Game of the Week: Kansas 77, UCLA 76
In all reality, the game of the week was Georgetown’s thrilling overtime win against Missouri. But we are going to be talking plenty about the Hoyas in this recap, so I went to Lawrence, KS, for the game of the week. UCLA, a team that struggled against Tennessee and VCU at the Preseason NIT finals in NYC, actually hung around with Kansas for 40 minutes. Tyler Honeycutt was unguardable, finishing with 33 points on 11-15 shooting, while the Jayhawks relatively small front line could not handle the 6’10”, 305 lb Joshua Smith in the paint, as the freshman finished with 17 points and 13 boards, 8 on the offensive end.
The two blue bloods threw haymakers throughout the second half, both making runs to seemingly grab control of the game. With three minutes left, Kansas took a 75-70 lead, but could not close out the Bruins as turnovers and missed free throws kept the Bruins alive. After Tyshawn Taylor missed one of two and Marcus Morris missed the front end of a 1-and-1, Lazeric Jones missed a free throw of his own and Kansas ended up with the ball out of bounds with 18 seconds left. Tyrell Reed was trapped on the inbounds pass and threw the ball away, and Honeycutt made the Jayhawks pay with a 25 foot three to tie the game. That’s when it got interesting.
We can argue with the NCAA about whether the foul that was called was the correct call, but it was called. Mario Little it one of the two free throws as UCLA was out of timeouts, and Honeycutt missed a prayer at the buzzer.
The other good games:
- UNC 75, Kentucky 73: Tyler Zeller and John Henson dominated a weak Kentucky front line, fouling out all three of Kentucky’s big men and holding Terrence Jones to 9 points and 6 boards on 3-17 shooting. But Kentucky got 24 points from Doron Lamb and 13 from Darius Miller to keep things close. The game was as ugly as it was intense, and it was UNC hitting nine of their last ten free throws that kept the Tar Heels ahead. Dexter Strickland missed the last one on purpose, forcing Kentucky to take a half court prayer to try and win the game. Lamb missed, and the Heels picked up a much needed win.
- Oklahoma State 92, La Salle 87 2OT: The Cowboys and the Explorers needed 50 minutes to decide things in Philly. After La Salle led for much of the second half, it was a short jumper from Marshall Moses that tied the game with six seconds left in regulation. Oklahoma State took the early lead in the first overtime, but Aaric Murray tied things up with eight seconds left in the first overtime. In the second overtime, the Cowboys opened up an 89-84 lead. Ruben Guillandeaux cut that lead to 89-87 with a three, but another jumper from Moses, who had 30 points and 18 boards, with 14 seconds left sealed the game.
Buzzer Beaters: Who doesn’t love a good buzzer beater. We had plenty this week:
- Cal Poly 54, Hawaii 53: Chris O’Brien followed up a miss with a lay-in at the buzzer to beat the Rainbows. The question everyone asked, however, was whether he got the shot off in time. You decide. The game wasn’t televised, so there was no monitor available to check the replay:
- Georgia State 64, James Madison 63: Jihad Ali followed up a missed shot with a lay-in as GSU picked up their first CAA win over the season over the Dukes.
- Quinnipiac: The Bobcats were on both sides of a buzzer beater this week. On Saturday, James Johnson scored on a layup as time expired to give QU a win in their NEC opener against Mt. St. Mary’s 77-75. But on Thursday, it was UMass winning at the buzzer, as Justin Rutty committed a goal tend with no time left on the clock.
- Wake Forest 76, Iowa 73: It wasn’t exactly a buzzer beater, but freshman JT Terrell hit a three with 2.7 seconds left to give Wake a 76-73 win over Iowa and cap an 18 point comeback.
- USC Upstate 93, UNC-Asheville 91 2OT: We had two buzzer beaters in this one. Tony Dukes of USC-Upstate hit a three to tie the game at 69 and force the first overtime before JP Primm forced a second overtime with a three at the buzzer that tied it up at 84. Carter Cook’s two free throws with 6.9 seconds left won the game.
