Georgetown v Syracuse

Porter’s career day quiets Carrier Dome crowd, puts Hoyas in Big East lead

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Otto Porter, Jr. only had 31 points in a 57-46 win over Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. His official stat line for the day credits him with 33 points, but Porter picked up two of those on an own-goal by Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams in the middle of the second half. That’s how the day was going for Porter. Even when he didn’t score, he still got his points.

Porter’s previous career high was 22 points, scored earlier this year against Big South bottom-dweller Longwood, so this was, shall we say, significantly more meaningful. The point explosion didn’t come at the expense of the rest of Porter’s exquisite all-around game, either. He pulled down eight boards, dished two assists and had five steals to add some steak to the sizzle.

Porter’s milestone came in a road win over Syracuse in the Carrier Dome, where ‘Cuse fans were making history of their own, packing the building past capacity (attendance reported at 35,012) in order to witness Carmelo Anthony’s jersey retirement ceremony. No doubt they also expected to witness a big win over an old foe, but Porter had other ideas.

It’s tempting to say that Porter is doing this all by himself, which doesn’t really bode well for a deep tournament run. But we’ve seen D’vaunte Smith-Rivera, Markel Starks and even Nate Lubick take the scoring lead at times during the Hoyas’ recent nine-game win streak. Even in a game like today’s stunner at the Carrier Dome, Porter doesn’t get open without a flurry of cuts, screens and sharp passes from his teammates. More importantly, Porter’s teammates controlled the ball on offense, and harassed the Orange into several open-floor turnovers and poor shots.

Porter will be the undisputed key to the Hoyas’ chances for a March run. They’ll need 17-20 points from him in every game to make a deep run in the Big Dance. His greatness will have to be a given. But a fair amount of pretty good from the likes of Lubick, Starks, Smith-Rivera and the occasional Jabril Trawick could allow G’town to run the table. Winnable games with UConn, Rutgers and Villanova separate the Hoyas from a season-ending date with none other than Syracuse.

If Georgetown protects their own house in that one, the Big East regular-season title, and a potential No. 1 tourney seed, will be their likely reward.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

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.