College Hoops Tuesday Recap: Hoyas Outlast Tigers

    
December 1st, 2010
While focus on the ACC/Big Ten Challenge relegated this game to the backchannel knows as ESPNU there was little doubt as to what would be the game of the night. And boy did Georgetown and Missouri live up the expectations, putting forth a classic that required overtime to render a verdict. And when the dust settled it was Georgetown, who was down four with 26.1 seconds left in regulation, leaving the Sprint Center in Kansas City with a valuable non-conference victory. The Tigers will most certainly lament some crucial errors in those final seconds, from to three missed foul shots (two by Laurence Bowers and one by Marcus Dixon) to Dixon inexplicably fouling Chris Wright with 15 seconds remaining to Kim English saving a ball going out of bounds under his own basket. That save led to Jason Clark finding a wide-open Wright behind the arc, and the senior came through with the game-tying basket.

"It surprised me because two guys ran up on me when I was dribbling up the court," said Wright of the sequence that led to his basket. "I was just trying to find an open man. I trusted that anybody that shot the ball was going to make the shot. Jason does what he does and just ran for the rebound and kicked it up to me. I felt like it was going in and so I just kept my hand high and just released it."

Austin Freeman led the Hoyas with 31 points but the play of Wright (21 points, 10 assists) and Clark (26 points, six rebounds) will also be cited as prime reasons why Georgetown won in what didn't feel like a "neutral" venue. Clark canned three three-pointers in the extra session, and his progression has been something to behold at this early juncture in the season. Julian Vaughn only played nine minutes due to foul trouble but Henry Sims stepped up off the bench, accounting for 10 points and seven rebounds in 33 minutes of action in what could be another positive development so long as the junior takes advantage of the momentum. And with a lot of talk about Missouri's "fastest 40 minutes in basketball" it was the Hoya bench that held the edge, scoring 24 to the Tigers' 15. Phil Pressey and Steven Moore played just one minute apiece for Missouri, who suffered their first loss of the season.

"This year's team is deeper than last year's, and playing our second unit doesn't create much of a dropoff," remarked head coach John Thompson III after the game. "We were fortunate tonight to get quality minutes from our bench when our starters in the frontcourt got into foul trouble."

All five Missouri starters scored in double figures with Marcus Denmon leading the way with 27 points while Ricardo Ratliffe added 22 and seven rebounds. But the pressure combined with a matchup zone wasn't enough get Georgetown out of their offensive rhythm as the Hoyas finished with a turnover rate right around their average (21.7%) and an effective field goal percentage of 67.4% (Missouri allows opponents an eFG% of 52%). An outstanding win for Georgetown but there's no shame in dropping one of this caliber if you're the Tigers. But there may be the feeling of "we let one slip away".

Other Notable Happenings

1. North Carolina needs to make some changes.
Once again how Harrison Barnes shoots from the field should rank low on the list of concerns for head coach Roy Williams. Fact is, poor guard play has the Tar Heels looking like a rudderless ship offensively and their lack of interior depth (and muscle) could have them in serious trouble if these issues aren't solved soon. When the starting backcourt of Larry Drew II and Dexter Strickland combines for nine points, eight assists, six turnovers and 2-11 shooting from the field you're going to struggle period, much less on the road against a Top 25 team like Illinois. While Kendall Marshall, Leslie McDonald and Reggie Bullock weren't much better in their play, how much longer do you go with guys simply because they're more experienced? Last night's game got to a point where players were hesitating to put up shots and you've already lost once that happens. All things considered the frontcourt played well for UNC but they got in trouble when Tyler Zeller picked up his third foul of the first half. Coach Williams has quite a few things to evaluate in advance of Saturday's game against Kentucky, including if the current composition will work out if left unchanged.

2. Let's calm down on the UConn hype right now.
Kemba Walker went off for 30 again...and the IRS will once again collect taxes come April. There's little to question about the junior point guard's pedigree at this point, as his experience and skill allows him to properly navigate increased expectations. But what about all those freshmen and sophomores? That's the question so many had when wondering if Connecticut is indeed the 9th-best team in America (their accomplishments should be noted, however). Did they experience a post-Maui hangover last night? Possibly, although their sluggish play against New Hampshire won't be swept under the rug by head coach Jim Calhoun nor should it be. Huskies not named Kemba shot 12-for-34 from the field and accounted for just 32 points in the 62-55 win over the Wildcats. But if UConn is to exceed the preseason expectations of finishing 10th in the Big East other players will need to step up. Shabazz Napier, Alex Oriakhi and more will need to be reliable on a consistent basis as consistency is what separates teams by the end of the season.

3. Florida State needs to find an answer at the point if they're to be a tournament team.
The Seminoles have scored just 95 points in their last two games, losses to Florida and Ohio State. No shame in dropping home contests to those two teams but given a remaining non-conference schedule that lacks any significant meat (if you consider at Auburn to be a tough game allow me to remind you that Cam Newton doesn't play on the basketball team), Leonard Hamilton's team may need a significant run through ACC play to make up for it. The main problem for FSU offensively: the failure to value the basketball. Going into Tuesday night the Seminoles had a turnover rate of 24.9%, and while that's not good it's much better than their rate of 32.8% against the Buckeyes. Michael Snaer led the way with three of the Noles' six assists on 19 baskets, and while Ohio State had a lower 3FG% (35.6 to FSU's 38.5) the efficiency difference was startling. Ohio State's offensive efficiency was 86.6% while Florida State finished at 65.7%, and that's not going to get it done. But do the Seminoles have a capable point guard available? That's the question that needs answering.

*efficiency stats courtesy of statsheet.com*

Top Three Games

1. Georgetown 111, Missouri 102 (OT)
2. Wake Forest 76, Iowa 73 J.T. Terrell's three-pointer with 2.7 seconds remaining to give the Demon Deacons the win in Winston-Salem. Terrell led all scorers with a career-high 32 points while Eric May led the Hawkeyes with 17.
3. Florida Atlantic 61, Mississippi State 59 So much for treading water until Renardo Sidney is eligible to play, as the Bulldogs fell to FAU in Starkville. Kore White led three Owls in double figures with 18 points while Ravern Johnson scored 18 and Kodi Augustus 13 points and 10 boards led Mississippi State.

Three Notable Performances

1. G Mike Singletary (Texas Tech) 29 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in the Red Raiders' 86-82 win over Oral Roberts.
2. G/F Jovonni Shuler (Savannah State) 32 points and seven rebounds in the Tigers' 69-64 loss to Stetson.
3. G Austin Freeman (Georgetown) 31 points and five rebounds in the Hoyas' win over Missouri.

Honorable mention: Washington State went on a 27-0 run to start the game in their 84-36 pasting of Sacramento State.