Thursday, November 20, 2014

Morning News: Creighton Stuns Oklahoma, Arizona Struggles, Wisconsin Rolls, And Arkansas Crushes Wake Forest

So this happened.

Creighton Stuns Oklahoma This game looked like it was going to be a rout. Oklahoma led by 18 points early in the second half. But a 21-2 run by Creighton totally turned this game around, in front of a raucous crowd in Omaha. This was a jump shooting game all night, with 101 of the 118 shots being jumpers. And this game turned around when the shooting turned around. After Oklahoma took that 18 point lead, Creighton hit six of their next seven three-pointers. Over the same stretch, Oklahoma missed five in a row.

Creighton's Toby Hegner got doused with beer on one of the goofier plays of the season.

In the end, Creighton only hit 8-for-26 from behind the arc, but that makes this win even more impressive. Not only did they collect a massive win to start off the post-Doug McDermott era, but they did it without fluky/goofy outside shooting. They played sound defensively, forcing Oklahoma away from the basket. The Sooners shot only 36.8% on two-pointers.

Oklahoma will get a quick chance for redemption. They head out next week to the Battle 4 Atlantis, which has a filthy good field. They'll open against UCLA, and then will play either North Carolina or Butler in their second game.

Arizona Struggles With UC Irvine The final score of this game is very deceptive. UC Irvine grabbed a lead late in the first half, and held it for the majority of the second half. But a 15-0 Arizona run (during which UC Irvine had five turnovers) blew this game open, and led to the big gap in the final score. In the end, UC Irvine's undoing was a lack of perimeter scoring options. When things started to fall apart late in the second half, they had nobody to turn to in order to get a bucket.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had a nasty posterization of 7'6" Mamadou Ndiaye

UC Irvine is expected to be in a strong race with UC Santa Barbara for the top spot in the Big West. They weren't able to get a quality non-conference opponent onto their court this season, but this won't be their last chance for a good scalp away from home. Their next chance will be Sunday, at St. Mary's.

Should Arizona fans be concerned about their play in this game? Not yet. Every team is going to have some down games. Heck, Kentucky just went through this with Buffalo. So unless this becomes a regular occurrence, there's not a reason for Wildcat fans to worry.

Wisconsin Crushes Green Bay After annihilating a pair of cupcakes, Wisconsin took a step up in competition against Green Bay, a team projected by many to be the favorite in the Horizon League, with a future NBA player in Kiefer Sykes. And they crushed them. Wisconsin's offense is really good, and their front line is ridiculous. Frank Kaminsky had a dominant 20 points, 15 rebounds and 7 blocks, while Nigel Hayes hit a pair of threes en route to 25 points and 11 rebounds. And Sam Dekker is kind of good, too.

Wisconsin steps up in competition again next week, when they head out to the Battle 4 Atlantis. They're going to score on everybody, but what I want to see when they take on Top 25 competition for the first time this season will be their defense. Kiefer Sykes (20 points on 9-for-18 shooting) was able to carve up the Badgers defense here. Wisconsin is going to go as far as their defense takes them.

Green Bay didn't play poorly here, aside from their 2-for-12 three-point shooting. They just ran into a buzzsaw. They'll get a couple of games ahead against Georgia State, along with a game against Miami (Fl), as well as perhaps a game against UC Irvine (depending on how things go in Las Vegas). But in the end, their season will be defined by how they do in conference play.

Arkansas Crushes Wake Forest Wake Forest took a step up in talent after beating up a pair of cupcakes... and it didn't go well. They trailed by 20 points late in the first half, and by as many as 35 points in the second half. To have a blowout this bad, basically everything has to go wrong. Wake Forest shot 1-for-18 behind the arc, while Arkansas forced 13 steals. Probably the most amazing stat is that nobody on Arkansas scored more than 11 points. Six different players finished with either ten or eleven points.

As I always warn after results like this early in the season: Do not overreact. It's just one game. Wake Forest could come out on Friday and wipe the floor with Iona and get right back on a good path. Of course, if they lose to Iona also, this season could go into a tailspin pretty quickly.

Arkansas was a team I thought would be an at-large team preseason, but Mike Anderson didn't do a good job putting together a non-conference schedule. The only realistic RPI Top 50 team coming to their home court will be Dayton. They'll also head on the road to face Iowa State and SMU. The SMU game is coming up on Tuesday. With SMU short-handed, that's a very winnable game for the Razorbacks.

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