Indiana Pacers

Ric Tapia/Icon SMI

Former Fresno State player Paul George sells out team’s home opener

Leave a comment

When Fresno State opens the home portion of its schedule against Cal State Northridge, Rodney Terry’s team should be playing in front of a good-sized crowd. Why? Because tickets to the game are free, thanks to Indiana Pacer Paul George.

George, fresh off of signing a five-year extension that guarantees him anywhere from $80 million to $90 million, bought every remaining ticket in the 15,596-seat Save Mart Center according to the Clay Moffitt of The Business Journal. Thanks to George fans can print out a voucher and bring it down to the school’s ticket office, and they’ll receive a ticket to the game.

As for season ticket holders, they’ll be able to sit in their usual seats and thus avoid the mayhem that can result in “free-for-all” situations. This is a great gesture on George’s part, giving back to the fans who supported him during his two seasons playing for the Bulldogs. During his career at Fresno State George averaged 15.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game, and in 2010 he became the highest draft pick in school history when the Pacers selected him with the 10th overall pick.

George was also Fresno State’s first lottery selection since 2002, when forward/center Melvin Ely was picked 12th overall by the Los Angeles Clippers. In that particular draft three Bulldogs were selected: Ely, forward Chris Jefferies (27th overall, Los Angeles Lakers) and guard Tito Maddox (38th overall, Houston).

And for your viewing pleasure, here’s George as a freshman throwing down an emphatic dunk at Saint Mary’s.

Pregame Shootaround 12.6.12: Nebraska looks to make a statement

Doug McDermott
1 Comment

Each day, CollegeBasketballTalk brings you the “Pregame Shootaround,” which will be posted at 2 p.m. ET and lay out a preview for the slate of games that night. We’ll take a look at some key match-ups and important games, as well as make some predictions and point out what you need to watch for. Take a look below at today’s edition:

Note: The weekend editions of Pregame Shootaround will be published half an hour prior to tip-off of the day’s first game.

Game of the Day: No. 16 Creighton at Nebraska (8 PM) 

Thursday’s schedule may be light, but that allows for even more attention to be given to this battle in Lincoln. Tim Miles’ Cornhuskers are 6-1 on the season (5-0 at home) and coming off of a solid win over USC on Monday, but the Bluejays are an entirely different animal. Greg McDermott’s team has little trouble scoring points, which means that Nebraska will have to be even better defensively tonight than they were on Monday.

The home team has won the last seven meetings in the series, with Creighton’s 50-48 win in 2004 being the last time the visitor came out on top. With Doug McDermott and Gregory Echenique leading the way inside the Bluejays will be a tough matchup for burly Nebraska center Andre Almeida, and guards such as Ray Gallegos and Dylan Talley will need to be at their best if the Huskers are to win.

Who’s getting upset?: No. 11 Cincinnati vs. Arkansas-Little Rock (7 PM) 

Mick Cronin’s Bearcats had better not overlook the Trojans, who arrive at Fifth-Third Arena with a 7-3 record (2-0 Sun Belt). Steve Shields’ Trojans allowed 57.0 points per game in wins over Troy and ULM to begin Sun Belt play 2-0, and they’ve been one of the league’s best defensive teams in regards to both scoring and field goal percentage defense. Will Neighbour (12.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg), a preseason All-Sun Belt selection, leads the way offensively for UALR. The Trojans will have their hands full with Sean Kilpatrick, Cashmere Wright and the rest of the Bearcats, but if they can make this a half-court game UALR has a puncher’s chance.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: UCSB at No. 17 San Diego State (10 PM)

No San Diego State is not a mid-major, but with tonight’s slate why not show UCSB forward Alan Williams some love. Williams is averaging 16.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game for the Gauchos, who are 3-4 on the season (replacing Orlando Johnson and James Nunnally). If Williams can give SDSU fits in the paint (DeShawn Stephens will be a key figure for them) the Aztecs will be in for a battle. This game will also feature two solid freshman wings in San Diego State’s Winston Shepard and UCSB’s Taran Brown.

Five Things to Watch For 

1) Freshman Kris Dunn won’t make his debut for Providence just yet but there is a chance that Bryce Cotton will be able to play as the Friars take on rival Rhode Island. Two depleted teams led by coaches many feel are capable of turning around the fortunes of these Ocean State programs.

