Saturday Recap: Iowa State Hands #5 Kansas Their First League Loss

    
January 29th, 2012

To say that there were some complaints about the "quality" of Saturday's schedule would be an understatement as many felt that the college basketball slate wouldn't provide much intrigue. But once again college basketball didn't disappoint the fans, with the big result being Iowa State's 72-64 win over #5 Kansas. The Cyclones won despite turning the ball over 19 times by getting to the foul line and controlling the boards. ISU attempted 34 free throws (making 25) to just sixteen for the Jayhawks (who made ten) in handing the visitors their first Big 12 loss. Add in a 36-23 rebounding edge (with 11 offensive rebounds) and some "Hilton Magic" and the end result is a signature win for an Iowa State team that needed one for their NCAA Tournament hopes. 

"It's the second time we've played Kansas and in both games our bigs did a heck of a job against some of the best front line players in the country so you have to take your hat off to them," said guard Scott Christopherson, who finished with 14 points (9-10 FT) and three assists. "Not only did they rebound but they defended really well. Kansas puts pressure on your bigs to guard, and our bigs definitely answered the bell today."

Royce White and Melvin Ejim combined to turn the ball over 13 times but they were also the teams leading scorers and rebounders. White, whose versatility has made him one of the best players in the Big 12, finished with 18 points, nine rebounds and five assists while Ejim added 15 and eight rebounds. Iowa State won the majority of the 50/50 battles and that proved to be one of the key factors down the stretch despite their scoring just eight second chance points.

"We talk about 50/50 balls all the time. We don't put football pads on and dive after them but we talk about it a lot," said Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg. "We were the first to the floor a couple times and we talk a lot about that as well. Overall a great effort. The first few minutes of the second half was disappointing but we called a quick timeout and got them back out there and refocused. We finished off and played our best stretch of basketball of the season." 

The play that essentlally clinched the game for Iowa State came by way of a Kansas turnover, with Chris Babb getting a steal with 1:21 remaining. The Penn State transfer would cash in on the change in possession 25 seconds later with a three-pointer to make the score 67-59, and Iowa State would go on to make five of their last six free throws to sew things up. Tyshawn Taylor led the Jayhawks with 16 points and ten assists and Thomas Robinson added 13 and seven rebounds, but on an afternoon that saw all five KU starters reach double figures their bench didn't provide much help. 

Iowa State's reserves outscored the Jayhawk bench 15-5 with Anthony Booker and Tyrus McGee providing the points (and ten rebounds) for the victors. McGee's three-point play with 6:06 remaining broke a 53-all tie and gave the Cyclones the lead for good. Kansas will remain the favorite to win the Big 12 despite this result, but the win was huge for an Iowa State team that went into Saturday without a single RPI Top 50 win (going by realtimerpi.com's numbers). If they can continue to attack the boards (37.9% offensive rebounding percentage on Saturday) and play aggressive basketball, Iowa State has the tools needed to get to the Big Dance.  

Other Notable Happenings

1. Saint Mary's takes care of BYU in Provo to remain undefeated in WCC play.
Having already dropped one game at home in conference play, Dave Rose's BYU Cougars needed a win over first-place Saint Mary's if they were to remain a major player in the WCC race. But with the Gaels showing a level of play on the road that's been absent in recent years BYU now finds themselves three games out of first with two games against Gonzaga still left on their schedule. Saint Mary's made up for 24 turnovers and allowing 17 offensive rebounds by shooting 55% from the field and going 25-for-33 from the foul line, winning 80-66 in front of a frenzied Marriott Center crowd that crossed the line at times with the throwing of objects onto the floor. What makes the win (and the margin) all the more surprising is the line that starting point guard Matthew Dellavedova put up, as he finished 1-for-4 from the field (ten points) to go along with seven rebounds, six turnovers and four assists.

