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The Morning Dish – Sunday, November 13, 2016

November 13, 2016 The Morning Dish No Comments

If anyone briefly was distracted by the shiny object on college basketball’s opening night that was two excellent, national-television games involving top 20 teams in Hawaii, Saturday returned them to reality and gave us a prime exhibit of just why Division I college basketball starts its season about two weeks two early.

When measuring games by the quality of both opponents, the two best games of Saturday were Southern at Ohio University and Texas Southern at Texas-Arlington. No, that is not a misprint, nor is it an exaggeration-go ahead, look at Saturday’s schedule and even try to suggest another game was a better matchup on paper.

We’re not slandering Ohio U., Southern, Texas Southern or UTA. We’d be among the first to tell anyone that these are solid squads not to be taken lightly by any team, anywhere. But when these games are the best that college basketball can furnish in what is still the middle of college football season, and TV has no interest in televising these teams (they did bring us clunkers including Georgetown’s 105-60 win over USC Upstate, and of course Duke’s 96-61 romp over Grand Canyon at-of course-Cameron Indoor Stadium) then what’s the point of playing at all yet?

About those two games: Ohio used a second-half run to gain some distance and go on to a 77-67 win over Southern. Showing the Bobcats’ depth: four players scored in double figures led by Jordan Dartis with 15, a development that won’t hurt at all the feelings of those already seeing them as the MAC favorite this year.

UT-Arlington’s 89-82 hold over Texas Southern was one of the more entertaining games of the first two days of the season. The Mavericks also showed their depth: Jalen Jones scored 21, Kaelon Wilson finished with 18 and Kevin Hervey had a double-double (16 points, 11 rebounds) in his first game returning from an ACL tear last year. Meanwhile, star Derrick Griffin (11 points, three rebounds) was quiet for TSU, but newcomer Zach Lofton was not-35 points, which suggests Mike Davis once again has reloaded just fine with transfers.

Side Dishes

  • Notre Dame had no trouble in its opener, disposing of Bryant 89-64 behind 23 points from Bonzie Colson. Also in the ACC, Florida State handled Charleston Southern 88-67.
  • Davidson pulled away late to defeat Appalachian State 86-74 in its opener. Peyton Aldridge scored 31, production the Wildcats needed as Jack Gibbs was held out while still rehabbing a shoulder injury suffered in practice a couple weeks ago.
  • Will LSU be better this year without Ben Simmons than with him? It’s a question that will be asked frequently, and for one night it looked like it could be true as the Tigers rolled past normally solid Wofford 91-69 with juco transfer Duop Reath scoring 23 points.
  • Saint Joseph’s held off Toledo 77-76 in a terrific game, as Shavar Newkirk scored a career-best 28 points.
  • Tough news for UAB as point guard Nick Norton’s season lasted less than 16 minutes of game action. Norton will miss the rest of the season after tearing his ACL Friday night in the Blazers’ win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Unfortunate, as Norton was a valuable player who contributed in a number of ways and helped make UAB go.

Today’s Menu:

  • The top game of the day just might be Tennessee-Chattanooga at North Carolina. The Mocs handled Tennessee with ease on the road in their opener Friday while UNC looked somewhat vulnerable at Tulane.
  • Long Beach State faced Cal State-Los Angeles in its opener on Friday. Did coach Dan Monson-famous for his ridiculously tough non-conference schedules at the Beach-make a mistake and book Cal State-L.A. when he thought he had UCLA? The 49ers’ gauntlet starts now, though, with a trip to Wichita State, which was fantastic on defense in its opening win Friday over South Carolina State.
  • Highly underrated game out west: go-go-go Nebraska-Omaha is at USC, and while the Trojans already fought off one tricky game like this by handling Montana on Friday, don’t be stunned at all if the Mavericks are in this one at the end.
  • UCLA looks for a second straight dynamite offensive showing when it hosts Cal State Northridge.
  • Fresh off falling at Pittsburgh in two overtimes, Eastern Michigan is on the road again, going down to Texas to face SMU.
  • Wake Forest plays another one of those pesky teams from the Patriot League as it welcomes Bucknell. Also on that note, defending Patriot tourney champion Holy Cross plays its opener at South Carolina.
  • A solid Mountain time zone matchup has New Mexico State at Colorado State.
  • Yale opens its season at Washington, a game which will show how much work the Bulldogs have to do without Makai Mason now…or how much work the Huskies have to do to really contend in the Pac-12.

Have a terrific Sunday.

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