SMU advances, Georgetown heads home, CBI semifinals set

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The NCAA tournament isn’t the only college hoops postseason event happening this week. Here’s a roundup of the smaller dances:

SMU 80, LSU 67: Nic Moore and Nick Russell both went for 16 points and combined for 10 boards and nine assists and No. 1 seed SMU overcame a ten point first half deficit as the Mustangs knocked off the Tigers, 80-67. They’ll advance to take on No. 2 seed Cal at home on Wednesday. The Tigers, on the other hand, enter a crossroads. They were a disappointment this season, and Monday might have been the last time that this group takes the court together. Johnny O’Bryant, Jordan Mickey and Jarell Martin are all going to be draft picks whenever they decide to leave school. Will that be after this season?

Florida State 101, Georgetown 90: Florida State shot 68.2% from the floor and hit 11 threes as they knocked off Georgetown in Tallahassee to advance to the Elite 8 of the NIT. They’ll host Louisiana Tech on Wednesday, with the winner headed to Madison Square Garden for the NIT semifinals. Aaron Thomas led the way with 26 points and Devin Bookert added 21 points and nine assists.

Cal 75, Arkansas 64: Jabari Bird led three players in double figures with 19 points as the Bears jumped out to a 31-8 and never looked back, knocking off Arkansas and advancing to the NIT’s Elite 8. They’ll be paying a visit to Dallas to take on SMU for the right to play in the Garden next week.

CBI Roundup: The semifinals for the CBI are set. On Wednesday, Siena will take on Illinois State to start off the night and Old Dominion will square off with Fresno State in the nightcap.

Siena advanced on a game-winner from Evan Hymes with 3.9 seconds left, knocking off Penn State 54-52. Illinois State advanced thanks to 17 points and nine boards from Daishon Knight as they held Texas A&M to just 34.0% shooting from the floor. Richard Ross had 23 points and 10 boards to lead five players in double figures as Old Dominion knocked off Radford, while Fresno State got 23 points, eight boards and four assists from Tyler Johnson in a win over Princeton.

CIT Roundup: The only CIT game of the night featured Murray State knocking off Omaha in the second round of the event.

VIDEO: Kris Dunn wills Providence to win over No. 11 Arizona

Kris Dunn, Elliott Pitts
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Kris Dunn spent the first 35 minutes of Friday night’s game against No. 11 Arizona in foul trouble, splitting his time between sitting on the bench and trying to avoid finding himself, again, on the wrong side the whistle.

With 11 minutes left in the game, and with Dunn yet to find a rhythm, the all-american point guard was whistled for his fourth foul as he battled for a rebound with Arizona’s Mark Tollefsen. Head coach Ed Cooley say his superstar beside his for six game minutes, time enough for Arizona to turn a 49-47 deficit into a 58-54 lead.

There were just over five minutes left when Dunn reentered the second semifinal of the Wooden Legacy, and he proceeded to show everyone in the country why he was named the Preseason Player of the Year. Providence had nine possessions after he reentered the game. Dunn scored 11 points and had a pair of assists on those eight possessions, and if Ben Bentil had stuck a wide-open three — that was setup by Dunn — the Friars would have scored on all nine.

In total, Dunn was responsible for all 15 Friar points in a game-changing, 15-7 run in the final 4:30. It was capped off by this Kobe-in-his-prime-esque game-winner:

The win for Providence is huge for a couple of reasons:

  • Dunn showed a killer instinct against a marquee opponent, something that we didn’t necessarily see out of him a season ago. He wasn’t going to let his team lose, and given that Providence doesn’t have anyone else that can consistently create good shots, they are going to need that from him a lot this year.
  • It makes a statement for the Friars. Arizona is overrated at No. 11 in the country, yes, but going out on national television against an elite program and getting this kind of performance from Dunn is a confidence-booster and a tone-setter. Providence hasn’t been accustomed to winning in recent years. This is a way to set a trend.
  • Ben Bentil continues to play like a star. Dunn had 19 points and eight assists on Friday, but Bentil followed up a 24-point performance in the win over Evansville with 21 critical points on Friday.

This win sets up a matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence on Sunday night, which means that Denzel Valentine and Kris Dunn — the two best players in the country, sorry Ben Simmons — will be going head-to-head.

Oh. Hell. Yes.

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.