Player of the Week: Kyrie Irving, Duke
It hasn’t been difficult to select the players of the week this season, and Irving’s selection was no different. The Blue Devil’s freshman point guard showed why people were predicting he would be the best point guard in the country this season by averaging 26.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, and 3.0 apg while collecting three steals and two blocks in Duke’s wins over Michigan State and Butler. Should I mention that he shot 14-22 from the field on the week (including 5-9 from three) and 19-22 from the line? Against Michigan State, Irving had as dominant of a performance as we have seen this year, going for 31 points and dissecting the Spartan defense. In Saturday’s win over Butler, Irving started off the game slowly before exploding for 17 of his 21 points in the second half. He also hit arguably the two biggest shots of the game, as his back-to-back three pointers finally put Butler away for good.
The All-they-were-good-too team
- G: Chris Wright, Georgetown: Wright was the best player for the best team this week, averaging 21.0 ppg and 6.0 apg in the Hoyas two wins.
- G: Brandon Young, DePaul: Young averaged 24.0 ppg as the Blue Demons won two games this week, beating Northern Illinois and Central Michigan.
- G: Jawan Carter, Delaware: Carter had 29 points in the Blue Hen’s CAA opening win over Old Dominion.
- F: Mike Scott, Virginia: Scott averaged 19.0 ppg and 12.5 rpg as the Cavs beat both Minnesota and Virginia Tech on the road.
- C: Tyler Zeller, UNC: Zeller wasn’t very impressive in the Heel’s loss to Illinois, but it was his 27 points, 11 boards, and 5 assists that won the game against Kentucky.
- Bench: Reggie Jackson, Boston College; Kemba Walker, UConn; Noah Dahlman, Wofford; Jon Leuer, Wisconsin; Marshall Moses, Oklahoma State; James Nunnally, UC Santa Barbara
Team of the Week: Georgetown Hoyas
Its about time that we start to consider Georgetown as one of the favorites to win the Big East and to reach the Final Four. That’s what happens when you start the season 8-0 with wins against teams like Old Dominion, Missouri, NC State, and Utah State. Only the Utah State game was at home. This week, the Hoyas beat two completely different teams. On Tuesday, they went into Kansas City to take on the Tigers in what was the single most entertaining game of the young season. The Hoyas opened up a 35-17 lead in the first half, but Mizzou slowly chipped away at the lead. Midway through the second half, a Marcus Denmon three put the Tigers ahead, and they would eventually get up 85-80, but the poise of Austin Freeman helped lead Georgetown back, as the Big East’s preseason player of the year scored back-to-back buckets, one of which was an and-one, to tie the game. Mizzou took the lead back, but a Chris Wright three with 0.3 seconds left forced OT. In OT, Jason Clark buried three straight threes to seal the deal for Georgetown, as they won 111-102.
On Saturday, the Aggies came to town. After playing a methodical first half which saw USU’s offense execute to precision, John Thompson III threw on a press in the second half which the Aggies could not handle. Turnovers and easy baskets led to a 68-51 win over the WAC favorites despite Wright being the only player that reached double figures for the Hoyas.
Georgetown beat two very good teams this week. Those two teams played styles that are at opposite ends of the basketball spectrum. Both teams were able to execute their game plans to a degree — Missouri get the game into an uptempo shootout, forcing turnovers and scoring in transition while Utah State was able to keep Georgetown from shooting threes (the Hoyas were 2-9 from deep) and kept the pace methodical. Georgetown won both games.
Teams deserving of a shout out:
- Boston College: The Eagles got off to a horrendous start, headlined by a loss to Yale. But after beating Texas A&M and Cal in the Old Spice, BC kept their momentum headed in the right direction by knocking off previously undefeated Indiana at home and previously undefeated UMass on the road. Reggie Jackson, the Eagle’s point guard, may be the best player in the country you’ve never seen play.
- Miami FL: Their loss to Rutgers by 16 is ugly, but the ‘Canes may have turned a corner. This week, they beat both Mississippi and West Virginia. Against the Rebels, it was 27 points, 6 boards, and 6 assists from Durand Scott that won the game. In the win over West Virginia, it was 26 points from Malcolm Grant that led the way.
- Virginia: I’m ACC heavy here, but just go with it. The Cavs were all but written off after they were drubbed by Washington and Wichita State out in Maui, but maybe we acted too soon. UVa won on the road at both Minnesota and Virginia Tech this week. Mike Scott wants people to start talking about him, apparently, so we will. He averaged 19.0 ppg and 12.5 rpg in the two wins.
- Florida Atlantic: Mississippi State and South Florida are far from being considered elite teams, but for a team like FAU to sweep is, in a word, impressive. Making it all the more impressive is that the Owl’s leading scorer, Greg Gantt, averaged just 9.5 ppg on the week.