2) Michael Carter-Williams was outstanding in Syracuse’s 84-48 blowout of Eastern Michigan, tallying 11 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds. What can he do for an encore? Long Beach State’s Mike Caffey will offer up a challenge tonight.

3) Xavier looks to move to 7-1 on the season with a young Vanderbilt squad visiting the Cintas Center. Freshman Semaj Christon has been one of the best freshmen in the country to this point in the season, and the Musketeers have shown themselves to be better than expected in the aftermath of their many personnel issues.

4) One of the most underrated guards in the nation will be in action as Tennessee Tech hosts Green Bay. That player: Tennessee Tech senior Jud Dillard, who leads the Golden Eagles in scoring (20.0 ppg) and rebounding (7.3 rpg) and is second on the team in assists (2.9 apg). While Isaiah Canaan and Kerron Johnson get the majority of the attention, Dillard will be a factor in the OVC Player of the Year race.

5) Cal State Fullerton looks to rebound from their tough loss at Washington on Sunday night when they host Cal State Bakersfield. With D.J. Seeley and Kwame Vaughn leading the way the Titans certainly are capable of doing so, but they’ve lost the last three games in the series (including two last season).

The Rest of the Top 25: 

Long Beach State at No. 4 Syracuse (8 PM)

Other Notable Games:

Rhode Island at Providence (7 PM)

Vanderbilt at Xavier (7:30 PM)

Green Bay at Tennessee Tech (8:30 PM)

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Duke’s comeback win adds to their resume, Plumlee’s POY candidacy

Aaron Craft, Mason Plumlee
8 Comments

You want to talk about impressive wins?

No. 2 Duke’s come-from-behind, 72-68 win over No. 4 Ohio State on Wednesday night was impressive for much more than the simple fact that the Blue Devils beat the No. 4 team in the country despite being outplayed for about the first 28 minutes of the game.

Three days ago, the Blue Devils were in the Bahamas, beating then-No. 2 Louisville for the Battle 4 Atlantis title, an event that required Duke to win three games in three days over the Thanksgiving holiday. That’s tough enough, but Duke isn’t exactly a normal team right now. They get almost no offensive production from their bench and the only reason that guys like Tyler Thornton and Josh Hairston see significant minutes is because a) Seth Curry isn’t healthy and b) Miles Plumlee and Ryan Kelly always seem to be getting into foul trouble.

You could see it early in the game.

Duke looked a step slow to every loose ball. They were beaten on the offensive glass far too many times. Their offense looked out of sync. It looked like they were going through the motions. Sleepwalking, if you will.

That changed in the second half. It started with Quinn Cook leading the break, finding Mason Plumlee for a couple of dunks in transition (including this ridiculous lob). The Blue Devils started getting up into Ohio State defensively. All of a sudden their cuts were sharper and their shots just that much more open. Rasheen Sulaimon went off to the tune of 17 points in the second half, helping make up for the fact that Curry was banged up. Plumlee finished with 21 points and 17 boards. And Duke was still undefeated with, by far, the strongest resume in the country.

But we already knew all of this about Duke. For the last three days, we’ve been discussing whether or not the Blue Devils should have knocked Indiana out of the No. 1 spot in the rankings.

What hasn’t gotten as much publicity, however, has been the play of Mason Plumlee. Through seven games, he’s now averaging 19.9 points and 11.0 boards while shooting 65.3% from the floor and, astoundingly, 78.9% from the free throw line. And he’s done that while Duke has beaten Louisville, Kentucky, Ohio State, VCU and Minnesota.

I still have Indiana as the best team in the country.

That’s not going to change until the Hoosiers do something to prove to me they aren’t as good as they looked in the second half against North Carolina.

I will, however, change my opinion on who will win the National Player of the Year award.

Right now, it has to be Plumlee. And his schedule is only going to get easier from here on out.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

The Morning Mix

Leave a comment

Last night was the first night of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Michigan got a big home win against North Carolina State thanks to a huge performance from Trey Burke. In Bloomington, Indiana steamrolled over a flat North Carolina squad. Virginia Tech and Maryland were the lone ACC teams to win on night one.

