Arkansas—Are You Serious?
I wonder what this seasons goals were for the Arkansas Razorbacks. Having lost their five top scorers from a team that made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season, I would bet probably not too lofty.
- Finish over .500 in conference
- Be competitive enough to be more than a "bubble team"
- Get at least one "statement" win to help previous goal. After last night, they have two.
Just days after defeating then No. 4 ranked Oklahoma Sooners, the Arkansas Razorbacks come back with another win over a top ten ranked team.
John Pelphrey's young team thrived off the excitement of a packed house and a national audeince and went blow for blow with a veteran Longhorn team Led by junior forward Michael Washington's 22 points and nine rebounds, the Razorback were confident and not afraid of the Longhorns and went on to defeat the Texas 67-61.
Arkansas guard Stefan Welsh drew the assignment of guarding Texas star A.J. Abrams and Welsh held the Texas sharpshooter to seven points. Abrams was 3-for-16 from the floor, hit one three point shot, and did not get to the foul line. Welsh did a good job of stay on Abrams hip and making him into a dribbler and not allowing to be the shooter he is known for. Welsh also add 20 pionts for Arkansas.
Texas did not have an answer for Washington and his length and activity around the rim and that no more obivous then Washington's "and one" dunk with 30 seconds left over Texas' Damian James to solidfy the win for the Razorbacks.
This game was not pretty, and should not have been as close as it was. Arkansas was on 14-21 from the foul line and was out rebounded 32-45 with the Longhorns grabbing 18 offensive rebounds.
Big Ten Clash
Michigan State hosted Ohio State in what I call the first "measuring stick" game for the Big Ten. Both teams have played the Minnesota Golden Gophers with MSU beating the Gophers 70-58, while OSU lost 68-59. This also plays to my theory that the Big Ten will be a dog fight for the top five spots.
The game was tied 20-20 with under seven to go in the first half and then MSU went on a 16-4 scoring run to close the half. Durning the run, Michigan State looked like a top five team. The Spartans ran, moved the ball quickly and shoot well from deep.
Even with the win, my biggest concern for Tom Izzo and the Spartans is Raymar Morgan.
The junior forward was mentioned as a Big-Ten player pf the year candidate and last night, he was not the best player on his team. That was sophomore guard Kalin Lucas. Morgan is talented, no question, but he can become completely ineffective at times.
Morgan went 5-for-14 and finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds matching up against OSU's star Evan Turner and Dallas Lauderdale. If Morgan is able to raise his game from his 15 points and seven rebounds per game average and be consistent, the Spartans will have a strong chance of reaching the Final Four in Detroit.
As far as the "measuring stick" aspect. Purdue and MSU have the most talented players in the Big-Ten, but teams like Minnesota, Illinois, OSU and Michigan are looking like better teams. Penn State is tough, experienced team (see below). This conference will be tight until the end.
OSU is missing athletic forward David Lighty. The last remaining player from the Buckeyes trip to the national championship game, is out for 6-12 weeks with a broken foot.
Purdue lost to Penn State 67-64 with forward Robbie Hummel out with back issues and Chris Kramer out with a sprained left foot. Penn State did take advantage of Hummel's absence, out rebounding the Boilermakers 37-22.
Stat Line of the Night: Clemson's K.C Rivers had 12 points, nine rebounds—six offensive, three assists and four steals in the Tigers victory over Alabama.
West Virginia had a chance to flip the Big East up side down with a victory over UConn. But the starting front court for the Huskies of Jeff Adrien, Stanley Robinson and Hasheem Thabeet came up big finishing with 37 points and 35 rebounds, with 13 of Adrien's 17 coming in the second half.
Villanova needed overtime and 40 points from Scottie Reybnolds to beat Seton Hall 89-85. Dante Cunningham continued to improve by putting up 21 points, 15 rebounds and 2 blocks.
Homer Shout Out: North Dakota State's Ben Woodside is currently second in the nation in assists per game with 7.5. He also recently became the Bison's all-time leader scoring and is averaging 24 ppg and shooting 43 percent from deep.