by Paul Casey Gotham
College hoops provided a premier hunker-down event yesterday filled with drama, ‘upsets’, and intrigue.
Observations: Points are starting to become more difficult to come by. Yeah conference play has that way about it. Wake Forest and Clemson both entered yesterday’s ACC battle of the undefeated averaging over 80 points per game. The final score: 78-68. Clemson was not in a rush to shoot on several occasions. Opting instead to keep the ball out of the hands of Wake’s Player-of-the-Year Candidate, Jeff Teague. Didn’t work too well though.
Oklahoma entered yesterday’s game with Texas A&M also scoring 80 points per game. A&M held the Sooners to 69. Unfortunately the Aggies could not maintain their unbeaten record at home; they only scored 63.
BYU recently had their home unbeaten streak snapped by Wake Forest. But they still averaged 81 points per game. New Mexico took care of that holding the Cougars to 62 while scoring 81.
UNC can actually play defense. Winless in the ACC after two games the Tar Heels’ defense and especially that on the perimeter came into question. Rumor has it that Roy had a practice without the rims this week – that’s one way to improve field goal defense. The Heels held the Hurricanes to 39.7% from the field including a paltry 6 for 21 from behind the arc.
Gerald Henderson appears to be healthy. Slowed by injury last year the Duke forward scored a game-high 23 – the ninth straight game in double figures for the junior.
#16 Arizona St. 61 # 9 UCLA 58 – The Bruins were riding a 10-game winning streak and playing at Pauley, so common logic was UCLA would come away with the win. UCLA’s two losses (Michigan and Texas) were not flukes. Ben Howland’s group has also survived a couple of close calls – USC (4pts.), Oregon (9pts.), and Miami of Ohio (5pts.). Combine that with an overlooked Sun Devil team, and the outcome makes sense. Sun Devil, Derek Glasser, is a pure point guard who puts his teammates in position to score. Glasser took four shots and scored six points – all from the free throw line. Meanwhile teammates, James Harden (24pts.) and Jeff Pendergraph (18pts.), carried the scoring load. ASU came back from an 11-point deficit to send the game into overtime. In comparison UCLA point guard, Darren Collison, scored 14 points but needed 14 shots to accomplish that number. Collison led the Bruins in shot attempts.
#20 Louisville 69 #1 Pittsburgh 63 – Rick Pitino has the unenviable task of dealing with a group that appears to play to the level of their competition. Works out nice when the Cardinals take on a team like the Panthers. Can be rather frustrating when they play UNLV, and the Rebels don’t have their leading scorer. Pitino has his work cut out for him when preparing for March because not every team will get in foul trouble like the Panthers.
Stanford 75 #22 California 69 – The Cardinal welcomed back their old coach, Mike Montgomery, and promptly gave his crew a little beat down. Stanford came in losers of three of their last four, but two were one-point losses on the road. The Bears had won their last nine and were ripe for the picking.
Ohio St. 65 #25 Michigan 58 – The Wolverines have had a couple of impressive wins thus far (Duke and UCLA), but John Beilein is still going through growing pains in just his second year at the helm in Ann Arbor. Mix that in with the fact that the Buckeyes are limiting opponents to 58 points per game and the Wolverines will drop from the Top25.
Marquette beat Providence 91-82. In case you haven’t seen it, check out Jeff Xavier’s brother needing to be restrained.