College Hoops Tuesday: Your Commentary

December 21st, 2010
There's just one game between ranked teams on Tuesday night and it sets up to be an enticing matchup to watch while wrapping those gifts. UNLV (10-2) hits the road to take on Kansas State(9-2) in Kansas City in what will be anything but a "neutral" environment despite the designation. Both teams have dealt with disappointing losses within the past week and poor shooting was largely to blame in both instances. UNLV shot 29% for the game in a loss to UCSB last Thursday while K-State shot a frigid 22% in the second half of their loss to Florida on Saturday. The one player who shot well for Frank Martin's team was senior guard Jacob Pullen, who scored 19 of their 44 points, but the question for the Wildcats remains the same. Pullen and Denis Clemente had a great balance on the court last season offensively, and this year's group needs a consistent number two if they're to approach last year's heights (Elite 8).

Rodney McGruder (10.3 ppg) and super sub Jamar Samuels (8.8 ppg) are next in line in regards to scoring averages and as we saw on Saturday, Kansas State can ill-afford too many nights when both are struggling offensively. As a team Kansas State shoots just 43.7% from the field, and given their occasional overuse of the perimeter shot they could find themselves in trouble against the Rebels if they fail to attack the basket. In addition to Samuels, Curtis Kelly will be critical due to his ability to score in the paint as K-State will need to control that area of the floor if they're to win. UNLV opponents shoot just 38% from the field and 33.5% from beyond the arc, and their surplus of long-armed defenders do a good job of challenging shots. Look for senior Derrick Jasper to be one of the primary defenders on Pullen but guards Oscar Bellfield and Anthony Marshall are both athletic enough to do the job if called upon.

Lon Kruger's team underwent a slight transformation at the start of the season due in large part to the suspension of guard Tre'Von Willis, as Chace Stanback became the leading offensive option during their run through the 76 Classic Thanksgiving weekend. But the UCLA transfer has struggled from the field of late (11-30 FG last three games) while Willis has steadily approached the level of play that made him one of the toughest matchups in the Mountain West a season ago. What UNLV does so well is share the basketball, averaging just over 16 assists per game and assisting on 59% of their made field goals. Five players average at least nine points per game and inside Quintrell Thomas and Brice Massamba are two of the players that Coach Kruger can call on to do the dirty work. Kansas State has done a good job of forcing opponents to have to make plays on their own to score, allowing an assist percentage of just 48.7%.

Kansas State will need to do a good job of navigating the UNLV pressure, as with the number of long-armed defenders they have can result in a plethora of deflections. Point guard Will Spradling will have help in this area but we're going to find out a little more about the freshman and how future opponents will defend the Wildcats as the season wears on. And the Rebels will need to keep Kansas State off the offensive glass at all costs. The Wildcats may score just 18.6% of their points from the foul line (as they like to put up the jumpers as noted earlier) but their offensive rebounding rate of 41.5% definitely makes up for that. The winner receives a valuable resume boost while the loser shouldn't be hit too hard in the computers.

Other games of note include Miami (OH) looking to sweep the city of Cincinnati as they host the undefeated Bearcats with a win over Xavier under their belt and USC takes on Tennessee with both teams looking to bounce back from tough defeats over the weekend. The Volunteers didn't look too interested in playing well at Charlotte, falling 49-48 while USC fell victim to Josh Selby on Saturday afternoon. While he made some rushed the decisions in the 70-68 loss in Lawrence, Jio Fontan's addition to the Trojans rotation opens things up for players who had issues with offensive consistency earlier in the season. BYU takes on Weber State in a matchup that lost a significant amount of sizzle when star guard Damian Lillard was lost for the season due to injury. The Wildcats could still be a factor in the Big Sky and there aren't many better ways to test out a new lineup than against very good competition, which Jimmer Fredette and company will definitely provide on the heels of their loss to UCLA. Two other games to keep an eye on involving teams in non-BCS leagues include VCU at UAB and Morehead State taking on Austin Peay in an OVC matchup.

Top 25
8:30 PM North Carolina-Asheville at (2) Ohio State (BTN)
9:00 PM (22) UNLV vs. (6) Kansas State* (ESPN2)
7:00 PM USC at (7) Tennessee (ESPN3)
10:00 PM San Francisco vs. (10) San Diego State*
6:30 PM IPFW at (17) Purdue (BTN)
9:00 PM (18) Brigham Young at Weber State

NCAA Division I Games
12:00 PM Reinhardt at Chattanooga
1:00 PM Washington Coll at Maryland-Eastern Shore
3:00 PM Rice vs. Stetson*
5:00 PM Maine at Penn State
5:15 PM North Carolina Central at Florida Gulf Coast
5:15 PM Oral Roberts vs. Miami (FL)*
7:00 PM St. Francis vs. Davidson* (MSG)
7:00 PM Long Beach State at Arizona State
7:00 PM High Point at Georgia (ESPN3)
7:00 PM Saint Joseph's at Boston University
7:00 PM William & Mary at North Carolina (ESPN3)
7:00 PM Presbyterian at Wake Forest
7:00 PM Cincinnati at Miami (OH) (ESPN3)
7:00 PM Army at Brown
7:00 PM Mt St Joseph at Ball State
7:00 PM St. Peter's at Binghamton
7:00 PM Youngstown State at Kent State
7:00 PM Dallas Christian at Prairie View A&M
7:00 PM Sacred Heart at Providence
7:00 PM Indiana-Northwest at Toledo
7:30 PM Akron vs. Arkansas-Little Rock*
7:30 PM Bluefield College at Charleston Southern
7:30 PM Jarvis Christian at Nicholls State
7:30 PM Western Michigan vs. Troy*
8:00 PM USC Upstate at Auburn
8:00 PM VCU at UAB
8:00 PM Chicago State at Iowa State
8:00 PM Grambling State at Nebraska
8:00 PM Sacramento State at Oklahoma (ESPN3)
8:00 PM Wagner at Texas A&M (ESPN3)
8:00 PM Sam Houston State at Houston
8:00 PM Mississippi Valley State at Marquette
8:00 PM Lipscomb at Alabama
8:00 PM Lyon College at Central Arkansas
8:00 PM Louisiana Tech at Iowa
8:00 PM Southwest at McNeese State
8:00 PM Northwestern State at TCU
8:00 PM Murray State at Tennessee-Martin (ESPN3)
8:00 PM AUB Montgomery at Tulane
8:05 PM Alcorn State at South Alabama
8:05 PM Houston Baptist at UMKC
8:05 PM Dartmouth at Drake
8:05 PM Tulsa at Wichita State
8:45 PM Eastern Illinois at Jacksonville State
8:45 PM Morehead State at Austin Peay
9:00 PM Louisiana-Lafayette at New Mexico State (ESPN3)
9:00 PM Stanford at Oklahoma State
9:00 PM Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Denver
9:00 PM Vanderbilt at Middle Tennessee (ESPN3)
9:00 PM Eastern Kentucky at Tennessee State
9:00 PM Southeast Missouri State at Tennessee Tech
9:30 PM Northwestern vs. St. John's* (MSG)
10:00 PM Pacific at Fresno State
10:00 PM Southern Utah at UC Davis
10:00 PM Idaho at Oregon
10:00 PM Cal Poly at Pepperdine
10:00 PM Cal Baptist at UC Santa Barbara
10:05 PM Idaho State at Utah State
10:30 PM Montana State at UCLA