road against good teams happen. This isn't the same team that loss to DePaul or that was beaten by 23 at home by Rutgers. The Panthers are competing. The next step? Actually pulling out a win.

Of note: Jim Boeheim won his 876th game, tying him with Adolph Rupp for fourth all-time.

No. 10 Kansas 92, No. 4 Baylor 74: I had a chance to watch this game, so I'll be able to get more in depth on it later this morning, but this was as impressive a showing as I've seen out of a team this season. Baylor has been as impressive as any team in the country this season. They've been doing it on the road, too, winning at BYU and Kansas State.

But the Jayhawks may as well have been labeled Team Buzzsaw last night, because the Bears just didn't stand a chance. Thomas Robinson was is full-blown beast mode from the tip, going at the Baylor front line early and finishing with 27 points and 14 boards. Tyshawn Taylor tied a career-high with 28 points -- the second straight game he has posted that number -- as Kansas made a statement: this team is for real, and if anyone wants to win the Big 12 title, they'll have to knock off the Jayhawks.

No. 22 Marquette 74, No. 21 Louisville 63: The Cardinals were up 18-2 five minutes into this game. Before scoring the last five points, Louisville was down 74-58. Do the match, and you'll see that Marquette outscored the Cardinals 72-40 over a 34 minute stretch in this one. That's not a good sign for Louisville, who, like Pitt, is struggling to figure out what their team's identity is.

The bottom line? The Cardinals just aren't all that talented this season. And the talent they do have on their roster just doesn't seem to mesh all that well together. I have faith in Rick Pitino as a coach and I'm not ready to say that this group's season is all but over, but right now Louisville is not a very good basketball team.

No. 5 Missouri 70, Texas A&M 51: Mike Dixon came off the bench to scored 18 points, including 11 in a three minute stretch during a 28-2 run that turned a 17-14 deficit into a 42-19 lead, as the Tigers rolled over Texas A&M. MArcus Denmon added 18 points and nine boards and Ricardo Ratliffe went for 17.

That said, Missouri didn't play their best game by any stretch of the imagination. The run that they put on was impressive, but for the most part, the Tigers looked bogged down offensively and struggled to create open shots on the perimeter. Much of that has to do with the fact that Texas A&M, despite their issues this season, is still a capable defensive team. Where Missouri is thriving, however, is defensively. They force turnovers, they pressure the ball and they are rebounding well for their size.

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