Saturday, December 03, 2011

Peyton Siva Drives Louisville Past Vanderbilt

#6 Louisville 62, #19 Vanderbilt 60, OT
Louisville should have been a bad match-up for Vanderbilt, and I was impressed that the Commodores played well enough to lead for most of the second half. But they couldn't quite pull off the upset, and Peyton Siva drove for the winning basket in the final seconds of overtime. Louisville doesn't get a lot of offense from their front court, so the fact that Festus Ezeli was missing shouldn't have been a big factor, although he certainly would have helped on defensive rotations whenever Siva beat his man off the dribble. But I thought Louisville would cause problems with their full court press that tends to give teams without real point guards (like Vanderbilt) particular trouble. Committing 16 turnovers and allowing seven steals was an impressive performance for Vanderbilt, all things considered.

John Jenkins (27 points on 9-for-15 shooting) had his best game of the season, and credit goes to the entire Vanderbilt perimeter defense, which had played poorly of late but showed up here. But in the end, this has to go down as a moral victory, and Vanderbilt falls to a disappointing 5-3, with a loss to Cleveland State along with wins over Oregon, NC State and Oregon State. They will play at Davidson on Wednesday, and then at home against Indiana State on December 17th. It's unlikely that Ezeli will be back for the Indiana State game, but Vanderbilt is hopeful to have him back for their next quality game after that, on December 29th at Marquette.

Louisville moves to 7-0, with this win as well as victories over Long Beach State, Butler and Ohio. It's not the most impressive resume, but they've looked good in collecting those wins and are definitely a contender to win the Big East. They have a couple of easy games up next before playing Memphis on December 17th.

Cincinnati 57, Georgia 51
Georgia was up by 11 points early in the second half and looked to have this game under control at home, but they just melted down in the second half. Their offense is so inconsistent that they can really go long stretches without getting a good shot. They have a lot of talent and athleticism, but that only gets you so far if you can't execute with the ball. What they need right now is a go-to scorer that they can lean on when they need a basket, and I think that eventually that's going to be Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, but as a true freshman he's just not ready yet for that kind of role. His 13 points paced Georgia in the first half of this game, but he was held scoreless in the second half until he hit what was essentially a meaningless three-pointer in the final seconds.

Cashmere Wright is the best player on Cincinnati, but I was very impressed with Sean Kilpatrick in this game. The sophomore had 22 points on 7-for-15 shooting, and he did a really good job of attacking the basket throughout the second half. And this was a game that Cincinnati really needed to win. They entered this game with zero quality wins, and losses to Presbyterian and Marshall. They have a chance to get their season back on track next Saturday, if they can upset Xavier in a true road game. After that, a road game at Wright State and a home game against Oklahoma State will be their two remaining competitive games before beginning Big East play.

Georgia is 4-4, though against a tougher schedule than Cincinnati has faced. A loss to Colorado is their only weak loss, and they have a win over Notre Dame. They will play rival Georgia Tech on Wednesday, and then head to USC on December 17th. They have a few cupcakes coming up after that, but they can't really afford to fall below .500 if they want to stay in Tournament contention.

Seton Hall 81, Auburn 59
Auburn isn't a good team, and I don't think anybody thought they'd win at Seton Hall, but it's worth noting the impressive way that Seton Hall thumped them. They dominated the boards, took care of the ball and shot well. Nobody typified this all-around performance better than Jordan Theodore, who despite shooting 0-for-6 from the field made his presence felt with 10 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals. Kevin Willard's 2011 recruiting class is starting to contribute as well, as Aaron Cosby scored 13 and had 4 rebounds and 3 assists.

Prior to this game, Seton Hall had beaten VCU and St. Joseph's, but neither win was in such a dominating matter. Their one loss was to Northwestern. Their only remaining quality opponents out-of-conference are Wake Forest and Dayton, so they're going to need to pick up a couple of upsets of top ranked teams in conference play if they're going to have a shot at an at-large Tournament bid.

Auburn is 4-1, but they haven't beaten any team remotely near a quality opponent. They will play South Florida on Wednesday, and then a game on January 4th against Florida State. I'm not sure why Tony Barbee scheduled such a soft non-conference slate. It's not like they're going to be playing for an at-large bid. Maybe he just wanted to keep their confidence up.

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