Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cover to Cover Saturday: 12/11 Part II - No Sullinger, Lots Of Problems

-Now I'm no doctor - my competitive sports record consists of intramural flag football and random pickup basketball games - and my worst ever injury was a sprained collarbone that I had to wear a sling for a few weeks for back in like middle school...but how does one dish out 13 assists with a torn meniscus and a sprained MCL?  Isn't that what Chris Paul had?  Not going to question the toughness of Paul - or that guy who's injury was perhaps a bigger factor in today's result - but big ups to the much-maligned Tyshawn Taylor for delivering one of the biggest performances of his career in leading his team to victory over # 2 today but will now miss three weeks.  He still turned it over 7 times but a near 2-to-1 assist/turnover ratio is much better and a solid start towards backing up his word.  The Jayhawks - home underdogs for the first time in decades - played like the Kansas we're all so used to seeing, shooting a ridiculous 28/48 from the floor (58.3%) and 9/17 (52.9%) from three point range.  By contrast, with no Sullinger to open up the shooting lanes, Ohio State made just 5 of its 17 attempted treys in shooting just 38.7% from the field (24/62) on the game.  William Buford had 21 but they came on just 8 field goals in a whopping 23 attempts (with only one being a 3 - though he was 4/4 from the line.)  Aaron Craft was 4/11.  Luckily for the Buckeyes, they won't need Sullinger again until after Christmas when Northwestern comes calling to open up Big Ten play.  The Jayhawks, however, have a quick turnaround against Davidson in Kansas City on Monday before traveling to USC (oh, more on them later - just you wait) on Thursday.  Spliced from the recap:

“I can get on Ty because he will turn it over every now and then, but where would we be without him?” Self said. “We don’t win the game tonight if he doesn’t play. He definitely isn’t 100 percent.”

Taylor hurt his knee in practice earlier in the week and could have opted for surgery, but the Jayhawks’ medical staff decided he wouldn’t harm it any more by playing. They left it up to him to the senior to decide whether he could manage the pain, and Self didn’t ask how much he was experiencing.
“If you ask them if they’re hurting, then you give them an opportunity to give you an answer,” Self said, adding that Taylor hadn’t practiced all week until Friday.

-Another shootout at the Oakland Corral!  Michigan went for FIFTEEN threes and scored 59 in the second half to outgun the host Golden Grizzlies.  Oakland has played 10 games.  At least one team has scored 70 in each of them, each team has scored at least 70 in each of them except the season opener against Alabama and its elite (basketball) defense and a 30 point win over lethargic Grambling State (who could only get to 45 in that game - their season high.  Yes it's true) and today was the sixth straight game that the Grizzlies (and all of their opponents save UMKC) have both hit at least 80.  Reggie Hamilton, former Wolverine Laval Lucas-Perry and co. know how to run and know how to score while not knowing (or seemingly caring) much about defending.  But with today's spirited effort and a win over Tennessee already in their pocket, the Grizz have shown they can play against decent BCS competition (though as noted in part 1 the Vols' effort today was far from decent) and should still be the favorites to defend their Summit crown.  As for Michigan, it's always going to be about the backcourt with Trey Burke going for 20 and 9 today to make Wolverine fans forget even more about Darius Morris.  No need to forget Tim Hardaway Jr. - he and his 21 points (18 in the second half) are still leading what looks to be an NCAA tournament lock and should fight for a protected seed and positioning in the Big Ten. The Wolverines shouldn't lose again before Minnesota kicks off 2012 with a trip to Crisler Arena.

-Remember when Clemson NEVER lost out-of-conference?  Now the Tigers have dropped three in a row and four of six.  The bigger problem is that weren't even close at Arizona today after having the whole week to stew over last weekend's embarrassing home gaffe to South Carolina - making them unofficially the fourth best team in their own state.  As for the Cats, their defense on non-Patric Young Florida players was impressive in midweek and now they've sandwiched it by giving up just 47 today after conceding only 39 to Northern Arizona last weekend.  Sean Miller knows how to teach a lot of things related to basketball - defense being one of them.  As for the Tigers - a team I had just outside my early season bracket - they can forget about the NCAA's unless they win at least 10 games in a weak ACC.  That challenge begins January 7 when one of the few strong teams - Florida State - comes to town to kick off league play.  Before that, they clearly have a lot of issues to work out, mostly on offense.

-Missouri throttled somebody again.  Today's victim was Navy, who led 5-0 and then never again.  The last time these programs met before today was a 1/16 NCAA tournament matchup in 1994.  If the Midshipmen, 3-8 under new head coach Ed DeChellis (who shockingly left Penn State to take the job), can win the Patriot League tournament history might very well repeat itself this March.  In case you're wondering - the first round of the last year of the Border War is a ESPN College GameDay game on Saturday February 4 at 9 PM.  I'd pay a lot to buy that Zoo and be in it that night if I could.  It might teach us a thing or two about who's getting one of those four coveted # 1 seeds.

-Man, Villanova couldn't even beat Temple with the Owls missing starting center Michael Eric?  The Cats are now officially out of nonconference marquee win chances and might yet eat another OOC loss when they make another Big 5 road trip next weekend - this time at the St. Joseph's team talked about in part I.  Considering it took overtime to put away La Salle by 3 and Penn was only defeated by 8, the trip to the Fieldhouse next Saturday is all that's left to salvage a miserable Big 5 campaign for Jay Wright's boys.  Worse news: the Big East slate opens at West Virginia and then at Marquette so they could be looking at needing to win 10 of their final 16 - as opposed to losing 10 of their final 14 - to make the tournament that last year's team surely careened in to, particularly with this year's team being forced to carry that 76 Classic third place loss to Santa Clara on its resume.  As for the Owls, today's win was really important considering that ugly Bowling Green loss could haunt them if they're anywhere near the bubble (and as just stated, it could obviously end up being a head-to-head win over a bubble rival) and next weekend's trip to Texas before home games with dangerous Buffalo (a better MAC team than Bowling Green) and even-more-dangerous Duke just after the New Year may just mean that the Owls have work to do in the Atlantic 10 to earn their NCAA tournament spot.

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