The CBE Classic may not draw the same type of headlines as the Maui Invitational, but it was the perfect type of early season tournament—short, sweet and competitive.
It took place Nov. 19-20 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. and featured Kansas, Saint Louis, Texas A&M and Washington State.
Kansas defeated Saint Louis in the championship game and the Aggies edged the Cougars in the third place game.
Kansas winning a neutral floor tournament in Kansas City? I know shocking.
Read on to see the top performers and grades for the entire field.
Travis Releford won the CBE Classic MVP Award for good reason.
In Kansas’ opening game against Washington State, the guard led the Jayhawks with 17 points behind 6-of-7 shooting. He also played solid defense and helped hold the Cougars to a measly 41 points.
Releford didn’t disappoint in his encore in the championship game against Saint Louis.
He poured in 23 points, thanks largely to the four three-point shots he nailed. He was an integral part in building a 14-point lead at the half for the Jayhawks.
Travis Releford may have taken home the MVP award, but a case could certainly made for his teammate Jeff Withey.
The defensive monster swatted five shots in the opener and an incredible seven in the championship game.He also led the Jayhawks with 25 points in their victory over Saint Louis and grabbed a combined 11 rebounds in the two games.
It was painfully evident for both Saint Louis and Washington State that there weren’t going to be many points in the paint.
Perhaps the best part of Withey’s performance was his 11-14 mark from the free-throw stripe in that final game.
Not bad for a 7’ center.
Dwayne Evans did a little bit of everything for Saint Louis in the CBE Classic.
The forward found the basket in the Billikens opening victory over Texas A&M with 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting.
Evans found a way to grab 11 rebounds in his team’s loss to Kansas, an impressive feat considering Jeff Withey was occupying the middle for the Jayhawks.
I’m sure Evans would have liked to take home the championship, but he will have to settle for a spot on my top performer’s list.
If you go to a two-game tournament and win both games by a combined 51 points, you get an A+ in my book.
Kansas bounced back from its early loss to Michigan State with back-to-back dominating performances to take home the CBE Classic title. Jeff Withey was as scary on defense as he’s ever been, and Travis Releford looked good on the offensive side.
Yes, the Jayhawks were by far the best squad on paper, but Saint Louis is underrated, and Texas A&M and Washington State are both power-conference teams.
If Withey dominates the paint all year the way he did in these two games, Kansas should be playing deep into March.
Texas A&M won the third-place game over Washington State 55-54 and probably would have earned a higher grade in my book, if it decided to even show up in the first contest.
The Aggies fell to Saint Louis 70-49 in a game that was never really in doubt.
Yes, the Billikens are talented and should compete in the Atlantic 10, but A&M has to represent the SEC a bit better down the road against mid-major competition.
It was a nice bounce back victory over a bad Washington State team, which barely earned the Aggies a passing grade.
Saint Louis represented itself and the Atlantic 10 well in the CBE Classis.
The Billikens destroyed Texas A&M in the first game and only fell to powerhouse Kansas by 14 points.
No shame in that.
Saint Louis played Kansas evenly in the second half of the championship game.
Basically, the Billikens played only one poor half their entire time in Kansas City, and it cost them a chance to hoist the trophy.
But it was evident to anyone that watched the second half of the final game that Saint Louis will have a successful A-10 season.
Perhaps, but when you show up for a two game tournament on a neutral floor and get blown out in the first game, lose the second game and average 47.5 points a game what do you expect?
LeBron James scores more than that by himself on a good day.
Had Washington State held on to its halftime lead against Texas A&M in the third place game, this grade would be quite a bit different.
However, the Cougars lost by one and failed to salvage the trip. Good luck in the Pac-12.