College Basketball Nation: Ole Miss

Behind the box scores: Tuesday's games

February, 29, 2012
A scan of the college basketball box scores each night guarantees all kinds of statistical oddities and standout performances. Here are some we found from Tuesday.

Wisconsin 52, Minnesota 45
The two teams combined to make 23 baskets, matching the fewest in a game this season (SMU and UAB combined for 23 on Feb. 15). Wisconsin made 12 field goals in the win, one shy of the fewest made field goals in a win this season (Niagara made 11 in a win on Feb. 24). The Golden Gophers and Badgers shot a combined 27.1 percent from the field, the lowest in a game involving a major-conference team and the fifth-lowest overall.

Wyoming 71, TCU 59
The Cowboys committed just one turnover in the victory, the fewest by any team this season. The previous team to commit no more than one turnover in a game was Bucknell on Jan. 13, 2010, against American.

Ole Miss 77, Arkansas 75
Ole Miss’ Murphy Holloway had 16 rebounds and teammate Reginald Buckner had 15 in the Rebels’ win. They are the third pair of teammates with at least 15 rebounds each in the same game this season, joining Deniz Kilicli and Kevin Jones of West Virginia and Brad Waldow and Rob Jones of St. Mary’s.

Stats To See: Pittsburgh hits new low

January, 12, 2012
Going into the season, a loss to Rutgers was nearly unimaginable for Pittsburgh. Out of the question was a performance like Wednesday’s 62-39 loss.

Among other humiliating numbers, it was the Panthers' fewest points in a game since scoring 36 back on Dec. 4, 1973 (also against Rutgers). Worse yet, this loss came at home. The Panthers had their fewest points at home since scoring 38 in a loss against Westminster on Jan. 5, 1950.

The 23-point loss is their worst since moving to the Petersen Events Center in 2002. The Panthers shot just 21.1 percent, their worst shooting performance under Jamie Dixon. It’s the lowest field goal percentage by a Big East team in conference play since West Virginia shot 20 percent in 2008. In the first half, Pittsburgh shot just 12.5 percent from the field.

Ole Miss snaps 542-game streak
Ole Miss snapped a streak of 542 consecutive games with a 3-point field goal, but still came away with a 71-63 win over Arkansas. It’s the 12th time this season that a team won without making a 3.

Since they won, it’s easy to make light of the failure to connect from deep, but long-distance shots are a big problem for the Rebels. On the season, they are hitting just 27.3 percent of 3s. Of 339 Division I teams, that ranks 328th.

Nicholson paces Bonnies
St. Bonaventure got a huge game out of senior Andrew Nicholson, who finished with 30 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks in an 81-73 win over Dayton. It’s the first such 30-10-5 game this season.

You don’t see many games like this in high-level conferences. He’s the first Atlantic 10 player to do it since Ahmad Nivins in 2008. The last Power 6 conference player with a 30-10-5 game? Kevin Durant.

Frazier can’t do it alone
Penn State is going to need someone other than Tim Frazier to contribute if the Nittany Lions want to turn the season around. In Wednesday’s 70-58 loss to Nebraska, Frazier outscored the rest of his team 30-28.

The career-high performance came largely because no one else could score. His teammates combined to shoot 10-for-44 (22.7 percent) from the field. Frazier is the only Penn State player averaging in double figures this season.

Saddle Up: Five about Friday

March, 12, 2010
Saddle Up is our daily preview of the day's best basketball action. We're officially into that oh-so-awesome part of the season when a healthy portion of your daily hoops regimen will be happening, you know, during the day, necessitating Saddle Up's move to the morning. So let's do this.

Just like Wednesday and Thursday, let's open Friday with five themes to watch for as the conference tournaments heat up.

1. The Patriot League -- the L-ingest league in the world. Apparently, a precursor for success in the 2009-2010 Patriot League conference tournament involves a name that starts with the letter "L." Hey, I don't make the rules. I merely report them. But is there any other conclusion to draw from the Patriot League final, a matchup of No. 3 seed Lafayette and No. 1 seed Lehigh? With the exception of the various at-large bids being traded back and forth by sundry bubble teams, the Patriot League final is today's only surefire tournament bid producer, the lone automatic qualifier decided Friday. Thus far, this week's automatic qualifiers have almost uniformly survived down-to-the-wire games to get to the tournament. Let's hope the Patriot League finale is no different.

2. Don't know what I want, but I know how to get it. Anarchy in the Big East! Every top seed in the Big East tournament but West Virginia lost Thursday, which leaves us with the rather random pairings of Marquette-Georgetown and Notre Dame-West Virginia, and it's officially anyone's tournament. It's hard not to like West Virginia, which stumbled late against Cincinnati but hit a last-second Da'Sean Butler three to get past a suddenly pesky Cincinnati team. West Virginia is the most athletic team left in the bracket, and now has a clear opportunity to do what Butler said they were planning on doing when the Mountaineers finished their season-closing win at Villanova last Saturday -- win the Big East tournament and get a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs. Notre Dame is no simple matchup though; it will be interesting to see if West Virginia's length can disrupt a suddenly potent Irish offense.

3. Quick: Give me two words you hate to hear if you're either Ole Miss or a Wall Street banker. SEC and bubble. See what I did there? Really, though, the Ole Miss Fighting Admiral Ackbars had the best day of their season in a while yesterday. While other SEC teams (better ones, like Tennessee) duked it out in the first round of the tournament, geographically fortuitous Ole Miss sat back and watched the action unfold. By the end of the day, thanks to teams like Memphis and UAB helpfully losing, Mississippi was promoted into the NCAA tournament by one Mr. Joe Lunardi. Now comes the real work: Actually winning a game in the SEC tournament and holding on to that spot. The Rebels will face Tennessee today, and a win would bolster what to me looks like a pretty shaky tournament case. A loss? Say bye-bye.

4. Three cheers for chalk! Don't get me wrong -- I enjoy a good conference tournament upset as much as the next person who loves college basketball with a deep, burning, passionate, unquenchable love. But it's also nice to see the de facto best teams in a conference duke it out in that conference tournament's semifinals. That's what we've got in the Big 12 today, where No. 1 seed Kansas will take on No. 4 seed Texas A&M and No. 2 seed Kansas State gets No. 3 seed Baylor. Look out for the Bears here -- no team has inspired quite so many "I think this team is dangerous!" comments in our last two days of live-chatting, and the Bears' late-night win over Texas proved why. Baylor is deep, athletic, balanced and smart. They score. This tournament is still Kansas' to win, and unlike its Big East counterpart, there is no parity to discuss here. Just dominance at the top. Refreshing, huh?

5. You're watching the Mountain West tournament, right? Because you should be watching the Mountain West tournament. Unfortunately for those of us who don't live in America's most beautiful 1,000 square miles or so and thus don't get The Mtn., the Mountain West's take on the Big Ten Network, watching the early rounds of the Mountain West tournament has been a challenge. HOWEVA, if you have CBS College Sports -- which comes on a sports tier package with cable providers and DirecTV -- you can watch the rest of the tournament, as Mountain West games have switched over to the more available network. This is a good thing. Why? Because Jimmer Fredette is doing ridiculous things with the ball in his hand, for one. He scored 45 points in Thursday night's win over TCU. (That's almost half of his team's 95, by the way.) On the other side of the bracket, New Mexico and San Diego State will duke it out, the Aztecs with an NCAA tournament bid on the line. So, yeah, find a TV, and make sure that TV has plenty of channels.

Bonus thing, per the usual: In just a few minutes, I'll be chatting from 12 p.m. ET to 6 p.m., right here, same as Wednesday and Thursday. These chats are a great time. Be there.
The Morning After is our semi-daily recap of last night's best basketball action. Try not to make it awkward.

