This post can also be found at Beyond the Arc.
Game of the Week: Xavier 94, Wofford 90 3OT
This was far from the only exciting overtime game this week (and it wasn't even the longest -- Skidmore and Southern Vermont dueled for seven overtimes), but this was probably the best. Xavier was up 44-33 in the second half, but a 25-6 Terrier run left the Muskies down 58-50 with just 4:23 left on the clock, Chris Mack called a timeout and challenged his team. "I thought our kids in the huddle challenged one another, took the challenge from the coaching staff, and were able to put consecutive stops out on the defensive side of the floor to eventually get us back in the game," Mack said.
It worked. Xavier got the stops they needed, using a 12-4 push to force OT. After an exciting back and forth that featured missed free throws and clutch buckets by both teams, the Terriers found themselves up three on the final possession. Wofford fouled Xavier's Dante Jackson with 2.2 seconds left on the clock. Jackson made the first, missed the second, and this happened:
In the second overtime, Xavier jumped out to a four point lead, but a basket and a three gave Wofford the lead back. After trading buckets -- and after both teams made 1-2 free throws, the game was tied and Wofford had the ball. Cameron Rundles hit a jumper at the buzzer, but as you can see here, the shot came after the buzzer, forcing a third overtime:
In the third overtime, Wofford scored to tie it up with just over 40 seconds left, but a Tu Holloway floater with 9.7 seconds left gave Xavier the lead. They would get a stop and hit two free throws for the win.
The win was another escape by a Xavier team that has struggled so far thus season. The biggest issue right now appears to be depth. All of Xavier's starters logged at least 40 minutes and the Muskies only got three points from their bench. But, hey, a win is a win, and Xavier improves to 5-1 on the season.
The other good games:
Player of the Week: Kemba Walker, UConn
This one was easy. Walker scored 29 points in the second half to lead the Huskies to a win over Wichita State, scored 30 in an upset of then No. 2 Michigan State, and went for 29 in UConn's win over then No. 9 Kentucky in the Maui finals. He also averaged 4.0 apg and 2.7 spg while shooting 28-52 (53.8%) from the floor, 26-28 (92.9%) from the line, and 8-19 (42.5%) from three. All in all, I think Walker had a pretty good week.
The All-they-were-good-too team:
Team of the Week: UNLV Runnin' Rebels
After last season ended, the talk of the MWC was BYU and Jimmer Fredette. Early in the season, the toast of the league has been San Diego State after the Aztecs went into Spokane and beat Gonzaga. And, of course, there was the obligatory "wait until New Mexico gets Drew Gordon" references. UNLV, on the other hand, started the season out without star Tre'Von Willis and was, for the most part, the afterthought when discussing four potential bids for the conference.
But UNLV has put those thoughts on hold. Heading into the 76 Classic in Anaheim coming off of a 68-65 win over Wisconsin, the Rebels had a ton of confidence, and that roll continued with their impressive showing out west. UNLV knocked off Tulsa, Murray State, and Virginia Tech en route to the tournament title. More impressive, they did it with Willis looking slow and out of shape. There are few teams in the country as fu to watch as UNLV. They play with essentially four guards (Chace Stanback gets the majority of his minutes as a power forward) and press for 40 minutes. At every spot on the perimeter, they have athletes that can shoot, penetrate, and pass the ball. This club understands what they want to do on each offensive possession. This could very well be the best team in the MWC, which is saying quite a bit.
The Atlantic 10 could be in trouble this season. We already noted Xavier's troubles early in the season. Temple, the only ranked team in the Old Spice Classic, ended up losing two of their three games, and not in impressive fashion either. They were dropped by Cal in a game the Owls looked largely uninterested in, then they proceeded to lose to a Texas A&M team that lost to Boston College who lost to Yale. Ok, that doesn't mean much, but a 1-2 performance in a tournament with a field that was largely mediocre is not a good sign for a team that was expected to be the best in the Atlantic 10.
And then there is Dayton. If we had an award for worst team of the week, that would go to the Flyers. Dayton lost to Cincinnati 68-34, and it wasn't even that close. At one point in the second half, the score was 56-19. This is the same Cincinnati team that will likely finish well done in the bottom half of the Big East. Charlotte, URI, and St. Louis have all looked unimpressive as well.
If there is any saving grace, its that Richmond went into Chicago and knocked off Purdue. But that same Richmond team also has a double overtime loss to Iona on their resume this season. So there's that.
While the A-10 struggles, the Big East looks like they may have been slept on this season. Seven teams in the conference either won or made the finals of their respective early season tournament:
Everyone know about Pitt and Villanova coming into the season. Everyone expected good things from Georgetown, Syracuse, and West Virginia. But with Louisville's impressive start, UConn and Notre Dame's big tournament wins, and Marquette, Seton Hall, and St. John's still waiting in the wings, the Big East looks like they will once again have a deep conference with quite a few tournament teams.
The Old Spice Classic managed to set records on back-to-back days for offensive futility. On Thursday, Wisconsin and Manhattan slogged their way to a 17-10 score at the half. The 27 points were the fewest ever scored in the first half since the advent of the shot clock. The previous record came on January 8th, 2003, when Ole Miss took a 15-13 lead into the break against South Carolina. It got worse the next night, as Notre Dame took a 21-5 lead into the half against Cal. The Bears, who came one point away from the record for the worse half in the shot-clock era (Savannah State scored four points in the second half against Kansas State), were 2-25 from the field and didn't score a point for the last 10:44 of the half. They had twice as many turnovers (11) as points (5), and more than four times as many fouls (9) as field goals (2).
Interestingly enough, its not even the D-I record. North Carolina Central took a 13-5 lead at the break against (guess who!) Savannah State last year. But since NCCU was still a D-I provisional last season, the record isn't officially the "record", which may actually be a positive. That game ended up going to overtime tied at 34, which may also set a record for free basketball that least the number of people wanted to see.
Other Notes from the week that was:
Matchups of the Week:
Monday, November 29, 2010
This post can also be found at Beyond the Arc.