Roy Devyn Marble, Lenzelle Smith

Tuesday’s Pregame Shootaround: Big Ten battle, Kentucky in the Bayou

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 7 Michigan State at No. 15 Iowa, 7:00 p.m.

Two weeks ago, Iowa was the trendy pick to win the Big Ten. Then the Hawkeyes lost to Michigan and ceded that title to the Wolverines. In fact, while Iowa may be one of the most talented teams in the country, they are still without a defining win this season. Xavier, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Minnesota. These are all good wins. They aren’t elite wins. Beating Michigan State, even if they are injury-ravaged, would be.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: No. 11 Kentucky at LSU, 9:00 p.m.

This should have been one of the best games of the season in the SEC, but LSU simply has not been as good as we all expected this season. They have an NBA-caliber front line and a good enough back court, but the pieces just don’t quite fit right now. They do, however, matchup well with Kentucky. Johnny O’Bryant is big enough to get physical with Willie Cauley-Stein and the Tigers have enough size that they won’t need to sell out defensively to matchup with Julius Randle.

MID-MAJOR MATCHUP OF THE NIGHT: New Mexico at Utah State, 11:05 p.m.

Utah State is one of the toughest places in the country to place, taking San Diego State to overtime on Saturday night. New Mexico may be forced to play without Alex Kirk, and even if he does play, he may not be at 100%. The good news for the Lobos? Hugh Greenwood seems to finally be hitting his stride this season.


1) Notre Dame hasn’t been the same team since Jerian Grant saw his season come to an end in December. They’re sitting at 2-5 in the ACC, and they host one of the hottest teams in the country in Virginia. The ‘Hoos have won six of their last seven since getting dropped by 35 points at Tennessee.

2) Interesting matchup in Omaha as No. 20 Creighton will do battle with St. John’s. The Johnnies have the kind of size and athleticism at the forward spot to give Doug McDermott trouble.

3) No. 4 Wichita State will have their undefeated record on the line tonight as they host Loyola (IL).

4) Missouri will head to Arkansas in a key game for a pair of teams that looks like they could end up sitting on the bubble come Selection Sunday.

5) Baylor has gotten off to a horrid, 1-5 start in Big 12 play. They’ll have a chance to turn that around tonight as they host West Virginia. The Bears will have plenty of chances to put together enough wins to earn a trip to the NCAA tournament. They have the talent, too. Can West Virginia be the cure to their woes?

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.