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The Morning Dish – Sunday, December 14, 2014

December 14, 2014 The Morning Dish No Comments
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We’re down to nine unbeaten teams after Saturday, though the 10th undefeated left this season did not go quietly.

Northern Iowa made the trip to VCU for the second time in four seasons, and the game between the Panthers and Rams was the best of the day Saturday. Virginia Commonwealth got a cold-blooded three-pointer from Treveon Graham in the second overtime and went on to a 93-87 win for a much-needed bounce back after the Rams’ loss at home to Virginia a week ago.

While the win was very important for VCU-this was a win over a ranked team, after all-the game also did nothing to diminish feelings about the Panthers early this year. The game went back and forth before the Rams took control in the second half and led by 11 with six minutes left in regulation. UNI rallied, though, and actually led in the final minute until Graham scored to tie the game at 73-73.

The Panthers showed very, very well in the non-conference game in a hostile atmosphere, responding well to the adversity of trailing late. Northern Iowa has ample different offensive weapons, and super sub guard Wes Washpun was terrific with 27 points while three-point dagger-thrower Matt Bohannon had a career-high 18.

Northern Iowa has another big one coming up this coming Saturday when it faces Iowa on a neutral court in Des Moines. Iowa State is “probably” the best team in the state, but UNI possibly could’ve had something to say about that, and it’s only too bad that the Panthers and Cyclones won’t play this year.

Saturday’s action:

  • Phil Kasiecki has a recap of many of the day’s biggest games here

Side Dishes: More notes and news from Saturday

  • South Carolina-Upstate gave another name opponent a rough time, leading Maryland at the half before the Terps pulled out a 67-57 win. Maryland got some big help as Evan Smotrycz returned to the lineup for the first time in two weeks after a foot injury and scored 10 points off the bench.
  • A bad season so far at Memphis gets worse, as guard Markel Crawford was injured in the first half of the Tigers’ 73-55 home loss to Oklahoma State. Coach Josh Pastner said after the game that is was a sprained knee that will keep him out until after Christmas, but CBSSports.com’s Gary Parrish reports that Crawford’s mother said it is a torn ligament.
  • Texas-Arlington won at UC Irvine 70-62, a result that is surprising and even confounding until one knows that Mamadou Ndiaye, the Anteaters’ 7-foot-6 monster in the middle, missed his third straight game with a foot sprain. UCI has now had a pair of disappointing losses in that stretch, also losing at Fresno State. The Anteaters still have enough talent to be better than this but clearly are struggling to adjust without a guy who changes the game and the way both teams play so much because of his presence.
  • Colorado State and TCU are both still undefeated after defeating Arkansas-Fort Smith (88-60) and McNeese State (68-50), respectively.
  • Western Kentucky pulled maybe the surprise of the day defeating Mississippi 81-74 in Oxford by rallying from a 16-point second half deficit. Great win for the Hilltoppers, while this is another maddening result for the Rebels, who continue to alternate hot and cold and have lost three games at home.
  • Phil Kasiecki noted it but we’ll mention it as well-Army won in overtime at USC, 85-77. If Western Kentucky’s win wasn’t the upset of the day, then the Black Knights’ was. Army ends the day on an upbeat note after falling to Navy in another terrific, hard-fought Army-Navy football game.
  • Murray State earned a nice road win, going to Evansville and earning an 81-79 victory. Cameron Payne lit it up for 32, one more than the Aces’ D.J. Balentine. The Racers look to be starting to rebound after some real clunkers early.
  • Always entertaining Iona went back-and-forth with Indiana State and wound up with a 91-84 win. David Laury scored a career-best 30.
  • California edged Princeton 58-54. Say this about the Golden Bears; every time one looks up, it looks like they are stealing games like this. The Tigers led much of the way, but Cal made the plays late, as it usually does.

Today’s Menu:
Eastern Washington at Washington  Outstanding matchup on the perimeter, with EWU’s Tyler Harvey, Drew Brandon and Parker Kelly against the Huskies Andrew Andrews and Nigel Williams-Goss. The Eagles are averaging 10.1 three-pointers per game.
Butler at Tennessee 
The Volunteers are still one of those teams we’re trying to get a read on, but wouldn’t be surprised at all if they pull off a minor upset (it is in Knoxville) here.
Louisiana Tech at Syracuse (4 p.m. EST, ESPNU)  Maybe one that looks better on paper than it actually is (even ESPN has been running promos for this for the last week), as both have had some early struggles. Tech lost to maybe the two best teams it played (Temple and Louisiana-Lafayette). Cuse has had a week to stew after a home loss to St. John’s.
Temple at Villanova
 (2 p.m. EST, Fox Sports 1) More Big 5 fun in Philadelphia.
George Washington at Penn State  The Nittany Lions are 9-1 against a generally weak schedule, but a win here in this matchup of former Atlantic 10 foes would be reason to take notice of what Pat Chambers is doing.
St. Peter’s at Seton Hall (Noon EST, Fox Sports 1) The Peacocks won this one last year and already beat Rutgers solidly earlier this year. Also coming off a victory over Princeton, a win here gives St. Peter’s the Jersey state title.
Wofford at N.C. State  Two teams with a combined record of 15-3. The Wolfpack bombed Charleston Southern on Friday and may well be a better team than last year. The Terriers are no slouch, though.

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