For the second Monday in a row, no significant games were scheduled, and two Big East teams looked to get more time for their walk-ons, as UConn faced off against Stony Brook and Syracuse went up against Cleveland State in the evening’s “featured” games.
For Syracuse, though, things got ugly early—and ended in nightmare fashion, as Cleveland State (7-4) ran away with a thrilling, buzzer-beating 72-69 win in the Carrier Dome, handing the Orange their first loss of the season.
From the tip, Syracuse was outplayed by Cleveland State in an absolute dogfight of 40 minutes. Despite only shooting 44 percent from the field, the Vikings got the win with aggressive work on the glass and by taking care of the ball, turning it over only nine times on the night.
Syracuse faithful thought they had escaped the upset bid after Arinze Onuaku’s put-back with three seconds left looked to send the game to overtime, but Cedric Jackson nailed a desperation heave at the buzzer to win the game for Cleveland State, who promptly went into hysterics at the game’s conclusion.
Nothing like March Madness in December.
UConn, meanwhile, jumped all over Stony Brook, going up by as much as 37-13 early, but the Seawolves made a late run and only trailed 44-30 at intermission, thanks in large part to sharpshooting Danny Carter, who pumped in 14 first half points.
From there, the Huskies pulled away by overwhelming Stony Brook with a balanced scoring attack and smothering defense, cruising to an easy 91-57 win. UConn owned the paint, as Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrien combined for 36 points and 19 rebounds.
Is there any doubt that Oklahoma hit the jackpot when they hired this man? What’s Kelvin Sampson up to these days?
Then again, when is Gottfried’s stock not down? Who knows, the Tide may get on a run and shake things up in a watered-down SEC, but I’m not betting on it. Just fire the man already and start over in Tuscaloosa.
From the Stat Sheet
- East Carolina point guard Brock Young is averaging nearly a double-double, getting 9.8 points and a nation-leading 8.6 assists per game. Now if the kid could just learn how to shoot: Young is shooting 41 percent from the field and 26 percent from three-point land.
- Jarvis Varnado of Mississippi State may weigh as much as an Olsen twin, but the kid gets 12.4 points, 10.5 rebounds, and an insane 6.2 blocks per game. Something tells me Varnado is going to take a page out of Ice Cube’s book and mess around and get a triple-double sometime this year. Pencil in Dec. 22, when Varnado and Co. play Nicholls State, whose biggest starter is 6'6".
- Speaking of triple-doubles from big men: After three subpar seasons, UMass center Tony Gaffney is having a breakout year, posting 12.4 points, 12.9 rebounds, and 5.4 blocks. His latest performance of 13 rebounds and six blocks led UMass to an upset over Kansas.
- Another breakout player this season is David Huertas, who infamously transferred from Florida after the Gators claimed their first title. While Huertas redshirted at Ole Miss, Florida went on to claim another ring—all while Huertas was in street clothes.
But Huertas might just get the last laugh, as he is currently putting up 20.6 points and 4.7 rebounds per game for a much-improved Ole Miss team. He is also shooting a blistering 47 percent from the three-point line.
- As if the 22 points and seven boards per game weren’t enough, Tyler Hansbrough is also shooting 92 percent from the free throw line.
From the Coaching World
Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury went to the hospital on Sunday with what was diagnosed as “migraines.” Not to make light of Stansbury’s hospital visit, but a lot of coaches get headaches when their two best returning players bolt.
In such a wide-open SEC, you have to wonder how good the Bulldogs could be if they still had the services of Jamont Gordon and Ben Hansbrough—especially with the aforementioned Jarvis Varnado roaming the paint.
Gordon is the most recent victim of leaving-school-too-early-on-bad-advice-only-to-go-undrafted, and is now balling in Italy. And by balling, I mean not playing very much and not understanding a word anyone says.
Meanwhile, Hansbrough transferred to Notre Dame and took the team’s outside shooting with him: Simply put, the Bulldogs are awful from three.
Pop an Advil before Thursday’s game against Cincy, Coach.
The best-laid plans
NJIT goes for its 43rd consecutive loss this Saturday against Rider. You can do it, Highlanders!