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The Morning Dish – Wednesday, February 18, 2015

February 18, 2015 The Morning Dish No Comments

If there’s one thing that the new configuration of the Big East has taught us, it’s that memories of the old Big East are always going to be around the corner, even at times when we’re thoroughly enjoying the league in the present.

The old school Big East is cool, and will always be cool. Tuesday night featured a game that is as old school cool as any rivalry in the current Big East, as St. John’s went to Georgetown. For those looking for drama, though, they had to look elsewhere, as the Hoyas easily dumped SJU 79-57 for their 17th victory of the season.

The name of the game for Georgetown was balance. Or maybe it was “twelve,” because that’s how many points the Hoyas’ five leading scorers each finished with. That’s right-the winners had five different players score 12 points each.

Isaac Copeland, L.J. Peak, D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Joshua Smith, Mikael  Hopkins, Alonzo Mourning, Reggie Williams, Charles Smith…all of them scored 12 points. (kidding on those last three; just seeing if you’re paying attention) Jabril Trawick also added 11 points. The Hoyas shot 48.3%, hammered the Red Storm on the glass 43-33, and also took advantage of 15 St. John’s turnovers.

For St. John’s, this is a definite setback in its late-season attempt to get to the NCAA Tournament. The loss was not disappointing; the way it took place was very much so. D’Angelo Harrison was 0-for-9 from the field and Rysheed Jordan had just three points. That’s not going to get it done, against Georgetown or likely any other Big East teams the rest of the way. The Red Storm now has three straight home games coming up, and it’s time to make some hay if this team is going to the Big Dance.

Tuesday’s Action:

  • Kentucky won again, moving to 26-0 with a 66-48 win at Tennessee. That score is deceiving; this was a four-point game midway through the second half, but the Vols scored just four points in the final nine minutes.
  • Oklahoma finished off a season sweep of Texas with a 71-69 win in Norman, another good win for the Sooners. For a team like the Longhorns, there are no moral victories, but one must say they did look good in this one, a positive sign going forward.
  • VCU has looked much, much better since Treveon Graham returned on Saturday. The Rams easily handled Saint Louis 74-54 on Tuesday, with Graham leading the way with 16 points.
  • Michigan State had no trouble with Michigan on the road, sweeping the season series with the Wolverines with an 80-67 win. That’s the type of performance many have been looking for from MSU.
  • Wichita State rolled on the road at Southern Illinois 84-62. Encouraging sign for the Shockers: 36 points from the bench.
  • The SEC appears determined to max out its NCAA bid total this year. LSU led Texas A&M by eight into the second half and by most estimations would be the more talented team, but the Aggies scrapped for a 68-62 win at home to sweep the season series with the Tigers. Big win for A&M.
  • A showdown in the America East was a terrific game and saw the end of Albany’s unbeaten run through the conference. Stony Brook sent a message that it will not go quietly in the league, winning at Albany 59-56 behind 20 points and 11 boards from Jameel Warney.
  • Finally, San Diego State’s first game back in the rankings was an impressive one, a 63-46 win at New Mexico. Also, Wyoming put together a big time rally, coming back from 13 down to defeat Nevada 64-58. The Cowboys scored 13 points in the first half…and 51 in the second half. Hmmm…

Side Dishes:

  • A pair of games on Tuesday were affected by weather. Cleveland State and Western Carolina were going to play an unusual mid-February non-conference game at WCU as the return game in a two-year contract, but CSU did not travel due to a snow storm. That one has been cancelled with no reschedule date. Also, with 10-16 inches of snow expected in the Richmond, Ky., area, the OVC battle with Austin Peay going to Eastern Kentucky was postponed and moved to Monday, Feb. 23.
  • The fallout from Monday night’s Villanova-Seton Hall game saw Sterling Gibbs get suspended for two games by Seton Hall as a result of his elbow thrown at Ryan Arcidiacono. Gibbs is the Pirates’ leading scorer and will miss upcoming games against St. John’s and Creighton. By publicly supporting the suspension, it appears the Big East does not plan on adding to it. On one hand, there is certainly a case to be made for a longer suspension; it feels like at least three games would’ve been more appropriate. On the other hand, the fact is what happened Monday night would be considered small potatoes 30-40 years ago in a time when there were far more violent fights, and there’s definitely an element of overexposure and the Internet mob blowing things like this up beyond what they are. The players seem to be fine about it; we’re thinking it’s best to just let this be.
  • Louisville guard Chris Jones has been suspended for the Cardinals’ game Wednesday against Syracuse for violating team rules. Jones has been one of the team’s most productive starters this year and is averaging better than 13 points and nearly four rebounds and four assists per game.
  • Unfortunately, it was a day for suspensions. South Carolina has suspended sophomore forward Demetrius Henry and freshman swingman Shamiek Sheppard for the rest of the season due to conduct detrimental to the team. Henry had been a starter for the Gamecocks for much of the season, averaging 6.0 points and 3.6 rebounds, while Sheppard saw sparse action in seven games. South Carolina then went on in the evening to defeat Georgia 64-58 on the road, not a good loss at all for the Bulldogs.

Tonight’s Menu

North Carolina at Duke (9 p.m. EST, ESPN)  Really, this is a terrific game and an outstanding rivalry. Only wish that the hype did not exceed the game so much.
Xavier at Cincinnati 
As much as the game above is hyped, this one year-in and year-out is darn near its equal. The other may feature more future NBA players, but certainly there is no more bitter rivalry than the Crosstown Shootout.
Davidson at George Washington 
Almost an elimination game as far as at-large consideration goes.
Massachusetts at Rhode Island 
Suddenly a very important game with UMass working its way into contention at the top of the Atlantic 10.
William & Mary at Northeastern  Arguably the CAA’s two best teams.
Toledo at Akron  Both the MAC East and West are still sorting itself out, and these teams are contenders in their respective divisions-Toledo in the West, Akron in the East.
Colorado State at Fresno State, Boise State at UNLV (11 p.m. EST, CBSSN)  Tricky road games for a pair of at-large hopefuls from the Mountain West.

Have a great Wednesday.

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