Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Arizona With An Underrated Win At New Mexico State

Arizona 83, New Mexico State 76
Even if the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and Duke/Ohio State weren't going on simultaneous to this game, it still wouldn't have gotten much attention nationally. But this was a really nice win. This game was a true road contest against a team that had already beaten New Mexico and UTEP this season, and whose only loss was in two overtimes against Southern Miss in Alaska.

That said, the struggles of Kevin Parrom (only four points scored in 15 minutes per game this season) have to be a concern for the Wildcats. There's no shame in struggling to get back after being shot, and after everything else that happened to Parrom during the offseason, but it makes you wonder if he'll ever get back this season to where he was. When Parrom's not playing, Sean Miller generally goes with a three guard lineup, without any true big man. It makes them very small, and they struggle on the boards (New Mexico State had a ridiculous 18 offensive rebounds in this game). This will be an issue against teams like Stanford and California that are good at rebounding the ball.

Coming off close losses to San Diego State and Mississippi State, Arizona needed this win. They've got wins over St. John's and Duquesne to go with this one. What they could really use is a high profile victory, and they'll get that chance on Wednesday when they head to Florida. They will also play Clemson and Gonzaga before starting Pac-12 play on New Year's Eve against Arizona State.

New Mexico State, believe it or not, is a very plausible Bubble team. They've got tremendous size and athleticism for a WAC team. Even quality BCS conference teams, like Arizona, have been unable to keep them off the offensive boards and off the free throw line. I still think Utah State is the favorite in the WAC this season, but New Mexico State is clearly the top contender. According to New Mexico State's schedule online (here), they are scheduled to play New Mexico and Southern Miss again. Seems kind of bizarre... but so be it. The Southern Miss game is up next, on Sunday.

Purdue 76, Miami (Fl) 65
Purdue is a team that is clearly much better and deeper in the backcourt than the front court. Miami tried to match up with this, often playing with four guards, but they still couldn't keep up. Purdue's guards torched Miami and got to the rim at will, as the Boilermakers shot 71% on two-pointers and earned 29 free throw attempts (a FTA/FGA ratio of 62%). I rated Purdue preseason higher than most other bloggers and writers, and the biggest reason was because I loved the backcourt players they returned. They have great skill and athleticism, but also great depth. I thought they might end up being the best backcourt in the entire Big Ten. This was the best they've looked all season so far.

This game was always going to be a reach for Miami. It's their second straight loss, but both losses have been true road games against quality opponents (the other loss was against Ole Miss). They return home to play UMass on Saturday, and then Memphis on Tuesday. Purdue is in a better situation. They're 7-1 with wins over Temple, Iona and now Miami, with only a close loss to Alabama. They have a tough true road game coming up on Saturday at Xavier. If they can somehow win that then they'll be in excellent shape heading into Big Ten play. A game against Butler on December 17th is the only other potentially tough game they'll have out-of-conference.

Clemson 71, Iowa 55
This game was never particularly close. Clemson was up by 14 points at the half and led by 26 late in the second half before Iowa went on a run with the scrubs on the floor. In Iowa's defense, this blowout was more about Clemson shooting the lights out (11-for-21 on threes) than anything else. Clemson's defense did a really good job of not allowing Iowa any easy shots, too. They were the better team on the floor.

It's been a frustrating start to the season for Iowa. This is the third time this season that a team has gone nuts from behind the arc against them (an eFG% of 62% or greater), and the other two games were losses as well (against Creighton and against Campbell). I doubt they'll continue to allow an eFG% of greater than 62% in half of their games, but at some point a fluke becomes a trend. Iowa's perimeter defense needs to get better. They play Brown on Saturday and then head to Northern Iowa for a game on Tuesday.

This is Clemson's best win of the season. With losses to Charleston and Coastal Carolina, they obviously haven't put together a Tournament quality resume so far. A game at Arizona on December 10th is their only real chance for a big time win outside of conference play. Without a win there, it's hard to see them making the NCAA Tournament with anything less than a 10-6 ACC record considering the fact that the conference is down this year.

1 comment:

Tom said...

Definitely a solid win. It was only a matter of time before Miller more or less gave up on Kryrl entirely, and Jesse Perry and Solomon Hill are aggressive enough on the board that UA can get by with a 3-guard lineup more often than not. Eventually Angelo Chol will hopefully provide some size. That said, Nick Johnson is an absolute stud, and Turner seems to be figuring it out, though he's still kind of out of control. If those two can really get going Arizona could have a really good year.