Marcus Smart is building a nice little reputation for himself as the best first half player … ever?
Smart scored 24 of his 30 points in the first half of No. 5 Oklahoma State’s 97-87 win over Purdue, hitting 4-for-6 from three and adding four rebounds and four assists. The Pokes led by more than 20 for much of the game before Smart picked up a technical foul in the second half. It was his fourth, and in his absence the Boilermakers were able to cut the lead to 84-80 at one point.
Markel Brown, who finished with 25 points, played the role of closer, hitting a couple of big shots down the stretch, but the story of this game was the fouls.
60 were called in total. Five players in total fouled out, and that doesn’t include Jay Simpson, who was given a Flagrant 2 earlier in the game. Four more players finished the afternoon with four fouls. Smart’s technical? It came after he was called for a horrendous foul by Karl Hess while trying to guard Purdue center A.J. Hammons in the post. Here’s the video. Explain to me why this is a foul on Smart. Why was he guarding Hammons in the post? Because Oklahoma State big men Michael Cobbins and Kamari Murphy both were already in bad foul trouble.
Look, I understand why refs have been told to call games tighter, and I actually agree with the reasoning. Freedom of movement on the offensive end of the floor is a good thing. It makes the game more fun to watch and it brings a level skill back that has been missing. If we wanted to watch rugby, we’d move to Australia.
The problem is that there are times where the refs just get way too ambitious, and this game was a perfect example. Doug Gottlieb has been campaigning as much as anyone about how bad some of these whistles are, and he posted a couple of videos that make his case quite convincingly.
Tell me, where is the foul here? Or here? Or here?
The game needed to be freed up. It’s been turned into a mockery. This needs to be corrected.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: Syracuse vs. No. 18 UConn, 3:30 p.m.
For the first time since the Orange departed the Big East, the two former rivals will square off. Today’s battle will take place at the Battle 4 Atlantis, as the Orange knocked off Charlotte yesterday and the Huskies dispatched Michigan. To get ready for this battle, I’d suggest ready through the conversation @NoEscalators had with himself last night.
THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 25 Texas A&M vs. No. 10 Gonzaga, 1:00 p.m.
The other semifinal in the Battle 4 Atlantis could end up being just as good, as the Aggies — who might be the second best team in the SEC — square off with a Gonzaga team that has one of the best front lines in the country. This will be a good test to figure out just how good both of these teams are.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
1. No. 20 Wichita State vs. USC, 2:00 p.m.: The Shockers will be without Fred VanVleet for this event. It will also be a chance for us to gauge just how good this 4-0 USC team is.
2. No. 23 Xavier vs. Alabama, 12:00 p.m: The Musketeers should have no problems dispatching Alabama.
3. No. 8 Villanova vs. Stanford, 4:30 p.m.: The Wildcats are, once again, as good as any team in the country. Josh Hart might be the nation’s most underrated star.
4. No. 14 Cal vs. San Diego State, 12:00 a.m.: Tyrone Wallace and company have been awesome this season. They get their first real test of the season tonight.
5. Providence vs. Evansville, 7:00 p.m.: Evansville is one of the nation’s best mid-majors, good enough to give the likes of Wichita State and Northern Iowa a fight in the Missouri Valley. And Providence? They got a kid named Kris Dunn. Heard of him?
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
- No. 3 Michigan State vs. Boston College, 6:30 p.m.
- No. 11 Arizona vs. Santa Clara, 11:30 p.m.
- No. 17 Notre Dame vs. Monmouth, 6:30 p.m.
No. 2 Maryland finally found their rhythm on Wednesday night, blowing out a good Rhode Island team, 86-63, in the finals of the Cancun Challenge.
Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon combined for 34 points and eight assists on 13-for-14 shooting and Robert Carter added 15 points, nine boards, three assists and three blocks. Peak Maryland, which is what we saw tonight, is really dangerous.
But Peak Maryland wasn’t the story after the game, as tempers flared in the waning minutes.
It started when Maryland coach Mark Turgeon called a timeout with less than two minutes remaining. Jake Layman had just hit a three to put Maryland up by 24 points and Turgeon wanted to get his walk-ons in the game. Hurley said to the Maryland bench, “We’ll see you again, boy,” according to Inside Maryland Sports, which prompted this reaction from Turgeon:
After the game, the two teams had to be separated in layup lines. According to reports from IMS and from the Baltimore Sun, Hurley was cursing at Maryland players as he was shaking their hands after the game. According Doug Gottlieb, who called the game for CBS Sports Network, Trimble said that the Rhode Island team wanted to “fight us”: