Last night’s game notes
- Marquette’s Dominic James hit the shot of the night, an off-balance three-pointer with .4 seconds left to give the Golden Eagles a three-point road win over a scrappy NC State team.
- Syracuse guard Andy Rautins drained a program record-tying nine threes in the Orange’s 82-71 win over Coppin State. Rautins launched a total of 16 attempts, ending with a career-high 29 points in his second start since Eric Devendorf’s suspension.
- Last week I predicted a Jarvis Varnado triple-double against Nicholls State. While he did have 24 points, the big man couldn’t pull off the feat. But Baylor’s Curtis Jerrells did, notching 17 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists in a win over Hartford.
- Oklahoma freshman Willie Warren is a stud. The kid dropped 31 to lead the Sooners over Rice, 70-58. And yes, Blake Griffin is still a monster.
- Jodie Meeks had more first half points than Tennessee Tech’s entire team in Kentucky’s 102-58 trouncing.
- Florida narrowly avoided disaster against Georgia Southern, as a 19-point lead was whittled to just three with under 40 seconds remaining. Nick Calathes, Mr. Do-It-All for the Gators, came up clutch, scoring 10 of Florida’s final 19 points.
- The nation’s new darling, Liberty freshman Seth Curry, pumped in another 30 points in a win over Northern Colorado.
At 12-0, the Tigers have finally crept into the top 25, and they are looking every bit the contender. They have easily dispatched the inferior teams on their schedule, and their most recent game, a 19-point drubbing at 7-3 Miami, wasn’t even difficult.
The Tigers’ next game is against archrival South Carolina, who is off to a good start themselves at 8-1.
After Monday’s embarrassing 23-point loss to Oral Roberts (3-10) and an ugly 17-point loss to Wright State on Sunday, the Bulls are now 4-7 with no significant, or even average, wins.
Plain and simple, the Bulls don’t do much of anything right. They are owners of a dreadful 11.8 assists to 14.4 turnovers ratio, and their shooting percentage from everywhere is terrible. To top it off, they just gave up 50 second half points to Oral Roberts.
It’s still early in his tenure at USF, but Stan Heath is probably looking at SEC schedules and wondering how he ended up in the Big East. Something tells me his Bulls are a year or two—or perhaps a decade—away from competing in the toughest conference in the nation.
Stop the Madness
Last week Cleveland State upset a sluggish Syracuse team, and prognosticators came out of the woodwork claiming the Vikings were the real deal, a team capable of a run in the tournament—even if they don’t win the Horizon conference.
The Vikings weren’t even competitive in losses to middle-of-the-road Washington, Kansas State, and West Virginia. If one quality win gets you in, Western Kentucky fans should start booking flights now—and half the nation’s teams, for that matter.
Unless Cleveland State wins the Horizon, they don’t have a prayer of even making the tournament, much less upsetting anyone. And based on the Vikings’ conference-opening home loss to Butler, it appears it will be a tough hill to climb just to do that.
The best-laid plans
After his team allowed Andy Rautins to go 9-16 from three-point range, Coppin State head coach Ron Mitchell had this to say: "They were supposed to find him (Rautins). They didn't find him early, they found him in the middle, and they didn't find him late. That's the equivalent of losing."
Someone explain how—with say five minutes left—you can’t find the goofy looking, 6'5" kid with the please-look-at-me gelled-up faux-hawk who has already bombed roughly 12 threes to that point. And he’s at least 6'8" with the hair.
That’s not the equivalent of losing, Coach. In fact, what does that even mean?
That’s the equivalent of poor coaching and even poorer team play. Perhaps this is why Coppin State is currently riding an eight-game losing streak.
- Minnesota, the top 25 welcomes you.
- Kentucky’s Jodie Meeks has scored 78 points in his last two games.
- Looks like a long year for Ole Miss: Already plagued by injuries to key players, the Rebels’ point guard, Chris Warren, just went down with an ACL tear. While obviously a blow to Ole Miss since Warren is such an integral part of their success, it unfortunately hits the SEC just as hard.
Ole Miss was a borderline tournament team, and without Warren, they will become instantly mediocre. And then there’s the whole Andy Kennedy late night, cabbie fiasco.
- Not sold on Purdue’s defense yet? Watch the job reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Chris Kramer did on Stephen Curry in their recent matchup.
- VMI continues to post wins, running their record to 9-2. And they continue to do things the non-traditional way, like going on a 21-4 run by drilling seven three-pointers, which is exactly what they did against Army Sunday night in a come-from-behind win.
- NJIT, Houston Baptist, and North Carolina Central are a combined 0-36. Now that’s the definition of losing.
Future Diaper Dandies
The Chick-fil-A Classic in Columbia, SC features some of the best high school talent in its annual December tournament, and this year might just be the best group the tournament has ever assembled, with eight of the nation’s top 100 seniors and plenty of highly regarded underclassmen on hand.
Last night I was able to see several future prime time players take the court at Richland Northeast High School. Dickie V himself would have been impressed with the athleticism on display.
In the featured game of the night, Christ School (Asheville, NC), ranked 16th by ESPN, faced off against a very athletic Miller Grove team from Georgia.
Both teams are loaded with talent that will translate to the next level, namely Duke commit Mason Plumlee and South Carolina commit Lakeem Jackson, both from Christ School, and Georgia Tech commit Mfon Udofia, from Miller Grove.
It was a circus-like atmosphere before the game, as Coach K, assistant coach Chris Collins, Duke player and big brother Miles Plumlee, South Carolina coach Darrin Horn, and the entire South Carolina team all showed up to watch.
And once the game started, an absolute dunk-fest ensued.
While Jackson seemed to be pressing to get too much done and wound up with only six first half points and a handful of turnovers, Plumlee (15 points, 16 rebounds, and six blocks) dominated the first half, throwing down dunks both in the halfcourt and transition while grabbing every rebound in sight as Christ School got out to an early double-digit lead.
Miller Grove came storming back, however, and it wasn’t behind the play of their star, Udofia, who had a nightmare game, shooting 3-21 (and 1-10 from beyond the arc) on his way to getting kicked out of the game on two questionable technical fouls.
While Udofia struggled, freshman big body Tony Parker (6'8", 255), who finished with 14 points and eight rebounds, and senior Stephen Hill (12 points, seven rebounds) stepped up. Hill showed some serious hops, as all of his points were soaring dunks.
Parker was the surprise of the night, though, owning the paint at times despite playing against Christ School’s towering frontline. The kid is a workhorse, and for a freshman to have his height, weight, and coordination is simply unheard of. If he can bulk up and trim the baby fat, this kid could be ridiculous.
Another pleasant surprise was Christ School’s junior center Lucas Troutman, who chipped in 14 points and 10 rebounds. Troutman might not have the flash of Plumlee or Jackson, but his body is college ready, and he bangs down low and can step out to shoot. You can bet that coaches will be fighting over Troutman’s attention by season’s end—if they aren’t already.
Fittingly, Jackson, who ended the night with 16 points, five rebounds, and six assists, rebounded with a strong second half and showed his future South Carolina fans what a clutch performer he is.
His smothering defense and court vision aside, Jackson has a knack for the emphatic, and his timely dunks—one of which was a thundering put-back with about three minutes remaining—took the air out of Miller Grove. His final dunk put the game out of reach, and from there Christ School went on to win 76-63.
The loss was the first of the season for Miller Grove, while Christ School continues its undefeated campaign at 14-0. With the win, Christ School advances to tonight’s championship game against Pinewood Prep, led by Clemson commit Milton Jennings, a 6'9" forward.