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The Morning Dish – Tuesday, December 9, 2014

December 9, 2014 The Morning Dish No Comments

A prevailing theme over the last week or so of college basketball games has been resilience.

Just when some may have thought they were down and maybe even wanted to count them out on various levels, a number of teams have made some real statements in the past week in their next games following poor performances. We saw it again Monday night as Florida played easily its best game of the year to rout Yale 85-47.

While a Gator win was not surprising, the way this one played out came out of nowhere. This is the same Yale team that defeated defending national champion Connecticut just three days ago, and it’s also the same Florida team that blew an 18-point second half lead against Kansas on Friday. The Gators led by as many as 49 in this one, though, and may have finally started to turn a corner after a frustrating start to the season based on the lofty standards Billy Donovan’s program has established.

The Gators have been hardly the only team of late to step up their game after a disappointing loss. Wisconsin-Green Bay lost to Georgia State by 24 on Thursday, yet two days later was good enough to beat nationally ranked Miami (Fla.) by 13. Mississippi threw up a similar clunker on Thursday, playing a bad second half in losing by double digits at home to TCU, but then bounced back for a very solid win at Oregon on Sunday. Creighton went to Tulsa on Wednesday and lost, but then hit the road again Sunday for its big rivalry game against Nebraska and picked up a big win.

Contrary to what we can so easily think when we’re looking at RPIs and nitty-gritty sheets, college basketball teams are not robotic. They are affected by travel schedules, class schedules, exams, maybe even the flow within a game. Sometimes they will have bad nights. The good teams, though, rebound from those bad nights to remind us why we expected so much of them to begin with.

Monday night’s action:

  • While one Ivy League team had a miserable night, another had a euphoric one, as Brown went to the Dunkin’ Donuts Center and defeated city rival Providence 77-67. This was no fluke, as the Bears held a narrow lead most of the game and came through with repeated big baskets to fight off every comeback attempt. This is the third straight year that the Bears have been a thorn in the Friars’ side, defeating PC two of their last three meetings and nearly winning the other game last year. The Friars also need to regroup after now having lost three straight.
  • The best game of the night was in Dallas, where SMU outlasted UC Santa Barbara in overtime, 80-73. Keith Frazier had a career-high 20 for the Mustangs, who lost Nic Moore early in the second half to a bruised knee. The Gauchos meanwhile continue to be so close in games like this yet always just fall a hair short. Alan Williams was quiet-just nine points and eight boards before fouling out-but Michael Bryson stepped up with 25 points.
  • Butler steamrolled another opponent, defeating Kennesaw State 93-51. The Bulldogs aren’t just looking good early, they are dominating overmatched opponents.
  • Purdue pulled away late to top IPFW 63-43. A.J. Hammons dominated with 13 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks, while the pesky Mastodons shot just 28.6%.
  • Harvard is 7-1 after cruising again to a 70-56 win over Boston University.
  • Lafayette’s Dan Trist made 1 of 2 free throws with 0.4 left in the game to give the Leopards an 82-81 win over Sacred Heart.
  • Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference play is already in full swing. Norfolk State (88-69 over Coppin State), Hampton (62-58 over Morgan State) and South Carolina State (71-66 over Bethune-Cookman) all won Monday to join North Carolina Central at 2-0 in league games.
  • Finally, NCAA Division II Caldwell (N.J.) College defeated Binghamton 63-52. Is this rock bottom for the Bearcats? A once solid program has fallen a long way.

Side Dishes

  • Kansas coach Bill Self has suspended junior forward Jamari Traylor for one game for his arrest early Sunday morning on a charge of interfering with the duties of a police officer. That one game is a big one, as Traylor will miss the Jayhawks’ game at Georgetown Wednesday.
  • Kentucky and UCLA have announced a home-and-home series that will include games in L.A. next year and at Rupp Arena the year after. Always am somewhat indifferent about making a big deal of these games. It’s obviously terrific when two longtime powers play, but these also are games that are relatively easy to make happen in scheduling. Both teams can play pretty much whoever they want to play, so if they want to play each other, that’s great, but really not something worthy of heaping praise.

Today’s Menu   
Villanova vs. Illinois, Indiana vs. Louisville (5 p.m. & 9 p.m. EST, ESPN) Jimmy V Classic presents major opportunities for a pair of Big 10 teams.
Seton Hall at Wichita State (7 p.m. EST, ESPN2) What looked like a chance for the Shockers to play a bottom-tier major conference team now suddenly looks like a game against a potential top 25 team.
Texas A&M at Baylor (9 p.m. EST, ESPN2) 
The Aggies have won five straight and squeaked out a pair last week against solid teams Sam Houston State and Arizona State.
Evansville at Belmont  Quietly this should be an excellent game, as these two teams are a combined 13-2.
Eastern Michigan at Michigan (9 p.m. EST, ESPNU) EMU gave Dayton a good run before picking up its first loss of the season on Saturday. But coming off a loss to NJIT is probably not the best time for the Eagles to be catching the Wolverines.
Bowling Green at Dayton  The Falcons are off to a 5-1 start under new coach Chris Jans and have a nice win at Detroit. Flyers can’t look past this one with a trip to Arkansas coming up Saturday.

Have a terrific Tuesday.

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