But last night was also the first night of Jimmy-V Week. I was too young to remember Valvano as a coach, but the words he imparted on us during his legendary ESPYs speech has inspired and motivate me my entire life. I imagine that I’m not the only one whole feels the same way.

Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.

Wednesday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – Virginia @ Wisconsin
7:00 p.m. – William & Mary @ Richmond
7:00 p.m. – American @ St. Joseph’s
7:15 p.m. – Purdue @ Clemson
7:30 p.m. – No. 13 Michigan State @ Miami (FL)
8:00 p.m. – Oklahoma vs. Oral Roberts
8:00 p.m. – Tulsa @ Wichita State
8:00 p.m. – Utah @ SMU
8:05 p.m. – Boise State @ No. 11 Creighton
9:00 p.m. – Georgia Tech @ No. 22 Illinois
9:00 p.m. – Mercer @ No. 25 New Mexico
9:00 p.m. – Montana @ BYU
9:15 p.m. – Boston College @ Penn State
9:30 p.m. – No. 4 Ohio State @ No. 2 Duke
10:00 p.m. – Northern Arizona @ No. 9 Arizona
10:00 p.m. – UC-Irvine @ No. 24 UNLV
12:00 a.m. – Saint Louis @ Washington

Read of the Day:
Athlon Sports released their “Off the Record” survey from current college basketball players. Kim Kardashian is the hottest women alive apparently. Personally, I’d pick Upton or Good out of the group, but hey, that’s a debate for a rainy day. But make sure you read this. I do love me a good survey. (Athlon Sports)

Read of the Day:
Casual Hoya details how greed will destroy modern amateur athletics. Read it. (Casual Hoya)

Top Stories:
Former-SDSU forward Tim Shelton makes best music video of the season: The former-Aztec is a talented hip-hop artist and released yet another Aztec anthem. This one, titled “Montezuma 55” is legitimately good. Best music video I’ve seen all year.

North Carolina’s blowout loss at Indiana was far worse than just a blowout: The young Tar Heels looked out-matched. they looked like they had no business being on the same court as the Hoosiers. Marcus Paige is not Kendall Marshall, and James Michael McAdoo is not Tyler Hansbrough. This could be a very long season in Chapel Hill.

Michigan looked like a National Championship night in victory over NC-State: Trey Burke looked like an All-American and the Wolverines’ freshman stepped up large in a dominant win over the Wolfpack. Michigan led early and often, and was able to fight off a late rally to secure a very impressive early season victory.

ACC files lawsuit against Maryland: The Atlantic Coast Conference has filed a lawsuit against member school Maryland in a North Carolina court after the school’s announcement last week that it would leave the ACC for the Big Ten. The lawsuit is in regard to the $50-million exit fee the conference imposed on member schools earlier this year.

Tulane and East Carolina are joining the Big East: The Green Wave will become full-time members while the Pirates will join for football only. If all stays put, the Big East will have 10 former C-USA schools as big East members in 2014.

Hoops Housekeeping:
– Missouri’s Michael Dixon remains suspended for “a violation of team rules”. Steve Walentik has the graphic details of the rape accusations that were made against Dixon stemming from an August incident. (Columbia Tribune)

– Former-Washington Husky Doug Wrenn was convicted on Tuesday afternoon of harassing and cyber stalking a former girlfriend. (Seattle Times)

– Tulsa has placed Athletic Director Ross Parmley on paid administrative leave as the university investigates allegations of illegal sports gambling. (CBS Sports)

– Marquette guard Vander Blue is expected to play against Florida on Thursday after missing the Golden Eagles game on Monday against UMBC. (Fox Sports Wisconsin)

– SIU-Edwardsville forward Mark Yelovich is day-to-day with an ankle injury. (OVC Ball)

– After receiving X-rays on his surgically repaired foot, California sophomore Ricky Kreklow should be able to return soon, although he is doubtful for the Bears next game. (Bear Talk)

– Cleveland State’s Anton Grady will miss tonight’s game against Ball State because of a knee injury. (Cleveland State Hoops)

– UNLV freshman phenom Anthony Bennett may miss tonight’s game against UC-Irvine because of a lower back injury. (Las Vegas Sun)

– The NCAA has hired Val Ackerman as a consultant for women’s basketball. (Fox Sports)