But he had plenty of help, with redshirt freshman forward Brad Waldow (19 points, eight rebounds) continuing his solid play of late and Clint Steindl adding 16 points off the bench. Rob Jones scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds for Saint Mary's, who still has a trip to Gonzaga on their schedule to address. The BYU trio of Matt Carlino (15 points, three assists), Brandon Davies (14 points, seven rebounds) and Noah Hartsock (15 points, three rebounds) led the way but they didn't receive much help while the Gaels' stars did and that proved to be the difference. In prior seasons the late-season fade was an issue for Randy Bennett's team, but in their winning of a chippy affair (the officials were a little too vigorous in their use of the whistle, which didn't help either team) Saint Mary's showed that they've got the staying power needed to not only win the WCC but make some noise in the Big Dance.    

2. #4 Syracuse survives a challenge from West Virginia...and the officials marred the ending as well.
What tends to happen in games that are marred by a missed call is that both teams get cheated. The losing team for obvious reasons but the winning squad as well, as they have to defend an outcome that came through no fault of their own. Three officials missed a clear goaltending violation by Baye Keita in the final seconds that would have tied the game, and with Gary Browne missing a last-second three West Virginia left the Carrier Dome with a 63-61 loss. Frankly the Mountaineers have a right to be furious over the missed call, which also overshadows the fact that they out-rebounded Syracuse 41-20 on the afternoon with 19 offensive rebounds. Safe to say that on the interior the Orange miss starting center Fab Melo, but when you get whipped like this one the glass the issue is bigger than one missing player.

Kevin Jones led the Mountaineers, who responded well to the whipping they took at St. John's on Wednesday night, with 20 points and eight rebounds and four other players grabbed at least five boards (three being guards) for the visitors. Looking at the box score it's natural to ask how did Syracuse win. They scored two more points at the foul line (13-11) but they also made up for a 4-for-18 afternoon from beyond the arc by shooting 63% from inside of it. West Virginia on the other hand shot 16-for-44 from two, which to a certain extent nullified their offensive rebounding performance (OR%: 55.9) as they only scored 13 second-chance points to eight for the Orange. Brandon Triche scored 18 points and Kris Joseph 13 to keep the Orange alone atop the Big East standings, leaving West Virginia to wonder what could have been had that violation been called.  

3. Washington outlasts Arizona to complete their road sweep, and the Wildcats lose Kevin Parrom too.
Road sweeps will eventually determine who wins the Pac-12, as it tends to do in most seasons. But given the conference's struggled they've become even more important, making Washington's 69-67 win at Arizona that much bigger. Tony Wroten may have shot 5-for-18 from the field in scoring 17 points but his aggressiveness was just what the Huskies needed in front of a frenzied crowd, and his block of a Josiah Turner layup attempt just before the final buzzer preserved the win. Terrence Ross scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds and C.J. Wilcox added 15 off the bench (and five key free throws down the stretch) to keep the Huskies tied for first place in the conference. Solomon Hill was outstanding for Arizona as he finished with 28 points and 11 rebounds and Jesse Perry added 13 and 12, but the Wildcats were unable to finish off their late rally.

And Sean Miller's team was hit with another blow after the game as it was announced that wing Kevin Parrom would miss the remainder of the season with a broken bone in his right foot. Parrom missed the second half with the injury and it's a cruel twist for a young man who has fought a great amount of adversity this year. His loss is big for the Wildcats, as Parrom's versatility and savvy gave Arizona a player they could rely on to do whatever was required of him on the floor at any particular moment. Are youngsters such as Turner and Nick Johnson ready to step up? Can Kyle Fogg and Brendon Lavender give them more? The answers to those questions will determine Arizona's fate down the stretch. As for Washington the play of Wroten is quickly becoming the key to their hopes of winning the Pac-12, and if he can continue on this path the Huskies will be right there at the finish.   

4. Good luck trying to figure out the Atlantic 10, but Temple made quite a statement at home.
Just as wild as the Pac-12 race (but better in terms of quality at the top) has been the Atlantic 10, which seems to become more unpredictable by the day. But if there's one thing that stands out after Saturday's action it's that Fran Dunphy's Temple Owls are currently a step ahead of the competition. Led by Ramone Moore (21 points) and Juan Fernandez (17 points) the Owls whipped city rival Saint Joseph's 78-60 in a game that saw all five Hawks starters fail to reach double figures. Khalif Wyatt added ten points and eight rebounds and Micheal Eric chipped in with 11 off the bench in a game Temple led by as many as 28 points late in the second half.

