College Hoops Midweek Recap: Hoyas Carve Up Memphis

December 24th, 2010
Thursday provided quite the test for Josh Pastner's Memphis Tigers, with the more experienced Georgetown Hoyas invading the FedEx Forum. While Memphis' competitive spirit can't be questioned their execution, especially on the defensive end, was of no match for the Hoyas who diced up the Tigers to the tune of an 86-69 win. Austin Freeman scored 24 points while Chris Wright added 19 and Julian Vaughn 15 points and 10 rebounds in arguably Georgetown's best showing this season in moving to 11-1. Will Barton led the Tigers with 18 points but a close game at the half (40-36) got out of hand with the Hoyas shooting 63% from the field in the second half while Memphis made just 13 of 33 shots. It wasn't exactly "death by a thousand cuts" but Georgetown's offensive attack provided more movement than the young Tigers could account for.

"You're not going to beat a team that shoots 57 percent from the field," said Coach Pastner. "We went zone and got hurt, so went back to man and we tried to force more difficult shots and better defensive matchups, but they just shot the daylights out of it. It's just one of those games they deserved to win tonight. They were the better team tonight, and there was no doubt about that."

Georgetown is a more than capable perimeter shooting team, boasting an three point percentage of 42.6% on the season (and shooting 45.5% for the game), but it was their two-point percentage that got the job done in the final twenty minutes. Of the twenty-two shots Georgetown attempted inside of the arc sixteen went down and they took just five three-pointers (making one). Memphis may cite the many missed chippies for their demise offensively but for a team that shoots just 33.9% from three on the season eleven three-point attempts (making two) in a half (19 for the game) may be a bit too much. Memphis grabbed 17 offensive rebounds on the night but their issues shooting got them into trouble, and the defense sealed their fate. Those are areas that will improve as this group gains experience, and hopefully Wesley Witherspoon will return to full strength after struggling in his first game back since having his knee scoped a couple weeks ago.

"They [Memphis] have a very good team, a very talented team," said Georgetown head coach John Thompson III. "They are as talented as any team that we have gone against. Does our experience being seniors help? Absolutely."

Will Coleman's dunk with six minutes remaining pulled the Tigers to within nine points at 67-58, but on the other end of the floor the "silent assassin" struck again. Freeman's three pushed the lead back into double digits and removing any further suspense from the contest. Georgetown's already played games on the road against Old Dominion, Temple, Memphis as well as Missouri in Kansas City, arenas that should have them well prepared for the start of Big East play next week. You can make the argument that the seasoned Hoyas have proven as much as any team in the conference to this point in the season, and it isn't a stretch to envision them sitting atop the conference in a couple months. But there's still a lot of basketball to be played, a truth that stands for the young Tigers as well.

Other Notable Happenings

1. Missouri makes the sound plays late to claim Braggin' Rights.
Mike Anderson's Tigers looked to be in trouble late Wednesday night after a D.J. Richardson three cut Missouri's lead to one (62-61) with 41 seconds remaining. But in the scramble to force the turnover Illinois forgot to guard Laurence Bowers, who was wide open on the other end of the floor following the make. His layup, compounded by the bad decision of Mike Tisdale to give an intentional foul, resulted in a six-point play as Bowers' free throws were followed up by a Marcus Denmon layup on the inbounds play. Missouri went on to take care of business from the foul line, providing the deceptive final score of 75-64 with Denmon leading five double figure scorers with 15 points. Illinois fans will argue that you can't make that call at that point in the game but no play was made on the basketball in Tisdale's challenge, and if it's intentional early in the game it has to be late as well. Illinois' problem offensively was the shooting of Brandon Paul, D.J. Richardson and Jereme Richmond, who combined to make just eight of twenty-eight shots on the night. They'll have better days from the field but they won't have Braggin' Rights. Those go to Missouri, who made the smart decisions late to pull away in a tight rivalry game.

2. Texas follows up one big win with another.
While many will jump to ask questions of Michigan State, who tends to get the benefit of the doubt due to the excellence of head coach Tom Izzo, Wednesday's contest in East Lansing has more to do with what Texas did right than what the Spartans did wrong. Jordan Hamilton scored 21 points while Tristan Thompson added 17 points and 15 rebounds in the Longhorns' 67-55 win, an impressive follow-up to their 82-80 win over North Carolina on Saturday. Draymond Green (1-for-8) and Korie Lucious (1-for-6) struggled from the field and as a team Michigan State made just 29% of their shots as the Texas defense got the job done. Texas shot 41% from the field but that was more than enough on the road as they also forced 16 Michigan State turnovers. The memories of their disappointing effort at USC are a distant memory for this group, who may be showing signs that they can contend in the Big 12. Rick Barnes' team is young but they're figuring things out, and with that talent you never know what the future may hold.

