Saturday, December 23, 2006

Gators and Bruins Look Super on Saturday

UCLA 92 Michigan 55 - the #1 ranked Bruins made quick work of the visiting Wolverines, as they led all the way en route to the blowout win. Josh Shipp led the Bruins with 18 points, Aaron Afflalo added 17, and point guard Darren Collison threw down 15 with 8 assists. Luc Mbah a Moute had 13 points and 7 steals.

Florida 86 Ohio State 60 - The two schools who will play for the NCAA Division 1 football national championship in two weeks matched up their basketball teams for a little 5-on-5 Saturday in Gainseville.

The defending national champion Gators got an early look at Ohio State's talented freshman center, Greg Oden, and considering the outcome, they weren't very impressed.

The Gators opened up a sizable lead in the opening half as Ohio State shooters were ice cold early on and were up 38-29 at the break, only to see the lead completely erased as Ohio State scored the first 9 points of the 2nd half. But with the score tied at 40, Oden fouled Joakim Noah and went to the bench with his third foul. Within four minutes, the Gators were back up by 12.

Even when Oden returned, Florida was too quick, too aggressive and too good in all aspects of the game. The Gators outshot the Buckeyes, 58 to 36%, outrebounded them 42-25 and played better defensively. Florida also hit 9 of 18 three-pointers to the Buckeyes' 7-23 effort.

The Gators expanded their lead to 23, 70-47, at the 8:32 mark when Corey Brewer converted a three-point play and Taurean Green nailed a 3-pointer from the right wing. Soon after that, with just under 8 minutes remaining, Oden picked up his 4th foul and the game disintegrated into another rout for the Gators.

While Noah and Al Horford neutralized Oden (7 points), the real story was the play of guard Taurean Green and swimgman Brewer, who tallied 24 and 18, respectively. The Ohio State outside defenders simply could not stay with the quicker, headier Florida players on the perimeter.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Updates from Thursday's Action

Updates from Thursday's Action

Washington 97 Gonzaga 77 - First, the late Wednesday game on the coast was taken handily by the Washington Huskies, who played unkind host to LSU, putting a pretty good beating on the Tigers, 88-72. The win pushed the Huskies' record to 9-1, the only loss a pretty good bashing in its own right, at Gonzaga, 97-77. Washington made short work of Big Baby Glenn Davis, holding the forward to a season low 8 points. Center Spencer Hawes dominated with 23 points and 12 rebounds, while forward Jon Brockman had 19 with 14 rebounds. Even before the real play gets started, you can pretty much cross off LSU from deep post-season consideration. They'll be lucky to get to the Sweet 16 this year.

Oklahoma St. 95 Pittsburgh 89 - The Cowboys handed Pittsburgh their second loss in a row as Aaron Gray could not carry the team in double overtime. Gray scored 24, but Oklahoma State's stars, Mario Boggan and JamesOn Curry proved to be too much to handle. Boggan pumped in a season-high 30 points and pulled down 9 rebounds. Curry, who shot poorly, still finished with 20 and 12 boards. Pittsburgh, ranked as high as 3rd just a week ago, will likely fall out of the top 10 in next week's poll.

Duke 61 Gonzaga 54 - In a game marred by poor shooting (37% combined), the Blue Devils scored an important road win over Gonzaga. The Duke guards were key for Duke. Greg Paulus, the only Blue Devil who shot better than 50% (7-12), hit 4 of 6 3-pointers for 20 points, while freshman Jon Scheyer knocked down 7 of 8 free throws and tallied 14. The enigmatic Bulldogs slipped to 9-4, and have now dropped three of their last four. 11-1 Duke has now reeled off 7 straight wins.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Top 25 recaps; Arizona rallies past Memphis, 79-71

UCLA 75 Sam Houston St. 61 - Late last night. The Bruins go to 10-0 and remain #1 in the polls.

(10) Alabama 82 N.C. State 75 - Nice road win for the Crimson Tide. Richard Hendrix poured in 23 to lead the way as Alabama improved to 10-1.

Florida 88 Stetson 67 - Call this Florida win balanced. The Gators scored 44 in each half and had five players in double digits, in a tight range from Dan Werner's 10 to Walter Hodge's high of 17. 10-2 Florida is a perfect 8-0 at home.

Connecticut 88 Pepperdine 66 - The Huskies improved to 10-0 despite shooting a dreadful 3-14 on threes. They may not have much touch from the outside, but the lanky Huskies may not need it. They've scored 81 or more points in each of their last six outings.

Arizona 79 Memphis 71 - In one of tonight's featured games, the Memphis Tigers led 38-33 at the half, but fell behind as both Robert Dozier and Joey Dorsey committed their 4th foul before the halfway point of the 2nd half and spent extended minutes on the bench. Arizona took command and expanded a 5-point lead to as many as 11 points. Mustafa Shakur and freshman forward Chase Budinger had key points down the stretch to help finish off the Tigers. Budinger finished with 18. Shakur led all scorers with 23. With all the hoopla over UCLA, the Wildcats appear ready to challenge them for the Pac-10 title.

