Will Clyburn, Tyrus McGee, Chris Babb

Pregame Shootaround 1.30.13: Bubble-heavy docket tonight

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Game of the Day: Iowa State at Oklahoma State (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Up until a couple of weeks ago, Oklahoma State was ranked nationally. A sluggish start to Big 12 play has changed that, but it hasn’t changed the roster makeup of the Cowboys. They still have Marcus Smart and LeBryan Nash. They still have one of the nation’s best dunkers in Markel Brown. They still have Phil Forte, who is starting to shoot the ball better.

But Iowa State has been one of the most surprising teams in the conference. In addition to coming within a banked-in Ben McLemore three of knocking off Kansas in Phog Allen, the Cyclones also knocked off Kansas State at home. Toss is a loss to Texas Tech, and the Cyclones have been thoroughly unpredictable this season.

The best individual matchup of the night may be Will Clyburn going toe-to-toe with Nash.

Who’s Getting Upset?: No. 3 Indiana at Purdue (8:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Net)

Indiana’s biggest game of the year to date is on Saturday. They’re hosting No. 1 Michigan. Between then and now they have to go into Mackey Arena and beat a tough — and tougher at home — Purdue team that’s itching for a win over their rival to boost an NCAA tournament resume that, frankly, needs the boost.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: UMass at La Salle (7:00 p.m. ET)

You like up-and-down basketball? You like watching talented guards? Well, La Salle has four of them, and UMass point guard Chaz Williams just may be the best guard on the floor tonight.

Five Things to Watch For

1) At this point in the season, we’re still trying to figure out who the second best team in the Big 12 is. Baylor is 5-1, but they’ve feasted on cupcakes early on in league play. The Bears will get a test tonight against a good — and still improving — Oklahoma team. (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

2) VCU takes the court for the first time since losing their second straight league game on Saturday. They’ll visit Rhode Island, who knocked off St. Louis on the road early this month. (7:00 p.m. ET) That won’t be the most interesting Atlantic 10 game of the night, as Richmond, one of the teams to beat VCU, visits Temple, who may be the single most confounding team in the country this year. (7:00 p.m. ET)

3) The score may not make it out of the 50’s, but there may not be more riding on a game than Wyoming has riding on tonight as No. 20 New Mexico visits. The Cowboys have struggled without Luke Martinez, but they have a chance to steal a game from a New Mexico team that managed 34 points against San Diego State on Saturday. (9:00 p.m. ET, ROOT)

4) Three teams will put an undefeated record in league play on the line tonight. Northeastern hosts Georgia State (7:00 p.m. ET), Memphis visits East Carolina (7:00 p.m. ET), and Akron heads to Bowling Green (7:00 p.m. ET).

5) It’s still too early in the season to get too excited about bubble talk, but tonight there are what feels like 30 games with bubble implications on the docket. From Northwestern and Purdue trying to knock off Michigan and Indiana, respectively, to the middle of the Atlantic 10 and Big East trying to shake themselves out, to the myriad of bubble-battles — Villanova at Notre Dame, Maryland at Florida State, Iowa State at Oklahoma State — happening tonight, it feels the kind of night that is going to give us a lot to talk about on Thursday morning.

The Top 25

  • Northwestern at No. 1 Michigan (6:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Net)
  • No. 3 Indiana at Purdue (8:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Net)
  • South Carolina at No. 4 Florida (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • No. 5 Duke at Wake Forest (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • No. 10 Oregon at Stanford (11:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
  • No. 14 Miami at Virginia Tech (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • No. 17 Missouri at LSU (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • Texas at No. 18 Kansas State (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
  • No. 20 New Mexico at Wyoming (9:00 p.m. ET, ROOT)
  • Missouri State at No. 21 Creighton (8:00 p.m. ESPN3)
  • Rutgers at No. 24 Cincinnati (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Other Notable Games

  • Valparaiso at Youngstown State (7:05 p.m. ET)
  • Maryland at Florida State (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • Boise State at Colorado State (9:00 p.m. ET, ROOT)
  • Dayton at Xavier (9:00 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Net)
  • St. Mary’s at San Francisco (10:00 p.m. ET)

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

VIDEO: Kris Dunn wills Providence to win over No. 11 Arizona

Kris Dunn, Elliott Pitts
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Kris Dunn spent the first 35 minutes of Friday night’s game against No. 11 Arizona in foul trouble, splitting his time between sitting on the bench and trying to avoid finding himself, again, on the wrong side the whistle.

With 11 minutes left in the game, and with Dunn yet to find a rhythm, the all-american point guard was whistled for his fourth foul as he battled for a rebound with Arizona’s Mark Tollefsen. Head coach Ed Cooley say his superstar beside his for six game minutes, time enough for Arizona to turn a 49-47 deficit into a 58-54 lead.

There were just over five minutes left when Dunn reentered the second semifinal of the Wooden Legacy, and he proceeded to show everyone in the country why he was named the NBCSports.com Preseason Player of the Year. Providence had nine possessions after he reentered the game. Dunn scored 11 points and had a pair of assists on those eight possessions, and if Ben Bentil had stuck a wide-open three — that was setup by Dunn — the Friars would have scored on all nine.

In total, Dunn was responsible for all 15 Friar points in a game-changing, 15-7 run in the final 4:30. It was capped off by this Kobe-in-his-prime-esque game-winner:

The win for Providence is huge for a couple of reasons:

  • Dunn showed a killer instinct against a marquee opponent, something that we didn’t necessarily see out of him a season ago. He wasn’t going to let his team lose, and given that Providence doesn’t have anyone else that can consistently create good shots, they are going to need that from him a lot this year.
  • It makes a statement for the Friars. Arizona is overrated at No. 11 in the country, yes, but going out on national television against an elite program and getting this kind of performance from Dunn is a confidence-booster and a tone-setter. Providence hasn’t been accustomed to winning in recent years. This is a way to set a trend.
  • Ben Bentil continues to play like a star. Dunn had 19 points and eight assists on Friday, but Bentil followed up a 24-point performance in the win over Evansville with 21 critical points on Friday.

This win sets up a matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence on Sunday night, which means that Denzel Valentine and Kris Dunn — the two best players in the country, sorry Ben Simmons — will be going head-to-head.

Oh. Hell. Yes.

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.