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The Morning Dish – Friday, December 12, 2014

December 12, 2014 The Morning Dish No Comments

It bears repeating over and over: college basketball teams are not static entities. They change and hopefully continue to grow and improve over the course of a season. What a team is in November is not what it will be in March.

It’s still early in the season, but already George Washington is a team that has shown noticeable growth since its opener. The Colonials struggled with offensive consistency in their first five games but now have won three straight, the most recent an impressive 81-68 win over DePaul Thursday night.

GW came into the season having to adjust to life without Maurice Creek and Isaiah Armwood, and it showed early. Kethan Savage was expected to be the team’s go-to scorer and was early this season, but he needed help as the Colonials sputtered in losses to Virginia and Seton Hall, as well as a sometimes ugly win at Rutgers.

George Washington has averaged just under 81 points per game over the last week, though, in wins over Maryland-Baltimore County, UNC-Charlotte and DePaul. Patricio Garino has stepped up big of late, with 19 on Thursday while making 8 of 9 field goals, and he is averaging 21 points over the last three games after scoring better than 12 in just one of the first five contests.

Big man Kevin Larsen also has answered the bell with 14 points and nearly seven rebounds in the last three games, including 18 against DePaul. Add in 18 points last night from rock-solid point guard Joe McDonald, and the Colonials breezed to a win in a game against an improved Blue Demons team where Savage scored just six points and was 1-for-9 from the field.

If GW can continue its offensive progress of the last week, it will be hard to keep this team out of the NCAA Tournament again. The Colonials’ also should provide hope for fans of other teams (think: Michigan, Florida) that may be off to mildly disappointing starts or in a rough spell early this season.

Wednesday night’s action:

  • Eastern Washington continues to play well, getting another road win by defeating a quality San Francisco team 81-76. EWU is a really good, experienced team that is proving it makes winning plays late-the Dons trailed almost the whole way but led 67-64 late, but the Eagles responded with nine straight points to improve to 8-1.
  • Missouri led Elon by 19 at halftime, but the Phoenix charged back and trailed by just one in the final minute before the Tigers held on 78-73.
  • Boston College defeated Maine 85-74. Dennis Clifford had a career-high 19 for the Eagles, while the very young Black Bears never quit in this one and played well.
  • Wright State completed a season sweep of Belmont, winning 79-71 in Nashville. As usual, Billy Donlon’s Raiders are a tough out, while the Bruins again played without high-scoring Craig Bradshaw.
  • San Diego went into the Thunderdome and came out with a surprisingly convincing 79-65 win over UC Santa Barbara. The Toreros made 10 of 14 three-point attempts, while it was surprising to see the Gauchos show so poorly at home after how many times they’ve played well against good teams in close losses away from home.

Side Dishes

  • Iowa State guard Bryce Dejean-Jones has been suspended for the Cyclones’ big game tonight against Iowa. Dejean-Jones was arrested on Thursday on three charges, including a marijuana-related charge that was dismissed later in the day. He remains accused of charges involving hosting a loud gathering and breaking a noise ordinance in Ames. It sounds as if there still may be more to this story today, as there is the possibility of amended charges today.
  • Reports surfaced overnight and Kentucky confirmed this morning that forward Alex Poythress has suffered a major injury and has a torn ACL. While the Wildcats are as well-equipped to handle this as any team, it’s still a blow and very unfortunate.
  • Michigan State and Northeastern have agreed to a unique three-sport contract to play each other in men’s and women’s basketball and men’s hockey in 2015 and 2016. It’s a great idea, and what’s more, it starts with the Spartans going to Boston first, not the other way around as these typically go. Much credit to those who put this together, as well as Tom Izzo and MSU women’s basketball coach Suzy Merchant for being willing to take to the road for such a game. It doesn’t happen enough in college sports, but this is a win-win for both sides. Michigan State gets exposure in Boston, and Northeastern gets a big draw home game that should excite a lot of people in that area.

Tonight’s Menu. We have four games-total:
Iowa State at Iowa  (8 p.m. EST, BTN) Easily the best game of the night, one of the best of all of December. This is true for many state rivalries, but unless you’ve lived in Iowa you probably can’t fully appreciate just how heated the series between these two is.
Charleston Southern at N.C. State  This could be a better game than you think. Coach Barclay Radebaugh-one of the best names out there-regularly has the Buccaneers up when they play games like this, and CSU already has won at Mississippi this season.
NJIT at Holy Cross  The Highlanders go for their third straight win, and while the Hart Center is no easy venue, NJIT certainly won’t be phased after winning at Crisler Arena.
Texas Southern at Florida  Standard guarantee game fare. Avoid unless absolutely necessary.

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