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The Morning Dish – Thursday, December 21, 2017

December 21, 2017 The Morning Dish No Comments

Mike Young has had some pretty good teams at Wofford. He’s also been there a long time – in fact, he’s just about a lifer there. Now in his 16th season at the helm after 13 years as an assistant there, he’s had four NCAA Tournament teams and also had one reach the CBI. All four NCAA Tournament teams won at least 20 games. He’s won over 250 games, more than any other coach in school history, and when he’s had NCAA Tournament teams, plenty have wondered if he would leave for a bigger job.

He hasn’t left – not yet, anyway. Through all of that, his teams have never knocked off a ranked opponent until Wednesday night. And this wasn’t just any ranked opponent: it was one of the bluebloods of college basketball and the defending national champions, North Carolina, who they beat 79-75 in Chapel Hill.

The Terriers held the Tar Heels to 36 percent shooting, and when the Tar Heels can’t get going offensively, they have a tougher time winning. With only a 38-34 edge on the glass and four more turnovers than the Terriers, North Carolina didn’t win the possession battle, either. Wofford led the entire second half and by as many as 14.

The Terriers are now 8-4 with five straight wins. The only one of the four losses that might be a head-scratcher was losing by 20 to a good UNC Asheville team. They have knocked off North Florida, Coastal Carolina and then Georgia Tech along the way. Now they can add North Carolina to that list.

Young has a team that can score, as they average 77 points a night and shoot over 48 percent from the field, including nearly 44 percent from deep. Whether or not this translates into success in the Southern Conference depends on the defensive end, especially considering three of their wins are over non-Division I schools. But they have proven themselves thus far against top competition, so you have to put them up there with the favorites based on current results. Wofford was picked sixth in the preseason coaches poll.

Mike Young appears to have another pretty good team, and maybe another with a shot at playing in the NCAA Tournament. It’s one more sign of what he has built over his career, with one more feather in his cap on Wednesday night.

 

Side Dishes

Wednesday night had a lot of blowouts in games with top teams, but one other game that was competitive among them involved another Southern Conference team. Furman gave Tennessee all they could handle, holding the Volunteers to 37 percent shooting, before succumbing 66-61 in Knoxville. Another close one with an SEC team was Florida having to hold off James Madison 72-63.

Two campus games in the Gotham Classic saw the home team get close calls as well. Memphis needed a big second half to knock off Siena 70-66, while Louisville had to hold off Albany 70-68.

The Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase took place at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut. St. John’s beat Saint Joseph’s 77-73 behind 28 points from Shamorie Ponds in the opener, then Houston beat Providence 70-59, the third loss in five games for the injury-plagued Friars.

Late in the evening, the shine continued to come off Washington State’s great start. The Cougars lost at home to Kansas State 68-65, their fourth in five games, and it’s another missed opportunity for the Pac-12.

Late-breaking news as we went to press: Purdue dismissed Eden Ewing for a violation of team rules. The junior forward had only played in six of the team’s 13 games and was a bit player, so from a basketball standpoint this is far from a blow to the team.

One big story that grabbed some headlines is LaVar Ball, father of recent UCLA players Lonzo and LiAngelo, is planning to form a league for top prospects coming out of high school who don’t want to go to college. At first glance, one has to wonder: will this be like every time a player has skipped college and played overseas, in that many think it means the end of college basketball? Considering the game has continued, albeit with many issues that include the stretch full of non-competitive games, chances are the college game will continue all the same. In addition, many who have much more time in the game and thus more relationships have talked about doing something like this, but never did – does he know something all of these people don’t? We’ll have more to talk about on this before long.

 

Tonight’s Menu

A busy night of action has some very good games on tap, including later in the evening out west.

  • In afternoon action, Florida State hosts Southern Miss (2 p.m.)
  • Michigan State hosts Long Beach State in a good early evening matchup, while Western Illinois at Butler is another interesting one and Iona at Rhode Island might be the best of them (7 p.m.)
  • One other early evening game that could be the best matchup is Navy hosting Lipscomb (7 p.m.)
  • Oregon State goes on the road to visit Kent State (7 p.m.)
  • It starts to get good around 9 p.m., with matchups like Buffalo at Texas A&M and UConn at Arizona
  • San Diego State hosts Gonzaga in another good one at 10 p.m.
  • The last games of the night have Portland State visiting Cal and Kansas visiting Stanford at 11 p.m.

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