This much became painfully obvious in Maryland's 69-57 loss to Cincinnati in the Maui Invitational on Tuesday: Greivis Vasquez needs another consistent offensive option to step up. The senior guard from Venezuela is still going to take the majority of the shots and he should. But for no other player to score more than nine points when Vasquez finished with nineteen won't get it done against the level of competition the Terps will have to beat to make a second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.
Landon Milbourne, the most likely candidate among the other starters, scored just nine points on four shot attempts. Some may argue that Vasquez dominated too much of the offense on Tuesday but what else can be done if no one else has stepped up to help out? It's still early and Maryland will have many more opportunities to pick up quality wins and it may be a blessing in disguise that they've received a lesson on the importance of offensive versatility this early in the year.
Three Key Happenings
1. Florida picks up a nice non-conference victory. The Gators were a bit of an unknown heading into this season despite returning four starters. The addition of Kenny Boynton was expected to pay dividends but how much was debatable when looking at a division that includes Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina and Vanderbilt. Tuesday offered a glimpse at what the Gators can do when they come out focused defensively, holding Florida State to 33.3% shooting from the field in their 68-52 victory. Contrary to prior teams under Billy Donovan this doesn't have the look of a "run and gun", outfit instead relying on their defense and scoring balance to win games. And unlike the last two seasons in Gainesville this group looks to have accepted the fact they'll need to defend in order to win games. Tuesday was a good start.
2. Seattle picked up a big win for their program. The Redhawks, who boast the great Elgin Baylor as an alum, won 77-74 at Utah due to Charles Garcia's 24 points and eight rebounds. Seattle, who remains an independent, has won three straight games and could be a threat to finish at the .500 mark or higher at season's end. Cameron Dollar is in his first season as a head coach but his experience under Lorenzo Romar at Washington should help matters. Of course, having a player the caliber of Garcia isn't such a bad thing either.
3. Texas may be down a man for some time. That man is starting guard Varez Ward, who injured his right knee in pregame warmups before the Lonhorns took on Pittsburgh in the finals of the CBE Classic. It's unknown how long Ward will be out but when a guy is taken off on a stretcher there's a good chance that the injury is serious. Luckily for Texas J'Covan Brown stepped up to add ten points and they've got the overall depth necessary to navigate potential roadblocks in the form of player injuries. Rick Barnes definitely isn't lacking for talent on this team and that should allow him to adjust on the fly to whatever comes his way in the form of personnel losses.
Top Three Games
1. TCU 108, Texas State 99 (3OT) Six players scored in double figures for the Horned Frogs, who has to sweat out a 30-point outing from Texas State's John Rybak.
2. Morgan State 97, Arkansas 94 The Razorbacks didn't have an answer for Reggie Holmes, who scored thirty-five in the biggest regular season non-conference win in Todd Bozeman's tenure at the school.
3. Canisius 73, Buffalo 71 Frank Turner's shot with less than a second remaining provided the winning margin and teammate Julius Coles led all scorers with twenty-six points.
Three Notable Performances
1. F Ike Okoye (Boise State) Okoye went for 21 points and 17 rebounds in the Broncos' 82-69 win at Eastern Washington.
2. F Landry Fields (Stanford) Fields posted a double-double with 25 points and 13 rebounds in the Cardinal's 57-52 win over Virginia in Cancun.
3. G Chris Holmes (Navy) Holmes scored thirty-seven points in the Midshipmen's 87-70 win over Towson.
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