Friday, February 8, 2013

2/8: Indiana Goes Down, Felix, etc.

Greetings! Happy Friday to everyone. Before we begin, I want to let everyone know that there is a "weekend viewing guide" posting midday in this space, so that will explain the lack of a "what to watch for" here. Let's go!
  • Illinois 74, Indiana 72 - The #1 Indiana Hoosiers went down in a heap last night in Champaign, Illinois. The previously 2-7 in the Big Ten Illini played out of their minds (and probably for their season) and it came to a head with a Tyler Griffey lay-up at the gun to get the 2-point win. Brandon Paul and DJ Richardson each went for 20+ points for Illinois, who won the game despite allowing 50% shooting to Indiana and losing the rebounding battle 29-21. For the Hoosiers, this is a blip on the radar, but for Illinois, it could've been a season-saving win.
  • Felix Hernandez will reportedly be a Seattle Mariner for the next seven years, and he will do so with the highest annual salary of any pitcher ever. The extension will be for 5 years and a total of $135.5 million for an average of $27.5 million a year... and he's worth every penny if he can replicate what he's done in the last few seasons. Felix will be 27 years old as the season begins, and while his fastball velocity has decreased over the past five years, he's still been a dominant pitcher as his approach changes. Plus, I'm in the tank for the guy. It's probably too much money for anyone, but it's good to see Seattle ponying up the money.
  • Kevin Garnett became the first player in NBA history to score 25,000 points, grab 10,000 rebounds, dish out 5,000 assists, and rack up 1,500 blocks and steals. Yes, you read that right. He's the first and only player to reach these numbers. That's pure insanity, and if you didn't recognize KG as an all-time great before this, you will now. Congrats to the completely insane, but still respected Garnett.
  • Speaking of Garnett, he led the Celtics to a 116-95 win over the hapless Lakers in Boston last night. Paul Pierce keyed the victory with 24 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists, while the entire C's team shot 53% from the field and won the battle on the glass while holding LA to 41% shooting. Kobe was tremendous offensively, as usual, for the Lakers, but without Gasol, they needed more than 9 points each from Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, and just 5 points from MWP. What an ugly game.
  • In the late game, Denver ran Chicago out of the building in a 128-96 win in the Pepsi Center. The biggest story (other than the lopsided overall result) was Wilson Chandler's performance. Chandler played just 19 minutes, but scored 24 points thanks to 8-9 shooting from the field and a blistering 5-5 from 3-point range. Kenneth Faried also got in on the action with 21 points and 12 boards, while Ty Lawson spearheaded the offense with 16 points and 12 assists. It was startling to see Chicago have absolutely no defensive answers in this one, but there is certainly a level of kudos to Denver for excellent execution.
  • Lastly from the league, there is a widespread rumor surrounding a potential trade between those same Chicago Bulls and the Toronto raptors that would swap Carlos Boozer and Andrea Bargnani. I firmly don't believe this would happen, simply because a) Tom Thibodeau would probably murder Andrea Bargnani, b) why would Toronto want Boozer when they have Amir Johnson?, and c) I don't believe any trade rumor ever. Done and done.
  • On the college hardwood, Duke scored an absurd 58 1st-half points in route to a 98-85 win over NC State in Cameron last night. Mason Plumlee led the way with 30 points and 9 rebounds, while Seth Curry (26 points) and Quinn Cook (21 points) also went off for the Blue Devils. That's probably the best Duke has looked offensively all season. Texas A&M got a nice home win in their 70-68 defeat over #21 Missouri. The Aggies shot 50% from the field to overcome the fact that they grabbed only 19 rebounds in the entire game. Colorado went on the road and upset struggling #19 Oregon by a 48-47 tally. Both teams shot just 36% from the field in this battle of ugly offense, but Colorado shot better from three, and got to the line effectively. Ugly, ugly, ugly. Finally, Gonzaga blitzed Pepperdine 82-56 in a balanced effort. Ho-hum.
  • Nate Wolters is a player. You probably have no idea who that even is, but the 6'4 guard from South Dakota State scored 53 points last night. He hit nine triples in the game, and 53 points is this year's season-high in Division 1. Also, this isn't your typical small school explosion, as Wolters is an almost certain draft pick (currently #36 on who draws some nice comps. Just wanted to shed some light on him.
Enjoy! And stay tuned for the Weekend Viewing Guide to come...

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