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The Morning Dish – Friday, January 9, 2015

January 9, 2015 The Morning Dish No Comments

Iowa and LSU continue to be two of the bigger teases in the country.

That much remained certain after last night, when-just when you’re ready to believe in them-both suffered losses that can only be categorized as disappointing. Iowa was outstanding for a half, but lost an 11-point lead and eventually the game going away, Michigan State putting the Hawkeyes well in their mirror for a 75-61 win. LSU, meanwhile, played what should’ve been a manageable road game, but surrendered an eight-point lead in the second half and never could shake Missouri, eventually losing 74-67 in overtime.

First off, before noting the schizophrenic nature of the losing teams, credit goes to the winners. Michigan State winning at Iowa wasn’t much of a surprise-the Spartans are a talented bunch-but rallying after a poor first half with a terrific three-point shooting performance (8 of 9 in second half). Missouri, meanwhile, has been a nuisance for many teams of late and will only become even more of a tough out as the season continues, and that’s a credit to new coach Kim Anderson.

For Iowa, though, this is a troubling result. The Hawkeyes were in complete control of this game at halftime. Home teams shouldn’t fall apart like this, and it’s starting to become a trend (the Iowa State game played out in similar fashion). It’s way too early to label teams in trouble for the NCAA Tournament, but the Hawkeyes have to prove they can back up their win at Ohio State. Iowa, despite that terrific road win, is now just 2-5 against RPI top 100 teams. Go 2-5 over the next seven games against such teams and you have a recipe (or ‘resume’) for disaster.

LSU came in having won eight in a row, most admittedly against a schedule tailor-made for success, but the Tigers are the only team to beat West Virginia so far (at Morgantown, no less). It’s a team that has the athletes and looks the part, but like Iowa, one flashy win is not going to carry this team the entire year.

Thursday night’s action:

  • Stanford and UCLA played the game of the night, and the Bruins may have temporarily saved their season. Bill Walton’s alma mater trailed by 13 late in the second half but got to overtime and outlasted the Cardinal 86-81. Freshman Kevon Looney had 27 points and 19 boards to out-duel Chasson Randle, who scored 32 for Stanford.
  • Top 10 squads Arizona and Gonzaga both took care of business. The Wildcats won 80-62 at Oregon while the Bulldogs broke the game wide open late in an 88-57 win over San Francisco.
  • Old Dominion’s first game as a ranked team was a success, with the Monarchs easy 72-51 winners at Marshall.
  • Dayton continues to rain in three-pointers with its new, smaller lineup. The Flyers drained 14 triples in a 78-61 win at St. Bonaventure.
  • Louisiana Tech finally picked up a win to turn some heads, winning at UTEP 58-45.
  • Pepperdine picked up a road win that should turn some heads, going to BYU and coming out with a 67-61 win. Stacy Davis came off the bench for the Waves and had 23 points and eight boards. That’s two WCC losses at home already for the Cougars. Also, another ESPN game where the announcers were not at the venue and called the game from a studio, and it was plainly obvious when the audio feed for the game was down in the first half, making it sound like the broadcasters were calling the game in a bathroom stall outside the Marriott Center. This has to stop. Absurd to think the same network that paid $7.3 billion to show the latest incarnation of the BCS can’t afford to send talent to the site of a basketball game it chooses to air.
  • Down to the wire in the Sun Belt: Louisiana-Lafayette trimmed Georgia State 84-80 in a rematch of last year’s Sun Belt tourney final. Mark down Jan. 24 on your calendar, as that’s when these two meet again.
  • More overtime games in the Sun Belt last night, as Texas State stopped Arkansas-Little Rock 77-74 in two OTs while Louisiana-Monroe won at Texas-Arlington 76-73 in a measly one extra session. That makes five overtime games and a total of 10 games decided by four points or less over the first four nights of league games.
  • One more time in the Sun Belt: after last night featured too many slugfests that made us sick, South Alabama and Appalachian State were the prescription for a cure. The Jaguars outlasted App State 104-95 by shooting a robust 61.2%. The teams combined for 20 three-pointers in the game and 118 points in the second half alone, or more combined points than were scored in 11 full games last night.
  • Hofstra is 12-4, has won five in a row and is the early leader in the CAA after a 71-66 win over College of Charleston.
  • Gardner-Webb and Radford put on a good show for the Big South on ESPNU, as expected. The Highlanders led by 14 in the second half, but like UCLA they rallied to tie in regulation and finally won 88-85 in overtime.
  • Siena ran out to a 21-1 start against Niagara, eventually defeating the Purple Eagles 79-69.
  • Finally, the best finish of the night came courtesy of Sacramento State’s Mikh McKinney, who banked in a jumper with a second left to give the Hornets a 63-61 win at North Dakota.

Side Dishes

  • All 7-foot-6 of Mamadou Ndiaye finally returned for UC Irvine for its key Big West opener against Long Beach State. Ndiaye had a fairly minimal impact (7 points, 4 rebounds) in a terrific game won by Long Beach State. The 49ers led by 10, fell behind by seven, and then came back for an 88-82 win in a thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable game. Long Beach’s ruthless non-conference schedule already paid dividends in its Big West opener, and Mike Caffey is a stud (27 points, 5 of 6 three-point shooting), absolutely terrific.
  • Maryland has added to its roster at midseason, as international prospect Ivan Bender has enrolled and is eligible immediately. The 6-9 Bender is from Bosnia and Herzegovina and was a member of the U-18 Croatian National Team and played in the Junior Euroleague. One can only hope midseason international enrollments don’t become the newest trend in recruiting.

Tonight’s Menu: A virtually silent night on the college basketball landscape, as Ivy League play hasn’t begun yet and leagues like the Atlantic Sun and MAAC are quiet. Four games-total. But two of them are on national TV.

Akron at Toledo (7 p.m. EST, ESPNU)  The Rockets have been somewhat of a disappointment this year, but a win at home against the always-tough Zips could jumpstart their season.
Wisconsin-Green Bay at Wisconsin-Milwaukee (9 p.m. EST, ESPNU)  On paper this is somewhat of a mismatch, as Milwaukee has struggled offensively this year and the Phoenix looks like quite possibly the class of the Horizon League again. But the same could be said about their meeting in the Horizon semifinals last year. The Panthers knocked off Green Bay in that one.
Yale at New Jersey Tech  Every time one looks up it seems like the Highlanders are playing another interesting opponent. Will say it now: if NJIT finishes with a winning record, it deserves a bid to either the CBI or CIT postseason tournaments.
Quinnipiac at Monmouth 
The MAAC’s two most recent additions meet. The homestanding Hawks are the only team still undefeated (4-0) in the MAAC, while the Bobcats are an equally surprising 0-4.

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