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The Morning Dish – Monday, December 29, 2014

December 29, 2014 Columns No Comments

It wasn’t enough to beat Michigan State. No, Texas Southern had one more trick up their sleeve, and we saw it on Sunday afternoon. The Tigers beat Michigan State in overtime just over a week ago, and this time a buzzer-beater by Jason Carter gave them a 58-56 win at Kansas State.

The Tigers had some help along the way. Kansas State was 2-8 from the free throw line in the final 69 seconds, allowing Texas Southern to rally from being down six a little earlier. The Wildcats were 8-20 from the foul line for the entire game.

Texas Southern is one of those schools you often only hear about on the wrong side of lopsided scores against teams like Michigan State and Kansas State, as well as in the NCAA Tournament as conference champions. They have played just one of their 12 games thus far at home this season, and this is not out of the norm. Their opponents are a pretty good group of teams: Indiana, Tennessee, SMU, Baylor, Florida, Gonzaga, Michigan State, Auburn and Kansas State. They still have to go to New Mexico State before starting SWAC play, and interestingly enough, they start their conference slate with three straight on the road.

However, Mike Davis, who has coached some pretty good talent at Indiana and UAB before his current gig, has some talent at his disposal. One of their leading scorers on Sunday, Chris Thomas, was at one time a big-time recruit, before academics and other off-court matters derailed him and had him going to a few different places; this is his second college. They have a few other transfers in Deverell Biggs (Nebraska), Nick Shepherd (Long Beach State) and Nevin Johnson (Creighton) who are helping holdovers like senior guard Madarious Gibbs.

Texas Southern’s road work should serve them well in SWAC play, and their recent wins should only add to their confidence. They are shaping up as a potential favorite in the conference, and if they continue their road warrior ways with success to start, they will be well on their way.


Side Dishes

One other big result on Sunday was Washington losing their first game of the season, as Stony Brook ended the game on a 19-2 run over the final 6:39 to rally from being down 12 to win 62-57. The Seawolves have had some growing pains during their non-conference slate, but they appear to be turning a corner at a good time.

The SEC needs teams not named Kentucky to pick up some better wins, and Alabama got one by beating UCLA 56-50 in Tuscaloosa behind 24 points from Ricky Tarrant. UCLA is 8-5, but if the Bruins improve the way a team with their young talent should, this win should have a little more shelf life later in the season.

Concluding the reality that it wasn’t a very good day for the Pac-12, California fell behind big early and never quite recovered in a 55-52 loss to Cal State Bakersfield. The Golden Bears got within a possession late, but couldn’t finish the comeback in the last game of the day.

Buffalo had a one-point lead at the half, but in the second half, Frank Kamisky (25 points, 11 rebounds) and Wisconsin turned the game around for a 68-56 win in Madison.

A few favorites rolled on Sunday, like St. John’s (82-57 over Tulane), Connecticut (81-48 over Central Connecticut State), Syracuse (85-67 over Long Beach State) and Marquette (81-53 over Morgan State).


Tonight’s Menu

It’s a light slate this Monday as 2014 winds down. Some notable matchups:

  • Rice gets their toughest test yet as they visit Texas for a matinee game.
  • Toledo isn’t having quite the non-conference run they had last year, but the Rockets are good and visit Duke this evening.
  • Another full night of West Coast Conference action is on tap, featuring San Francisco at Saint Mary’s, an underrated matchup with Portland visiting BYU and Gonzaga traveling to San Diego.

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