Home » The Morning Dish » Currently Reading:

The Morning Dish – Tuesday, February 21, 2017

February 21, 2017 The Morning Dish No Comments

It’s been an excellent 41st year for the venerable Sun Belt Conference, and one that is showing no signs of dampening as the regular season winds down and conference tournament time approaches.

Showdowns for first place have seemed like an almost nightly occurrence in the Sun Belt this season, and Monday night brought yet another one. Showing the mettle of a team that was expected to be the league favorite before the season and is looking more and more comfortable as a leader, Texas-Arlington scored an 81-71 road win at Georgia Southern to remain a game ahead of the field as the regular season winds down.

A terrific game that included 16 lead changes and 10 ties was decided by UT-Arlington seizing the moment down the stretch and owning the game’s final six minutes. The teams were tied as late as 65-65, but the Mavericks scored on their next four trips down the court. Just as importantly, UTA got stops, holding the Eagles scoreless in that time, and that 3 1/2 minute stretch was all the difference.

The game also featured an individual dual between Mavericks star Kevin Hervey and GSU sophomore Ike Smith, who combined for 55 points. Hervey scored a career-best 28 points, hit 5 of 6 three-point tries, and also grabbed 13 rebounds. He showed why he’s such a tantalizing all-around talent, even as he played just 29 minutes. It’s almost impossible not to gush when Hervey plays like this; his offensive skill and knack are something to be seen, and he is a matchup nightmare in the Sun Belt and would be in any conference. And yet, on this night Smith was nearly as good, scoring 27 points, making four three-pointers and hitting a string of smooth pull-ups.

In a league where various teams have held the top spot at one point or another, Texas-Arlington is the latest to take the point. Top to bottom, the Sun Belt has been arguably the most improved conference of any in the country this season, and its upcoming tournament is poised to be as must-see as just about any this year. Literally any of eight teams appear to be legitimate candidates to win the whole thing (and none are named Arkansas-Little Rock, the NCAA Round of 32 participant from a year ago that dominated this league last season).

Even now, UTA is no sure thing to claim the league’s regular season title. There are four games left in the regular season, and the Mavericks still close with a road swing at Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana-Monroe. Four teams are within 1 1/2 games of first, and a whopping seven are just three games out. Whoever wins this league is going to be more than sufficiently battle-tested to do some good things in the postseason.

Side Dishes:

  • Tuesday morning is leaving many wondering just what is wrong with Virginia. At the same time, let’s give some credit to Miami (Fla.), which dealt the Cavaliers their fourth straight loss with a 54-48 overtime win. The Hurricanes are playing without one of their leaders with JaQuan Newton out and fielded a strict seven-man rotation, yet Miami won the battle of defenses against one of the best defensive squads anywhere.
  • Iowa State got a nice road win, tipping Texas Tech 82-80 in Lubbock for its 19th win and just about sewing up an NCAA bid. Naz Mitrou-Long, Monte Morris and Matt Thomas combined for 59 points and led a long range attack that delivered 12 three-pointers, and the Cyclones weathered some late foul trouble for their fifth true road win of the season.
  • West Virginia handled Texas as expected, cruising to a 77-62 win, but the game had a scary moment when WVU coach Bob Huggins briefly dropped to his knees and was clutching his chest late in the first half. Huggins said after the game that his defibrillator had gone off, but after collecting himself he was able to continue coaching in the second half. The lovably gruff Huggins once had a heart attack in 2002 and received the defibrillator soon after.
  • North Carolina Central still leads the MEAC by 1 1/2 games over its nearest competition after a 66-59 win at Howard. Texas Southern also continued to hold off hard-charging Alcorn State in the SWAC, with the Tigers’ 92-61 win over Mississippi Valley State keeping them half a game ahead of the Braves, who defeated hapless (1-24) Alabama A&M 74-59.
  • Maryland took a blow on its interior when it was announced 7-foot-1 junior center Michal Cekovsky will miss the rest of the season after fracturing his ankle Sunday in the Terrapins’ loss at Wisconsin. Tough loss for the young man and the Terps, as he was averaging over seven points per game and becoming more and more of an impact player of late.

Tonight’s Menu: It’s a skimpy slate for impact matchups

  • The night starts with Purdue on the road at Penn State (6 p.m. Eastern, Big Ten Network). PSU’s struggles insidesuggest this will be a tough task, but the Nittany Lions did beat Maryland their last time out. Following that on the tube is Northwestern at Illinois (8 p.m., Big Ten Network).
  • Rhode Island is at La Salle with positioning in the Atlantic 10 at stake (6 p.m., CBSSN). Both are in hot contention for as high as the 3 seed in the conference tourney. Another team in that hunt is George Mason, which faces a tough task at Dayton.
  • South Carolina has been struggling, but can sufficiently prove it is just fine with one stroke: winning at Florida (7 p.m., ESPN).
  • Clemson is nearing its last chance for at-large candidacy (we think; you never know with this year’s ACC). The Tigers are at Virginia Tech (7 p.m., ESPNU).
  • Monmouth puts its 13-game win streak on the line with a tough one on the road at Fairfield, which can shoot its way to a win if not even trying to match the Hawks’ depth.
  • Wright State at Northern Kentucky is another good battle for place, this in the Horizon League.
  • Mississippi is at Mississippi State (9 p.m., ESPN2), with the Bulldogs look to avenge a 27-point flogging in the rivals’ first meeting.
  • Mountain West tri-leader Colorado State is at New Mexico (10 p.m., CBSSN), with the Lobos looking for the season sweep.

Have a super Tuesday.

Comment on this Article:







Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville

Advertisement


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – May 17, 2017

May 18, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we start with the NBA Draft Lottery, then talk about a big pickup for Duke, important transfers, the coaching carousel winding down and much more.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 27, 2017

April 27, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, the business of college sports, as well as that of sports media, takes center stage. We talk about the layoffs at ESPN, college basketball’s opening night, and Wichita State’s departure from the Missouri Valley Conference. We close with thoughts on a departed friend of the media business as well.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 11, 2017

April 11, 2017 by

In our first off-season edition, we look back on the season that just ended, including redemption for one team and a big development for a conference that has had more questions than success on the hardwood. We also look at players coming and going, as well as big coaching news on a day where there was a lot of it.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 3, 2017

April 4, 2017 by

We look back at Monday’s national championship game, which was not a thing of beauty but had plenty of drama. Along the way we share some post-game quotes from both coaches.

College Basketball Tonight – April 2, 2017

April 3, 2017 by

In our Final Four special edition, three head coaches join us to offer their insights on the Final Four, as well as their own programs.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale preview

June 24, 2016 by

We look ahead to the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, held at a familiar location in Boston.

At the 2016 Boston Shootout, host BABC has a big day

June 8, 2016 by

Sunday was a big day for the host program at the 44th Boston Shootout