Sweet 16 Previews: Can NC State do to T-Rob what Purdue did?

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On Sunday night, Purdue very nearly pulled off an incredible upset of No. 2 seed Kansas, eventually succumbing to the Jayhawks as Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson turned three turnovers into fast break baskets in the final 70 seconds.

Up until that point, however, Kansas had only held one lead in the entire game, when Johnson hit a three at the 3:04 mark to put Kansas up 57-56, and trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half.

Much of that credit falls onto the shoulders of Robbie Hummel, who wowed the nation with one final display of his shooting ability, scoring 22 of his 26 points in the first half and sparking the surge that gave the Boilermakers their lead. Hummel wasn’t completely alone, either, as DJ Byrd hit a pair of first half threes and Ryne Smith, Terone Johnson and Byrd made big shots in the second half to help Purdue sustain the lead for so long.

As good as Hummel was leading his team offensively, it was the defense that he played on Thomas Robinson that was more impressive.

A contender for National Player of the Year, Robinson was held to his worst performance of the season on Sunday, finishing with 11 points on 2-for-12 shooting from the field. Hummel spent much of the game matched up with T-Rob. How did a jump-shooting power forward with one good leg mange to keep the nation’s biggest bully on the block in check for 40 minutes?

Easy.

He brought his friends with him.

Purdue spent the majority of the game bracketing T-Rob with (at least) two defenders. Here’s an example of a typical possession. With the ball in Tyshawn Taylor’s hands on the far side of the court, you’ll see Sandi Marcius bodying up Robinson despite being on the opposite block. Hummel is sloughed off of Travis Releford on the same side of the floor as Robinson:

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After the ball is swung around the perimeter, you’ll see Terone Johnson in the lane as Robinson is attempting to post up. Hummel is playing a good five feet off of Releford, who has the the ball, to prevent an entry pass:

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When Robinson finally does get the ball in the post, he is not only double-teamed by Marcius and Hummel, but all five members of the Purdue defense are in the paint:

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Here are a couple more examples of just how much attention Robinson received from Purdue. Here, Robinson is bracketed on the far block while Teahan is left wide-open in the corner with no defender even concerned about Johnson on the near side of the floor:

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Naadir Tharpe has the ball on the far side of the floor, and Anthony Johnson is daring Tharpe to shoot while basically doubling Robinson to prevent a post touch. Also not where Hummel is in help-side:

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Robinson has three people circling him before he even gets a touch. Hummel is completely disregarding Kevin Young:

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Robinson actually has the ball on the far block. Yes, that’s a triple-team:

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Who needs to send a triple-team when you can just double-team Robinson before he even gets a touch:

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The Jayhawk’s strategy was simple: make someone else beat us. And it almost worked. Tyshawn Taylor was 4-for-11 from the floor, with two of those field goals being breakaway dunks in the final minute. Releford had 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting, but the majority of his damage was done early in the first half. Connor Teahan was 2-for-8 from the field. Withey and Young combined to go 1-for-7 from the floor.

In fact, if it wasn’t for Elijah Johnson, who had 18 points and scored 13 in the final 13 minutes, Purdue would be preparing for NC State right now, not the Jayhawks.

I hope Mark Gottfried was taking notes, because that is precisely what the Wolfpack are going to need to do on Friday night.

The good news for NC State is that their front line is going to be bigger than Purdue’s. Richard Howell and CJ Leslie have more size, more strength and more athleticism that Marcius and Hummel. The bad news? They still aren’t going to matchup that well with Robinson and Withey.

Out of curiosity, I went back and watched the tape of NC State against UNC (with and without Henson), Virginia and Florida State. The Wolfpack didn’t double the post against the Cavs or the Noles, opting to allow their big men to try and defend one-on-one against Mike Scott and Bernard James.

But against UNC, the Wolfpack sent a double-team every time Tyler Zeller or John Henson got the ball on the block with their back to the basket (they didn’t double-team James Michael-McAdoo). The example I’m showing you is of Kendall Marshall making the post-entry … :

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but regardless of who threw the pass into the post, the double-team was coming off of Marshall (or Stilman White or Justin Watts, depending on who was in the game):

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The strategy didn’t exactly work, as NC State went 0-3 against the Tar Heels. In the first game, Zeller had 21 points and 17 boards. In the second game, Zeller and Henson were held in check, but Marshall destroyed NC State to the tune of 22 points, 13 assists and no turnovers. And in the ACC tournament, despite Henson not being available, Zeller still finished with 23 points and nine boards.

Not exactly a great omen for the Wolfpack.

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

Zach Edey has 19 points, No. 1 Purdue beats Michigan 75-70

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Junfu Han/USA TODAY NETWORK
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Zach Edey had 15 of his 19 points in the first half and Fletcher Loyer finished with 17 points to help No. 1 Purdue hold off Michigan 75-70 on Thursday night.

