College Hoops Friday Recap: Bulldogs Win 2K Sports Classic

    
November 19th, 2011
Just over a week ago there were many questions about the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the aftermath of their loss to defending MAC Tournament champion Akron, one that featured listless play from their big men and uneven play from their guards. But just as Rick Stansbury's team can be a bit maddening in one week they can be just as productive the next, which is what happened in New York this week. Led by 2K Sports Classic MVP Arnett Moultrie (19 points, 10 rebounds) the Bulldogs never trailed as they beat Arizona 67-57 in the championship game.

Defensively the Bulldogs performed well, limiting Arizona to 40.4% shooting from the field and finishing a plus-4 on the glass. Offensively it wasn't a pretty game for either team, with Jesse Perry (11 points, 10 rebounds) and Solomon Hill (12 points, nine rebounds) leading the way for the Wildcats, but when it came time for the "tough" plays to be made more times than not it was a Bulldog getting it done.

"This game was about effort and toughness," said Stansbury. "If you look at the stat sheet, you see who the tougher team was on that floor tonight. We hustled, played hard and made all of the effort plays you need to make to win a championship."

Point guard Dee Bost didn't have his best shooting performance as he made just three of twelve shots from the field, but he did dish out six assists and grab five rebounds to make up for the lack of scoring. Renardo Sidney, who still has a way to go from a stamina standpoint, scored eight points hand had his moments during his 20 minutes on the floor.

While Perry is a frontcourt player who can score inside as well as step out to 15 feet and beyond, Arizona doesn't have another interior scoring threat and that cost them against Mississippi State. Kyle Fogg and Jordin Mayes were quiet offensively and outside of a few flashes freshmen Nick Johnson and Josiah Turner didn't provide much more off the bench.

These games were good tests for both teams, but it can be argued that the Bulldogs needed the title a little more given their start to the season. The question now is whether or not Mississippi State can use the title as a springboard to bigger and better things. They have the potential to, but whether or not the job is done depends entirely on them.

Other Notable Happenings

1. Rough day for the CAA as both Drexel and VCU fall.
The Colonial Athletic Association has done a very good job in recent years of earning at-large bids, with league contenders getting the job done in non-conference play and then going on to stage a riveting league race. And while that may still happen, losses by Drexel and VCU on Friday won't help matters. VCU's loss to Georgia Tech, with Glen Rice Jr.'s second half shooting sparking a Yellow Jacket rally, isn't one that will boggle the mind. Shaka Smart's team is trying to adjust to new roles and that will be a work in progress.

But for Drexel to follow up their impressive performance at Rider with a loss in the Paradise Jam to Norfolk State isn't what was expected of Bruiser Flint's team. After being nearly unstoppable on Tuesday, Samme Givens scored just seven points and point guard Frantz Massenat finished with seven turnovers. As a result of these defeats VCU finds themselves needing a win on Sunday to avoid an 0-3 Charleston Classic and Drexel somewhat lucks out with a game against Virginia. Both teams will need to be better offensively if they're to be successful.

2. Houston scores 52 points in the second half and beats Arkansas in Little Rock.
This wasn't a true home game for Mike Anderson's Razorbacks, so that may have taken a little away from the vigor of the crowd. But to give up 52 points in a half has to be something that the Hogs' head coach will focus on in their next practice. Kirk Van Slyke scored 19 points off the bench to lead five Houston players in double figures in an 87-78 win over Arkansas on Friday night as James Dickey's team moved to 3-0 on the season.

Houston shot 52.5% from the field, and while their offensive efficiency (114.5) was lower than their season average (118.8) the Cougars were able to execute at a similar level against stiffer competition. However, Houston needs to improve on their ball security if they're to make a push in Conference USA as they turned the ball over 23 times. If Coach Dickey's team can shore things up in that regard, it may not take waiting for their very good 2012 recruiting class to arrive in order to have an impact.

3. Kendall Williams rebounds from a brutal performance to help lead New Mexico to a win at Arizona State.
After going a combined 0-for-13 from the field in the Lobos' loss to New Mexico State earlier this week usual starters Kendall Williams and Drew Gordon came off the bench on Friday. And both bounced back, with Williams scoing 16 points while also grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out seven assists while Gordon accounted for 13 points and nine rebounds in a 76-71 win at Arizona State.

Four Lobos finished in double figures, and the play of freshman guard Hugh Greenwood was also something to take note of. Greenwood made just two of ten shots from the field but he dished out five assists without a turnover, and the season wears on the Australian will most likely get the bulk of the minutes at the point. Steve Alford's team needed a positive result heading into next week's 76 Classic, and they got one.

Quick Hitters

1. Robbie Hummel will be the focal point for Purdue but senior point guard Lewis Jackson will be just as important. Jackson scored a game-high 26 points to go along with three assists in the Boilermakers' 85-77 win over Temple in a Puerto Rico Tipoff semifinal.

2. Virginia put forth a poor performance in their 57-55 loss to TCU at the Paradise Jam, with Joe Harris' game-winning three pointer falling just short as time expired. Not the best way for Tony Bennett's team to go about showing that they could be the fourth-best team in the ACC.

3. To say the least it's going to be a tough year for Boston College, but this was expected given their personnel losses combined with the need to rely on their young players. But to loss 86-64 to Holy Cross isn't the best way to go about that.

4. Gary Waters' defense was at it again as Cleveland State beat St. Bonaventure 67-64 due in large part to the 23 turnovers they forced. Trevon Harmon led three CSU starters in double figures with 20 points while D'Aundray Brown and Jeremy Montgomery scored 12 apiece.

5. Keith Dambrot's Akron team fell to Valparaiso 62-59 with Kevin Van Wijk scoring 21 points and grabbing ten rebounds on the night, with the foul line proving to be the deciding factor. Valpo attempted 38 free throws to Akron's seven.

Three Notable Performances

1. G Scott Machado (Iona)
17 points and 15 assists in Iona's 94-88 win over Western Michigan in a consolation bracket game in the Puerto Rico Tipoff

2. G Carl Jones (Saint Joseph's)
38 points (a tournament record), four rebounds, four assists and three steals in the Hawks' 78-70 loss to Seton Hall in a Charleston Classic semifinal.

3. G T.J. McConnell (Duquesne)
15 points, 11 assists and ten rebounds in the Dukes' 97-81 win over District of Columbia.