Sunday, November 18, 2012

Notre Dame Impresses Against BYU

#20 Notre Dame 78, BYU 68
For the second straight day, Notre Dame took part in a very well played game. Unlike the St. Joe's game, however, they made the plays when it mattered most and escaped with the win. These two teams combined for 30 assists and only 22 turnovers. Jerian Grant was the primary playmaker for Notre Dame, finishing with 19 points and 5 assists. Jack Cooley, again, anchored the front court for the Irish.

BYU will feel like they should have won this game. They attempted 15 more shots from the field (and took only six fewer free throws), which usually translates into a win. They were undone by 3-for-14 three-point shooting, something that is often a strength for them. While Brandon Davies, Tyler Haws and Matt Carlino are all well-established, well-known players, the BYU player that stood out for me in this game was 6'7" sophomore Josh Sharp. Sharp had more offensive rebounds (7) than the entire Notre Dame team (6).

BYU leaves the Barclays Center with two very tough losses against quality opponents. Unfortunately for them, moral victories don't count on Selection Sunday. Their next chance for a nice win will be December 1st at Iowa State. They will also play Baylor and Virginia Tech before starting WCC play. The Irish will head home to face George Washington on Wednesday, and then a couple of cupcakes before that big game against Kentucky on November 29th.

Washington 84, Seton Hall 73, OT
This was a goofy game of streaks. Washington dominated the first half and led by 18 early in the second half. Seton Hall responded with a 33-9 run to grab a six point lead late. Washington closed the deficit, and then neither team hit a shot from the field in the final 1:45 of regulation. Scott Suggs hit a pair of threes to then spark a Washington rout in overtime.

Several Washington players deserve note for quality performances. But one that stood out was Aziz N'Diaye, who dominated the paint. He had 9 points on 4-for-4 shooting, and 9 rebounds, including 4 on the offensive end. As for Seton Hall, I honestly wasn't impressed with anybody. Fuquan Edwin scores a lot, because he shoots a lot (27 points on 24 shots from the field here), but there don't appear to be any other set rotations for Kevin Willard's team. There are no really good rebounders, or point guards, or shooters or lock-down defenders. Just a bunch of decent players without a real identity. They certainly don't look like an NCAA Tournament team right now.

Seton Hall will try to bounce back against Rhode Island in the consolation game of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off. Road games at LSU and Wake Forest are their only non-cupcake opponents for the next month. Washington will get a good chance to make everybody forget about that loss to Albany if they can knock off Ohio State in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off title game. After that game they'll come home for a pair of quality opponents in Colorado State and St. Louis.

Florida State 73, St. Joseph's 66
Florida State continued their torrid shooting in Brooklyn with 6-for-13 shooting behind the arc and a 60.0 eFG%. Terrance Shannon did a great job fighting to a draw against a very strong St. Joe's front line (15 points and 10 rebounds). Ian Miller, meanwhile, had a superb game off the bench (6 points, 5 assists, 4 steals)

With back-to-back wins over BYU and St. Joseph's, Florida State has really put that season-opening loss to South Alabama behind them. And the Selection Committee has certainly proven throughout the years that they'll look past a single bad non-conference loss. The question is: how real is this hot shooting? And honestly, I don't believe I'm going out on a limb when I predict that they're not going to be able to keep up the 53% three-point shooting they've had their past three games. They still have to play Minnesota, Florida, Auburn and Tulsa before non-conference play.

St. Joe's drops to 2-1 with this loss, but they can afford to lose a few games this season with the very tough schedule Phil Martelli put together. Their next game will be on Tuesday against Harvard. Their next quality opponent after that will be Creighton, on December 1st.

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