The Boilermakers (20-1, 9-1 Big Ten) had a 15-0 run to go ahead 41-28 lead in the first half after there were 10 lead changes and four ties, but they couldn’t pull away.

The Wolverines (11-9, 5-4) were without standout freshman Jett Howard, who missed the game with an ankle injury, and still hung around until the final seconds.

Joey Baker made a 3-pointer – off the glass – with 5.9 seconds left to pull Michigan within three points, but Purdue’s Brandon Newman sealed the victory with two free throws.

Purdue coach Matt Painter said Michigan slowed down Edey in the second half by pushing him away from the basket.

“They got him out a little more, and got him bottled up,” Painter said.

The 7-foot-4 Edey, though, was too tough to stop early in the game.

“He’s one of the best in the country for a reason,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard said. “He’s very effective, especially if he’s 8 feet and in.”

With size and skills such as a hook shot, the junior center from Toronto scored Purdue’s first seven points and finished the first half 7 of 12 from the field and 1 of 2 at the line.

“He did a great job in the first half, going to his right shoulder and using his left hand,” Painter said. “He made four baskets with his left hand which is huge.”

Freshman Braden Smith had 10 points for the Boilermakers.

Purdue’s defense ultimately denied Michigan’s comeback hopes, holding a 22nd straight opponent to 70 or fewer points.

Hunter Dickinson scored 21, Kobe Bufkin had 16 points and Baker added 11 points for the Wolverines, who have lost four of their last six games.

Dickinson, a 7-1 center, matched up with Edey defensively and pulled him out of the lane offensively by making 3 of 7 3-pointers.

“Half his shots were from the 3, and that’s a little different,” Painter said. “His meat and potatoes are on that block. He’s the real deal.”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Boilermakers got the top spot in the AP Top 25 this week after winning six games, a stretch that followed a loss to Rutgers on Jan. 3 that dropped them from No. 1 in the poll. Purdue improved to 7-2 as the top-ranked team.

BIG PICTURE

Purdue: Edey can’t beat teams by himself and he’s surrounded by a lot of role players and a potential standout in Loyer. The 6-4 guard was the Big Ten player of the week earlier this month, become the first Boilermaker freshman to win the award since Robbie Hummel in 2008.

“Fletcher is somebody who has played better in the second half, and on the road,” Painter said.

Michigan: Jett Howard’s health is a critical factor for the Wolverines, who will have some work to do over the second half of the Big Ten season to avoid missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015. Howard averages 14.6 points and is the most dynamic player on his father’s team.

ROAD WARRIORS

The Boilermakers were away from home for 12 of 23 days, winning all five of their road games. They won at Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan for the first time since the 1997-98 season and beat the Spartans and Wolverines on their home court in the same season for the first time in 12 years.

UP NEXT

Purdue: Hosts Michigan State on Sunday, nearly two weeks after the Boilermakers beat the Spartans by a point on Edey’s shot with 2.2 seconds left.

Michigan: Plays at Penn State on Sunday.

Miller scores 23, No. 10 Maryland tops No. 13 Michigan 72-64

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Diamond Miller scored 23 points, and No. 10 Maryland closed the first quarter with a 13-2 run and led the rest of the way in a 72-64 victory over No. 13 Michigan on Thursday night.

Abby Meyers contributed 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Terrapins (17-4, 8-2), who won for the 10th time in 11 games. Lavender Briggs scored 14 points and Shyanne Sellers added 13.

Maryland gained a measure of revenge after losing twice to Michigan last season – including a 20-point rout in College Park.

Leigha Brown led the Wolverines with 16 points.

Michigan (16-5, 6-4) led 13-9 in the first quarter before a three-point play by Miller started Maryland’s big run. Briggs and Faith Masonius made 3-pointers during that stretch.

The Terps pushed the lead to 16 in the third quarter before the Wolverines were able to chip away. Miller sat for a bit with four fouls, and Michigan cut the lead to seven in the fourth quarter, but the Wolverines still wasted too many possessions with turnovers to mount much of a comeback.

Michigan ended up with 24 turnovers, and Maryland had a 25-5 advantage in points off turnovers.

Miller fouled out with 2:19 remaining, but even after those two free throws, the Terps led 65-57 and had little trouble holding on.

Michigan lost for the second time in four days against a top-10 opponent. No. 6 Indiana beat the Wolverines 92-83 on Monday.

BIG PICTURE

Michigan: Whether it was against Maryland’s press or in their half-court offense, the Wolverines turned the ball over too much to score consistently. This was a lower-scoring game than the loss to Indiana, but the margin ended up being similar.

