Sunday, November 21, 2010

California Dominates New Mexico

California 89, New Mexico 64
After how strong New Mexico had looked in a blowout victory of Arizona State, this was a pretty surprising result. And this final score was no fluke: California earned 12 extra shots from the field, and also got better shots that were closer to the basket (New Mexico took 37% of their shots behind the arc, hit 35% of their two-point attempts, and had ten assists; for California, those numbers were 33%, 61% and 18). With such a senior-heavy team last season, California was going to need a whole bunch of good new players to succeed, and so far they've had that. Jorge Gutierrez is scoring 19.0 points per game so far this season after averaging 5.5 per game last season, and Cal's other two stars in this game (Harper Kamp and Gary Franklin) didn't even play on the team last season. Franklin is a freshman, and Kamp redshirted last season while recovering from an injury. We'll see if this result was a fluke or a trend next week at the Old Spice Classic, where they open up against Temple. As for New Mexico, it's fair to point out that their entire front line got into foul trouble in this game, which was a big reason that they couldn't get the ball into the paint. They still have that nice win over Arizona State, and have a few more decent opponents coming up in the next two weeks (San Diego, Southern Illinois, New Mexico State).

Georgia 61, Saint Louis 59

Saint Louis will get a little bit of slack from the Selection Committee if they get Kwamain Mitchell back for the spring semester, but there's only so much slack that can be given. The loss of Willie Reed is absolutely killing them on the boards, and the continued development of Rob Loe and Cory Remekun will be a big part of Saint Louis trying to save what originally looked to be a very promising season. The Billikens next play Tennessee State on Tuesday, and then play IUPUI on Saturday. As for Georgia, they are quietly off to a really strong start. They're 3-0 with wins over Colorado and Saint Louis, and they're still without their best player (Trey Thompkins), who could actually be back for their next game against Notre Dame on Thanksgiving, in the opening round of the Old Spice Classic. It's still early, but don't sleep on Georgia being a very realistic bubble team.

Indiana 67, Evansville 54
Speaking of sleeper teams, Indiana now has a double-digit over a Missouri Valley team to go with a 23 point win over Wright State. Maurice Creek looks to be almost back to 100%, leading the Hoosiers with 19 points and hitting all four of the team's three-pointers. They're usually a fairly good three-point shooting team, so that's something of a surprise. The Hoosiers will next be tested at Boston College on December 1st. As for Evansville, they were not expected to be a real factor in the Missouri Valley, and they haven't given any evidence yet that anybody was wrong about them. But it's got to be bothersome to Missouri Valley fans how poorly the conference is playing so far this season. Last decade, when the Missouri Valley was in its glory years, even the teams near the bottom of the conference were at least fiesty out-of-conference. In 2005-06, for example, Drake finished 7th out of 10 teams with a 5-13 conference record, but still was ranked among the Top 150 teams in the nation by Sagarin and Pomeroy, and beat Detroit and TCU and only lost by five points to an Iowa team that ended up earning a 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. This year the majority of the Missouri Valley has just been just rolling over against quality teams, like Evansville did here.

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