Josh Pastner

Canadian powerhouse defeats Memphis

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Memphis was added to the list of Division I programs to take a summer trip to Canada, only to return to the States with a loss. On Saturday night, the Tigers took on Canadian powerhouse Carleton. The Ravens built a sizable first half lead, and eventually held on to an 86-76 victory over the Tigers in the Can-Am Shootout.

Carleton defeated Vermont and UIC last week while dropping a its first game to Indiana. Last summer, the Ravens defeated Wisconsin, a team that later reached the Final Four. Carleton has won the last four Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) titles and 10 of the last 12.

Philip Scrubb scored a game-high 35 points for Carleton, followed by his brother, Thomas, who added 21. The duo shot a combined 19 of 35 (10 of 16) from the field and outscored Memphis in the first half. Nick King led Memphis with a team-high 19 points. Newcomers Chris Hawkins and Dominic Magee added 14 and 11, respectively, off the bench. Returning starter Austin Nichols missed Saturday night’s game with an ankle injury.

Carleton shot 55 percent in the first half, and 57 percent from beyond the arc to build a 55-29 halftime lead. Memphis held the Ravens to 36 percent shooting in the final two quarters while outscoring them 47-31.

“The Carleton coach told me before the game that they blitzed Wisconsin, Syracuse and Louisville early in past exhibitions,” Memphis head coach Pastner said in a recap published by the school. “They jump on teams early, and we were another victim.”

This current Memphis team was more than susceptible to falling behind early, especially against a talented and experienced back court. The Tigers lost all four seniors from last year’s perimeter attack. On Saturday, the four guards to log the most minutes in the back court included redshirt freshmen Markel Crawford and Pookie Powell along with incoming freshman Dominic Magee and junior college transfer Chris Hawkins. None of whom have played a Division I game yet. That quartet was matched up against the high-scoring Scrubb brothers, both of whom were named to the Canadian national team this summer.

Memphis has another game on Sunday night, taking on the University of Ottawa, a team that made headlines earlier this month when it defeated Indiana.

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.