Maryland: While Miller clearly led the way, the Terps had plenty of offensive contributors. They also held Michigan to 13 points below its season average entering the game.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Wolverines have appeared in 48 straight AP polls, and although a two-loss week could certainly drop them, the quality of their opponents could save them from a substantial plunge.

Maryland is tied for 10th with an Iowa team that beat No. 2 Ohio State on Monday night. Now the Terps can boast an impressive victory of their own.

UP NEXT

Michigan: The Wolverines play their third game of the week when they visit Minnesota on Sunday.

Maryland: The Terps host Penn State on Monday night.

 

Boum, Jones lead No. 13 Xavier over No. 19 UConn, 82-79

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STORRS, Conn. – Souley Boum scored 21 points, Colby Jones added 20 and No. 13 Xavier went on the road and held off No. 19 Connecticut 82-79 Wednesday night.

The win was the 13th in 14 games for the Musketeers (17-4, 9-1 Big East) and it gave them a season sweep over the struggling Huskies (16-6, 5-6).

Jack Nunge had 12 points and Jerome Hunter added 11 for Xavier, which led by 17 in the first half and 39-24 at halftime.

Jordan Hawkins scored 26 of his 28 points in the second half for UConn, leading a comeback that fell just short.

Tristen Newton added 23 points for the Huskies, who won their first 14 games this season but have dropped six of eight since.

The Musketeers never trailed but had to withstand UConn runs that cut the lead to a single point four times in the second half.

A three-point play from Hawkins made it 78-77 with 2:40 left. But a second-chance layup from Nunge put the lead at 80-77 just over a minute later.

Newton was fouled with two seconds left by Desmond Claude, but his apparent attempt to miss his second free throw went into the basket.

Boum then hit two free throws at the other end, and Newton’s final attempt from just beyond halfcourt was well short.

Xavier jumped out to a 9-0 lead as UConn missed its first nine shots.

A 3-pointer from Zach Freemantle gave the Musketeers their first double-digit lead at 20-9, and another from Jones pushed it to 35-18.

BIG PICTURE

Xavier: The Musketeers lead the Big East, and the win over UConn was their ninth conference victory this season, eclipsing their total from last season.

UConn: The Huskies came in with a 17-game winning streak at Gampel Pavilion dating to February 2021. They fell to 1-4 against the four teams in front of them in the Big East standings. The lone win came at Gampel against Creighton.

UP NEXT

Xavier: The Musketeers continue their road trip with a visit to Creighton on Saturday.

UConn: Doesn’t play again until next Tuesday, when the Huskies visit DePaul.

No. 12 Iowa State holds on to beat No. 5 Kansas State 80-76

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AMES, Iowa – Jaren Holmes matched his season high with 23 points as No. 12 Iowa State held on to beat No. 5 Kansas State 80-76 on Tuesday night.

The Cyclones (15-4, 6-2 Big 12) moved into a three-way tie atop the conference standings with the Wildcats and Texas.

Gabe Kalscheur added 19 points for Iowa State. Osun Osunniyi finished with 16.

Markquis Nowell led Kansas State (17-3, 6-2) with 23 points.

A 3-pointer from Holmes gave Iowa State a 59-49 advantage with 8:12 remaining. Kansas State responded with a 10-1 run to trim the margin to 60-59.

Caleb Grill’s 3-pointer steadied the Cyclones and pushed the lead back to 63-59 with five minutes left.

Free throws by Osunniyi, Grill and Holmes sealed the victory in the final 24 seconds.

The first half featured eight lead changes and ended with Kansas State up 33-31.

A 3-pointer by Kalscheur ignited an early 9-0 run for the Cyclones and helped them build a 19-14 lead. Iowa State made just one of nine 3-point tries in the first 20 minutes.

BIG PICTURE

Kansas State was trying to extend its best start to a season since 1961-62.

Iowa State improved to 11-0 at home. The Cyclones have not lost back-to-back games this season.

UP NEXT

Kansas State hosts Florida on Saturday as part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

Iowa State travels to Missouri on Saturday.

Georgetown snaps 29-game conference losing streak

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WASHINGTON – Primo Spears scored 21 points and Georgetown snapped a 29-game conference losing streak with an 81-76 victory over DePaul on Tuesday night.

Georgetown (6-15, 1-9) won its first Big East game since March 13, 2021, ending the longest skid in the history of the conference. The Hoyas also ended a 10-game losing streak this season.

Spears also contributed six assists for the Hoyas. Akok Akok scored 12 points and added six rebounds and four blocks and Brandon Murray recorded 12 points.

Umoja Gibson led the Blue Demons (9-12, 3-7) in scoring, finishing with 24 points, four assists and three steals. Javan Johnson added 13 points.

Spears scored nine points in the first half and Georgetown went into the break trailing 37-36. Georgetown used a 10-0 run in the second half to build a 12-point lead at 75-63 with 1:39 remaining.