Geron Johnson

Christmas Wish Lists: Memphis asked Santa for stars and toughness

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Over the course of the next two weeks, College Basketball Talk will be detailing what some of the country’s best, most intriguing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams need. It’s the spirit of the holidays. We’re in a giving mood.

What do other teams have on their Christmas Wish Lists? Click here to find out.

Gotta have it list-topper: Stars playing like stars

Over the last two games, Geron Johnson has seemingly certified himself as Memphis’ best player. After getting off to a slow start in his first two games — both of which were played out in the Bahamas — Johnson has averaged 16.0 points, 3.7 assists and 5.3 boards while shooting 21-34 (61.8%) from the floor and collecting eight steals over the last three games. That also happened to coincide with the first stretch all season long where the Tigers appeared to be playing up to their talent level.

Which begs the question: how come Memphis needed a guy like Johnson to come along and act as a savior when they have guys like Joe Jackson, Adonis Thomas and Tarik Black on their roster? How good can the Tigers really be when they have three supreme talents playing like role players?

Stocking Stuffer: Mental toughness and decision making

I don’t think that the Tiger’s issues in the Battle 4 Atlantis had anything to do with their effort; I thought Pastner’s group legitimately played hard. I don’t think there is an issue with the Tiger’s toughness this year, either; they’re rebounding is much better this season, particularly on the offensive end of the floor, than it was last year. I think where the Tigers are struggling is with their decision making under pressure. Will they turn the ball over when a defender gets into their face? Will they over-penetrate and force a shot in a big moment, or will they run offense and get a good look at the rim? Will the right players be taking the right shots?

Planning on re-gifting: Threes and elbows for Adonis Thomas

I don’t think that Thomas should completely eschew the trey-ball due to a 4-22 start, especially considering that he shot 40.5% from distance last season and spent all summer working on his perimeter stroke. But he should stop settling for so many jumpers and starts getting aggressive, because, frankly, it’s unacceptable that someone with his size and athleticism has only shot 10 free throws this season. As an added bonus, once he proves that he’s a nightmare trying to keep away from the rim, those threes will get just that much more open.

As far as the elbows are concerned, he might want to stay away from them unless he likes only being able to see out of one eye.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

How did Gary Clark catch that alley-oop?

CINCINNATI, OH - JANUARY 24:  Gary Clark #11 of the Cincinnati Bearcats shoots the ball against the Tulane Green Wave at Fifth Third Arena on January 24, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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No. 15 Cincinnati pounced on Memphis from the start, taking a 51-32 lead into halftime.

Then, Gary Clark decided to add insult to injury to start the second half. Seriously, how did he catch that?

Mick Cronin’s team is much better offensively than in previous seasons. I’m sure fans in the Fifth Third Arena can get used to seeing more plays like this.

Cassius Winston ends half with half-court 3-pointer

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 15:  Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans talks with Cassius Winston #5 in the second half during the State Farm Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden on November 15, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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Michigan State freshman guard Cassius Winston had just one field goal in the first half. And it was a half-court buzzer-beater as the Spartans capped a sizable run to take a 49-31 lead over Nebraska going into the break.

The Spartans ended the half on a 21-5 run.

Winston provided a serious boost off the bench during that stanza. Moments earlier, he helped the Breslin Center erupt when he lobbed a pass off the backboard to teammate Miles Bridges.

Michigan State opened the day projected as one of the final at-large bids in the NCAA Tournament. The margin for error is thing and it appears the Spartans are playing with a sense of urgency.

 

CBT Podcast: Mark Titus recaps Wednesday’s games

LAWRENCE, KS - FEBRUARY 22: Frank Mason III #0 of the Kansas Jayhawks lays the ball up against JD Miller #15 and Jaylen Fisher #0 of the TCU Horned Frogs in the first half at Allen Fieldhouse on February 22, 2017 in Lawrence, Kansas. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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Wednesday’s slate of games had several wild results.

Former Ohio State walk-on turned blogger turned author Mark Titus, who is currently writing for The Ringer, joined Rob Dauster on the latest episode of the CBT Podcast to go over last night’s games. The two also discussed who is the best team in the nation at the moment, as well Frank Mason III’s rap single from several years ago #BIFM

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Audioboom

Roy Williams apologizes to Rick Pitino, hopes that never happens at UNC again

CHAPEL HILL, NC - JANUARY 16:  Head coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels celebrates after his 800th career victory with a 85-68 win over the Syracuse Orange at the Dean Smith Center on January 16, 2017 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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North Carolina’s Roy Williams called fellow Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino to apologize for a fan’s behavior during Wednesday night’s game in Chapel Hill.

While leaving the floor at halftime, Pitino had to be restrained by members of the Louisville coaching staff and he and a UNC fan exchanged words as he made his way to the locker rom. There’s video of Pitino pointing and shouting at a fan, who reportedly said, “Pitino, you suck!”

“I don’t like that,” Williams said, according to the Charlotte Observer. “I mean we’re in North Carolina. We don’t have to be like everybody else. We can raise Cain. You can boo, but you don’t have to say the stuff that we as coaches have to put up with.”

“I hope that never happens at North Carolina ever again.”

No. 8 North Carolina defeated No. 7 Louisville, 74-63.

Bubble Banter: It’s a quiet night on the bubble

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 15:  Miles Bridges #22 reacts after being taken out of the game by head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans against the Kentucky Wildcats in the second half during the State Farm Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden on November 15, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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STILL TO PLAY

Georgia at Alabama (RPI: 68, KenPom: 61, next four teams), 7:00 p.m.

Nebraska at Michigan State (RPI: 43, KenPom: 55, No. 10 seed), 7:00 p.m.

Towson at UNC Wilmington (RPI: 41, KenPom: 57, No. 12 seed), 7:00 p.m.