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The Morning Dish – Thursday, January 8, 2015

January 8, 2015 The Morning Dish No Comments

At only a slight risk of hyperbole, the 9 p.m. EST block of games Wednesday night-many of them on TV-might go down as one of the ugliest two-hour stretches of offensive basketball in NCAA Division I college basketball history.

Some halftime scores from those games:
Baylor 22, Kansas 18.
Utah 31, Colorado 21.
Kansas State 22, TCU 19.
Maryland 28, Illinois 26.
Clemson 22, Louisville 18.
Duke 32, Wake Forest 27.
Wyoming 31, Colorado State 26.
Tennessee 26, Mississippi State 23.

Not a single team scoring as much as 35 points among them. Only three of them could hit 30. Even athletic, supposedly up-tempo teams like Louisville, Kansas and Baylor struggled to score 20 points in a half.

And before the first person says “good defense”…does every single team play “good defense?” What is this, Lake Wobegon?

It was so bad that DePaul’s 39-point first half against lethargic Creighton constituted a scoring outburst. And the thing is, none of these were flukes. Only three of the aforementioned teams even reached 70 points (Duke rallied for a 73-65 win over Wake Forest, Utah blew out Colorado 74-49 and DePaul sprung the road upset, 70-60). Eleven of the 18 teams involved in those eight games scored below 60.

(This all came on the same night that Syracuse defeated Georgia Tech, 46-45, in a game Jim Boeheim termed as “Without a doubt, the worst offensive game I’ve ever seen.”)

When are stakeholders in college basketball going to recognize the problem here and address it? How long are fans (or coaches) going to keep watching games between high level teams that feature less offense than a middle school game? Close games do not equal good basketball. At some point someone has to care…don’t they?

And no, a 24-second shot clock isn’t the answer. The problem goes far deeper than a shot clock. At this point, the only thing a shorter shot clock will ensure is teams will run off slightly less time with their weak offenses with little cutting and ball movement, before throwing up possibly even worse shots than they are already taking now.


Wednesday night’s action:

  • Keeping with the low scoring theme to a degree, VCU held Davidson to its lowest point total of the season in a 71-65 win. On this night, that still qualified as a shootout. Good win for the Rams and a good showing on the road for the Wildcats.
  • Both undefeateds won again last night, with Virginia joining Duke as victorious. The Cavaliers trailed N.C. State in the second half before closing strong for a 61-51 win.
  • Temple also trailed at halftime before coming rallying for another impressive win, defeating upstart Tulane 64-56. Completely different Owls team this year from last year’s high-scoring-but-even-more-permissive-defensively squad.
  • (By the way: love listening to Bob Picozzi and Jon Crispin, Picozzi is a terrific play-by-play guy and Crispin is a personable, up-and-coming analyst. But how did they happen to call this game as well as the Cal/USC game last night? Are there suddenly 1 1/2 hour flights from New Orleans to L.A.? Has ESPN resorted to that low-down, no-good, weak World Cup tactic of having announcers in a studio calling games when they aren’t actually there???)
  • Xavier is really, really tough at home-9-0 now, with every win by double digits. Seton Hall found that out last night in its first game this year as a ranked team, losing 69-58.
  • Big 12 fans must get frustrated getting beaten so frequently by Kansas. The Jayhawks, while always talented, don’t always make it look pretty. Baylor led much of the way last night, but KU started attacking the Bears’ zone better in the second half, Wayne Selden stepped up late and Kansas pulled out a 56-55 win. Quality, quality road win.
  • No Rayvonte Rice, no problem, at least for one night for Illinois. Malcolm Hill scored 28 points for the Illini in an impressive 64-57 win over Maryland. We shouldn’t be so quick to write off Illinois just yet.
  • One is an accident, two is a trend. Colorado State lost to New Mexico on the road Saturday for its first loss, which was perfectly acceptable. Now the Rams also have lost at home to Wyoming, 60-54 last night, which is still acceptable but a little bit concerning. Huge road win for the Cowboys, the type that will come in mighty handy when NCAA Tournament selections are being considered.
  • Louisville held off Clemson 58-52, while Wisconsin also fought off Purdue 62-55. Game effort by both losing teams against some Final Four frontrunners.
  • Couple interesting late-night scores: Nevada got a hoop from Marqueze Coleman with 5.2 seconds left to shock UNLV 64-62. This is a bitter rivalry, but that’s a bad, bad loss for the Rebels. USC continued California‘s slide with a 71-57 win, and Cal Poly won at Hawaii, 61-57, as Reese Morgan hit a three and then two clinching free throws in the final seven seconds of OT. Will keep saying it: the Big West is a really fun conference to watch this year.
  • Your top two teams in the Missouri Valley after three games are Wichita State-no surprise at all-and Indiana State-big, big surprise. The Shockers recovered from a slow start to shut down Bradley 63-43. Indiana State went 4-8 outside the MVC but is now 3-0 in it after a convincing 71-56 win over Missouri State.
  • Also in the MVC, Loyola (Ill.) got a layup from Christian Thomas with :00.1 left to stun Evansville on the road 71-70. The Ramblers are for real.
  • The Mid-American Conference is going to be a really good league race this year. Wednesday night saw four road teams win, as Ball State stunned Eastern Michigan 60-59 in overtime, Bowling Green moved to 9-3 with a 66-64 win at Kent State, Northern Illinois won at Ohio 70-60 and Buffalo won 79-72 at Miami (Ohio).
  • Finally, the Patriot League continues to have surprise leaders early, with Boston University and Colgate topping the standings at 3-0 after BU won at Navy 70-64 and the Raiders handled Holy Cross 74-60.

Side Dishes

  • Florida played without senior Jon Horford and freshman Zach Hodskins in its 72-68 win at South Carolina last night. Both were suspended by Coach Billy Donovan’s decision, and there status will be re-evaluated after the team returns from its trip to Columbia, S.C. Hodskins is a walk-on reserve who rarely plays, but Horford is a starter averaging eight points and nearly six rebounds.
  • Arizona freshman forward Craig Victor, a former top-50 recruit, is transferring after one semester at the school. Victor is reportedly transferring for more playing time after playing in eight games and averaging 3.1 points and 1.1 rebounds. Shouldn’t be a surprise, this is the deal top recruits accept when they choose to go to schools that are already loaded with talent.
  • Former Louisville forward Agoy Akau has announced that he will transfer to Georgetown, where he will be eligible for the second semester in 2015-16.

Tonight’s Menu:

Michigan State at Iowa (7 p.m. EST, ESPN)  Starting to want to believe in the Hawkeyes. A win here would not hurt that at all, for while the Spartans are not a top-10 team this year, they’re still tough enough to win on the road.
Arizona at Oregon  This one has potential trap for the Wildcats written all over it.
Dayton at St. Bonaventure  The Bonnies get a call after a nice win at Massachusetts, and now they welcome the Flyers to always-tough Olean, N.Y.
Louisiana Tech at UTEP  Two of the favorites in Conference USA.
Georgia State at Louisiana-Lafayette 
Perhaps the two favorites in the Sun Belt.
Radford at Gardner-Webb (7 p.m. EST, ESPNU)
Check this one out if you get a chance. Two fun teams to watch.
Pepperdine at BYU (11 p.m. EST, ESPNU)  Haven’t seen the Waves yet this year. Looking forward to seeing Pepperdine’s Stacy Davis against the Cougars, who have looked good in three WCC games since losing to Gonzaga.

Have a terrific Thursday.

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