Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Morning News: Alabama Collapses, Northern Arizona Stuns St. Mary's, Luke Fischer's Debut, And Sherron Dorsey-Walker

Dick Vitale showed up in Wichita for a WSU/Alabama game on a Tuesday.
I think that program has arrived.

Wichita St Overcomes Alabama Late Alabama held a small lead for almost this entire game, and they opened it up to an 11 point lead with under 6 minutes to go. But down the stretch, Alabama went 0-for-4 from the field with 4 turnovers, allowing Wichita State to go on an 11-0 run to tie up the game.  And then, after Levi Randolph got fouled and hit 1-of-2 at the line, the Alabama defense totally fell apart and allowed Fred VanVleet to find Darius Carter for an easy basket, and then VanVleet's defense was a big reason why Alabama couldn't get a decent shot on the other end of the court.

This is the type of game that has become far too common in recent years for Alabama. They seemed to have this game in hand but just melted down late. Some of those turnovers were just absolutely unforced and dumb. And this team isn't bad, but they needed a win like this to put themselves into the bubble mix. In the end, it's just another missed opportunity during the Anthony Grant era.

Wichita State can't afford more than two or three losses all season long if they're going to earn a 1 or 2 seed in March. The Missouri Valley just doesn't offer enough quality victories. So this is the type of loss that could have easily lost them a full seed line if they hadn't come back.

Northern Arizona Stuns Saint Mary's This certainly came out of nowhere. Northern Arizona entered this game 1-5 against the Pomeroy Top 250. I couldn't find an official Vegas spread, but Pomeroy had it at 13 points and Sagarin had it at 14. And even when Northern Arizona led late in the first half and early into the second half it felt inevitable that St. Mary's would come back. But St. Mary's just struggled, and even after they went up by 4 with a minute to go, they were undone in the final minute by Quinton Upshur. He hit a three, and then when St. Mary's had one final chance to win the game in the closing seconds it was Upshur who stripped Aaron Bright and went the other way for the game-winning layup.

Kris Yanku's contested score, followed by Quinton Upshur's strip and score for the win.

St. Mary's already had something of a long shot for an at-large bid. Unless they won at St. John's on Friday they were going to have to be really dominant in conference play to get one. But perhaps they were looking ahead a little too much to that St. John's game. Now, they're going to need a couple of quality wins to wipe this loss away, including most likely at least one win over Gonzaga.

Luke Fischer Era Starts Well At Marquette This Marquette roster is light on depth and talent but all season long we'd talked about the talent coming in the form of Luke Fischer and their 2015 recruiting class. Their 2015 recruiting class won't arrive this season, of course, but Luke Fischer's season debut came last night. The Indiana transfer was immediately impressive, pouring in 19 points on 9-for-11 shooting with 9 rebounds and 5 blocks. And they annihilated a decent Arizona State team here, leading by as many as 21 points in the second half before cruising to the finish.

Is Marquette really going to be this much better the rest of the way? Well, don't overreact to single game samples. Fischer won't shoot 82% from the field the rest of the way, most likely. But this is an encouraging start. Unfortunately, they only play cupcakes until they open Big East play at DePaul on December 31st.

Arizona State is now 6-4, and while this is their worst loss they also don't have a single win over a likely RPI Top 100 opponent. They're not a bad team, but they're nowhere near the Tournament bubble either. They have an interesting home game in a couple of weeks against Harvard, so keep your eyes on that one.

Sherron Dorsey-Walker To Transfer Dorsey-Walker hadn't gotten on the floor much during his 1.5 seasons with Iowa State, so it's not a stunner that he's going to transfer out to try to find more playing time elsewhere. This shouldn't impact Iowa State too much this season, but he could be a valuable addition for a mid-major next season.

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