Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Shorthanded Indiana Survives Georgetown

#1 Indiana 82, Georgetown 72, OT
Indiana was pushed hard here by an underrated Georgetown team. Georgetown is a borderline Top 25 team (and thus generally underrated when called "unranked"), but the bigger issue here is that Indiana is missing two of their key freshmen: 6'8" Hanner Mosquera-Perra and 7'0" Peter Jurkin. Without them, Tom Crean really just plays a seven man rotation, and his team is particularly short on front court depth. Cody Zeller (17 points, 8 rebounds) played well here, but he's the only consistent front court player Indiana has right now (Christian Watford is too hit-or-miss). Throw in some superb play by Otto Porter (15 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists) down the stretch and the Hoosiers got pushed to overtime.

The big question for Indiana coming into the season was defense, and whether they could play enough of it to be a plausible #1 team in the country. And the sample size is small, but there's no question that the Hoosiers defense looks a lot better than it did last year. They gave up 0.98 PPP here, and it was their first game all season giving up greater than 0.90. Getting back some front court length and athleticism in Mosquera-Perra and Jurkin can only help.

The play of Otto Porter here has to be very encouraging for JTIII as he looks to replace Henry Sims this season. I just don't think Nate Lubick is a good enough basketball player to run the Georgetown offense through. Porter appears to be a much better candidate. And he proved late here against Indiana that he can beat his man off the dribble to score if he needs to.

Indiana heads home to face Ball State next, on Sunday. On Tuesday they'll get their next big test, from North Carolina. Georgetown leaves the Legends Classic with only a 1-1 record, but with a lot more confidence and believers around the nation. They have a pair of home games upcoming, against Mt. Saint Mary's and Tennessee.

#12 Kansas 73, Saint Louis 59
St. Louis played well here defensively, though not well enough. They were able to limit good looks for Kansas, and unfortunately just saw the Jayhawks hit 7-for-13 behind the arc. Offensively, the Billikens played okay despite a nothing game from Jordair Jett. Jett has been hit-or-miss to start the season. Until Kwamain Mitchell gets back, St. Louis really needs more steady production from Jett. Mike McCall, Jr is the only other St. Louis player that can really create offense on his own.

As for Kansas, Jeff Withey was tremendous - 25 points on 7-for-12 shooting with 12 blocks. I don't understand why Withey, despite being in one of the real blue chip programs, doesn't get enough hype. He is a potential All-American, in my opinion. Withey is the most dominant low post defender in college basketball, and he's actually started to develop a pretty good offensive game now, too.

This is the first real quality win that Kansas has collected this year. They'll play San Jose State on Monday, but then head into a pretty brutal stretch: Oregon State, Colorado, Belmont, Richmond and then Ohio State, all back-to-back.

Now 2-2, St. Louis will head home to face Southern Illinois on Saturday. After that they'll head on the road to face Washington on November 28th.

Texas 69, Mississippi State 55
Texas avoided the ignominy of finishing in last place in Maui with this win. Besides the fact that Mississippi State just isn't a good team, Texas was able to blow this game open with atypically hot shooting (10-for-18 behind the arc). Sheldon McClellan led the way, scoring 19 points on 4-for-5 three-point shooting. 22 turnovers are still a problem.

This win in no way salvages Maui for Texas. The losses to Chaminade and USC were embarrassing, and beating "Mississippi State" isn't nearly as impressive as it sounds this season. MSU is in total rebuilding mode and is going to be one of the worst BCS conference teams in the nation this season. They are still in a lot of danger of being dropped from my next BP68.

Texas does get to come back home for a couple of cupcakes next (you can also argue that 2012-13 Mississippi State is a "cupcake"). Their next competitive game will be December 4th against Georgetown. Mississippi State isn't going to win a lot of games this season, but one that they should win will be their next game, on Tuesday at home against Alcorn State, one of the worst teams in the nation. After that they'll be off to play at Providence on December 1st.

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