Observations & Insight:
– The ACC will vote on expanding the conference later today, and it looks like if the ACC does expand, Louisville is going to get the nod. (ACC Sports Journal)

– North Carolina dispels rumors that it wants to join the Big Ten. (Sporting News)

– A stock report from the first night of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. (The Dagger)

– Mike DeCourcy doesn’t think the Tulane/Big East marriage will work, and I totally agree with him. (Sporting News)

– The WAC is desperately trying to stay afloat. After losing Denver on Monday, the conference has added Grand Canyon, a school most of us never knew existed. (Yahoo Sports)

– With Gorgui Dieng sidelined with a broken wrist, back-up center Stephen Van Treese is going to be called on to pick up the slack. Van Treese missed almost all of last season due to injury. (The Cardinal Connect)

– Jeff Borzello updates his Freshman of the Year rankings. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Dave Telep wonders if the hectic travel schedules of AAU basketball players is contributing to the recent outbreak in injuries among some the most elite high school players in the country. (ESPN Insider)

– Luke Winn provides his list of the top-16 best shooters in the country, now w/ more pictures. (Sports Illustrated)

– What is wrong with UCLA coach Ben Howland? An excellent read. (Bruins Nation)

– A quick look at the MAC power rankings. (Hustle Belt)

– I love lists like this: The All-Chicago Team. (Run The Floor)

Odds & Ends
– ICYMI, the lights did breifly go out at Assembly Hall during the Hoosiers rout of North Carolina last night. (The Big Lead)

– What has happened to our beloved Big East Conference? (Big East Hoops)

– Some expansion thoughts from a James Madison perspective. (JMU Sports Blog)

Dunk of the Day:
This dunk from Minnesota’s Rodney Williams is just silly. I wish I could do that. (Ballin’ is a Habit)

Video(s) of the Day:
Vermont got a quality non-conference road-win over a gutsy Harvard squad 85-78.

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

Do you like the new Morning Mix? Hate it? Have a suggestion or wanted something featured? Troy Machir will take all your praise, insults and inquiries via Twitter (@TroyMachir)

North Carolina’s loss was much, much worse than simply a blowout

North Carolina v Indiana
7 Comments

This was more than just a loss for No. 14 North Carolina.

The 83-59 mollywhopping they took at the hands of No. 1 Indiana on Tuesday night is a legitimate cause for alarm for the folks in Chapel Hill.

Why?

I thought you’d never ask.

Marcus Paige is not a point guard. He’s not Kendall Marshall, not even close. What made Marshall so great was his ability to create shots for the other three first round picks on the floor with him. Paige doesn’t have that kind of talent around him, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is a score-first point guard. That won’t work within Roy Williams’ system.

James Michael McAdoo is not Tyler Hansbrough. He doesn’t have a back-to-the-basket game, he can be forced into taking the shots the defense wants him to take, and at this point, he looks soft. He got pushed around by Indiana just like he got pushed around by Butler. In fact, this can be attributed to the entire UNC front line. They don’t have a low-post scorer, and while the point guards have gotten much of the credit for UNC’s success over the years, the success of Williams’ secondary break offense hinges on having a player in the pivot that demands a double-team. Sean May. Hansbrough. Tyler Zeller. When UNC relied on Ed Davis in 2009-2010, what happened?

Perhaps more alarming is the fact that there doesn’t seem to be a leader or a go-to guy on this team. This is the second time this season that UNC has been blitzed and had no response. Everyone makes runs in college basketball, but which Tar Heel do you see being the guy that says, “Enough of this garbage, give me the dang ball, we need a bucket”? I’m coming up empty.

But the biggest concern I have is with the simplest of mistakes.

Jordy Hulls should never, ever get an open look from beyond the arc. Never. He was 3-5 on Tuesday, with a couple of wide-open looks. He was also standing by himself a couple of times waiting to receive a pass as Indiana simply got an easier look at the rim.

Or what about the missed box-outs? The poor defensive rotations? The poor defensive effort, period?

Or how about this: after watching Tyler Zeller run the floor as well as anyone in the country for four seasons, how is it possible that North Carolina can so consistently get beaten down the floor for easy baskets by Cody Zeller? He did it at least four times in the first 25 minutes, and he wasn’t the only one that got easy layups in transition.

