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Friday, December 31, 2010
TMA: Mizzou's surprising blowout

By Eammonn Brennan

The Morning After is our semi-daily recap of last night's best basketball action. It wishes its New Year's Eve function would be more specific than "black tie encouraged." What does that even mean?

No. 8 Villanova 78, Temple 74: Dana O'Neil was on hand in Philly last night, so I'll let her recap stand in here. The only point I'll make is that, while the game certainly felt ugly, defensive, and grind-it-out-difficult, both teams performed much better on offense than they usually do. Both teams scored well above a point per possession, neither team turned the ball over, both teams rebounded, both teams got to the free throw line. The scoreline and Villanova's win weren't entirely surprising, but given that Villanova and Temple entered Thursday night as the No. 9 and No. 10 most efficient defenses in the country, respectively, the nature of the game was.

No. 10 Missouri 81, Old Dominion 58: Speaking of surprises, ladies and gentlemen, I give you ... the Mizzou-ODU blowout! I did not see this one coming. In retrospect, however, it's easy to see how it happened.

To beat Missouri, you have to do two or three things, each of them in sequence. For starters, you have to avoid turnovers. Then, once you get past Mizzou's three-quarter-court press and get into your offense, if you choose to take long jump shots, you have to make them or you have to rebound them and get easy putbacks. If you don't, the Tigers are running right back at you.

Old Dominion didn't do any of these things. The Monarchs turned the ball over on 30.9 percent of their possessions. They went 3-of-13 from three. They rebounded just 29 percent of their available misses, which is not an abysmal figure but hardly near ODU's typically stellar offensive rebounding rate. That's how you end up scoring 58 points in 68 possessions against a team that has been soft against opponents that can manage to take care of the ball.

To be fair to ODU, though this was a great opportunity to get a marquee upset, a road game at Mizzou Arena was always going to be a tough assignment. Dealing with the above offensive sequence is hard enough. Stopping Marcus Denmon and company on the other end of the floor is another matter entirely. Neither happened for the Monarchs, and Mizzou cruised to an impressive, and unexpected, blowout win.


Everywhere else: Jimmer Fredette and company found themselves in a bit of a pickle last night. Fredette struggled in the first half, and the Cougars went into the break tied with a pesky Buffalo squad. But Fredette broke out in the second -- scoring 28 points and earning a braggable "He's a bad dude" quote from Buffalo coach Reggie Witherspoon -- on the way to a 90-82 win ... UCF trailed at the half at home to Princeton before Marcus Jordan performed his own second-half heroics, and the Knights squeaked out a win ... Charlotte won a thriller at Mercer ... Oregon State got a surprisingly easy win against Arizona State in Corvallis ... Arizona rolled over Oregon in Eugene ... UNLV handled 3-10 Central Michigan with few hiccups ... Virginia Tech held on against USC Upstate ... and despite Adnan Hodzic's 22-point, seven-rebound performance, Wesley Witherspoon and Memphis cruised to a win in the FedEx Forum.