College Hoops Wednesday Recap: BYU Outlasts Utah State
At the charity stripe the home team took advantage of its opportunities, knocking down 23 of 30 (13-15 in the second half) to Utah State's 15 of 26 (7-13 in the second half) for the game. "It's good to have to go to the free throw line late in games, make free throws, get offensive and defensive rebounds late, get a stop here and there when there's a lot of pressure and a lot on the line," said BYU head coach Dave Rose after the game. In a game played in a midseason atmosphere it was the little things that would determine the outcome and the Cougars were better in those areas. That being said the intentional foul called on Wesley for swinging his elbows (a point of emphasis this season) that resulted in his fouling out was a call that may be discussed in Logan for the next few days (if not longer). Utah State head coach Stew Morrill didn't come out and directly say that he disagreed with the call but the "swinging" ruling could be seen as excessive by some.
"When you are on the road against a top-25 team you always worry that the game will get away from you," said Coach Morrill. "We played tough and were within three there near the end and I would have liked to see what would have happened if Tai doesn't get that intentional foul."
The biggest question going into the game was the Utah State backcourt, be it how junior college transfer Brockeith Pane would play on the road or the groin injury that Pooh Williams was dealing with. The answers were mixed for the Aggies, with Williams able to play 26 minutes, scoring 10 points while also tallying three assists. But it was a far tougher night for Pane, who played well in a matchup with Weber State's Damian Lillard in the season opener. Pane made just two of eleven shots, scoring eight points to go along with three assists and four turnovers. But these are things than can easily be fixed this time of year and Utah State showed more than enough to back up the preseason favorite status in the WAC. And BYU will once again be a team to be reckoned with in the Mountain West; Wednesday's game was a great early-season test for both. (Quotes courtesy of BYU Athletics)
Other Key Happenings
1. Is the Pac-10 at it again?
If the plan was to have a pair of Pac-10 teams stumble late at night so people didn't catch the score until the morning it didn't work. Oregon State performed better against Seattle this season but it still wasn't enough to knock off the Redhawks at Key Arena, falling 83-80 when Calvin Haynes' attempt to tie the game slipped out of his hands. The improvement in margin of defeat may be the biggest positive for the Beavers, who were blown out of their own gym in last season's meeting by a staggering 51 points. Jared Cunningham led the way for Oregon State with 19 while Haynes added 18 but the combo of Cervante Burrell (22 points) and Sterling Carter (20) proved to be too much. And if not for outscoring Seattle 31-20 in points off of turnovers the margin likely would have been larger, as the Redhawks went on a 20-5 second half run to take the lead for good. But for the talk of Oregon State not playing a complete game (once they went back to their 1-3-1 trap the Beavers got back into the game) at least they had a chance to win at the end of the game.
That can't be said for Kevin O'Neil and company at USC, who were soundly whipped by Rider 77-57 at the Galen Center. Justin Robinson turned in an outstanding performance (career-high 28 points) for the Broncs, who led at the half by nine (36-27) and went on a 14-2 run in about a three minute stretch halfway through the second half to put the game away. The Trojans outscored Rider 40-18 in the paint but their inability to shoot from the perimeter (1-15 3PT) combined with the Broncs knocking down 60% of their field goal attempts (and 62.3% from beyond the arc) spelled doom for a team that lacks scoring punch right now. Nikola Vucevic made just three of seven shot attempts and with Rider packing their defense in someone needed to step up and knock down some shots if the Trojans were to loosen things up. Do these results spell doom for the Pac-10? Probably not, especially with UCLA playing well and preseason favorite Washington having as much talent as any team on the West Coast, but it definitely isn't the best way to kick things off.
2. Tennessee survives a game Missouri State squad to advance to the NIT semis.
Even if starting point guard Melvin Goins (hip bruise) were healthy going into Wednesday night's game there would have been questions in regards to what head coach Bruce Pearl would do with the position. Freshman Trae Golden got the start and while he made just two of eight shots from the field he played with a level of control that wasn't seen from any of the options used at the point in Tuesday's win over Belmont, and his free throws with 7.2 seconds remaining sealed a 60-56 victory. Next up for Tennessee is Virginia Commonwealth, who blitzed Wake Forest 90-69 on Tuesday and has one of the better point guards around in senior Joey Rodriguez. Tobias Harris led the Vols with 15 points while Scotty Hopson and Cameron Tatum added 12 apiece, and Kyle Weems led the Bears with a game-high 18. Cuonzo Martin's team will make you fight for every possession, making them a good test for a Tennessee group that still needs an answer at the point. Could Golden be that guy? He's got the ability to be just that as the season wears on.
3. Scott Christopherson goes off as Iowa State moves to 3-0 under Fred Hoiberg.
Much was made about Fred Hoiberg's lack of head coaching experience when he was hired by his alma mater but "The Mayor" is off to a good start in Ames. But what happened on Wednesday was stunning, as Scott Christopherson made all eleven of his shots from the field in a 91-43 pasting of in-state rival Drake. The 48-point margin marks Iowa State's biggest win in the history of the series (170 games) and while the Cyclones made 53.8% of their shots Drake connected on just 22.4% of their attempts. Christopherson and Diante Garrett combined for 43 points themselves, a fact that should highlight just how bad this beating was. Iowa State, who in years past seemed to be more about the individuals when it came to scoring, assisted on 21 of their 35 baskets in the win. And while there will be a major step up in competition (Northern Iowa) and vitriol (Iowa) in the remaining rivalry games, Coach Hoiberg could be two wins away from deserving the moniker of "The Governor" this season.
Top Three Games
1. BYU 78, Utah State 72
2. Colorado College 60, Air Force 57
Someone loses a game that they really shouldn't lose every season in November and this time it was Air Force, who fell to a Division III team that went 12-13 in 2009-10. Nick Rose led the Tigers with 18 points while Tom Fow led the Falcons with 17 points and eight rebounds. But once Fow fouled out with just less than four minutes left in overtime it was all downhill for the home team.
3. Bradley 59, Loyola Marymount 57
The Braves, led by Sami Maniscalco (14 points), outscored the Lions 12-2 over the final 7:19 to remain undefeated. Vernon Teel led the Lions with 15 points and 10 rebounds while Drew Viney added 12 and nine rebounds but LMU wasted a 50-33 edge on the glass by turning the ball over 24 times.
Three Notable Performances
1. Scott Christopherson (Iowa State) 11-11 FG for 29 points in Iowa State's 91-43 beating of Drake.
2. Tim Abromaitis (Notre Dame) 21 points 10 rebounds and seven assists in the Fighting Irish's 102-62 win over Chicago State.
3. Justin Robinson (Rider) 28 points on 9-10 FG (5-5 3PT) in the Broncs' 77-57 win at USC.