This will not be the last time that Indiana blows out a ranked team at Assembly Hall.

But this isn’t the first time that North Carolina has gotten smacked around this season.

Be very concerned, Tar Heel fans.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Markel Starks, Otto Porter lead Georgetown past No. 11 UCLA

Markel Starks, John Thompson III
Leave a comment

BROOKLYN – This game was supposed to be about Shabazz Muhammad and UCLA. With the nation’s most talented freshman finally getting declared eligible by the NCAA this past Friday, Monday night’s game against Georgetown in the semifinals of the Legends Classic was supposed to be his debutante ball.

We’ve all seen the mixtapes. We’ve all watched the youtube highlights. Monday was supposed to be the real thing.

And then Georgetown showed up. If this was UCLA’s debutante ball, than Georgetown was the girl that took home the Bruin’s date.

The Hoyas got a career-high 23 points from Markel Starks in a 78-70 win over the No. 11 Bruins, moving to 3-0 on the season. Starks may have led the team in scoring, but Otto Porter was the star in his first full game of the season. He finished with 18 points, 11 boards, five blocks, five assists and three steals.

“Otto’s first full game, if you look at the stat sheet, is a full game,” Thompson said, “and there is a whole bunch of other stuff that he did that doesn’t show up on this stat sheet. We’re a better team with him on the court, so it was good to have him back out there.”

This was a long way from the best game that UCLA will put together this season, but that shouldn’t diminish just how impressive Georgetown was. The Hoyas used a 12-0 run to open the second half, sparked by a pair of threes from sophomore Greg Whittington and capped with a dunk in transition from Mikael Hopkins, and systematically picked apart the UCLA defense for the duration of the game. The Bruins were able to get within four on a couple of occasions, but Georgetown had an answer for every Bruin run.

The best player on the floor for Georgetown in this game was Starks, the Hoyas’ junior point guard in his second season as a starter. His stat line was impressive enough — 23 points on 9-14 shooting, 2-4 from beyond the arc, four steals, two assists — but it was his leadership and patience running the team that made the difference.

“Starks had a great game tonight,” Howland said. “He had 23, and that was as many points as he scored in the last six games last season. He’s made a big jump and that really hurt us.”

When you think of Georgetown, the first thing that comes to mind is their front court. John Thompson III has developed a reputation for producing versatile, play-making big men that he runs his offense through: Greg Monroe, Jeff Green, Roy Hibbert, Henry Sims. What people don’t realize, however, is that those same Hoya teams are at their best when they are stocked with veteran back court players, the Austin Freemans and Chris Wrights and Jonathon Wallaces of the world.

Starks is the next in line in that role, and if tonight was any indication, he may be ready for the limelight.

“We’ve had guys that go into the season as unknowns, and guys that when their opportunities come, they’re ready,” Thompson said after the game. “This is an unselfish group, and they trust each other. Tonight was a night where Markel got in a little rhythm, and his teammates did a good job of finding him.”

As good as Starks was, the difference in this game came with about seven minutes left in the first half. UCLA was on a 22-10 run over a ten minute stretch, erasing Georgetown’s 10-2 start, and on the verge of taking control of the game. That’s when JT III switched to a 2-3 zone, and completely changed the course of the game.

“When they went zone in the last seven minutes of the second half, we were tentative and didn’t get it inside,” Howland said. UCLA ended up down two at halftime, setting up Georgetown’s 12-0 spurt to start the second half.

Georgetown is not a traditionally ‘big’ team. Mikael Hopkins and Nate Lubick are a long way from Cody Zeller and Thomas Robinson. Where the Hoyas have size, however, is on the wings. They start Greg Whittington and Otto Porter, who are both 6-foot-8 with insanely long wingspans, at the two and the three. They have Stephen Domingo and Jabril Trawick, who are both 6-foot-5 and athletic, coming off the bench. When the Hoyas settle back into that zone, that length makes them tough to score on.

It’s tough to judge a team based off of a single performance, especially when that performance comes less than a week after the Hoyas struggled to beat Atlantic 10 bottom-feeder Duquesne at home.

But it’s also difficult to ignore this one simple fact: Georgetown just smacked a UCLA team that could have as many as four or five first round picks.

That’s quite a statement to make.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.