What looked to be a routine post-finals Monday in college basketball turned out to be anything but as two ranked teams fell. #10 Marquette went on the road to take on an LSU team that much isn't expected of this season and found themselves in a dog fight. Averaging 81 points per game the Golden Eagles finished the game 22 points below their average in the 67-59 loss to the Tigers, with LSU making the required plays on both ends of the floor late.
Ralston Turner led the way with 22 points while Justin Hamilton (13 points, seven rebounds) and Storm Warren (10 points, six rebounds) also reached double figures and point guard Anthony Hickey added eight points, six assists and four steals. LSU very well could have allowed things to get out of hand from the start as Marquette rushed out to a 13-0 lead, but Trent Johnson's team didn't panic and they used defense to get back into the contest. Marquette shot 36.3% from the field and turned the ball over 15 times, and their bench was outscored 24-4 as well.
"We got hit in the face a little bit with that 13-0 run," said Johnson. "I thought those guys (senior reserves Malcolm White, Storm Warren and Chris Bass) came in and gave us a lot of energy. They competed their tails off and then we got back in the thing and found out that we can compete a little bit."
How often will Buzz Williams' team have to account for quiet nights from Vander Blue (four points, 1-4 FG), Junior Cadougan (six points, 3-10 FG) and Todd Mayo (two points, 0-5 FG)? Probably won't happen all that much, and when adding to that LSU's offensive efficiency of 103.1 despite turning the ball over on 28% of their possessions the makings for an upset are there. Jae Crowder (22 points) and Darius Johnson-Odom (16 points but six turnovers) led the way offensively for Marquette, and a positive they can take out of the game was the seven points and eight rebounds supplied by Davante Gardner.
Not as much luck for #12 Kansas, who trailed for much of the night in their 80-74 loss to Davidson in Kansas City. The big question for Bill Self's team in the aftermath of the defeat: outside of Thomas Robinson (21 points, 18 rebounds) where did the Jayhawks have a clear edge on the Wiildcats? Davidson turned the ball over 12 times in the first half yet still went into the break with a 33-32 lead as the Jayhawks shot just 39.8% from the field.
Bob McKillop's team would be even better in the second half taking care of the basketball, not turning it over once. Nik Cochran led four starters in double figures with 21 points and while Davidson didn't shoot well from the field (41.0%) they shot well from the foul line (19-25) while Kansas left points on the board in shooting 18-for-31. It's one thing to shoot poorly from the field, but leaving points at the charity stripe will more times than not come back to haunt you.
The Wildcats also outscored Kansas 33-18 from beyond the arc, with Cochran being the main marksman by knocking down four of five attempts. Kansas made a few threes late to stay in the game but it was too little too late, as Davidson put more effort as the game wore on in doubling Robinson inside. The Jayhawks simply couldn't get over the hump in front of a partisan crowd, and in the final minutes Davidson landed the critical blows needed to bounce back with a win following their blowout loss at Charlotte.
"I thought we came out in the second half and scored two baskets, which at least put us in the center ring for the rest of the half," remarked McKillop. "I thought our resiliency was a great statement about our team maturing and showing poise and taking a week of practice after a tough loss and really capitalizing on it."
Other Notable Happenings
1. Marshall beats Belmont by one in a thriller in Huntington.
The game of the night did not disappoint, with Marshall needing a missed Kerron Johnson layup as time expired to hang on for the 87-86 win. Damier Pitts (19 points, 11 assists) and Dennis Tinnon (24 points, ten rebounds) each posted double-doubles while DeAndre Kane led the way with 29 points for the Thundering Herd, who are now 8-2 and have the talent to challenge Memphis in Conference USA. Johnson led six Belmont players in double figures with 18 points, but despite the margin of defeat Rick Byrd's team will be able to point at second-chance points as the difference.
Marshall grabbed 14 offensive boards and outscored Belmont 23-7 in second-chance points, a margin that did more damage to the visitors than the 16-4 spread in fast-break points. The good news for the Bruins is that they'll get another shot at the Herd in ten days in Nashville, but if they can't rectify the issues on the boards between now and then the rematch will likely net the same result. As for Marshall this is another solid win for their resume, and if they can to C-USA play with an 11-2 record Bill Herrion's team would be a a nice spot in terms of a possible at-large berth.
2. No Gutierrez or Solomon? No problem for Cal, who blew out UCSB.
With forward Richard Solomon out for at least the next two games with a stress fracture in his left foot and guard Jorge Gutierrez falling ill, the Golden Bears were without two key cogs for their game against UCSB. With the Gauchos having one of the more potent perimeter attacks in James Nunnally and Orlando Johnson a loss at home was a distinct possiblity. But Justin Cobbs would have none of that talk, scoring a career-high 25 points (10-12 FG) and Allen Crabbe adding 19 in the Golden Bears' 70-50 victory.
