Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Morning News: Oklahoma Steals A Win, Georgia Loses Again, Texas A&M Shuts Down LSU, And More

Oklahoma Steals A Win Texas looked to be in control of this game. They led almost the entire second half and still led by 6 points with 3:20 to go. But they wouldn't hit another shot the rest of the game until a meaningless shot at the buzzer. Oklahoma went on a quick 10-0 run, during which Texas was struggling to even inbound the ball.

Poor Myles Turner had another really good game for naught, pouring in 17 points on 5-for-9 shooting with 10 rebounds and 6 blocks in only 24 minutes. Turner has quietly had a really good season. If Turner was playing for a team like Duke or Kentucky he'd be getting hype for best freshman in the nation, if not National Player of the Year. I'm not saying he will deserve the hype, but neither does Willie Cauley-Stein, and Cauley-Stein gets plenty. Turner will be a really good NBA player some day. But for now, his Texas Longhorns have to take care of Iowa State at home on Saturday or an at-large bid suddenly becomes a real concern.

Oklahoma kept alive their slim hopes for a share of the Big 12 regular season title with this win. Realistically they're going to have to win out to do it, but even if they don't they're still likely going to end up somewhere between a 3 and 5 seed on Selection Sunday.

Georgia Loses Again Georgia was firmly in the Field of 68 a week ago, but they've now lost consecutive home games to Auburn and South Carolina. In their defense, the South Carolina loss isn't nearly as bad as it seems. South Carolina has had really bad luck in close games (3-7 in games decided by six points or less before this one). But the Selection Committee won't understand that - they'll see that this was a home loss to a team barely inside the RPI Top 100.

Georgia was basically sleepwalking to start this game. They actually trailed 34-13 at one point. They fought back to within two points a couple of times, but never got any closer. And now they're just 7-6 in SEC play with an RPI that has slipped from around 20th to 42nd in a week. They lack a win over a team in the RPI Top 25, so they're not going to get the benefit of the doubt on Selection Sunday if they're right on the bubble.

If Georgia beats Kentucky, which they absolutely can, then we can throw all the numbers from the previous paragraph out the window. But if they don't, they're going to be in trouble if they don't get to 10-8 in SEC play, which means at most one more non-Kentucky regular season loss. They've got difficult road games at Alabama and Ole Miss up next, so it's going to be an uphill battle.

Texas A&M Shuts Down LSU In The Second Half This was a crucial home game for Texas A&M to take care of business in to make the NCAA Tournament, and they got off to a slow start. But they shut LSU down in the second half, holding them to just 9-for-27 shooting from the field and 0.76 PPP. The 0.94 PPP that LSU scored for the game made it their third worst offensive performance in SEC play this season.

LSU is 4-3 against the RPI Top 50, but that's deceptive as three of those four wins came over teams that could easily slip out of the Top 50 by Selection Sunday. They also have three RPI 100+ losses and their RPI has slid out to 54th. If the season ended now they'd likely be in the NIT. If they go 3-2 down the stretch to finish 10-8, they'll still need at least one win in the SEC tournament to earn an at-large bid. A home game against Florida on Saturday will be a crucial game to take care of business in.

Texas A&M is now 9-4 in SEC play and 35th in RPI, though they're an ugly 0-5 against the RPI Top 50. History says that RPI Top 40 teams from power conferences rarely miss out on an at-large bid (it only happens once every few years), but if a Power Five team 38th or 39th in RPI misses out on the Tourney this year then Texas A&M has the perfect resume for it. Also, they have a really tough remaining schedule that includes road games at South Carolina, Arkansas and Florida. So at this point, it's still pretty hard to project Texas A&M as a Tourney team.

Georgetown Rolls St. John's This game was never particularly competitive. Georgetown had a 10 point halftime lead that they pushed to 18 early in the second half, which St. John's never got back to single figures. It was an extremely balanced effort from Georgetown, with five different players tying for the team lead with 12 points. D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera nearly pulled off a triple double, with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists.

This loss snaps a three-game winning streak for St. John's. They're 6-7 in Big East play with a 7-7 record against the RPI Top 100 and an RPI sitting at 45th. Even without a big scalp, St. John's would likely be in the NCAA Tournament if the season ended now, and they should be in pretty good shape if they go 3-2 down the stretch to finish 9-9. They'll be in trouble if they fall to 8-10, though.

Georgetown would have to lose out to have any chance of missing the NCAA Tournament... and even if they lost every game between now and Selection Sunday they'd still probably get in. They're just playing for seed.

Chris Jones Suspended Chris Jones hasn't had the best season, to say the least. He is a talented player and he's a strong defender, but he leads the nation in terrible shot selection. It seems like every time Louisville has a bad game, Chris Jones shows up in the box score with a 3-for-13 shooting day. But the Cardinals lack scoring depth, so if Jones can get his act together before March then this team does still have Final Four potential.

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