In the early going of a long night of college basketball, Youngstown State delivers the first surprise of the night.
The Penguins (I still love the mascot) beat Georgia in Athens in the Progressive Legends Classic, 68-56. The loss is the first for the Bulldogs this season.
While Youngstown State was billed as a much-improved team in the Horizon League, I don’t think anyone thought this would be the case. Georgia never led and only scored 14 points in the first half (YSU led 25-14 at halftime).
While every team has their struggles in the early season, the biggest problem was probably that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was the lone Bulldog in double-figures in points — and it wasn’t even close — with 27, making 10 of the team’s 17 field goals, including five of their six threes. Tim Dixon and Marcus Thornton had eight each for Georgia.
Kendrick Perry, a front-runner for Horizon League Player of the Year, led the Penguins (seriously though, isn’t that animal just awesome for a mascot?) with 23 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals. He was also 10-for-11 from the free throw line as well.
In yet another stupid rule that needs to be changed, however, Youngstown State won’t get a berth in the tournament semifinals in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center, because the last four teams that make it are predetermined. What a waste, because I think Perry could hang with the big boys.
David Harten is the editor of The Backboard Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — He’s back.
For the first time this season — and for the first time in more than a year that he hasn’t been hampered with some kind of foot or ankle injury — Marcus Paige donned a North Carolina jersey, and it didn’t take him long to find the form that made him the NBCSports.com Preseason National Player of the Year.
On the first Tar Heel possession, Paige came off of a ball-screen, drove the lane and found Kennedy Meeks at the rim for a layup. Not 30 seconds later, he came off of a down screen and buried a three. Paige would finish with 20 points and five assists as No. 9 North Carolina put together a fairly resounding win over No. 2 Maryland in the Dean Dome on Tuesday night, winning 89-81.
Paige finished 7-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, hitting a number of threes in the second half that helped hold off a Maryland push sparked by their own all-american point guard, Melo Trimble.
Trimble was erratic early on, committing three turnovers in the first six minutes and eight on the night, but it was his play at the end of the first half and early second half that kept North Carolina from blowing their doors. At one point, Maryland was down 32-19 and in danger of getting run out of Tobacco Road.
In total, Trimble finished with 23 points and 12 assists, hitting four big threes during that stretch. He either scored or assisted on 11 of Maryland’s first 12 second half field goals.
As good as Paige was, the bigger story may actually be Joel Berry II. He took two dumb threes in the first half — which played a role in Maryland being able to make this a game — and he missed a few free throws late, but overall he was terrific. He finished with 14 points and five assists, making 3-of-5 threes and turning the ball over just twice. He’s clearly beat Nate Britt out at the point guard spot, and his ability to take pressure off of Paige as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker is huge.
(More to come from Chapel Hill…)
North Carolina is hosting No. 2 Maryland in a heated contest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Terps sophomore guard Melo Trimble is playing very well and part of his performance was dropping North Carolina’s Nate Britt with a crossover in the second half.
(H/T: The Cauldron)