Nunnally and Johnson combined to score just 19 points, making nine of twenty-five shots from the field and as a team UCSB made two of thirteen from beyond the arc (Cal finished 11-for-20). Freshman David Kravish replaced Solomon in the starting lineup, finishing with seven points, nine rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Kravish isn't needed to be a scorer as the Bears have enough weapons to take care of that department, but his ability to hit the glass and do the little things has been a factor in their 10-2 start. Next up for Cal is a tough non-conference game at UNLV this weekend before they begin Pac-12 play next week.
3. Denver does the job defensively in handing Wyoming their second loss.
There was the question of just how legit Larry Shyatt's Cowboys were as they boasted an 11-1 record going into Monday's game at Denver. But in the aftermath of the Pioneers' 57-46 win at Magness Arena the better conclusion to draw may be that Joe Scott's got a Sun Belt title contender on his hands. Denver attempted just 39 shots for the game but they outscored the Cowboys 27-3 from beyond the arc, and Chase Hallam scored 21 points in his third double-digit effort of the season.
Wyoming shot 37.2% from the field while making just one of thirteen from beyond the arc, and that difference proved costly as the Pioneers made six of nine from three in the second half. Hallam's a key figure for Denver if they're going to be right there with Middle Tennessee in the Sun Belt race. After averaging 12.5 points per game and shooting 46.2% from the field in 2010-11 Hallam's numbers have dropped significantly this season (7.8 ppg, 40.3% FG), and that will need to change in order to supplement the efforts of Brian Stafford and Chris Udofia. The hope for Denver is that Hallam's 21-point outing is a step in the right direction.
1. A third head coach stepped down on Monday, with Idaho State and Joe O'Brien parting ways. The Bengals are 2-8 on the season and O'Brien concludes his tenure at ISU with a record of 56-105. Assistant coach Deane Martin was named interim head coach.
2. North Carolina grabbed a staggering 72 rebounds in their 99-49 win over Nicholls State. The Colonels have to adjust to life without the graduated Anatoly Bose, and it's been a rough go as they dropped to 4-8 on the season. Three UNC players grabbed at least ten rebounds with two more grabbing at least seven, and as a team the Tar Heels finished with 31 offensive rebounds.
3. It might be time to speak of Creighton forward Doug McDermott the same way Bum Phillips used to speak of Earl Campbell when he coached the Houston Oilers. He might not be the best forward in the country but it doesn't take long to call roll, and McDermott put up 35 points (career-high) and seven rebounds in the Bluejays' 83-64 win at Tulsa.
4. Another forward moving in that direction is West Virginia forward Kevin Jones. Jones put up 25 points, 14 rebounds and two assists in the Mountaineers' 72-53 win over Tennessee Tech, and he's got six double-doubles in ten games.
5. Kudos to USF for proving this writer wrong with their 70-55 win over Cleveland State. Jawanza Poland made his return and scored 13 points off the bench while Cleveland State made just seven of twenty-six shots from beyond the arc in their second loss of the season. Good win for Stan Heath's club.
6. Two teams tied for first place in the Big South dropped non-conference road games on Monday night, as Campbell lost to UNC Wilmington 67-65 and Coastal Carolina was whipped 76-51 by East Carolina. The Chanticleers made just three of twenty-one shots from three in their loss at ECU while Matt Wilson's tip-in with 1.4 seconds remaining spelled doom for the Camels.
7. Welcome back, Darnell Dodson. His three-pointer as time expired gave Southern Miss a 64-61 win at Arizona State in what turned out to be a wild affair. Well before the Golden Eagles blew a nine-point lead in the final minute USM's Torye Pelham and ASU's Ruslan Pateev were ejected for fighting, and LaShay Page scored all 14 of his points in the second half.
8. What's more surprising about USC's 83-59 beating of TCU: that they scored 83 points or that they got college basketball's "iron man" Maurice Jones four minutes of rest? Jones, who leads the nation in minutes per game, led four Trojans in double figures with 25 points and USC shot 50.9% from the field. That "extra" rest could come into play on Thursday night as USC hosts Kansas.
9. The Basketball Hall of Fame released its first list of candidates for the Cousy Award on Monday, and two names are missing from the list: Saint Mary's Matthew Dellavedova and Missouri's Phil Pressey.
Four Notable Performances
1. F Kevin Jones (West Virginia)
25 points, 14 rebounds and two assists in the Mountaineers' 72-53 win over Tennessee Tech.
2. F Doug McDermott (Creighton)
Career-high 35 points and seven rebounds in the Bluejays' 83-64 win over Tulsa.
3. F Thomas Robinson (Kansas)
21 points and 18 rebounds in the Jayhawks' 80-74 loss to Davidson.
4. C Meyers Leonard (Illinois)
19 points, 16 rebounds and two assists in the Fighting Illini's 64-60 win over Cornell.