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Aztecs Regain Balanced Attack

January 31, 2011 Full Court Sprints No Comments

FULL COURT SPRINTS

BASELINE TO BASELINE

LAST SHOT

Go coast to coast with our roundup of the nation’s top stories.

  1. Dana O’Neil writes for ESPN.com that Steve Lavin and company are slowly but surely taking back New York at St. John’s, punctuated by Sunday’s dismantling of Duke.
  2. Outside the power conferences, Xavier is on the rise, writes Yahoo Sports.com’s Jason King. Best quote I’ve read lately, from Musketeers coach Chris Mack, citing his mentor, the late Skip Prosser: “You don’t sharpen your teeth by eating oatmeal.”
  3. New Mexico’s upset of BYU Saturday had the Pit shaking and rocking – and snapping in parts. The Associated Press reports that arena officials discovered that seven rows of benching that contained enthusiastic, frequently jumping Lobo fans had collapsed.
  4. Jeff Goodman has a sense of déjà vu when watching the Ohio State Buckeyes, who remind him of a certain Florida team from the 2006-07 season.
  5. If you missed Manhattan’s last-second win at Marist Sunday, here’s the highlight of Michael Alvarado’s buzzer beater from beyond half court, courtesy of ESPN.com’s “College Basketball Nation” blog.
Upset Saturday shook up the Big East, among other conferences, with Connecticut and Villanova losing at home. Meanwhile, Syracuse lost its fourth in a row, and the Orange have never lost five in a row during the Jim Boeheim era.

    1/29

  • Louisville 79, Connecticut 78 2OT
  • Georgetown 69, Villanova 66
  • Marquette 76, Syracuse 70
  • New Mexico 86, BYU 77
  • Penn State 56, Wisconsin 52
  • Arkansas 89, Vanderbilt 78
  • Texas 71, Missouri 58
  • Nebraska 57, Texas A&M 48
  • Purdue 73, Minnesota 61
  • Kansas 90, Kansas State 66
  • Kentucky 66, Georgia 60
  • Portland 85, Saint Mary’s 70
  • Mississippi State 71, Florida 64
  • Xavier 85, Richmond 62
  • Clemson 62, Florida State 44
  • Valparaiso 85, Butler 79 OT
  • Jackson State 83, Mississippi Valley State 73
  • Montana 79, Montana State 58
  • 1/30

  • St. John’s 93, Duke 78
  • Northern Iowa 60, Missouri State 59

STUDY SESSION

OPENING TIP

In Providence, optimism abounded after the Friars beat Villanova Wednesday. Phil Kasiecki reports that the Friars’ ability to shut down Villanova’s guards fueled the win. Editor’s note: Providence’s streak of Big East wins ended at two when Seton Hall handled the Friars Saturday in New Jersey.

Michael Protos takes a crack at figuring out why Syracuse is struggling so much in recent weeks and finds evidence that the Big East’s best forward, Rick Jackson, needs more work. Meanwhile. in the Pac-10, Isaiah Thomas is putting in plenty of work for Washington, which looks loaded with some of the conference’s best players.

Game day tweets and retweets from Phil Kasiecki’s season-long tour:

Ah yes. I’ve just been reminded that Harvard’s so-called “fans” don’t actually cheer their team on as they’re just ridiculing Cornell.

After Errick Peck opened with a three-pointer, Harvard has run off 12 straight by the first media timeout, 15:33 left in the half.

Chris Wroblewski hasn’t gotten a decent look all night, and I’m surprised he’s even taken four shots.

It’s not surprising that Cornell has stayed in this one, they’ve done that all season. Breaking through for wins has been the tough part.

The big news for Harvard isn’t going to 4-0 in Ivy League play. It’s that Kyle Casey is very much himself again.

Closing in on the tip of Rhode Island at UMass, a battle of 4-2 Atlantic 10 teams. Winner will be in a 3-way tie behind Xavier & Duquesne.

UMass is now up 15-2 as URI continues to struggle out of the gates at the offensive end. Timeout URI.

At times, Delroy James tries to do too much for URI, and it’s at those times that he’s not at his best. This game is one of those times.

URI could get the lead on perhaps the last possession of the half, as it’s tied at 22 with 39.1 left, timeout URI.

Couple of interesting stats: UMass is 10-0 when leading at the half, and 7-1 when Javorn Farrell scores in double figures (0 FGA in half)

UMass has had an edge in loose balls and 50-50 balls the latter part of the second half, and it’s been a big difference.

As noted earlier, Syracuse hasn’t lost five consecutive games during Jim Boeheim’s tenure as coach. However, the Orange will need to win at Connecticut Wednesday to avoid that ignominious feat. Coming off a loss themselves, the Huskies will be hungry to heap some more pain on one of their rivals.

    1/31

  • Louisville at Georgetown
  • Texas at Texas A&M
  • 2/1

  • Purdue at Wisconsin
  • Penn State at Illinois
  • Vanderbilt at Florida
  • Wichita State at Indiana State
  • North Carolina at Boston College
  • 2/2

  • Duke at Maryland
  • Syracuse at Connecticut
  • Marquette at Villanova
  • Missouri at Oklahoma State
  • Hofstra at George Mason
  • 2/3

  • IPFW at IUPUI
  • Wofford at Charleston
  • Valparaiso at Cleveland State
  • Liberty at Coastal Carolina

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE

We’ll get to the meat of this post in a second – more analysis of the Mountain West – but we need to touch on the St. John’s upset of Duke for a quick second.

Ignore the national rankings for a moment. The Red Storm, at 12-8 and 4-5 in the Big East, is a team stuck in the middle of the Big East pack. In comparison, Duke is 19-2 and 6-1 in the ACC. When St. John’s dismantled the Blue Devils, the Red Storm served notice that the middle teams of the Big East just might be good enough and seasoned enough to take out the top teams from any conference in the country. The depth of quality in the Big East and variety of styles that teams must prepare for force Big East teams to be ready for the rigors of the NCAA Tournament. The ACC definitely does not offer that for Duke?

OK, back to the Mountain West. On Friday, we praised the conference’s top two teams and hailed them as legitimate Final Four contenders. Thanks, BYU, for going out and losing to New Mexico in your next game. Way to back up our argument.

The Cougars got another 32 points from the ever-dominant Jimmer Fredette. But the team just didn’t play enough defense to follow up on their huge win against San Diego State. In a raucous Pit, the Lobos got good looks, shooting better than 50 percent from the field, and avoided turnovers. BYU didn’t dominate any phase of the game and didn’t shoot well enough to get out of a hole created by its lackluster defense.

That’s a flaw that coach Dave Rose will need to fix during the next month or else the Cougars will enter the NCAA Tournament as a team that could beat anyone or lose to anyone. According to Ken Pomeroy’s rankings, BYU’s defense ranks No. 36 while its offense ranks No. 5. With Fredette leading the charge, the Cougars’ offense figures to remain potent. But the team needs to spend a little more effort on defense in practice and during games.

On the other hand, San Diego State bounced back from the loss against BYU by destroying Wyoming 96-57. The Aztecs took out their frustration on the overmatched Cowboys. And that’s what you would expect from a veteran, balanced squad. San Diego State’s offense ranks No. 19 while its defense is No. 17. The Aztecs might not be exceptional in any one area, but they have the type of resiliency that will keep them in games against anyone, especially on a neutral court.
BYU won Battle No. 1 with the Aztecs, but San Diego State might be better suited to win the war in the NCAA Tournament.

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