Thursday, February 9, 2012

2/9: College Hoops takes the Lead...

Greetings everyone...
  • Duke 85, North Carolina 84 - This was an absolutely wild basketball game. Duke led a lot early, but faltered late in the first half to be down 3 at halftime, and never led again until Austin Rivers' monster three went through the rim as the buzzer sounded. The Heels led by double-digits for much of the second half, and it wasn't until a furious late run by Duke that we got here. Austin Rivers led the way for the Devils with 29 points on 9 of 16, featuring 6 threes including the absolute dagger over a curiously detached Tyler Zeller in the final seconds. No real excuse for Zeller (who had a big game with 23 and 11) to have his hands down and playing 3 feet off the scorching hot Rivers as the clock ticked down, but that was it, and Rivers buried it. For UNC, you have to be encouraged by the play of Harrison Barnes (25 points) who took over at times, John Henson (the quietest 17 rebounds of all-time), and Zeller, but their lack of depth in the backcourt screams out sometimes, and their inability to stretch defenses (Duke hit 14 threes, UNC hit 1) was the difference. Another fantastic episode between these two.
  • In the other two monster matchups, Syracuse outlasted Georgetown 64-61 in overtime thanks to a big-time three by Kris Joseph that proved to be the difference. Joseph led all scorers with 29 points in a game that featured both teams shooting sub-35% from the field, and struggling offensively throughout. And in the Big 12, Kansas blitzed Baylor 68-54 behind a career-high 25 from Jeff Withey and a ho-hum 15/11 from T-Rob. Baylor led by as many as 10 in the first half at home, but this one got away from them in a hurry and they couldn't get Perry Jones going at all (5 points on 1-8 shooting).
  • In the association, the lead story IMO is Orlando going bombs away on Miami last night. The Magic beat the Heat 102-89 on the back of 17 made threes (and a crazy 42 attempts to set a franchise record), and it was clear that they made the concerted effort to get as many shots from range up as possible against Miami, who "leads" the league in 3-pointers allowed. Oh, did I mention that Dwight Howard scored 25 points and grabbed 24 ridiculous rebounds? THAT'S how you can afford to take 42 threes. On Miami's side, they got 33 from Wade, but Lebron was off (5 of 15, 17 points, 10 assists), and the majority of their supporting guys had rough nights.
  • NBA Box Score Check - Jeremy Lin had 23 points and 10 assists last night in the Knicks win over the hapless Wizards. I don't know how long this will last for Knicks fans, but enjoy it while it lasts. When it happens, I have to give credit to Josh Smith, and that's what I'll do this morning. Smiff (two "f"s) finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds to go along with 5 steals and 3 blocks to lead the Hawks over the Pacers 97-87 last night. There were still entirely too many jumpers/threes (eight in total), but Smith converted on both 3-point attempts and 4 of the total 8 jumpers to salvage the night. The other bright spot for ATL was the play of Kirk Hinrich who played his best ball since returning from injury last night, shooting 7 of 9 for 17 points, and going +12 to Teague's -2 on the night. The Cavs beat the Clippers at home 99-92. Not a total shock, right? How about if I told you that Kyrie Irving didn't play and Ramon Sessions went off? Ok then. The Tony Parker for All-Star Campaign is in full effect as the always underrated Frenchman went off last night in Philly for 37 points to key the Spurs to an impressive road win. Tim Duncan chipped in with 16 and 11 as well, but Parker's play was impressive. It's nice to see the real Dirk Nowitzki standing up for Dallas. Dirk had 25 points (11 of 20) and 9 boards to lead Dallas over Denver in Denver last night. Welcome back. And finally, Houston got a huge explosion from their bench to go into Portland and win in the Rose Garden. Chase Budinger (22 points), Courtney Lee (16 pts), Goran Dragic (10 pts), and Patrick Patterson (11 points) keyed the win for Houston.

What to watch for on Thursday...

  • NBA - Lakers @ Celtics - TNT 8:00 - This game would've been a lot more hyped a month ago, but since both teams have settled into that "playoff threat but average regular season team" thing, it's not going to generate the same buzz.
  • NBA - Thunder @ Kings - TNT 10:30 - The Kings are on national TV? What? Could they not put the Clippers on for the 1,456th time this year?
  • NCAAB - #13 St. Mary's @ Gonzaga - ESPN2 11:00 - Always the game of the year in the WCC when these two get together in the Kennel. This time STM is the better team (so far), but that's a serious home court, and the Zags are still 18-4 and an NCAA tourney lock.


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