If you struggle to beat Kentucky Wesleyan, how will you deal with Kentucky proper?
It’s a question Frank Martin may have pondered after he calmed down. The Panthers from Owensboro, KY tormented his nominally more talented SEC squad in Tuesday’s exhibition game, leading for much of the second half. In fact, Wesleyan was ahead by one point with seven seconds left in the game, forcing Martin’s team to drop in a buzzer-beater to avoid being LeMoyne’d.
It’s an exhibition game, so we’re not going to read too much into it, but a couple of interesting bits of info did come out of the game. First of all, Martin did not use the standard tactic used by BCS schools facing inferior opponents; he did not use his bench to run the Panthers ragged. Only seven Gamecocks saw action, paced by elevated reserve Brenton Williams, who scored 22 points on the night. Lakeem Jackson’s 10 boards were the most by an individual player, but Wesleyan snagged 35 boards overall to South Carolina’s 31, and outshot their hosts all over the floor.
Frank Martin knew he was accepting a challenge when he left Kansas State to take over the Gamecocks. The locker rooms are going to need a fresh coat of paint after this one, though. And practice is going to be hell.
Here’s the game stats from scacchoops.com (click to embiggen). Please note All Name worthy Mr. Walker for the Panthers:
Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.
The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.
It wasn’t pretty.
And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.
Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.
The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.
But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.
Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: