Friday, November 25, 2011

Marshall Upsets Cincinnati

Marshall 73, Cincinnati 69, OT
Marshall trailed by nine points in the second half here, in a true road game at Cincinnati, but were able to shoot themselves to a very nice win. Damier Pitts led Marshall with 19 points, but the most important contributor to the win was probably Dennis Tinnon, who had 15 points and 14 rebounds, including six offensive rebounds (compared to 11 offensive rebounds for the entire Cincinnati team). This win, in Marshall's first game against a quality opponent this season, allows them to throw their name into the hat as the potential second best team in Conference USA. Memphis is obviously the class of the conference, but Marshall and UCF have been the best of the rest so far. Tulsa, UAB and Southern Miss are the other potential contenders to finish second in the conference.

This loss continues a very disappointing start for Cincinnati. This could potentially end up a "bad" loss, and their loss to Presbyterian is definitely a bad loss. And they don't have any wins against quality opponents yet. Their next game will be on Tuesday against Miami-Ohio. They also have games against Xavier, Georgia and Oklahoma before starting conference play.

#12 Xavier 70, Georgia 56
This was a dominating win for Xavier, even if the final score doesn't indicate it. Xavier actually led by 36 points with nine minutes to go, and simply allowed Georgia to go on a run in garbage time to make the final score more respectable. Their dominance was clearly on the defensive end, as Georgia couldn't get anything going while Xavier was still exerting effort. Even with those garbage points, Georgia finished with a 38.4 eFG%. They scored a grand total of 27 points in the first 31 minutes of the game. If there's a silver lining for Georgia it's the continued development of star freshman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who led all Bulldogs with 14 points, and who still hasn't been held to single-digit scoring in any game in his entire collegiate career.

Xavier is now 4-0, though this is their first win against a quality opponent. Their schedule gets really tough really quick, however. Their next four opponents are Vanderbilt, Purdue, Butler and Cincinnati, and they still have games against Gonzaga and Long Beach State (and perhaps two other quality teams at the Diamond Head Classic) before beginning conference play.

Georgia does have that four point win over Notre Dame, but that's going to look less impressive in March since Tim Abromaitis just had his season ended by an ACL injury. Their two other games against quality opponents (California and Xavier) have both been blowout losses. Their next game is on Monday at Colorado, a team that has really struggled to start this season. Their next game after that will be against Cincinnati.

Wichita State 68, UAB 46
UAB's offensive woes, particularly in terms of shooting the ball, continued here. They came into this game having scored only 0.94 points per possession for the season. That average actually dropped here after they finished with a 33.0 eFG% and 16 turnovers. By my calculation they finished with 0.69 points per possession in this game. Cameron Moore scored 18 points here, and he's actually been pretty efficient offensively, but that's it. Mike Davis just doesn't have players that can put the ball in the hoop.

Wichita State, with their balanced attack, will be happy to be the beneficiary of UAB's offensive troubles. Coming off tough losses to Alabama and Temple, they just needed to get back on a winning streak. Wichita State will play Cal State Fullerton on Thursday, and then has three quality opponents in a row (UNLV, Tulsa and Utah State).

UAB is now 1-3 without a single quality win. Conference USA hasn't looked particularly strong in the early going this season, but none of the top teams preseason are struggling as badly as UAB is. They will try to bounce back on Sunday against Tennessee-Martin, and then will play at South Alabama on Wednesday.

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