Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Miami Finally Loses

Boston College 61, Miami (Fl) 60
Miami finally loses after that 8-0 start, but it's hard to get too down on them for this one. After getting off to a really sluggish start they got right back into things with a 19-3 second half run, and in the end it came down to a few shots in the final minute that just didn't go their way. Malcolm Grant has only started two of Miami's nine games, but considering that he was the only Hurricanes player to score in double digits, he might see more chances to start. Miami now gets several cream puffs before they have to play another ACC game. They'll have a great chance of going 14-0 in their out-of-conference games. Only one of those wins is over a good opponent (Minnesota), but you can't ignore that type of a record. If they can go just 8-8 in the ACC that would make them 22-8. As for Boston College, it's got to be encouraging to hold off a good Miami team in a game when Joe Trapani went 1-for-13 from the field, and the team as a whole went 3-for-18 from behind the arc. They might not shoot this poorly again all season. They're now 6-2 with wins over Providence, Michigan and Miami, and no really bad losses, which is a decent start. I'm curious to see what happens in that December 13th match-up with Rhode Island.

#19 Clemson 72, South Carolina 61
South Carolina actually played fairly well in this game, but they're just not as good as Clemson is. Brandis Raley-Ross has really improved over his four seasons, and his good game helped make up for something of a down night for Devan Downey. But they needed to play on all cylinders to beat Clemson. Clemson has a really nice backcourt with Tanner Smith and Demontez Stitt, and with Noel Johnson coming off the bench. Their sharp three-point shooting here is a good start, but they're going to have to show that consistently to force defenses to guard more of the floor. It's still really clear that defenses are taking advantage of the loss of Terrence Oglesby to clamp down on Trevor Booker inside, who is clearly down in production compared to last season. Clemson's now has a bunch of cream puffs before they play at Duke on January 3rd. They actually have both of their Duke games, as well as their only game against North Carolina, before January 20th. Certainly a bizarre ACC schedule, and you have to wonder if the creampuffs they're playing for almost the entire month of December will soften them up for those huge match-ups. Looking at South Carolina, they're now 6-2 with losses against the only two good teams they've played. But they get a nice chance to bounce back on December 16th against Richmond, and also play at Boston College, and at home against Baylor before SEC play begins. Although in the SEC East they will have plenty of chances to collect Top 25 scalps, as they'll get home and road games against Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Florida.

Oklahoma 79, Arizona 62
Arizona actually shot pretty well in their first true road game under Sean Miller. They hit 9-for-17 from behind the arc, but 16 turnovers (compared to only 7 for Oklahoma) did them in. They also struggled to defend Oklahoma's frontcourt players, which isn't a surprise when you consider how small Arizona's lineup is. For Arizona, they're entering a danger zone now that they're 3-4 overall. Sean Miller needs to keep his team on the Tournament bubble or he risks having his young players lose focus and confidence. And they don't have much of a breather: after playing Louisiana Tech they head to San Diego State, and two games later they play NC State, and then BYU to end their out-of-conference schedule. They have very few easy games, and Arizona might be in the vicinity of a .500 record for this entire season. As for Oklahoma, it's encouraging to see three players in double-digits not named Willie Warren. Warren is one of the best players in the Big 12, but he's going to need help if the Sooners are going to contend for one of the top spots in the conference. They're now 5-3 with wins over Arkansas and Arizona to go with losses against VCU, San Diego and Houston. Not exactly a very impressive resume so far. But the year is young, and they'll have plenty of chances to get good wins in the Big 12. I think that they're better than their record indicates, although not too much better. Their next test is Saturday afternoon at Utah.

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