- Drexel: Don’t look now, but the Dragons are now 5-1 on the season after opening CAA play with a win over Northeastern. Granted, Drexel still hasn’t beaten anyone, but this is a Dragons team that lost their leading scorer and a key sub in the offseason when they tried to rob a fellow Drexel student at gun point. Keep an eye on Chris Fouch. He’s averaging 21.7 ppg on the season.
- South Carolina: USC knocked off Clemson 64-60 in their intrastate rivalry. The Gamecocks are now 6-1 on the season, with their lone blemish a nine point loss at Michigan State. Freshman Bruce Ellingotn is averaging 12.7 ppg and 4.4 apg.
Other notes from the week that was: So when does the “MWC is a top five conference” talk start to happen? Because it should be going on right now. Let’s start with the MWC-MVC Challenge, which the MWC on 8-1. The only win for the Valley? Northern Iowa knocking off TCU, the same TCU that knocked off USC this week. San Diego State, BYU, and UNLV are all undefeated and all three look like Sweet 16 teams. New Mexico is 6-1 (with a loss to Cal but wins over Arizona State and at New Mexico State) and still waiting on Drew Gordon to become eligible after transferring from UCLA. And the bottom of the league isn’t as bad as we expected. Air Force bounced back from a loss to D-III Colorado College to beat Wofford and Evansville (who knocked off Butler). Utah beat Weber State. TCU has that win over USC. Its a shame this league is breaking up.
So, uhh, what’s going on with UCLA? The Bruins nearly knocked off Kansas in Lawrence on Wednesday, then proceeded to get smacked by Montana on Sunday night? In Pauley Pavilion? That kind of loss in unacceptable. I know Ben Howland took the Bruins to three straight Final Fours, but how long is that program going to put up with this level of ineptitude?
That wasn’t the only strange thing to happen in the Pac-10 this week. USC, who had lost to Rider, Nebraska, TCU, and Bradley, beat Texas by 17? Should I mention that Oregon State lost to Colorado by 26 points?
As we always have said, anything can happen in conference play. Take, for example, Old Dominion. The Monarchs were 5-1 on the season. They had beaten Xavier, Clemson, and Richmond. They were on the verge of being ranked in the top 25. Then they hosted Delaware, a team that was expected to finish somewhere near the bottom of the CAA. What happened? Jawan Carter exploded for 29 points and the Blue Hens led for almost all of the second half in an upset win. Regardless of the league you play in, you cannot overlook a single conference opponent, not when everyone knows what your game plan. There are no secrets in conference play. ODU learned that the hard way.
We’ve hit on this point a number of times already this season, but outside of Duke, the ACC favorites have really struggled. Virginia Tech appears to be a bust after losing an ugly game to Purdue and then dropping their ACC opener to UVa. Maryland’s loss to Temple means that the Terps have dropped every meaningful game they’ve played this season. Ditto for Florida State after the ‘Noles lost to Ohio State this week. That said, there was some success. In addition to what was mentioned above, UNC’s win over Kentucky gives the Tar Heels some much needed breathing room and confidence. This is a team loaded with talent. They just needed the pieces to come together. And while there are still some underlying issues for UNC, the fact that they were able to get a dominating performance from their big men is a positive.
Matchups of the Week
- 12/7 – 7:00 pm: Memphis vs. Kansas in NYC
- 12/7 – 9:30 pm: Syracuse vs. Michigan State
- 12/8 – 9:00 pm: Vanderbilt @ Missouri
- 12/8 – 9:30 pm: Notre Dame @ Kentucky
- 12/8 – 10:30 pm: San Diego State @ Cal
- 12/8 – 11:00 pm: Gonzaga @ Washington State
- 12/9 – 9:00 pm: Georgetown @ Temple
- 12/9 – 9:00 pm: Butler @ Xavier
- 12/11 – 12:00 pm: UNLV @ Louisville
- 12/11 – 2:00 pm: Wisconsin @ Marquette
- 12/11 – 3:15 pm: Tennessee vs. Pitt
- 12/11 – 4:30 pm: Washington @ Texas A&M
- 12/11 – 6:00 pm: Arizona @ BYU
- 12/11 – 7:00 pm: VCU @ Richmond
- 12/11 – 7:00 pm: Dayton @ Old Dominion
- 12/11 – 8:30 pm: Gonzaga @ Notre Dame