Sunday, November 27, 2011

UConn Gets Past Florida State In Overtime

#4 UConn 78, #20 Florida State 76, OT
The story in this game was, without question, Ryan Boatright. The true freshman had been suspended for the first six games of the season, but looked like a veteran here in his first ever collegiate game. He scored 14 points, but none were bigger than the three free throws he hit to tie up the game with seven seconds to go in regulation after being fouled while taking a three-pointer. It was a very soft foul call, and FSU fans will feel like the refs robbed them here, but you have to give Boatright credit for walking to the line and nailing three straight free throws with the game on the line. Florida State had plenty of chances to push this game to a second overtime, but just couldn't convert. They trailed by two with a minute to go in overtime, and UConn didn't score a point the rest of the way, but the Seminoles failed to score while missing three shots from the field and a pair at the line. Once again their offense let their defense down.

If there's a concern for UConn it's that in the clutch the primary ball handler was Shabazz Napier, and Lamb wasn't getting enough of the ball. Jeremy Lamb is the best player on UConn, not Napier, and so it's a problem when Napier is using twice as many possessions as Lamb. But a win over Florida State is a very nice win, and partially makes up for that bizarre loss to UCF. The Huskies return home to play a series of quality opponents, though UConn should be solid favorites for every one of them. Arkansas is up first, next Saturday. A game against Harvard on December 8th should be fun considering the fact that Harvard just won this tournament.

Florida State looks more and more like what they've been the past few seasons. Their defense is tremendous, and will be almost impossible to attack all season long, but their offense is just too flawed and inconsistent. They don't have enough guys that can make their own shot, or that can hit open shots if given them. I don't feel confident that any of them can hit an open jumper. I do think they're the third best team in the ACC, but I don't think they've got the go-to scorer they'd need to challenge Duke and North Carolina atop the conference.

Hofstra 63, Cleveland State 53
Cleveland State struggled with the aggressive play of Hofstra all night. Hofstra dominated the boards (a 47.8 OR% compared to a 15.4 OR% for Cleveland State). Hofstra shot 12-for-21 from the field in the second half, which sounds on paper like they got hot shooting the ball, when in fact ten of the 12 made baskets were layups or dunks. Hofstra just wanted this game more than Cleveland State did, and earned a huge win because of that.

Hofstra came into this game without a quality win, and with losses to Florida Atlantic, Oregon State and Rhode Island. Hofstra will next play Boston University, later today. Their toughest game before beginning conference play will be Iona on December 29th.

This is a disappointing loss for Cleveland State, particularly if they want to make a run at an at-large bid. This will likely be an RPI 100+ loss, and they don't have a lot of opportunities for good wins. They do have wins over Vanderbilt and Kent State, but they don't have much left on their schedule. They will play Rhode Island later today. Their next game after that will be a true road game at Wright State on Thursday.

St. Joseph's 65, Penn State 47
This was not Penn State's day. They shot 4-for-38 in the first half, and trailed by 23 at the half. They actually played respectably in the second half, but it was far too large of a deficit to overcome. They don't have the firepower to come from a 23 point deficit against anybody. This was actually a game that St. Joe's was supposed to win. I don't think St. Joe's is likely to make the NCAA Tournament, but they're still better than Penn State this season. This win comes along with wins over Georgia Tech and Tulsa, as well as losses to Iona and Seton Hall (both teams that are likely to finish in the RPI Top 100).

St. Joe's has a tough game coming up on Wednesday against Drexel, and another one a week later at Boston University. If they are going to get in the Bubble discussion, those are games that they really have to win. Penn State, of course, isn't thinking about the Bubble. They're just trying to get better. They actually have a pretty fair match-up in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge - they will be at Boston College on Wednesday. It's a game I'd actually give the narrow edge to Penn State in.

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