Monday’s slate of hoops was not exactly high-powered, but here’s a look at some games, trends, and storylines through Dec. 8.
More Big East powers looked good, as Louisville and Georgetown took care of business, downing Lamar and Savannah State, respectively.
Louisville’s win wasn’t sexy, but it was their third game in as many days, and the Cardinals did enough to please Pitino, so that has to count for something.
Georgetown, meanwhile, smothered Savannah State, humiliating them 100-38.
To think Savannah State took Michigan to overtime is crazy. You know, the Michigan that just beat Duke, the same Duke that barely slid by Rhode Island, who lost by one to a Providence team that lost to Northeastern. Yes, Northeastern, of 4-4 fame, including an 18-point loss to South Florida, who—well, you get my point.
Ah, the parity of college basketball.
No other ranked teams played Monday night, but the NJIT losing streak/circus show rolls on, with the streak now at 41 after the Highlanders lost to St. John’s 82-54 in a game that was over by intermission. Against previously winless Maryland-Eastern Shore last week, NJIT actually had a halftime lead but couldn’t hold on, eventually losing 46-42.
Well, there’s always the rematch with MES on Jan. 28 and two games against winless Houston Baptist, who apparently has a basketball team.
Conference Spotlight: The Big South
It appears the monopoly Winthrop has held over the Big South will end this year. Yes, I know it’s only December, but Winthrop has not just been beaten, they’ve been destroyed.
South Carolina, Akron, Davidson, NC State, and two conference opponents, VMI and Radford, all dominated the Eagles in games that were never in doubt. Winthrop is now at 0-2 in conference play and 1-7 overall, with all seven losses coming in a row after an opening game win.
That said, the rest of the Big South has parity like never before. The race for the title and subsequent berth in the NCAA tournament should be a fierce one.
Stock up: Georgetown’s defense. Tennessee is the only team to solve the Hoyas’ defense, running by them for a 90-78 win. Other than that, it’s been tough for teams to get an open look against JT3’s boys. Next up for Georgetown is Memphis, who will look to run for sure.
Stock down: Florida. After their latest loss to FSU, the Gators are now one for their last five against the Noles—and haven’t won in Tallahassee since 2002. Florida only managed 55 points against Florida State, and in a trend that has become all too familiar against good teams, shot just 4-18 from three-point range. Looks like the NIT is calling Florida’s name...again.
From the Stat Sheet
Stephen Curry already has five games where he has attempted nine or more three-pointers. It must be nice to average over 31 ppg after getting held to zero points in Loyola’s lame attempt to make SportsCenter.
VMI and UNC-Asheville combined to go a ridiculous 31-55 from the three-point line in last week’s game, a VMI win. Somebody get a hand up, for crying out loud.
Blake Griffin is a monster. The guy is getting 24.8 points (on 68 percent shooting) and 16.3 rebounds—and he has even knocked down two of two from the three-point line.
Boise State’s big man Kurt Cunningham is shooting 84 percent from the field. The guy plays 19 minutes a game and gets 11 points and four boards per contest. It’s still early, but Boise is 6-1 and has played decent teams. He may look like Big Country Reeves, but 84 percent is getting the bang out of your buck.
Holiday Season Wishes
Jesus Verdejo is shooting 45 percent from three-point territory land, while Temple’s Dionte Christmas is connecting on 38 percent of his treys.
From the statement-I-never-thought-I-would-make department
Virginia Tech is starting to grow on me.
Despite Jeff Allen’s perpetual stank-face and “I’m about to take this play off” demeanor, the kid can flat-out play—and his dunks are becoming regular highlight reels. A.D. Vassallo’s all-around game continues to impress, and point guard Hank Thorns is becoming a steady Eric Snow-type presence.
But the guy whose game I enjoy the most is Malcolm Delaney, who has one of the sweetest looking jumpers in the nation. Not only is the kid a lights out shooter (40 percent from three, 86 percent from the free-throw line), he also happens to get four rebounds and four assists per game.
The Hokies aren’t yet disciplined enough—and they may never be—to put teams away, but they’ve already been on both sides of several close games—experience that will likely pay off come conference time. One thing’s for sure: This team has the pieces to put together some scary performances.
From the Division II World
This week’s featured D-II conference is the South Atlantic, which other conferences love referring to as ”The SAC.” With nine teams from NC, SC, and TN, the SAC’s best representative is Catawba College, currently ranked 14th.
Head coach Jim Baker’s squad returns 10 players from last season’s tournament championship team, and the conference has taken notice, tabbing Catawba as preseason favorites to win the regular season crown.
As part of their 8-0 start, the Indians are scoring nearly 88 points per game and giving opponents fits. Defending Catawba is a battle of pick your poison, as the Indians are led in scoring by junior guard Antonio Houston but also get nearly 17 a game from Rob Fields. And while Catawba has two other players averaging double digits, two more are at nine points per game.
Catawba is off until Dec. 13, when they face UNC-Asheville, which should be a good litmus test for the Indians.