NCAA Basketball Tournament - Murray State v Marquette

Isaiah Canaan drops 30; Murray St. beats ODU

Leave a comment

Old Dominion took the lead several times in the second half of a back-and-forth battle between the Monarchs of the CAA and the Murray State Racers of the Ohio Valley Conference on Saturday night. Various ODU players contributed to mini-runs, with DeShawn Painter, Dmitri Batten, Donte Hill and Nick Wright making clutch plays along the way. For Blaine Taylor’s youthful final CAA squad before heading to Conference USA, every night will be a search for the main man, the marquee performer.

On the other side of the ball, it was obvious who played the role of Superman. It has been ever since last season, when the Racers won 31 games and entered the Big Dance with a #6 seed – when in need, get the ball to Isaiah Canaan. We believed in Canaan as well, so much so that we made him a preseason first-team All-American. Our faith, and that of Racer fans, is well placed.

Canaan dropped 30 points on Old Dominion in a 79-72 win at CFSB Center in Murray, KY. His transcendent night included 10-18 shooting from the floor, 6-11 from deep, and 4-5 from the free throw line. Canaan’s big night was seasoned with 3 assists, 2 steals and a block for good measure.

The Racers also got a huge 15 point, 15 rebound game from Ed Daniel, and 13 points from senior forward Brandon Garrett as well.

Painter — an NC State transfer — had a decent night for the visitors from Norfolk, putting in 13 points off the bench to go with 11 boards, 2 steals and 2 blocks. The cold-shooting Monarchs simply didn’t have enough to overcome Canaan’s barrage.

The win took the Racers to 4-1 overall, leaving them in good shape as they cruise toward conference play. Early wins over BCS-level programs Auburn and St. Johns plump up a resume that will be slightly strengthened by league games against new OVC member Belmont after the new year.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
Leave a comment

Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
Leave a comment

Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.