Eric May, Adreian Payne

Iowa’s resume a concern following 62-59 loss to No. 22 Michigan State

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Entering tonight’s home game against No. 22 Michigan State with an 0-2 Big Ten record, the Iowa Hawkeyes were in need of a win to remain in contact with the top half of the conference standings.

But without the services of guard Devyn Marble, who missed the game due to an ankle injury, the Hawkeyes shot 4-of-16 from beyond the arc and turned the ball over 18 times in the 62-59 defeat.

Zach McCabe led Iowa with 15 points and seven rebounds, and even with Marble out Fran McCaffery’s team jumped out of the gates ready to go as they scored the first seven points on the game. The Hawkeyes would lead by as many as 12 points, with Michigan State not leading until a Keith Appling basket with 9:01 remaining gave the visitors a 42-41 lead.

Michigan State raised their level of play on the defensive end at the right time however, as Iowa went the final 2:16 without a made field goal. Add to that the Spartans hitting all seven of their free throws in the final 1:04 and it proved to be too much for the Hawkeyes to overcome.

Branden Dawson, whose dunk following an Iowa turnover gave Michigan State a 58-56 lead with 48 seconds remaining, led all scorers with 17 points.

The question for Iowa in the aftermath: how much harm does this do to their NCAA tournament resume?

The Hawkeyes are now 0-4 in games against teams in the Top 50 of the RPI, and while there’s the Marble factor to consider when evaluating this contest tonight’s loss makes Iowa’s game at Northwestern on Sunday night all the more important.

There will be plenty of opportunities for quality wins in Big Ten play, but starting 0-3 in the league makes games that Iowa will be expected to win all the more important to get.

In order to do so the Hawkeyes will not only need a healthy Marble but also have to take better care of the basketball and shoot at a higher percentage.

Entering Thursday’s game Iowa ranked 7th in the Big Ten in field goal percentage and 9th in three-point percentage. Iowa shot better than 50% from inside the arc (19-of-35) but their cold night outside of it was one reason for the defeat.

Can the Hawkeyes rebound? Yes but the turnaround needs to begin soon, because in a league like the Big Ten it doesn’t take much to end up on the wrong side of the bubble.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

No. 14 Cal goes 0-2 in Las Vegas Invitational

Jaylen Brown
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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After midnight on the east coast on Thanksgiving, No. 14 Cal blew a 15 point second half lead against San Diego State, allowing the Aztecs to use a 30-6 run to put away the game and advance to the final of the Las Vegas Invitational. That’s the same San Diego State team had scored 43 points in a loss to Arkansas-Little Rock last week.

Not 24 hours later, the Golden Bears were shredded defensively by the Richmond Spiders, losing 94-90 in the consolation game of a four-team tournament they were considered to be the heavy favorite in.

It’s a disappointing two-game stretch for Cal, who entered the season as a Pac-12 favorite and had looked the part for the first four games of the season.

And the issue appears to be on the defensive end of the floor.

Richmond is a good Atlantic 10 team. Terry Allen and Marshall Wood are high-major big men, Shawn’Dre Jones is a jitterbug at the point and Chris Mooney runs a Princeton-esque system that is very difficult to prepare for without a day in-between games. So it’s not really surprising that the Spiders gave Cal a fight.

But 94 points?

On the heels of giving up 44 points in the second half against the offensively-challenged Aztecs?

That’s a problem, one that I’m sure that Cuonzo Martin is going to address this week in practice. Martin has managed to put together a roster that is build for small-ball, with four talented perimeter players surrounding a first round pick in the post. But that’s not the style that he’s known for. Martin played his college ball at Purdue in the Gene Keady days. He cut his teeth as a head coach at Missouri State in the Missouri Valley. His team’s at Tennessee were known for being tough and physical defensively.

That’s how Martin coaches, which is part of the reason Cal had such hype entering the year.

The talents of Tyrone Wallace, Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb, Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews on a team with a coach that gets teams to defend the way Martin does? It’s no surprise that pundits would be optimistic.

But as of now, they have some work to do defensively if they want to live up to that hype.

Tyler Ulis injured as No. 1 Kentucky beats South Florida

Tyler Ulis, Ky Howard
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MIAMI (AP) Jamal Murray had 21 points and No. 1 Kentucky scored the final 15 points of the first half on the way to beating South Florida 84-63 in the HoopHall Miami Invitational on Friday.

Skal Labissiere added 17 points for the Wildcats (6-0), who led by as many as 31. Charles Matthews scored 11 points and Isaiah Briscoe finished with seven assists for Kentucky, now a winner of 37 consecutive regular-season games and 39 in a row against unranked opponents.

Chris Perry scored 14 points for USF (1-5), which has lost 18 consecutive games against teams ranked in the Top 25. Jaleel Cousins added 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting, and Jahmal McMurray scored 11 points for the Bulls.

Kentucky played the second half without starting guard Tyler Ulis, who departed with a right elbow injury after getting hurt while fighting for a ball loose on the floor.

Kentucky announced after the game that the injury was a hyperextension of the elbow and that he will be day-to-day.

The Bulls were within 27-21 with 6 minutes left in the first half after McMurray banked in a 3-pointer only a few feet away from where John Calipari was standing, and the look of anguish on the Kentucky coach’s face was clear.

It didn’t last long.

The Wildcats scored on seven of their next nine possessions and the game was over by halftime, Kentucky going into the break with a 42-21 lead.

It was a reunion for plenty of people on both benches. Calipari squared off with his former assistant Orlando Antigua, now in his second year leading USF. Antigua’s staff includes another former Calipari assistant in Rod Strickland, plus former Kentucky basketball staff members Mike Malone and Dominic Lombardi.

So the staffs have plenty of familiarity. On the court, there was plenty of disparity. Kentucky finished with a commanding 23-6 edge in points off turnovers and finished with 16 assists to the Bulls’ six.