Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 2.49.38 AM

Late Night Snacks: Memphis bounces back, UNC loses on the road

Leave a comment

GAME OF THE DAY: No. 21 Memphis 73, No. 5 Oklahoma State 68

Revenge is a dish best served … in Orlando? The Tigers got back at Oklahoma State for a drubbing that they took at the hands of the Pokes in Stillwater two weeks ago, earning Josh Pastner inarguably the most important win of his career. Memphis needed to make a statement, and they did so on Sunday night. Maybe we wrote this team off too early?

Our Raphielle Johnson wrote on this game earlier.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE DAY: No. 12 Wichita State 70, Saint Louis 65

Memphis put together the most impressive win of the day, but Wichita State wasn’t far behind. Saint Louis is a veteran team that is tough defensively, well-coached and very difficult to beat in Chafeitz Arena. Wichita State erased a late six point deficit and knocked off the Billikens. The Shockers might actually be better than they were a season, and this biggest reason why is their back court. The combination of Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker is really, really good, enough so that I regret not having them in my top ten back courts in the country.


1) No. 16 North Carolina lost again. After beating Louisville at Mohegan Sun, it looked like the Tar Heels might have turned a corner, but with Marcus Paige struggling early, James Michael McAdoo struggling always and their trio of young big men remaining largely ineffective, but Tar Heels lost at UAB on Sunday night.

2) George Washington capped off an impressive weekend at the Wooden Legacy tournament by knocking off No. 20 Creighton 60-53. They held Dougie McBuckets to seven points on 2-for-12 shooting from the floor.

3) Looks like this won’t actually be a rebuilding year for San Diego State, as the Aztecs beat No. 25 Marquette to complete their title in the Wooden Legacy.


1) Sidney Saunders finished with 23 points, nine boards, nine assists and three steals as Fairleigh Dickinson knocked off Seton Hall less than a week after beating Rutgers. FDU was supposed to be one of the worst teams in Division I basketball this season.

2) Willie Cauley-Stein had 15 points and eight boards, but more importantly blocked nine shots as No. 3 Kentucky beat Providence 79-65 at the Barclays Center.

3) LSU’s three big men — Jarrell Martin, Jordan Mickey and Johnny O’Bryant — finished with 41 points and 21 boards in an overtime win over Butler.


1) Jahii Carson was 2-for-14 from the floor and sprained his ankle in a loss to Miami (FL), who has been one of the most disappointing high-major teams in the country this season.

2) Siena was outscored 34-15 over the final 15 minutes in a 68-63 loss to Purdue in the consolation bracket of the Old Spice Classic.

3) J.J. Mann had 14 points on 5-for-19 shooting, committing six turnovers as Belmont was on the wrong end of a 22-2 second half run in a loss to VCU at home.


  • No. 11 Gonzaga knocked off Coppin State, getting 14 points from Gerard Coleman off the bench.
  • No. 14 Oregon beat Cal Poly 82-61 as five players scored in double figures.
  • No. 18 Baylor beat Hardon-Simmons. They aren’t Division I.


  • Freshman Billy Garrett had 15 points and 10 assists in DePaul’s win over Oregon State.
  • Ronald Roberts had 21 points and 10 boards for St. Joe’s in a win over Washington State.
  • Tre Bowman had 29 points as Iona knocked off Florida-Gulf Coast.
  • Cornell lost to Notre Dame 101-67, dropping to 0-9.

Battle 4 Atlantis title proves Syracuse will be relevant this season

rad Horrigan/The Courant via AP
Leave a comment

Michael Gbinije scored 20 points and Trevor Cooney added 15 points and five assists as Syracuse left the Bahamas with a title, beating No. 25 Texas A&M 74-67 in the finals of the Battle 4 Atlantis.

I guess it’s time to start taking the Orange seriously.

There’s a lot to like about this group. Gbinije and Cooney are both fifth-year seniors that not only understand how to operate at the top of the 2-3 zone that Jim Boeheim runs, but they both have developed into versatile offensive weapons. Cooney was known as nothing more than a jump-shooter when he arrived up north, but he’s now averaging 3.5 assists on the season.

And Gbinije?

He has been one of the best players in the country through the first two weeks of the season. Through six games, he’s averaged 19.7 points, 4.2 assists, 3.0 boards and 2.8 steals while shooting 51.3 percent from beyond the arc.

Freshman Malachi Richardson, who had 16 points in the win over A&M, has scored double-figures in all six games this season while another freshman, Tyler Lydon, was against terrific on Friday, finishing with 13 points and eight boards. He’s now shooting 58.8 percent from beyond the arc this season.

And that’s where this team is going to do the majority of their damage this season.

Through six games, they’re shooting 41.1 percent from beyond the arc. In the three wins in the Bahamas, the Orange knocked were 34-for-73 from beyond the arc, a 46.5 percent clip. The question isn’t whether or not that rate can continue — four of the six players that saw action on Friday are dangerous three-point shooters while the other two, Tyler Roberson  and DaJuan Coleman, aren’t going to be shooting threes — but what happens on the nights where the threes aren’t going down.

There are going to be nights where they shoot 5-for-25 instead of 11-for-25. Will they have enough firepower then? Will their defense be good enough? Will guys like Roberson and Coleman be able to supply a scoring punch? Will Cooney, Gbinije and Richardson attack the paint instead of settling for jumpers?

Because at the very least, these three games in the Bahamas have proven that the Orange are going to be relevant this season, even in the loaded ACC. Whether that means they’re going to push for a top four finish or simply end the year as a tournament team remains to be seen, but this much is clear: Jim Boeheim has himself a squad Upstate.

No. 10 Gonzaga outlasts No. 18 UConn despite late offensive struggles

Leave a comment

No. 10 Gonzaga survived a furious rally from No. 18 UConn to win the third place game in the Battle 4 Atlantis, 73-70.

The Zags were up by as much as 21 points early in the second half, leading 48-27, but UConn slowly chipped away at the lead. Kyle Wiltjer led four players in double-figures with 17 points while Eric McClellan added 15 points, making a number of key plays in the second half when it looked like the Zags were in danger of giving away the lead.

As good as Gonzaga looked in the first 22 minutes of this game — and they looked really, really good — the second half exposed the concerns that many had with this group entering the season. Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr., who both shot around 40 percent from beyond the arc and started for four years, graduated, meaning that Gonzaga’s point guard situation is, more or less, Josh Perkins.

Perkins was terrific in the second half of a loss to Texas A&M on Thursday. He played 17 foul-plagued minutes against UConn. When UConn’s defense ratcheted up during the second half, Gonzaga struggled finding a way to consistently get good shots on the offensive end. Part of that was due to ineffective point guard play and part of it was a result of not really having anyone on the offensive end that can create a look on their own. As skilled as Wiltjer is, his impact can be limited when pick-and-pop actions aren’t working and he’s getting doubled in the post.

Perkins is talented, but this is essentially his first season of college basketball; he was a medical redshirt last season after breaking his jaw last November. There are going to be ups-and-downs, and that’s problematic on a team where he is essentially the only point guard on the roster.

The good news?

Gonzaga beat a good UConn team on a day when their best players struggled in crunch-time. It was McClellan and Kyle Dranginis that made the big plays down the stretch, not the big names on the Gonzaga roster.