Michael Enanga

NCAA Tournament Primer: Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

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Get to know all of the NCAA Tournament’s automatic bids here.

Conference: Big South

Coach: Cliff Ellis

Record: 21-12 (11-5 Big South)

Rankings and Ratings:

– Kenpom: 242
– RPI: 216
– AP/USA Today: Not ranked

Seeding?: In Dave Ommen’s most recent bracket High Point was projected as the automatic qualifier from the Big South, and was slotted as a likely No. 16 seed playing in the First Four.

Names you need to know: Josh Cameron (14.0 pp, 2.5 apg), Elijah Wilson (16.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg), and Warren Gillis (14.6 ppg, 3.0 apg)

Stats you need to know: Coastal Carolina had the most efficient defense in the Big South Conference according to kenpom.com as evident by the Chanticleers holding the Eagles to 31 percent shooting in the championship game. Another interesting note is that head coach Cliff Harris had taken his fourth different program to the NCAA tournament become one of 10 coaches to do so. He previously took South Alabama, Clemson and Auburn to the Big Dance. This is Coastal’s first trip since 1993.

Tendencies: The Chanticleers go as their back court does. The guard play of Cameron, Wilson and Gillis have accounted for more than 60 percent of Coastal Carolina’s points this season. The trio scored 50 combined points on Sunday afternoon.

Big wins, bad losses: Held the high-powered VMI to 62 points in the conference semifinals, almost 25 points below the Keydets’ season average. Lost to Ole Miss and Minnesota — in consecutive games — by a combined 12 points. Got crushed by 29 to Ellis’ former team Clemson on Nov. 29.

How’d they get here?: Coastal earned one of the top two seeds in the Big South Tournament, earning a bye into the quarterfinals. It’s first two tournament games — Charleston Southern and VMI — were decided by nine points. In the title game over Winthrop, which had upset the other top seed High Point in the quarterfinals, the Chanticleers ran away with a 15-point win in the second half.

Outlook: Could very well play in the First Four in Dayton. If that’s the case I like the Chanticleers chances of advancing to the field of 64 to play one of the four top seeds.

How do I know you?: Coastal Carolina gets after it defensively, allowing 68.8 points per game and limiting the opposition to a little over 40 percent from the field.

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.