Missouri earns potentially season-changing win over No. 5 Florida

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I like stats as much as anyone.

I love diving into box scores and breaking down who did what and why is had a certain effect on the outcome of a game and whether or night it’s a sign of a bigger trend. I spend more time on Kenpom.com than I do on any other site not named twitter.

Having said that, there are times where there isn’t more to the story, where we can toss any and all concerns we have about the ‘how’ and simply focus on the ‘what’.

Missouri’s 63-60 win over No. 5 Florida is precisely one of those situations.

Look, the Tigers have some serious flaws. We know this. They were 5-22 from three on Tuesday night, a trend of inconsistent three-point shooting that has been far too common for this version of the Tigers. They turned the ball over 19 times. Five of those turnovers were credited to Phil Pressey, and while he also added 10 assists, six boards and three steals and just five shots from the floor, it was the 0-1 from three that was the most concerning stat.


Because it came with Missouri leading 61-60, 20 seconds left in the game, and seven seconds left on the shot clock. It was off the dribble, from 22 feet out on the wing. More importantly, it was yet another questionable decision made by Pressey in crunch time.

But none of that is important tonight.

Because Missouri finally got a win that they so desperately needed. This was a Tiger team whose resume was built upon beating Illinois and VCU, both of which came before Christmas. They were blown out by Florida, Louisville and Ole Miss. They lost heartbreakers to UCLA, Texas A&M, Arkansas and LSU. They’re 8-5 in a weak SEC and have just a single road win this season.

At Mississippi State.

Missouri had doubters. In their fan base. In the media. I’d bet that there were folks in their locker room wondering if they were going to be able to turn this season around.

And Tuesday is the perfect opportunity to do just that.

The Tigers erased a 13 point second half deficit against the No. 5 team in the country. They showed that they not only have elite talent on their roster, but they are capable on winning close games and beating the best teams in the country.

Missouri still has work to do. They still have issues that could cost them in the future. They still stink away from Columbia, MO.

But this was a huge win. A potentially season-changing win.

Let’s see if they capitalize on the chance.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

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.