Friday, November 23, 2012

Duke Fights Off VCU In The Bahamas

#5 Duke 67, VCU 58
VCU's press really gave Duke troubles here. It didn't show up in turnovers (they only forced 8), but Duke's offense was really out of sorts all game long. Duke managed to score 1.03 PPP, but only because they had a steady walk to the free throw line and got red hot there (24-for-27 for the game). VCU had their chances to win this game, but just could not buy a shot, finishing with a brutal 36.5 eFG%. Particularly in the final few minutes they just couldn't get a big shot to fall.

One player who really stood out for me was Quinn Cook. The sophomore did a great job dealing with the VCU press as well as possible, and helped spark a bunch of transition opportunities when VCU over-extended their press. He finished with 9 assists and only 3 turnovers. Duke will face either Louisville or Memphis in the Battle 4 Atlantis title game. Assuming it's Louisville (since Mizzou is not at full strength), that will be a heck of an early season battle.

VCU will get a chance in the Battle 4 Atlantis third place game to really make this a successful tournament. If they fall and leave the Bahamas with only one win in three games, they'll feel like they blew a golden opportunity to build their Tournament resume.

#22 Cincinnati 78, Iowa State 70
This was a physical, sloppy game. A lot of loose balls, a lot of offensive rebounds, a lot of steals.... and not a lot of good shooting. Both of these teams are athletic and talented, but both teams looked pretty unprepared. To be fair, this was the first non-cupcake for either team this season.

Sean Kilpatrick was the man for Cincinnati, scoring 32 points, including 16-for-16 at the line. He will be one of the premier scorers in the Big East this season. Cincinnati didn't play like the 22nd best team in the country this season, but they'll play more in sync when they have more games under their belt. Mick Cronin has a lot of video to work with after this game.

Iowa State won't be happy with their sloppy play and poor shooting, but the play of Tyrus McGee has to be a highlight. He has scored 16+ points in four of their five games this season, including 22 on 7-for-14 shooting here. I was underwhelmed with Korie Lucious, though. He was never particularly consistent with Michigan State, and I think Iowa State's offense will be limited if he's their primary playmaker.

Arizona State 83, Arkansas 68
Arizona State was surprisingly sharp on offense here against the Arkansas press, and it delivered a very nice upset win. Arkansas was only able to force 11 turnovers, and Arizona State had 14 assists and a 70.0 2P%. Getting Jahii Carson back is obviously very important, but considering how awful Arizona State was last year, their expectations for this season were pretty darn low. This is just one game, but it's a very impressive performance.

As I warn all the time, you never want to overreact to a single game performance, particularly one that happens at an early season tournament. Weird things happen. It will be interesting to see if Arizona State can do this twice in a row when they take on the winner of Creighton/Wisconsin.

This is a poor loss for Arkansas. But again, we don't want to overreact to one game, and there's a chance that Arizona State is actually a decent team. Arkansas will take on the loser of Creighton/Wisconsin next. They will also face Syracuse, Michigan and Oklahoma in the next few weeks, so we'll get plenty of chances to see how good Arkansas really is.

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