Quick Hits: Missouri, Ohio State, and more from Saturday’s action

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There was a lot of college basketball action on Saturday. Let’s take a look at some overlooked observations from the deep slate:

Missouri misses Michael Dixon…badly

Of the ten players who got minutes in Missouri’s big loss to Florida, nine of them did not see the floor in a Tigers uniform last season. That means a lot of roster turnover and it highlights a loss that Missouri suffered early in the season–guard Michael Dixon. Dixon was suspended from the team after reportedly being accused of forcible rape.

Putting aside the legal aspect and focusing on the basketball implications, Missouri lost out on his 13.5 points per game and, perhaps more importantly, his efficient shooting from the floor and from three-point range. Transfer Jabari Brown has done what he can, actually even scoring more points per game than Dixon, but it’s not the same.

Brown is not as efficient a shooter from the floor as Dixon and does not have the backcourt chemistry with point guard Phil Pressey like Dixon did. Add that to a missing Laurence Bowers and Missouri’s offensive woes Saturday make sense.

Deshaun Thomas is Ohio State’s only real go-to option in the clutch

In Saturday’s loss to Michigan State on the road, Thomas scored 28 points. The rest of his team scored a combined 28 points. We saw the same problem against Michigan, though the Buckeyes ultimately won that game at home. While the Wolverines had more or less four scoring options (Burke, Hardaway Jr., Robinson III, Stauskas), all of the weight fell on Thomas’ shoulders for Ohio State. There’s no doubt that this team is defensive-minded, but they’ll need someone else to emerge as a go-to scorer to make it far in March.

Jamaal Franklin steers the San Diego State ship

It’s not really a revelation that one of the Mountain West’s best players is a key to his team’s success, but Wyoming showed what an increased defensive effort to pressure Franklin can do. He shot just 3-of-14 from the floor Saturday, giving the Luke Martinez-less Cowboys a home win in the conference. Credit Leonard Washington, too, who had a double-double of 14 points and 14 rebounds for Wyoming. An ugly 29 percent shooting night from San Diego State won’t get it done in this tough Mountain West.

Sean Kilpatrick carries Cincinnati without Cashmere Wright

The Bearcats thrive on their three-guard set, but without Cashmere Wright against a Top 25 Marquette team did not seem to bode well. But Sean Kilpatrick’s monster 36-point outing made the difference Saturday as Cincinnati stole a 71-69 win in overtime. A two-game skid earlier in conference play was due to a lack of offensive production, but being able to put up that “71” number on a solid defensive team without Wright should bode well for Mick Cronin’s team.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

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

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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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.

No. 24 Cincinnati beats George Washington 61-56

Troy Caupain
AP Photo
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NEW YORK (AP) Troy Caupain scored 16 points, including the go-ahead three-point play with 1:38 to play, and No. 24 Cincinnati beat George Washington 61-56 on Saturday in the championship game of the Barclays Center Classic.

The fact the game came down to a three-point play was ironic as both teams took 22 3-point attempts and there were times it seemed a 3-point shooting broke out.

Caupain’s traditional three-point play gave the Bearcats (7-0) a 55-54 lead. After a missed 3 by the Colonials (6-1) Octavius Ellis, who chosen the tournament MVP, scored on a tip-in. Patricio Garino scored on a drive for George Washington with 29 seconds left.

The Colonials let the Bearcats pass the ball around and they finally fouled when Ellis touched the ball with 14 seconds to play. Ellis, a 56 percent free throw shooter, clinched his MVP award by making both for a 59-56 lead. Two free throws by Caupain with 6.1 seconds left capped the scoring.

Farad Cobb and Kevin Johnson both had 11 points for the Bearcats while Ellis had nine points and seven rebounds.

Garino had 15 points for George Washington, Tyler Cavanaugh had 13 and Joe McDonald 11.

The Colonials finished 11 of 22 from 3-point range, not bad for a team that came in shooting 27.9 percent (29 of 104) from there. The 50 percent doesn’t look so good when you consider the Colonials made five of their first six 3-point attempts and were 8 of 11 from beyond the arc in the first half. They went 16:42 between 2-point field goals but led 30-27 at halftime.

The Bearcats were 7 of 22 from 3-point range but their advantage came at the free throw line where they were 10 of 12 compared to George Washington’s 3 of 4.


George Washington: The Colonials beat Tennessee in the opening round and they were 3 of 15 on 3s. … George Washington was off to its best start since it was8-0 in 2005-06. … The Colonials finished 10 for 34 from 2-point range.

Cincinnati: The win gives the Bearcats a 13-1 all-time record against George Washington and this was their sixth straight. The last win came on Jan. 31, 1976. … Cincinnati is 7-0 for the fourth time in the last six seasons. … The Bearcats are 51-8 in and have won 24 of 25 in November under coach Mick Cronin. They have won 49 straight games when scoring over 60 points. The 60th point against the Colonials came with 6.1 seconds to play.


George Washington hosts Seton Hall on Wednesday.

Cincinnati hosts Butler on Wednesday.