Wednesday offered Utah and UNLV the opportunity to knock off in-state rivals (Utah State and Nevada) who will enter their respective conference seasons expected to compete for league titles, and neither disappointed. The Utes were able to capitalize on seventeen Utah State turnovers and a hot-shooting Carlon Brown (sorry for referring to you as Carlton yesterday) to pull out the 68-67 win over the Aggies.
UNLV recovered from a slow first half to knock off Nevada 88-75 as Oscar Bellfield scored a career-high 22 points and the Runnin' Rebels outscored the Wolf Pack 55-37 in the second half. These are a pair of wins that while the may not look like much right now could end up being valuable resume-builders for both the teams and their conference.
Three Key Happenings
1. Cornell is a team to keep an eye on for the remainder of 2009. The Big Red picked up their second road win of the season, this time knocking off UMass 74-61 in Amherst. This follows their win at Alabama, but with the Crimson Tide rebuilding under a new head coach in Anthony Grant Wednesday's win may be the more impressive of the two. Cornell's Louis Dale (24 points) and UMass' Ricky Harris (26 points) had quite the individual duel but it was the overall shooting that did in the Minutemen. UMass shot just 36.7% from the field and turned the ball over nineteen times in the Legends Classic game. With SetonHall (home) and Syracuse (away) next on the schedule the two-time defending Ivy champs could have quite the resume heading into December.
2. This has the makings of a long season on The Farm. Stanford, who had already lost at home to San Diego, fell to Oral Roberts 83-81 at Maples Pavilion on Wednesday night. Not much was expected from Johnny Dawkins' team heading into the season but this just adds to the unimpressive start for the Pac-10. In their two losses this season the Cardinal have given up an average of eighty points per game and tonight the Golden Eagles shot 49.2% from the field. Landry Fields (28 points) and Jeremy Green (20 points) were effective scoring but this is not a team that will be consistently successful in outscoring opponents this season, so the defense must improve.
3. If Cincinnati can play this well offensively on a nightly basis look out. There was a lot of talk about the Bearcats possibly being the most improved team in the Big East due in large part to the arrival of Lance Stephenson and the return of Cashmere Wright in addition to standouts Deonta Vaughn and Yancy Gates. Mick Cronin's team definitely isn't short on individual talent but if they can execute offensively as they did in their 92-68 win over Toledo they'll be a handful. Cincinnati finished the night with twenty-seven assists (10 turnovers) on thirty-seven baskets and they shot 52.1% from the field. Maui next week will provide stiffer tests but their final tune-up is definitely a good start.
Top Three Games
1. North Texas 101, UT-Arlington 99 (2OT) The Mean Green moved to 2-0 on the season with the close win over the Mavericks. North Texas' Josh White led all scorers with thirty-five while Boston College transfer Marquez Haynes led the Mavs with twenty-nine.
2. Utah 68, Utah State 67 Carlon Brown led the Utes with twenty-two points in their win over the Aggies, the eighth straight time in the series that the home team has won. Jared Quayle led Utah State with 27 points and 11 rebounds.
3. Loyola (MD) 69, UMBC 66 Jamal Barney scored fourteen second-half points in helping to lead the Greyhounds over their neighbors in Baltimore. Chauncey Gilliam led all scorers with 22 points but it wasn't enough to lead the Retrievers to the home victory in the canine showdown.
Three Notable Offensive Performances
1. G Corey Hassan (Sacred Heart) The senior scored thirty-three points to go along with eleven rebounds in the Pioneers' 76-66 loss at Fordham.
2. F Dominique Morrison (Oral Roberts) Morrison scored thirty-one points and added nine rebounds and three assists in the Golden Eagles' 83-81 win at Stanford.
3. G James Anderson (Oklahoma State) Anderson led the Cowboys in their 93-61 win over Southern with thirty points and ten rebounds. Just imagine what he could have done had he shot better from behind the arc (3-10 3PT).