Daily Dribble: 12/17
I already discussed half of Saturday's action in last evening's Dribble.. so check that out if there's something missing below.
Georgia picked up their biggest win in the Dennis Felton era by knocking off #19 Gonzaga. The game was played at a very high tempo.. which ended up being perfect for Georgia's athletes. Levi Stukes led all scorers with 25 and Sundiata Gaines also scored 21 as the 7-1 Bulldogs racked up 96 points. Gonzaga fell to 9-3 despite shooting 59% from the floor. The difference in the game was turnovers, as Georgia forced 21 turnovers while only giving it up 12 times. The only big wins under Dennis Felton have been in SEC play, as Georgia knocked off Kentucky in 04, and Bama last year, but this was probably the best one yet. Perhaps this will knock Gonzaga out of the Top 25.. but they have a chance to make a majro statement this week when they face the #9 Duke Blue Devils.
Syracuse improved to 9-2 with an easy win over Baylor. Despite all the talk about Paul Harris or last year's top freshman Eric Devendorf.. Demetris Nichols has developed into their go to player. Nichols scored 28 in the win, coming off games of 26 and 28 in the past week. He's no averaging 18 per game.
Michigan State struggled to beat a pesky Chicago State squad 69-62. For the Spartans, Drew Neitzel was basically a one man team. The junior guard had a season high 32 points, while no one else contributed more than 3 field goals. MSU has 3 more easy home wins coming up before embarking on Big Ten play.
Tulsa's quietly off to an 8-1 start after an easy win over Prairie View A&M. The Hurricane have played a soft home schedule, losing their lone road game at North Texas still. They have a big game Thursday night against in-state rival Oklahoma. There's not much in the CUSA besides Memphis this year, but with a win over Oklahoma, Tulsa could make an outside run at a tournament bid.
VCU is another team quietly off to a good start.. beating UAB to improve to 8-2. The Rams lost coach Capel in the offseason but have moved along nicely without him. In the 2 losses against Xavier and Toledo, their margin of defeat is just 4 combined points. With Hofstra playing worse than expected, the CAA is pretty wide open with VCU, ODU, and Drexel also in the mix.
Congrats to Southern University for picking up their first win of the year over 2-9 Louisiana Tech. Like Denver dealing with the loss of Yemi Nicholson, La Techs seems lost without Paul Millsap around. The Bulldogs only wins are against McNeese State and Southernm, who they played previously last Saturday. To make things worse for La Tech.. this is anything but a young team. Six seniors play 10+ mpg, including 5 of the 6 leading scorers.
The MVC continues its domination of the state of the Iowa. Drake beat Iowa 75-59, a few weeks after beating Iowa State. Northern Iowa also swept their in-state BCS counterparts. Bradley also beat Iowa State yesterday. Its odd to see a Big Ten and Big 12 school assume mid-major status in their home states.
For Drake, its a matter of preventing an in-conference collapse like last year. The Bulldogs were 7-4 going into MVC play before going 5-13 down the stretch. They key will be if leading scorer Ajay Calvin keeps up his hot play. Calvin is averaging 19 per game, including 21 in the win over Iowa. Last year, he was also his best in non-conference play, scoring double digits in 10 of the 11 games, but only doing so in 9 of 18 conference games.
Also in the MVC, Creighton's tournament chances are probably busted barring a big run in the Conference Tournament. The Bluejays went on the road to Fresno and lost 69-54. They're now 4-3 with the lone good win against Xavier. Nate Funk struggled again with 6 of 18 shooting, and is below 40% on the season.
Southern Miss finally lose a game, never having a chance against #9 Alabama. Southern Miss basically was playing an NAIA schedule in going 7-0.. truly one of the most embarassing schedules I've ever seen a name D1 team play.
How bout Bobby Brown of CS Fullerton pouring in 47 points in a win ove Bethune Cookman. It should be noted 2-6 Bethune has yet to beat a D1 team and are one of the least talented teams in the country.. but 47 points is 47 points. After his sophomore year, the 6-0 Brown was considered to be a possible NBA player.. but his game and numbers have gone stagnant since. The 47 point output though should push his scoring average near 20 per game for the season though.