Thursday, December 17, 2009
Some thoughts on Wednesday night's action
By Andy Katz
My musings from some of Wednesday's results:
* South Carolina, still playing without two starters, desperately needed a solid win and got one against Richmond as Devan Downey scored 18 points and the Gamecocks -- down eight at halftime -- outscored the Spiders 52-26 in the second half.
* Mississippi State continues to look impressive without Renardo Sidney. As expected, the 7-foot-1 John Riek made a cameo for a minute against Wright State. The good news was that Barry Stewart made shots, scoring 21 and making 5 of 7 3-pointers.
* Butler was picked fifth in the Horizon League last season, won the conference and started this season as a top-10 team in the polls. That’s not going to happen for Loyola University of Chicago. But being picked low in the Horizon must be a positive omen.
The Ramblers are 7-2 -- the best nine-game start in Jim Whitesell's six seasons -- and have already won two last-second games, including a thrilling one Wednesday night in Peoria, Ill. With his team down 12 at one point, Courtney Stanley hit a 3-point shot from two steps in front of the halfcourt as time expired to beat Bradley 68-65. It was Loyola’s first win at Bradley since 1984, snapping a 10-game losing streak.
Earlier this season, Loyola won at Holy Cross after being down by eight with 1:05 remaining. In that game, guard Aric Van Weelden buried a 3-pointer as time expired. Since the start of last season, the Ramblers are 11-1 in games decided by five points or less.
* Meanwhile, north of Peoria in Chicago, Rubo Kreps continued to make life difficult for Oregon State as the Beavers were stunned by Illinois-Chicago with Kreps’ driving hoop with 5.6 seconds left. UIC’s only previous win was over Division III Illinois-Springfield. The team picked to finish fifth in the Pac-10 has now lost to Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Sacramento State and Illinois-Chicago.
* Speaking of the Chicagoland area, DePaul lost to American on Wednesday night. American had been 1-8 prior to the game. The game was at the Rosemont Horizon. Enough said.
* Ole Miss, down 12 with five minutes to play against UTEP, completed its third straight comeback when it rallied all the way back and then won going away in overtime (91-81). Chris Warren scored a career-high 32, including 11 in OT. It was a huge win for the Rebels, but barring a collapse, both teams should be in the NCAA tournament.
* UTEP's C-USA compatriot, UAB, had a season-changing win over Cincinnati. Elijah Millsap put up 22 and 15 for the 9-1 Blazers, who basically manhandled the Bearcats from start to finish. Even with Memphis not as dominant as usual, there can be no question that Conference USA is improved. Expect multiple NCAA bids come March.
* James Anderson continues to be one of the more underrated players in the nation. He lit up Stanford for 28 points and Oklahoma State beat the Cardinal 71-70 as the Big 12 improved to 9-2 in the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series. Texas A&M still has to travel to Washington.