3. Washington State takes out Baylor to advance in the Diamond Head Classic.
The difference between Washington State and Baylor in the Cougars' 77-71 win on Thursday can be explained in one simple statistic: the efficiency of Klay Thompson compared to that of Baylor's LaceDarius Dunn. Dunn missed his first 12 shots, nearly shooting the Bears out of the game before shooting them back into the contest in scoring 29 points. Dunn shot 7-for-22 from the field (3-for-15 from three) while Klay Thompson scored 20 points despite battling second half foul trouble by making five of eight shots from the field. Chalk that up to the defense of Marcus Capers, who's one of the best defenders in the country and did to Dunn what he's already done to Gonzaga's Steven Gray and Kansas State's Jacob Pullen. For the game Washington State shot 57% from the field while Baylor made just 36.7%, making all the difference as the 18-point deficit (57-39 with 13 minutes to go) proved to be too much for the Bears to come back from. While Washington may still be the accepted favorite in the Pac-10 keep an eye on Ken Bone's squad, who plays Butler in Saturday's title game.

4. Renardo Sidney: the gift and the curse.
Mississippi State welcomed back freshman forward Renardo Sidney on Thursday afternoon after a one-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team, and he played well in their 69-52 win over San Diego in Hawaii. Sidney led the Bulldogs with 19 points while grabbing six rebounds in twenty minutes of game action, showing a glimpse of what he brings to a team talent-wise even though he isn't in the best of shape. But just before the final game of the night between Hawaii and Utah, Sidney and forward Elgin Bailey were involved in a scene that embarrassed the Mississippi State program. What did they do? This. There's still a lot to be learned in regards to why this altercation took place but given the reputation of Sidney, as well as his recent suspension, he can ill-afford a situation like this. The memorable quote from "A Bronx Tale" is that "the worst thing in life is wasted talent". Hopefully Sidney can figure this out before having to learn the hard way. Both Sidney and Bailey have been sent home from Hawaii and suspended indefinitely per the athletic department.

Top Five Games

1. George Mason 85, Duquesne 79 (2 OT) Isaiah Tate scored seven of his fourteen points in the second overtime to lead the Patriots past Duquesne in Pittsburgh. Ryan Pearson and Cam Long scored 17 apiece for the victors while Bill Clark (21 points) and T.J. McConnell (19) led the Dukes.

2. Missouri 75, Illinois 64

3. (19) Tennessee 66, Belmont 65 Scotty Hopson scored the Volunteers' final nine points, including a layup with 5.7 seconds remaining, to end their two-game losing streak. Tobias Harris added 17 points to Hopson's 19 while Scott Saunders led the Bruins with 12.

4. UCLA 73, UC Irvine 73 Thanks in large part to PG Lazeric Jones (20 points, six assists) the Bruins survived a late charge from the Anteaters at Pauley Pavilion. Malcolm Lee added 20 and Josh Smith 14 while Eric Wise led four Anteaters in double figures with 16.

5. George Washington 82, East Carolina 80 Bryan Bynes banked in an 18-footer with 2.5 seconds remaining to give the Colonials the win. Tony Taylor's career-high 26 led the Colonials while Jontae Sherrod led the Pirates with 21 points, five rebounds and six assists.

Five Notable Performances

1. F Denzel Bowles (James Madison) 34 points and 13 rebounds in the Dukes' 80-73 win over Marshall Wednesday night.

2. G Doron Lamb (Kentucky) Broke the school record for points in a game by a freshman, scoring 32 points (11-12 FG, 7-8 3PT) in the Wildcats' 89-52 win over Winthrop on Wednesday.

3. G Darius Morris (Michigan) 26 points, 12 assists and six rebounds in the Wolverines' 87-71 win over Bryant on Thursday.

4. G/F Adrian Oliver (San Jose State) 42 points (12-15 FG, 7-9 3PT) in the Spartans' 95-62 win over Puget Sound on Wednesday.

5. F Chris Singleton (Florida State) 28 points and nine rebounds in the Seminoles' 67-64 loss to Butler in the semis of the Diamond Head Classic.