Sunday, January 13, 2013

Texas A&M Upsets Kentucky Behind Elston Turner's 40

Texas A&M 83, Kentucky 71
Obviously the SEC is very down this season (it's the weakest of the six BCS conferences), and this game was going up against playoff NFL football, so I understand why nobody paid attention. But Elston Turner had one of the most amazing individual performances of the season, and delivered one of the biggest upsets of the week. Kentucky is a very underrated team - even after this loss they're still 17th in Pomeroy and 20th in the Sagarin PREDICTOR. Kentucky was a 15 point favorite in Vegas. Yet Turner won this game almost singlehandedly, scoring 40 points on 14-for-19 shooting from the field.

The silver lining for Kentucky was a really nice performance from Nerlens Noel (15 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 7 blocks and 4 steals). But it's not a good sign when your center leads your team in assists. Point guard play continues to be a problem for Kentucky. Harrow had 2 assists to 5 turnovers here. Kyle Wiltjer also had an invisible game, taking only two shots and failing to score in 19 minutes.

Kentucky's resume thus far is pretty poor. They are 10-5 overall and 1-1 in conference play, with a win over Maryland to go with this bad loss to Texas A&M. They'd be a bubble team if the season ended now. But the season isn't ending now, and it's pretty obvious that they're a lot better than their record. And while it's bizarre to live in a world where Kentucky is underrated (since they're one of the most reliably overrated teams year after year), it's true. They should be fine. They'll play Tennessee on Tuesday, and then on the road at Auburn on Saturday.

The Aggies are off to a quick 2-0 start to SEC play, and 12-3 overall, with this win along with a bad loss to Southern. If they can get to 10-8 in SEC play then they'll probably be on the bubble, which isn't that much out of reach at this point. They need to go 8-8 the rest of the way. Their next week is very tough - they'll play Florida on Thursday and then on the road at Alabama on Saturday - but their schedule will ease up after that.

Ole Miss 64, #10 Missouri 49
Ole Miss is a team that the computers have loved all season, but they hadn't really showed it against a quality opponent. They finally did here, running Missouri out of the gym. This wasn't an upset - Missouri is overrated by the polls and was an underdog here - but it was impressive to see Ole Miss completely shut down the Tigers.

Ole Miss has only allowed 2 of their 15 opponents this season to score 1.00 PPP, and Missouri was held to a season-worst 0.73 PPP. To be fair, Missouri only hit 2-for-18 behind the arc, so that was a little good luck for the Rebels. But the Rebels also forced 19 turnovers (including 13 steals), and did a good job keeping Missouri off the offensive glass. Offensively, Murphy Holloway led the way for Ole Miss, scoring 22 points on 8-for-12 shooting.

The biggest reason why Ole Miss has been under the radar this season is because their non-conference schedule was a joke. They only played one team in the RPI Top 150, and it was their SEC/Big East Challenge game, which wasn't terribly difficult anyway (at home against Rutgers). So with a down SEC, the pressure is on to get big wins in conference play just to secure an NCAA Tournament bid. This win is one of several quality victories that they'll need. They'll next play on the road, at Tuesday at Vanderbilt. After that they'll play Arkansas, Tennessee and Auburn before getting their first shot at Kentucky and Florida.

Mizzou is still in a good position after this loss. they are 12-3 with wins over VCU, Illinois and Bucknell, and zero bad losses. Their Sagarin ELO_SCORE is 28th. Even in a down SEC, they should be able to lock up an NCAA Tournament bid if they get to 10-8. They'll play next on Wednesday, against Georgia.

Temple 64, Saint Louis 54
Road rims were unkind for St. Louis. They shot 4-for-21 behind the arc, Temple's defense isn't as good as it's often been in recent years, but it's still pretty good. If you're not hitting jump shots against them you're in trouble. Khalif Wyatt and Anthony Lee both scored 20+ to lead Temple. Big man Rob Loe was the one St. Louis player to score efficiently, putting up 17 points on 7-for-11 shooting.

This is a nice bounce-back win for Temple after a pair of losses. It moves them to 1-1 in A-10 play with an easy part of their schedule upcoming. They'll play at George Washington Wednesday, followed by St. Bonaventure on Saturday.

St. Louis has their nine game winning streak snapped here. They are 12-4 overall and 1-1 in the A-10 with a win over New Mexico along with potentially bad losses to Santa Clara and Washington. They'd probably be NIT-bound if the season ended now, but they'll be in good shape if they can get to 10-6 in conference play. They have an easy stretch coming up, with a home game against Rhode Island on Saturday, followed by road games at Duquesne and St. Bonaventure.

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