In case there was any question as to how much Oregon State would miss the suspended front court tandem of Devon Collier and Eric Moreland, we found out on Sunday night.
Collier and Moreland combined to average 22.0 points and 16.6 points per game last season, and without those two the Beavers struggled mightily on offense in their 78-73 loss to Coppin State. Senior Roberto Nelson established a new career high with 36 points on 12-for-26 shooting, but the rest of the team combined to shoot just 33.3% (11-for-33) from the field.
Angus Brandt, making his return to the court after missing most of last season with a torn ACL, scored 13 points and Victor Robbins added 11, but the majority of the scoring from Oregon State players other than Nelson came in the latter stages of the contest. Coppin State certainly deserves credit for the result, with point guard Taariq Cephas dishing out eight assists and Sterling Smith (21 points) and Arnold Fripp (17 points, nine rebounds) leading the way offensively.
And despite Oregon State’s status, this is an important victory for Fang Mitchell’s program when you consider the fact that the Eagles entered Sunday 0-16 all-time against Pac-12 opponents. And there’s also the matter of how poorly the MEAC as a whole has performed against “power conference” programs over the last two seasons.
Coppin's win over Oregon State is, uh, atypical. The MEAC was 1-89 against power confs last 2 seasons (the 1 was Norfolk State).
The good news for Oregon State is that Collier will return from his suspension on Wednesday night when the Beavers host Portland, but this result does nothing for head coach Craig Robinson in a pivotal season for the program.
Oregon State was picked by the coaches to finish 10th in the Pac-12 this season, so the struggles are somewhat predictable. But these are the games a program looking to establish itself cannot afford to lose. In a conference that’s expected to be better this season (and also doesn’t lack for “hot seat” candidates), Oregon State needs all the wins they can get before league play starts in January.
And in order to turn things around, it’s quite obvious that they need some players to step up offensively to help Nelson with the heavy lifting.
Zak Irvin scored 22 points and Michigan’s outmanned front line held Purdue’s redwoods to just seven offensive boards, six second chance points and just 22 points in the paint as the Wolverines landed a critical, 61-56, win over the No. 18 Boilermakers.
Depending on who you listen to, Michigan entered the day, at worst, on the bubble and at best, in headed for the 8-9 game.
And they picked up a top 25 win.
So yes, this win was big for them moving forward.
But more important than the win itself was that Wolverine fans got a glimpse of all-american guard Caris LeVert. He played just 11 points and didn’t return in the second half, he didn’t score and he missed the only shot that he took, but LeVert took the court for the first time since Dec. 30th. That day, LeVert rolled his left ankle and most likely reinjured a foot that had had a broken bone surgically repaired twice in the last 20 months. Michigan never confirmed what the actual injury was and never gave a timetable for when he would be back in the lineup, which is what made his brief appearance so important.
LeVert isn’t done for the season.
And since the Wolverines managed to post a 9-4 Big Ten record with LeVert acting as little more than a spectator, they have a chance to make a run in the Big Ten tournament and get into the NCAA tournament.
That will happen with LeVert in the rotation and, if all goes according to plan, the starting lineup.
So even with a loss against Purdue, the Wolverines had a good day. Bolstering their NCAA tournament profile was an added bonus.
VIDEO: Memphis’ Shaq Goodwin gets technical foul for copying famous Vince Carter dunk
Memphis senior forward Shaq Goodwin picked up one of the dumbest technical fouls of the season on Saturday with the Tigers on the road against Tulane. Goodwin attempted to copy Vince Carter’s famous arm-in-the-rim dunk from the 2000 NBA dunk contest. This would have been okay during pregame warmups, but Goodwin tried to pull this off on a breakaway near the end of the first half. He was quickly hit with the T for hanging on the rim.
Goodwin has good timing when it comes to current events, as the NBA’s dunk contest airs on Saturday night, but the timing of pulling this off in the first half of a tight conference game is not so great.
For past reference, here’s Carter’s original arm-in-the-rim dunk from 2000, which had everyone astonished since it had never been done before.