Saturday, November 17, 2012

Purdue's Struggles Continue Against Oregon State

Oregon State 66, Purdue 58
Purdue's offensive woes continued here - they haven't scored more than 0.96 PPP in any of their three losses. Their biggest problem is that they really don't have any shooters besides DJ Byrd, and Byrd hasn't been as effective without Lewis Jackson and Robbie Hummel to draw defenses away from him. Defenses are sagging against Purdue, and their backcourt players aren't good enough to score in the paint consistently against that. At the same time, their lack of front court depth is leaving them vulnerable on the other end of the floor. Devon Collier burned them for 27 points (on 9-for-15 shooting) and 14 rebounds in this one.

This loss drops Purdue to 1-3 with only five real cupcakes left on their schedule. They will also play at Clemson on November 28th, as well as against Notre Dame and Xavier. With as good as the Big Ten is, Purdue is at serious risk of being a sub-.500 team this season. That all said, I don't think Purdue is as bad as their record says that they are. This was their largest margin of defeat all season - one of the other losses was by five points and the other was in overtime. It's obviously still very early in the season, but Purdue is still 52nd in the Pomeroy ratings and 62nd in the Sagarin PREDICTOR. So they're not "bad" - I do think they'll stay a Top 100 team and they'll be feisty at home in Big Ten play. But it's hard to see them turning this around for an at-large bid at this point.

This was, believe it or not, something of a must win for Oregon State. They will play Kansas in Kansas City on November 30th, but other than that will not see a likely RPI Top 100 team before starting Pac-12 play. With the Pac-12 struggling again as a conference (though obviously better than last season), it would make things very tough on their at-large chances if they entered conference play without a single quality win (assuming that they don't beat Kansas). This win gives them something out of their non-conference slate, and now an 11-7 Pac-12 record should be enough to put them on the NCAA Tournament bubble.

Murray State 72, St. John's 67
St. John's looked like they were running away with this game early, opening up a 32-19 lead, mentally boosted by the return of Marc-Antoine Bourgault. The Red Storm clearly made it a focus to shut down Murray State star Isaiah Canaan, and were pretty successful. They held him to 5-for-18 shooting. In his stead, Stacy Wilson led Murray State with 23 points. Dexter Fields was excellent on both sides of the floor as well. Down the stretch St. John's just couldn't get a jumper to fall, and it cost them the game.

Because Baylor went down to Colorado, St. John's will have to beat Baylor to avoid a 1-2 performance in Charleston. The return of Bourgault helps the Johnnies with their depth, but it's still not great, and there's obviously a risk that they're going to struggle in their third game in four days. Their schedule does ease up once they get back to New York, with games against Holy Cross and Florida Gulf Coast next week.

Murray State is now 3-0 and will take on Colorado on Sunday for the Charleston Classic title. I don't think they're quite good enough for an at-large bid, but if they can knock off Colorado then the buzz will start. Considering their strength of schedule, which is poor, they can't afford very many losses all season long. Maybe they can get away with four regular season losses. Their next game after Charleston will be November 24th against Old Dominion.

Florida State 88, BYU 70
Florida State's defense isn't as elite as it's been the past four years, but it's still very good. And when they shoot the ball like this? Well, they're going to look awesome, for at least one night. They hit 11-of-20 three-pointers and finished with a 69.0 eFG%, their best shooting performance since a 70.7 eFG% against Purdue in November, 2005. Okaro White was excellent, scoring 17 points on 5-for-6 shooting. Michael Snaer had a nice all-around game with 16 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists.

BYU certainly didn't play badly in this game. There's not a whole lot you can do when an opponent shoots like this. Brandon Davies played well, and I was happy to see how much of the offense is being run through Tyler Haws. I was a big fan of Haws when he was a freshman - he has those Jimmer Fredette-type scoring qualities. He missed the past two seasons for a mormon mission, but now he's back and already almost back to where he was. He had 23 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists here, and is averaging 22.3 points per game in this young season.

BYU will get a chance to bounce back tonight against Notre Dame. They also will play Baylor, Iowa State and Virginia Tech before opening WCC play. Florida State will play St. Joseph's tonight before coming home to play North Florida.

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