As a team the Owls shot 60% from the floor and 53.3% from three, overwhelming a Saint Joseph's team that was led by 6th man Ronald Roberts (17 points, ten rebounds). Temple is part of a three-way tie for first place in the Atlantic 10 with surprises Massachusetts (who beat Saint Louis) and La Salle (winners over Duquesne). Saint Louis, who has already won at Xavier, will remain a factor in the race as well Xavier (who won at Charlotte) and Dayton (who inexplicably lost at home to Rhode Island). But if one were to handicap the race right now Temple would be the likely choice to win the conference. The guard play has been well-documented and the return of Eric adds a big man the Owls were missing earlier in the season. If Temple continues to execute on the offensive end as they did against the Hawks they're going to be tough to knock off.  

5. #13 Florida's shooting from deep proves to be the difference in their win over #16 Mississippi State.
In the first half of the Gators' 69-57 win over Mississippi State on Saturday the Bulldogs outscored the Gators 10-8 in the paint. That statistic flipped in a big way in the second half, with Florida outscoring the visitors 20-4 on their way to the win. Florida's ability to knock down three-pointers will get the majority of the headlines as they knocked down 11 of their 24 attempts on the day, but don't overlook the importance of their paint scoring. Bradley Beal led Florida with 19 points with Erik Murphy adding 14 and Patric Young 12, and nine of Florida's final eleven field goals were scored in the paint.

Murphy's ability to shoot from the perimeter (4-for-7 3PT) helped open things up for Florida inside, and the combined nine assists and no turnovers from Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton was key as well. Dee Bost and Arnett Moultrie scored 12 points apiece to lead Mississippi State (Moultrie also grabbed 13 rebounds) but Rick Stansbury's guys fell victim to an 11-0 run that put the game out of reach after a Bost three cut Florida's lead to four (51-47) with 8:01 remaining. 

Quick Hitters

1. #6 Duke hung on to beat St. John's 83-76 but head coach Mike Krzyzewski was none too pleased after the game. The Blue Devils were sloppy in the second half offensively and defensively they didn't have an answer for Moe Harkless, who finished with 30 points and 13 rebounds. Ryan Kelly scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds and Mason Plumlee scored 15 and grabbed 17 rebounds for the Blue Devils, who need better guard play if they're to win the ACC.

2. Nasir Robinson scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds in Pittsburgh's 72-60 win over #10 Georgetown, moving the Panthers to 12-0 all-time at the Petersen Events Center against Top 10 opponents. This game is also another step in the right direction for Pitt, who assisted on 20 of their 25 made baskets. With Tray Woodall finally healthy the Panthers have their point guard back, and they can definitely make a run towards an NCAA berth.

3. There's more work to be done for Colorado State to earn an NCAA Tournament berth but their 77-60 win over #12 San Diego State was a step in the right direction. Wes Eikmeier scored 19 points and Will Bell 17 and five rebounds for the Rams, whose win also resulted in a tie atop the Mountain West as UNLV won in overtime at Air Force. Whether or not Tim Miles' team can make a run at the bubble (or better) remains to be seen, but this kind of win was absent from there resume before Saturday.

4. Wichita State was involved in a thriller but their 93-86 triple overtime loss at Drake dropped the Shockers a game behind Creighton in the Missouri Valley standings. Ben Simons led the Bulldogs with 29 points and eight rebounds and Kurt Alexander's 17 points off the bench were also key. Garrett Stutz led Wichita State with 27 points and Joe Ragland scored 25, but as a result of this loss the Shockers will likely need to win the games approaching the February 11th battle at Creighton to remain a game out.

5. So much for the momentum gained from their win over first-place LIU Brooklyn for Robert Morris, as they fell 81-68 to St. Francis (NY). The loss drops the Colonials two games behind LIU in the NEC, which is where they were before Thursday night's win. Glen Braica's Terriers, who were led by Brent Jones (19 points, four rebounds, four assists) and Travis Nichols (16 points off the bench), are now tied with Wagner a game behind their Brooklyn rivals.

