Syracuse Tyler Ennis

Late Night Snacks: Baylor and Syracuse advance to Maui Invitational final

Leave a comment

GAME OF THE DAY: Baylor 67, Dayton 66

Baylor trailed by double-digits in the second half, but some late-game 3-pointers from Royce O’Neale and Gary Franklin set up Cory Jefferson’s heroics. He corralled a miss from Kenny Chery to put Baylor up 67-66 with 16 seconds to play. Baylor lead for a total of 2:08 on the evening. Dayton outplayed the Bears, but the Flyers will head to the third-place game to play Cal. Baylor and Syracuse meet in a battle of two top-20 teams on Wednesday night in the Maui Invitational final.

What would Maui be without a crazy finish?

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

No. 10 Wisconsin 63, Saint Louis 57: The Badgers handed the Billikens their first loss of the season, while they stay undefeated. Frank Kaminsky led the way with 12 points, eight rebounds and four blocks.

No. 12 Wichita State 75, BYU 62: The Shockers won the CBE Hall of Fame Classic, holding the Cougars without a field goal for the final eight minutes. BYU entered the game scoring 93.2 points per game. Ron Baker had a career-high 23 points.

Syracuse 92, Cal 81: The Golden Bears kept it close even without Richard Solomon, but career highs from Jerami Grant and Tyler Ennis put the Orange in the Maui Invitational final against Baylor.

STARRED

Jon Severe, Fordham: If you don’t know about this Fordham freshman, now you do. The 6-foot-3 Brooklyn native led Fordham over Manhattan with 30 points and five rebounds.

Metro State: The top team in Division II defeated its third Division I program during the NIT Season Tip-Off with an 83-69 win over MAAC contender Canisius. Mitch McCarron led the way with 28 points. He’s averaging 27.5 points per game against D1 teams this year.

Jordan Dykstra, South Dakota State: The Jackrabbits picked up their second straight win behind the senior forward’s 32-point, 13-rebound performance.

STRUGGLED

Tyler Haws, BYU: He scored 17 points, but he struggled, shooting 3-of-15 from the field in a loss to Wichita State.

Rutgers: Fairleigh Dickinson defeated Rutgers on Tuesday, the program’s first win over a Division I program in 21 games. The Knights lost to Division II Metro State earlier this season.

Rico Gathers’ celebration: Courtesy of Mark Titus:

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 13 Connecticut stayed undefeated with a 76-66 win over Loyola (Md.). Shabazz Napier only scored four points, but had seven points and seven assists along with three steals.

NOTABLES

  • Pittsburgh won the Legends Classic in Brooklyn in an 88-67 win over Stanford.
  • Boston College trailed at half, but defeated Sacred Heart behind Ryan Anderson’s 28 points and 10 rebounds.
  • Syracuse may have the best dunking team. Example A HERE. Example B HERE.
  • Gonzaga bounced back with a 113-81 win over Chaminade behind 18 points and seven assists from Kevin Pangos.
  • Marshall Henderson only logged 13 minutes, scoring eight points in an 84-50 win over North Carolina A&T.
  • Pendarvis Willaims scored 32 points, grabbed seven rebounds and five assists in Norfolk State’s win. OK, it was against against a D2 opponent, but the reigning MEAC Player of the Year is a legitimate pro prospect.
  • Elon bounced-back from a loss to Metro State with a 90-85 win over Georgia State. Kentucky transfer Ryan Harrow had 34 points for Georgia State.
  • Noah Vonleh connected on his first collegiate three. More importantly, he posted his fifth double-double in Indiana’s 77-46 win over Evansville.
  • Chris Obekpa had six of St. John’s 15 blocks in the Red Storm’s 65-47 win over Longwood.

No. 14 West Virginia takes care of No. 15 Baylor

West Virginia forward Devin Williams (41) dunks the ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor, Saturday, Feb, 6, 2016, in Morgantown, W.Va. (AP Photo/Raymond Thompson)
AP Photo/Raymond Thompson
Leave a comment

Not exactly noted for their ability to knock down shots from the perimeter, No. 14 West Virginia grabbed sole possession of first place in the Big 12 thanks in part to their perimeter shooting. The Mountaineers shot 7-for-14 from three and 49.1 percent from the field in a 80-69 win over No. 15 Baylor that wasn’t as close as the final margin would lead one to believe.

Bob Huggins’ team led by as much as 19 in the second half, and the way in which they did it is what makes the win so impressive. “Press Virginia” yielded just ten Baylor turnovers, but that low number didn’t matter much thanks to West Virginia’s execution offensively.

They found quality looks against Baylor’s 1-1-3 zone in the first half and made them at a good clip, forcing Scott Drew to switch to man-to-man. That change didn’t do much to slow down West Virginia either, as Daxter Miles Jr. scored 20 points and sixth man Jaysean Paige added 17 off the bench. And with Devin Williams chipping in with 16 points and seven boards in the post, outplaying Baylor’s Rico Gathers Sr. (five points, seven rebounds), West Virginia grabbed control of the game in the first half and did not relinquish it.

The usual formula for West Virginia offensively is to attack the offensive glass, as their offensive rebounding percentage (43 percent) is tops in the country. “Their best offense is a missed shot” is a familiar refrain heard when people discuss the Mountaineers, who entered the game shooting just over 30 percent from three.

They didn’t need to lean on those second chances as heavily as they normally do Saturday night, not only because of the improved accuracy but also the improved work in finding shots. The ball moved against the Baylor defense and so did the players, resulting in an offensive attack that proved tougher for the visiting Bears to stop that one would expect given the statistics entering the game.

West Virginia was already established as a contender in the Big 12, but thanks to their win Saturday night the Mountaineers are the current pace setters. With a showdown at No. 7 Kansas set for Tuesday night, this was a big win for Bob Huggins’ team to get. And with it coming in spite of a low turnover (forced) count, this should only help West Virginia in the confidence department moving forward.

No. 22 Indiana falls at Penn State

Penn State's Shep Garner (33) moves towards the basket during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Indiana in State College, Pa., Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Ralph Wilson)
(AP Photo/Ralph Wilson)
Leave a comment

Brendan Taylor scored 24 points to lead Penn State to a 68-63 upset of No. 22 Indiana on Saturday night.

The Nittany Lions were 2-8 in Big Ten play entering the weekend. Indiana? They were 9-1 and tied for first in the conference. It’s the second loss in four games for the Hoosiers following a 7-0 start to Big Ten play, a fact made all the more concerning by the fact that their league schedule is finally about to get difficult.

The Hoosiers play No. 5 Iowa at home and No. 10 Michigan State in East Lansing next week. The following week they get No. 18 Purdue at home. In the final week of the regular season, Indiana squares off with No. 5 Iowa on the road and close the regular season with a visit from No. 4 Maryland.

That’s a lot of good teams that the Hoosiers to close out the year.

The question has been asked since Indiana’s hot start to league play: Are they for real? Did the Hoosiers really somehow turn things around defensively, or was that winning streak simply a by-product of their schedule?

The truth is that it was probably a combination of both. Calling them a fraud would be unjust — if you watched those games, there wasn’t much fluky about them; Indiana earned the Ws — but it does seem fair to say this is something of a regression to the mean.

They were going to slip up eventually.

And it will totally be forgotten if the Hoosiers can find a way to close the regular season with a winning record in their final seven games.