(12) LSU at (17) Washington - West coast; see tomorrow's post.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Creampuffs and cupcakes, anyone?

The string of pastries is coming to an end in a hurry as conference play gets underway in the next two weeks. The normal abundance of lopsided lollipops was evident on Tuesday night in addition to another rough night in upstate NY.

Drexel 84 (23) Syracuse 79 - Somebody needs to remind the kids at Syracuse that they're supposed to be good. Apparently, the memo didn't get to the troops at Drexel, as the Dragons dumped the Orange in the Carrier Dome with a 48-point 2nd half. For the 'Cuse, Demetrius Nichols dropped in 31, but highly-touted frosh Paul Harris was nearly invisible with 7 points on 2-5 shooting. 7-2 Drexel has won 5 straight; 9-3 Syracuse will probably drop from the Top 25 having lost their third game at home.

(6) Duke 79 Kent St 72 - the Blue Devils are young, but defense is not their strong suit. Kent St. shot 50% from the floor, but were outscored on the free throw line by 17 points. Coach K has them doing what he knows best - drawing fouls. Duke's 10-1, with the only loss to Marquette, and they've been hanging some pretty hefty scores on good teams. Obviously, more to come from Tobacco Road, but this game shouldn't have been this close.

(2) UNC 105 Florida Atlantic 52 - This is a little more like it. Tyler Hansbrough led 5 players in double figures with 20 as the Tar Heels improve to 9-1.

(20) Notre Dame 86 Portland 69 - Russell Carter had 28 and Rob Kurz 21 as the Irish won their 8th straight. With wins already over Maryland and Alabama, Notre Dame may have its most balanced team in years. Last season, the Irish lost a slew of close games. This year, they're avoiding that circumstance by blowing people away.

(3) Ohio State 75 Iowa St. 56 - Don't punch that NBA ticket for Greg Oden just yet. The Buckeyes are not yet a complete team, needing better perimeter defense and more production from the outside. In the middle they're predominant, but good transition and outside shooting can beat them. Still, they're not too bad, even though this was a 2-point game with 6 minutes left. Daequan Cook (21 points) bailed them out this time. Oden finished with 18.

(11) Kansas 94 Winston Salem 43 - a pair of sophomores, Brandon Rush and Julian Wright scored 15 each as the Jayhawks cruised to win #9 against 2 losses. This team should continue to improve as the season progresses. They already look well-prepared for conference play.

(8) Wichita St 74 Kennesaw St 65 - the Shockers shot 63% from the floor, 0-4 from 3-point range and 20-28 free throws to earn their 9th straight win without a loss. Those wins over LSU and Syracuse still look good.

(19) Marquette 80 Oakland 62 - The Golden Eagles held Oakland to 32% shooting and improved to 11-2. No flaws on this team. The Big East should again be the top conference in the nation.

Later tonight, Sam Houston at UCLA. Yawn...

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Pitt stunned by Badgers, 89-75

Alando Tucker scored 32 and Brian Butch added 27 as the Badgers' dynamic duo led #7 Wisconsin to an 89-75 over #2-ranked and previously undefeated Pitt. With new rankings due out Monday, the loss will certainly drop Pitt in the polls and provide a boost for the Badgers.

Tucker and Butch scored the first 10 Wisconsin points, as the Badgers raced to an early 8-point lead, setting the tone for the afternoon.

The Panthers made up the deficit to grab slim leads mid-way through the first half, but found themselves down 47-37 at the half as Tucker and Butch each poured in 20.

Pitt managed to hang around with 11 points from Ronald Ramos and 9 from center Aaron Gray. Wisconsin's 47 first-half points were the most Pitt had surrendered in a half and it was only the 3nd time the Panthers had not led at halftime this season. They were down 33-29 to Delaware before rallying for the 66-55 win November 19 and trailed Buffalo 42-35, eventually winning the December 9 game, 70-67.

Both teams shot well in the first half. Pitt was 13-25 (.52%), while the Badgers hit 17-32 (.53%). Alando and Butch shot a combined 14-19 in the half; their teammates were a dismal 3-13.

Pitt cut the lead to 7 early in the second half, but could not close the gap further. Every basket the Panthers scored was countered by the Badgers, who got points from players other than Tucker and Butch, especially Kammron Taylor, who tallied 14 for the game. Wisconsin eventually led by as many as 18 points and cruised in the latter stages.

The Panthers, concerned about leading scorer and rebounder Aaron Gray, who experienced flu-like symptoms earlier in the week, still got a complete game out of the normally-dominant center, as he scored 17 - right at his average - though he hit on only 5 of 10 shots from the floor. Gray and the Panthers were no match as they shot a mere 43% for the game, and 36% (12-33) in the second half.

The Badgers improved to 11-1, their only loss a 66-64 defeat at the hands of a solid 8-1 Missouri State squad in the semifinals of the South Padre Island Invitational on Nov. 24. Tucker, who leads all Big 10 players in scoring, improved his average to 21.2. Brian Butch's 27 was a career high.