6. Cal State Fullerton got their chance to not only make a statement but add some intrigue to the Big West race but Long Beach State was having no parts of that as they put together a late run to win 75-61. Dan Monson's team closed the game on a 22-10 run after having their lead cut to two points, and at 9-0 in league play the 49ers look to be in good position to win another regular season crown.

7. Kenny McGowen's three-pointer as time expired gave Idaho State a 64-62 win over Weber State, who entered the game undefeated in Big Sky play. McGowen scored 19 points to lead all scorers while Scott Bamforth led the Wildcats with 17 and Damian Lillard added 15. While the win breathes life into the Bengals' hopes of qualifying for the conference tournament it also gives new life to Montana, who is now tied in the loss column with Weber State atop the standings.

8. Dominique Morrison scored 28 points on 10-for-14 shooting from the field as Oral Roberts moved to 12-0 in the Summit League with a 77-67 win over UMKC. The Golden Eagles attempted just seven three-pointers but made five while also shooting 22-for-38 from two, and at 20-4 ORU hasn't received the level of national respect that they deserve. This team will be a tough out come March.

9. Speaking of March, good luck to the selection committee finding 37 at-large teams better than Middle Tennessee should the Blue Raiders not win the Sun Belt's automatic bid. Middle Tennessee lost 84-77 at Vanderbilt in what's a good win for the Commodores but the skill of players such as LaRon Dendy should not be lost in the final score. Few teams will be lining up to play Kermit Davis' club anytime soon.

10. Memphis and Southern Miss won the two matchups of the top four teams in Conference USA, setting up a showdown for sole possession of first place Wednesday night in Hattiesburg. Will Barton was outstanding for Memphis in their 83-76 win over Marshall, scoring 29 points and grabbing eight rebounds, while Neil Watson (23 points) and Darnell Dodson (22 points, eight rebounds) led Southern Miss to a 78-65 win at UCF.

11. Both Purdue and Illinois had chances to either move to or remain at the head of the pack in the middle of the Big Ten standings but only the Boilermakers took full advantage. Robbie Hummel's jumper from the left baseline in the final seconds gave Purdue a 58-56 win at Northwestern, but Illinois made some poor decisions late and ended up falling 77-72 at Minnesota. Tough to figure out how the middle of the conference will shake out but the ability to win tight games on the road will set teams apart.

Five Notable Performances

1. G Shane Gibson (Sacred Heart)
43 points (16-28 FG) and five rebounds in the Pioneers' 81-80 double overtime loss to Mount St. Mary's. Gibson's three at the end of regulation tied the score at 70 and sent the game into overtime.

2. F Ryan Pearson (George Mason)
29 points, 15 rebounds, three assists and two blocks in the Patriots' 89-79 win over James Madison.

3. F Moe Harkless (St. John's) and F Mason Plumlee (Duke)
Harkless accounted for 30 points and 14 rebounds in the Red Storm's 83-76 loss at #6 Duke while Plumlee led the victors with 15 points and 17 rebounds.

4. G Reggie Hamilton (Oakland)
37 points, six assists and four rebounds in the Golden Grizzlies' 78-75 loss to North Dakota State.

5. F Tony Mitchell (North Texas)
21 points, 15 rebounds and six blocks in the Mean Green's 76-64 win over Arkansas State.

Special Note: Towson picks up their first win of the season
Congrats to Pat Skerry's Towson Tigers, who picked up their first win of the season (and ended a 41-game losing streak) with a 66-61 win over UNC Wilmington. Marcus Damas led the way with 18 points while Deon Jones (15 points, six rebounds) and Robert Nwankwo (12 points, 11 rebounds) were also good. And Erique Gumbs, the lone member of the team to have experienced every loss, chipped in with 11 points and eight rebounds. Good to see the program get rewarded for the hard work put in; hope Binghamton (0-20) gets to experience this feeling soon as well.