Mid-Finals Week Notes

December 16th, 2010
In what's traditionally the "dead week" for college basketball as many schools are in the midst of finals, we've had a far more eventful beginning of the week than many anticipated. The fun started on Tuesday with Oakland winning at Tennessee and Drexel handing Louisville their first loss of the season. In the 89-82 win in Knoxville, Greg Kampe's Golden Grizzlies went on a 13-0 second half run to take the lead for good. The interesting aspects of that run: Oakland scored seven of those points from the foul line, and star center Keith Benson accounted for only two of the thirteen points. Benson, who left the game briefly with a sprained ankle, scored 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds while Larry Wright (19 points), Will Hudson (17 points, nine rebounds) and Ledrick Eackles (12 points off the bench) also reached double figures.

"Did I expect us to come in here and win? I'm not going to sit here and say that, but I knew we were going to compete," said Coach Kampe. "I told my staff before the game, `We look tired and I'd take a five-point loss and get out of here right now.' That means we would have played with them, but I'd rather have this."

Many thought that the Volunteers were ripe for a letdown, and considering the Golden Grizzlies' schedule to date it shouldn't be a huge shock that they handed Bruce Pearl's team its first loss. But for Scotty Hopson to make just one shot in seven attempts from the field was a stat that made many scratch their heads in looking at the final box score. Brian Williams (13 rebounds) and Melvin Goins led the Vols in scoring with 18 apiece, but when they're leading Tennessee in scoring as opposed to a Hopson or Tobias Harris to say the least there are issues offensively. But at the end of the night it was Tennessee's struggles defensively (and some costly loose-ball fouls) that did them in. Oakland, who will be a contender in the Summit League (and won the league last season), will be heard from as the season wears on and they play Ohio State on the 23rd and the same goes for the Volunteers. They'll be fine.

As for Louisville it was only a matter of time before they had their number called despite their 8-0 record going into Tuesday's game. The Cardinals, who have yet to play away from the palatial KFC Yum! Center, ran into a team focused on not allowing them to get out and run and lost as a result. Drexel, who is one of the nation's best rebounding teams, controlled the boards on both ends (46-26 edge) to make up for 22 turnovers in winning 52-46. Gerald Colds Jr. led all scorers with 20 points and despite freshman guard Chris Fouch struggling from the field and Drexel making 12 of 25 foul shots the CAA had another solid non-conference victory. Louisville finished the game 32 points and 14 field goals attempted below their season averages, and making just four of sixteen shots from beyond the arc sealed their fate.

"It's a very simple stat," said Louisville head coach Rick Pitino of the rebounding discrepancy. "We got our deflections, we didn't turn it over. We didn't shoot well, which was OK because they didn't shoot well. We got outrebounded 46-26 and that pretty much tells us why we lost."

Louisville has four games left before they begin Big East play on January 5th, and while many will focus on the New Year's Eve matchup with rival Kentucky there's also a trip to West Kentucky that could be an issue. The Hilltoppers have very good frontcourt players in Sergio Kerusch, Juan Patillo and Steffphon Pettigrew, three players who can give the slender Cards a tough time on the glass if Louisville doesn't show up ready to go. And Coach Pitino needs Mike Marra to get going as well, or if he can't maybe a change in the starting lineup is in order. Marra's gone 1-for-21 from the field in the last three games, scoring two points on Tuesday night after breaking double figures in each of Louisville's first six games. The sophomore can definitely shoot the basketball at a solid clip, so he should be able to snap out of the current cold streak eventually.

Cold streaks lead into the one ranked team to fall on Wednesday, as UNLV shot a dreadful 29% from the field in losing to UCSB 68-62 in Las Vegas. James Nunnally led the Gauchos, who are expected to win the Big West, with 23 points and Orlando Johnson added 12 points and 16 rebounds but it's the defense of Bob Williams' team that carried the night. UCSB went with a matchup zone for much of the night, pestering the Rebels into making just 18 of 62 shots from the field overall and 6-for-29 from beyond the arc. Four Rebels scored in double figures with Chace Stanback's 16 leading the way, but none of those players shot better than 33.3% from the field. The charity stripe was also available to UNLV as they attempted 34 free throws to UCSB's 17. But while the Gauchos made 15 the Rebels made just 20, and that ultimately was the difference between getting bailed out of a bad shooting night and dropping a second straight game.

Thursday's Schedule
Top 25
8:00 PM Oral Roberts at (12) Missouri (ESPN3)
8:00 PM Austin Peay at (19) Memphis

NCAA Division I Games
7:00 PM Youngstown State at North Carolina State
7:00 PM King College TN at North Carolina-Asheville
7:00 PM Shenandoah at William & Mary
7:30 PM Oakwood at Alabama State
7:30 PM Dillard at Nicholls State
7:30 PM Campbell at USC Upstate
8:00 PM American University at Northwestern
8:00 PM McNeese State at LSU
8:00 PM Weber State at Tulsa
8:00 PM Arkansas-Little Rock at Rice
8:00 PM UC Davis at North Dakota State
8:00 PM Hiwassee College vs. Tennessee Tech*
8:00 PM Florida Atlantic at Troy
8:05 PM Texas State vs. Texas Southern*
8:15 PM Kennesaw State at Belmont
9:00 PM Panhandle State at New Mexico State
9:00 PM Lewis Clark State at Gonzaga
9:00 PM Talladega at Jackson State
9:30 PM Northern Arizona at Arizona

Stars Thus Far
F Ryan Rossiter (Siena) 27 points and 13 rebounds in the Saints' 72-69 win over Florida Atlantic.
F John Shurna (Northwestern) 26 points on 10-11 shooting from the field to go along with seven rebounds in the Wildcats' 81-65 win over Long Island. But Shurna made just four of twelve from the foul line.
F Josh Ritchart (UC Davis) 23 points (9-12 FG) and five rebounds in the Aggies' 74-67 loss at UCLA.

G Xavier Silas (Northern Illinois) 40 points (22-24 FT) and six rebounds in the Huskies' 80-78 win over UIC.
C Keith Benson (Oakland) 26 points and 10 rebounds in the Golden Grizzlies' win at Tennessee.
F Andrew Gonzalez (Houston Baptist) 31 points and nine rebounds in the Huskies' 80-57 loss to Louisiana Tech.

C Brian Qvale (Montana) 27 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks in the Grizzlies' 71-66 win over Oregon State.
G Jon Diebler (Ohio State) 29 points (9-14 3PT, which included a stretch of nine straight made) in the Buckeyes' 83-55 win over Florida Gulf Coast.
G Stephon Carter (Cal-State Bakersfield) 30 points on 14-18 shooting from the field in the Roadrunners' 92-77 win over Portland State. Carter did not attempt a three pointer against the Vikings.