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The Morning Dish – Wednesday, January 7, 2015

January 7, 2015 The Morning Dish No Comments

For a half last night in its game against Georgia, Arkansas was looking like same old Arkansas on the road.

The Razorbacks have a fairly well-earned tag by now from the past couple of years as a team that can’t win on the road, and in the first half against Georgia that’s exactly how the Hogs looked. Arkansas trailed from the start as the Bulldogs were outstanding, shooting 57.7% in taking a 44-37 lead into halftime.

The second half looked as if it was played by two entirely different teams. The Razorbacks battled back on the road and got a big 79-75 win at Georgia. Arkansas shot 51.7% for the game and Bobby Portis finally got some help after carrying the team offensively the first 20 minutes, while the Bulldogs cooled off and shot just 10 of 29 in the second half.


The game is a good sign for Arkansas, one of the most entertaining teams to watch anywhere because of its frenetic style, but also one purists should enjoy. The Razorbacks are unselfish (perhaps to a fault in the first half), leading the nation in assists while also ranking among the national leaders in scoring but also turnover margin. The Hogs also already have a win this year at SMU, and while they missed in ugly fashion earlier this season at Iowa State and Clemson, this year’s team is experienced and looks poised to hang right around that top 20-40 range.

For Georgia, it’s an opportunity missed, but don’t be surprised if we hear from the Bulldogs again this season. Mark Fox has a team that is ready to compete for an NCAA Tournament bid. The Bulldogs will need to maintain at home for the most part and grab a few on the road in the SEC, but any team that has wiped out Seton Hall by 18 is capable of doing so and getting back to the tourney this year.

Tuesday night’s action:

  • Of course, the biggest story Tuesday night was top-ranked Kentucky almost going down. Mississippi gave the Wildcats all they could possibly handle (and quite possibly would’ve won if terrific guard Stefan Moody hadn’t cramped up in overtime) before UK finally pulled out an 89-86 win. Once again, this is hardly the first time the Wildcats have struggled against teams supposedly well below their level, and this wasn’t even a road game. At some point it will catch up to them. As for Ole Miss, the Rebels’ up-and-down play continues. The Rebels have already beaten Cincinnati, Creighton and Oregon all on road or neutral courts, but also lost to Charleston Southern, TCU and Western Kentucky at home.
  • Villanova owned the second half, putting up 56 big ones in a 90-72 win at St. John’s that further establishes the Wildcats as a top 10 team and SJU as a team in danger of slipping way back in the Big East quickly.
  • Kris Dunn bounced back in a big way from a poor game at Marquette on Saturday, finishing with 25 points, eight rebounds and six assists (but seven turnovers) as Providence got a big 66-62 win on the road at Butler.
  • Iowa State could not shake Oklahoma State all night but held on for a 63-61 win at Hilton Coliseum. Good win for the Cyclones, and a performance that does nothing to dampen thoughts about the Cowboys.
  • Ohio State outlasted Minnesota 74-72 in overtime on Marc Loving’s basket with just over five seconds left in the extra session. The Buckeyes have responded from a clunker at home against Iowa last week, while the Gophers are now 0-3 in conference play.
  • Central Michigan went on the road to Toledo and came out with a 65-62 win. Keno Davis is doing some kind of work with the Chippewas, who are now 11-1 and look on their way to their best season since Chris Kaman was patrolling the paint. Also in the MAC, Akron made quick work of Western Michigan with a 72-52 win.
  • Pittsburgh somehow came back from a 10-point deficit with just over three minutes left in regulation and then got a basket from Josh Newkirk with :05.9 left in regulation for a 61-60 win at Boston College, a much, much needed win.
  • San Diego State won in what is becoming typical San Diego State fashion, topping New Mexico 56-42. The Aztecs bounce back; they’re 14-0 in their last 14 games after a loss.
  • George Washington got a battle from Saint Louis, finally coming out with a 75-72 win. The Billikens looked like an offensive juggernaut for a night, shooting 54.9% and canning 11 three-pointers, but GW posted a 34-7 advantage in free throw attempts.
  • Stony Brook moved to 10-6 with a 70-61 win at Columbia. Jameel Warney had 25 points and 13 rebounds, his nation-leading 13th double-double. The Seawolves had some struggles early this season but seem to be hitting their stride, with five straight wins now.
  • David Laury scored 30 as Iona got a good win in the MAAC, defeating Quinnipiac 81-73.
  • Finally, Albany’s Sam Rowley scored on a layup with :01 left to give the Great Danes a 64-62 win at New Hampshire.

Side Dishes

  • Illinois guard Rayvonte Rice is out for tonight’s game against Maryland (9 p.m. EST, BTN) and longer after breaking his left hand in practice on Monday, news that was announced Tuesday. Rice is averaging 17.2 points and 6.9 rebounds this season. The timetable is estimated to be 3-6 weeks for recovery. Any games at all that he misses obviously are a big blow to the Fighting Illini.
  • UNC Charlotte coach Alan Major has taken an indefinite leave from the team again. It is his second leave from the team in eight months, as according to the school release Major is again addressing “health conditions.”
  • Memphis has suspended swingman Kuran Iverson two games for a violation of team rules. Iverson, who is averaging 4.6 points and 1.9 rebounds, will miss games this week at SMU and Houston.

Tonight’s Menu:

Kansas at Baylor (9 p.m. EST, ESPNU)  Manly matchup in the paint. The Jayhawks’ talent inside is well known, while the Bears are a terrific rebounding team.
Syracuse at Georgia Tech (7 p.m. EST, ESPNU)  The Yellow Jackets are better than most think. This isn’t a layup at all for Syracuse.
Davidson at VCU  It’s looking like the Wildcats are going to be a threat throughout the Atlantic 10 season, so may as well measure up against perhaps the league’s best team early.
Temple at Tulane (7 p.m. EST, ESPNews) 
Devlin Fieldhouse should be rocking after the Green Wave’s win at Memphis this past weekend. It’s good to see Tulane involved in big games again.
Seton Hall at Xavier (7 p.m. EST, CBSSN) 
Terrific test for the Pirates with their new national ranking against a Musketeer team that can look flat-out dominant at home.
Wyoming at Colorado State Two of the top teams in the Mountain West meet in the Border War, and this year’s meetings may be the biggest since Fennis Dembo played for the Cowboys and Boyd Grant was resurrecting the Rams program.
Missouri State at Indiana State, Loyola (Ill.) at Evansville  The MVC’s only two unbeatens left besides Wichita State are…Missouri State and Indiana State? Loyola and Evansville both look like top 5 teams in the league, so neither wants a second loss already.

Have an enjoyable Wednesday.

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