Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Morning News: Kansas Wins A Thriller, Georgetown Smokes Villanova, Texas/TCU And Albany/Stony Brook

Have to agree with JTIII here.

Kansas Wins A Thriller Over Oklahoma This game seemed over... twice. Kansas hit their first eight three-pointers of the game, opening up a 36-16 lead, and they led by 19 points at halftime. But Oklahoma reversed things in the second half, jumping out to a 32-9 run to grab a 4 point lead, and making Kansas look dead in the water. But Kansas showed fire down the stretch, particularly with aggressive work on the glass by Perry Ellis and Cliff Alexander, and they managed to escape with the victory. But this game truly was a game of two halves, and it's why crafting narratives about focus/effort/preparation in the first half of games will tend to make you look stupid:
It's hard to know what to make of these two teams after this wild game. But in general, the smart play is not to overreact to stretches of poor play in Big 12 play. The conference is so deep this season that absolutely every team is going to look bad at times. I've predicted for a while that every team will lose at least five games. Killing teams after every loss is dumb.

Kansas is, of course, the champ until they are knocked off. They have dominated the Big 12 for decades, or so it seems. This win pushes them to 4-1, though with a tough road game at Texas up next. Surely they have already circled February 2nd on their calendar, because that's their rematch with Iowa State.

Oklahoma has had a rollercoaster ride of a Big 12 season so far. They whipped Oklahoma State and Texas, got whipped by West Virginia, had a disastrous loss to Kansas State and then this insanity in Allen Fieldhouse. Their defense is consistently great, but their offense can be inconsistent. They were getting similar shots in the first and second halves here, but they were all clanking off the rim in the first half and going in during the second half. That inconsistency seems likely to continue. They don't have long to lick their wounds because they head on the road next to face Baylor on Saturday.

Georgetown Smokes Villanova It seemed as though the only real hope for a competitive Big East title race was for Georgetown to knock Villanova off here. And they did, in style. Georgetown led by as many as 23 points in the first half and were never at all threatened in the second half. They shut off easy offense options for Villanova, holding them to just 10 paint points and 2 fast break points.Villanova has now finished with an eFG% under 43.0% and fewer than 0.90 PPP twice, and those were their two losses.

This win was necessary but not sufficient for a competitive Big East race. Villanova is still the heavy favorite. They're just 4-2 but are on the way into an awfully soft stretch of schedule. Don't be surprised if they start a fairly long winning streak.

This win will, for the time being, pull Georgetown off the tourney bubble. They need to get to 11-7 in Big East play to be confident of an at-large bid, though even at 10-8 they'll be in decent shape. They're now 5-2 with a road game at Marquette up next.

Texas Handles TCU TCU's return to reality after their 13-0 start has been quick but merciless. The Texas defense frustrated TCU's offense all evening, and the Horned Frogs finished with just 0.76 PPP. Texas blocked 9 shots and held TCU to just 10-for-23 shooting on layups.

Texas is now 3-2 in Big 12 play and over the next week will get a chance to make themselves the Big 12 favorites again. They'll take on Kansas at home an then Iowa State on the road. TCU, on the other hand, is now 1-4 in Big 12 play with a filthy upcoming schedule (at West Virginia, vs Kansas, at Iowa State, at Baylor). Things are going to get worse before they get better.

Albany Surges Past Stony Brook Albany started the season 2-6, including an ugly home loss to Holy Cross, and looking nothing at all like a contender in the America East Conference. But they've won 8 of 9 since, including this awfully impressive road win at Stony Brook. Stony Brook's problem here, as it has often been, was shooting. They dominated the glass, as they always do, but they had a 35.6 eFG%. For the season they are now 0-6 when their eFG% is under 43% and 10-2 when it's better than 43%.

Stony Brook is now two games in the standings behind Albany and Vermont, thoroughly throwing the conference race into disarray. Vermont beat Stony Brook at home, though they still have the return trip on February 7th. Albany won here, but it's just a 40 minute sample size. Both Sagarin and Pomeroy still rate Stony Brook as the best team in the league, though the gap has obviously closed over the last few weeks. This three-team race could come down to the final week.

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