Main Event in Two Acts
SEC/Big East Invitational.
No. 18 Tennessee Vs. No. 24 Marquette.
Highlight of the First Act: 6’7″ Volunteer Scotty Hopson made a smooth back door cut that left his defender guarding air. The bounce pass came on time and target. Hopson caught the ball and elevated for the easy dunk. The moment he started jump, so did Marquette’s Dominique James. The went up together and met at the rim and James sent the shot away. James is 5’11″. Block of the Year!
The First half was close as the Volunteers looked and played hungover from the Temple game. Tennessee was content to stand on the perimeter and launch from deep. Marquette was OK with that as well.
Highlight of the Second Act: 6’9″ Junior Forward Wayne Chism and his 21 points.
Wayne Chism must have reintroduced himself to his teammates at half time. Because in the first half, the rest of the Volunteers did not get him the ball. Maybe they forgot Chism was on their team. How can you? He is the only guy who wears his headband like that.
The first two plays in the second half were sets for Chism on the block and there was no looking back. The Volunteers have talented wings, but Chism is the only viable post option. If you don’t at least attempt to get the ball in the post, your offense is limited strictly to jumpers. Chism finished with a career high 26 points and also grabbed ten rebounds.
For Chism, this is a game that Bruce Pearl has been waiting for. Hopefully it is only the beginning. If Tennessee wants to get back to the top of SEC quickly – and stay there - Chism needs to be a consistent double double player. He is talented enough.
After watching the game, I looked at the box score and was surprised. Tennesse’s Tyler Smith had 14 points on 6-6 shooting from the field and 4-6 from the foul line. That is why I like him. You don’t need to talk about him or have to force the ball to him, he just gets the job done.
Marquette’s Wesley Matthew scored a career high 30 points in attempt to carry his team. He also had four rebounds and three assists.
In basketball terms, Texas guard A.J. Abrams is short. He stands only 5′11″. But outside of Davidson’s Stephen Curry, there is no other player in the country who carries his teams success squarelyon their shoulders. Now his name must be put into the Player of the Year conversation.
In No. 5 Texas’ 88-72 victory over Texas Southern, Abrams shot 59% from the floor, 3-3 from the charity stripe and 4-8 from distance. His most important stat of the night: zero turnovers.
Texas again had Justin Mason run the point, and he did had four rebounds, six assists and zero turnovers. It seems Texas final found a solution for the “replacing D.J. Augustin” problem.
6’10″ big boy Dexter Pittman continued to show confidence and improvement. Playing strong for the longhorns in the middle, he finished with a career high 19 points and added five rebounds and 3 blocks.
Texas is still a team that makes me nervous. They seem to play up or down to their opponent – which can be be good and bad, but definitely frustrating. If you take Abrams off this team, the Longhorns don’t make play in the NCAA Tournament.
Texas forward Damion James is solid averaging 14 points and 7.8 rebounds a game. I am still waiting for him to explode - in a good way. James has yet to prove that he is any better than he was last season and that can’t be sitting well with NBA scouts.
Bull in a China Shop
Both starting forwards for the South Florida Bulls fouled out. Back-up center Alex Rivas Sanchez has four fouls in six minutes. Vanderbilt center A.J. Ogilvy attempted 13 free throw, the Bulls made 12.
The 6’11″ Ogilvy was the dominate player in the lane and along with fouling out the starting post players, he finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Ogilvy checked in and out of game many times, supposedly he is struggling with endurance. Aren’t we all.
Note to Vanderbilt Coach Kevin Stallings. Burn that tie.
Fear the Ospreys?
No. 25 Clemson could have stopped at half. If they had, they would have won the game by won point. Clemson destroyed North Florida 76-36. Clemson scored 37 in the first half. The North Florida Ospreys enter the match-up 0-7 for the year.
An Osprey is a fish eating hawk that can have a wingspan up to a six feet wide.
The Clemson Tigers are good, North Florida Ospreys are not. Even if they can fly.
I Told You So
Last week I said that North Dakota State’s point guard Ben Woodside should be a write-in candidate for National Player of the Year. And look what happened.
He scored 60 points in a single game and then follows that up with a 31 point, 10 assist performance. He is third in the nation in scoring at 26.9, third in assists at 7.6. NDSU now ranks third in nation in total offense scoring 90.3 points a game and fourth in three point shooting at 45.7 percent a game. Go Bison.
Annoyance of the Evening
In the middle of the Vanderbilt game – and at the end of the Tenn/Marq. game – certain commentators felt need to bring up Tyler Hansbrough. No connection to what was happening in the game.
I have heard his name more this Holiday Season than Jesus. Maybe Ricky Bobby will pray to baby Hansbrough. Apparently, Hansbrough can shuffle his pivot foot on water too.