D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Gary Harris

Georgetown may have saved their season by beating No. 7 Michigan State

Leave a comment

Markel Starks scored 16 points and Mikael Hopkins chipped in with 10 as Georgetown picked up a win they desperately needed, knocking off No. 7 Michigan State, 64-60, at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.

The Hoyas have been a mess this year. They entered the game having lost five straight games and six of their last seven. The only win the Hoyas currently have in Big East play came against Butler in overtime. They lost Josh Smith for the season due to academic struggles during that stretch. Moses Ayegba was suspended for a game. Jabril Trawick broke his jaw. It was ugly.

Which is what makes this win over the Spartans so important.

Georgetown still has time to turn this thing around. Their non-conference resume now consists of wins over Kansas State and VCU in addition to the win over the Spartans, which is about as good as you are going to find on the bubble. Their next five games — at DePaul, Butler, Providence, at Seton Hall, at St. John’s — are all winnable.

What Georgetown needed more than anything was a dose of confidence. This is clearly not one of John Thompson III’s best teams since he took over the program, but it’s not like this group doesn’t have some talent. Markel Starks and D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera make up one of the best backcourts in the conference. The rest of the roster is at least serviceable, enough so that this should, on paper, be a team that can make the NCAA tournament.

The best-case scenario for the Hoyas seems very plausible. If they can build on this win — which came in a game where Smith-Rivera shot 2-for-11 from the floor — and take care of business in their next five games, they’ll end the season with a four-game stretch that can earn them that bubble berth: Xavier, at Marquette, Creighton, at Villanova.

The margin for error is minuscule, but this win gives the Hoyas life.

As far as the Spartans are concerned, this loss isn’t all that surprising.

Michigan State is without Branden Dawson and Adreian Payne, Keith Appling is banged up and they’re playing a game in the middle of Big Ten season in New York against a team that’s desperate to get the win.

In the long-run, this game doesn’t matter for the Spartans, and they played like it didn’t for too long. When a team is apathetic, when they don’t play as hard as they should, they’re prone to getting upset, especially when they are missing their two biggest, most athletic interior players.

This may as well have been a scrimmage for the Spartans.

But it was a season-changer for the Hoyas.

And the final score reflects that.

Rick Pitino: Louisville ‘just ignored’ in top 25 due of scandal

Rick Pitino
(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Leave a comment

Louisville beatdown Saint Louis at the Barclays Center on Sunday night, a 77-57 win that was much closer at halftime than the final score might indicate.

The win moved the Cardinals to 5-0 on the season, and that, in turn, got Louisville into the back end of both top 25 polls.

They’re 24th in the AP Poll and 22nd in the Coaches Poll, but that happened on Monday morning. On Sunday night, Pitino made sure to get a rant in about how this team is viewed and why pundits and voters should overlook the scandal currently plaguing his program.

“I think people are looking at that and they’re not really studying the team,” he said, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal, adding that he thinks the team is “just ignored” because of the accusations leveled by self-described madam Katina Powell in the book she published back in October.

And here’s the thing: he is 100 percent correct. Louisville was overlooked in the preseason because the scandal, when combined with the fact that the Cardinals are integrating so many new pieces into their rotation, made it tough to see how they would be able to compete at a level that we’ve come to expect out of Louisville teams.

I know that because it’s why my colleagues at NBCSports.com, against my wishes, refused to allow me to rank Louisville in the preseason top 25. In other words, I’ve had first-hand interactions with the haters. But if we’re going to be honest here, scandal or no scandal, Louisville probably wasn’t going to find their way into the preseason top 25, not when they had to replace Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell.

And scandal or no scandal, no team from outside the top 25 is going to play their way into the top 25 by beating the likes of North Florida and St. Francis (NY) without some shenanigans — like Fred VanVleet getting hurt, like Indiana collapsing, like Arizona and Cal and Notre Dame playing their way out of the top 20 — happening around the country.

So Pitino is right: the scandal probably did have an impact on how his team was viewed in the preseason.

But Pitino the scandal isn’t what kept them out of the top 25 until Monday.

That weak non-conference schedule and roster turnover was why.

And if we’re going to be honest here, it probably should have kept them out for another week.

Brooks’ big game leads No. 15 Oregon over Fresno State 78-73

Dillon Brooks, Torren Jones
AP Photo/Chris Pietsch
Leave a comment

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) Dillon Brooks had 21 points and 10 rebounds and No. 15 Oregon staved off a late rally by Fresno State for a 78-73 victory Monday night.

Chris Boucher and Elgin Cook added 14 points each for the Ducks (6-0), who led 70-52 with 6:35 to play before Marvelle Harris scored 13 points in a 16-2 run by the Bulldogs (5-1) that cut the deficit to four.

A driving layup by Brooks put Oregon up 74-68 with 1:20 left, and the Ducks held on by making four of six free throws in the final 45 seconds.

Harris, who didn’t score until the 12:04 mark of the second half, led Fresno State with 18 points, while Paul Watson added 11 and Torren Jones had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

The Bulldogs won the rebounding battle 41-32 behind Jones and Karachi Edo, who had nine rebounds and 10 points.

Freshman Tyler Dorsey, Oregon’s leading scorer at 15.2 points per game, finished with 12.

The Ducks scored the game’s first 11 points, went up by as many as 14 and took a 37-25 halftime lead. The Ducks did most of the damage from inside the 3-point arc (9 of 10) and at the free throw line, outscoring the Bulldogs 13-5.

Fresno State, meanwhile, missed its first six shots from the field, shot 29.0 percent (9 of 31) and saw its top two scorers, Harris and Cezar Guerrero, held scoreless for the first 20 minutes.

The senior guards came in averaging 20.2 and 13.2 points per game, respectively.


Fresno State: Harris, the preseason choice for Mountain West Conference player of the year, needed one point to crack the Bulldog’s all-time top 10 in scoring. After going scoreless in the first half, he finished with 18 to rank 10th with 1,425, one behind Tod Bernard in ninth place, in 107 career games. . The Bulldogs fell to 2-10 all-time against Oregon. They last time they beat the Ducks, who have won the last five meetings, was in 1995. . Fresno State hasn’t beaten a Top 25 team on the road since 2000.

Oregon: The double-double was the second of the season Brooks and fourth of his career. . The Ducks are 40-2 against nonconference opponents since moving into Matthew Knight Arena five years ago. . The 6-0 start is Oregon’s second in the last nine years. The Ducks started 13-0 two seasons ago.