No. 16 Wisconsin 67, No. 5 Michigan State 49: Phew. Instead of trying to weave all of this into a coherent narrative -- because who do I look like, F. Scott Hemingway? -- let's take it piece by piece:

  1. Shooting. Northwestern's student section wears athletics-department-sanctioned T-shirts that just say "make shots." Most teams' yearly student T-shirts say something like "Year Of Destiny" or "Returning To Glory" -- ostensibly inspirational things designed to rouse fervor in a fan base. Northwestern's was simple and direct, and still the most literally true T-shirt of its kind I've ever seen. It's brilliant, and I love it. Why? Because sometimes basketball is simple. Sometimes you don't make shots -- in Michigan State's case behind the arc, where the Spartans shot a scorching 12.2 percent -- and that makes all the difference. Michigan State only took nine threes. That's is low-risk, low-reward basketball, and without the defense to back it up on the other end, they didn't make nearly enough to slow the Badgers down. Sometimes, you've just got to make shots. First, you've got to take them.
  2. No offense to Wisconsin's players, but ... Is it possible that Bo Ryan is the best system coach in college basketball? Let's define system coach first. Let's say a system coach is a guy who seems to be able to plug just about any combination of his type of players into a basketball team and emerge with a winning product year and year out. Bo Ryan is this person! Wisconsin's recruits aren't anything to sneeze at, but they're also rarely at the elite national level. It never seems to matter. Ryan wins anyway. Heck, his best players -- Trevon Hughes and Jon Leuer -- can be in foul trouble and injured, respectiviely, and Ryan can get 19 points from Jason Bohannon and 17 from Jordan Taylor as the Badgers roll to an easy win. No offense to Wisconsin's players, who are obviously very, very good at basketball and deserve plenty of credit for their success ... but we should start some sort of offseason reality show challenge thing wherein Ryan tries to coach a team of out- of-shape rec league players against Big Ten competition. I'd never bet against this team. (OK, yes I would. But you get the point.)
  3. Kalin, Kalin, Kalin. Losing your first Big Ten game on the road at Wisconsin is no big deal. Losing your star point guard to injury is. It's still uncertain how long Kalin Lucas will miss with the ankle sprain he suffered in Tuesday night's second half, but any amount of time gone from the court is time the Spartans will dearly miss him. Last night's Wisconsin win has repercussions for the Big Ten going forward, but none are more important than the condition of Lucas' ankle.
No. 3 Kentucky 85, Ole Miss 75: Our own Pat Forde checked in late last night with some of his postgame thoughts, so read those if you want a recap. I have but one thing to add: Did you see Eric Bledsoe's alley-oop? Late in the second half, John Wall -- whose performance will officially put to rest any worries about his frustration with head coach John Calipari -- lightly tossed an oop over a defender's arms. As Bledsoe jumped to catch the pass, the defender barely grazed the ball, slightly altering its trajectory to the near side of the hoop, opposite from where Bledsoe jumped. But somehow, Bledsoe managed to adjust his jump in mid-air, extend his arms completely, grab the floating pass on the near side of the basket, scoop it up, and make the bucket. In a year of silly Kentucky highlights, this was easily the best. So far.

Everywhere else: You have to hand it to Seton Hall, who plays tough on the road in the Big East. But the Pirates just aren't there yet. In the meantime, Scottie Reynolds & Co. keep rolling, now 9-0 in conference and officially prompting my roommates asking me if Reynolds can win the player of the year. If this keeps up, he just might. ... Syracuse had few problems with Providence, and the highlight package is worth a look if only for Friars forward Jamine Peterson's off-the-backboard-to-himself dunk ... Nebraska couldn't follow up its first Big 12 win with another, losing to Kansas State in Lincoln ... Rutgers, once again off the schneid, beat St. John's in Piscataway, doubling the Scarlet Knights' conference win record ... Miami cut the lead to three with just five minutes left at Wake Forest, but C.J. Harris' 12 points helped the Deacons stave off a comeback ... BYU jumped all over TCU and never looked back, going to 7-1 in the Mountain West ... and Northwestern stayed just-barely-alive in the race for its first-ever NCAA tournament berth, beating an officially bad Michigan team in Evanston.

Men's hoops roundup

January, 16, 2010
Quick roundup from Saturday’s slate:

  • Ohio State, even at 3-3 in the Big Ten, may be the toughest challenger for Michigan State in the Big Ten now that Evan Turner is back. The Buckeyes' win over Wisconsin comes off a victory at Purdue. They next host Northwestern and then step out of conference at West Virginia, which may not be able to handle Turner. Turner had five turnovers and four fouls against the Badgers, but still made money plays, scoring 15 points.

  • Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said late Saturday he was hoping Louisville coach Rick Pitino would call a timeout in the final 20 seconds so he could set up a shot for Brad Wanamaker. Pitino did call the timeout and Wanamaker was open in the corner off the inbounds for the 3-pointer that essentially sent the game into overtime. Dixon also reminded me that the Panthers didn’t look so hot in November and December because they didn’t have their two of their top three guards (Gilbert Brown and Jermaine Dixon). “Who has their most experienced guards out?’’ Dixon said. “You can’t be without your guards.’’ Dixon isn’t getting too giddy about the 5-0 Big East start. “We’ve still got a long way to go.’’

  • North Carolina may finish as low as fourth or fifth in the ACC. Georgia Tech, which has arguably the most talented frontcourt in the conference, finally closed out a significant road game by holding off the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill, 73-71. This win will do wonders for the Yellow Jackets’ confidence.
Damion James
AP Photo/Harry CabluckDamion James' play led the Texas Longhorns over Texas A&M.

  • Texas A&M showed tremendous poise to push Texas late in the game and proved that it will be a solid Big 12 team down the stretch. But the Longhorns have one of the top five players in the country in Damion James. His 3-pointer and blocked shot in overtime essentially won the game for the Longhorns in what was as large a performance as any player has made in a key game this season.

  • Northwestern had to beat Purdue to be relevant in the Big Ten. The Wildcats already lost at home to Wisconsin and Michigan State. The Wildcats made shots when it mattered most and Drew Crawford had two critical treys for the ‘Cats.

  • Purdue is now 2-3 in the Big Ten. The Boilermakers were four games behind Michigan State last season. The Spartans are 5-0 in the Big Ten. The spread won’t be as large this season, but it’s already three games (I know they haven’t played twice yet).

  • Syracuse has a real shot to win the Big East (not breaking news here) but West Virginia won’t after losing at home to the Orange.

  • Tennessee has won four straight games -- Charlotte, Kansas, Auburn and now Ole Miss -- since the post New Year’s Day arrests. That’s significant and needs to be praised. Wayne Chism did a yeoman’s job with 41 minutes and 26 points. The Vols are clearly the second best team in the SEC.

  • Clemson won a game it was supposed to by beating NC State on the road. But it could be costly. Point guard Demontez Stitt picked up a sprained left foot, was put in a boot and is questionable for the Tigers’ next game at Georgia Tech.

  • Dayton was picked to win the A-10. Xavier may still be the team to beat. The Musketeers had a gutsy win over the Flyers at home, the kind of win you need to have if you’re going to win the league. Can’t believe the Flyers haven’t won at Xavier since 1981.

  • Maryland could be 3-0 in the ACC had it not whiffed late at Wake Forest in overtime. The Terps smashed Boston College 73-57. The Eagles are now learning how much it needs a leader and a big-time point (departed guard Tyrese Rice is looking more important now than ever).

  • Kentucky coach John Calipari told me Saturday that John Wall (seven turnovers) played his worst game of the year and the Wildcats still won (72-67 over Auburn). He also said he wasn’t ready for the ‘Cats to be No. 1 in the country, but he might not have had any choice if Texas had fallen to Texas A&M. It still might happen soon if the Longhorns lose to Kansas State Monday.

  • After beating Miami handily, could Virginia could be 9-7 in the ACC and make the NCAA tournament? The Cavs already have three quality wins (UAB, Miami and Georgia Tech). The Cavs may only lose one home game (Duke) and could easily steal a road win at maybe BC later in the season. Tony Bennett is your leader in the clubhouse for ACC coach of the year.

  • Washington looked like Washington should in a romp of Cal. But guess who may win the Pac-10? Arizona State swept the Oregon schools on the road and is alone atop the Pac-10 at 4-2. Wow.

  • Meanwhile, USC pounded UCLA 67-46 for the worst loss the Bruins have had against the Trojans since the 1940s. Credit the Trojans for still playing hard without a postseason bid.

  • Oklahoma showed it’s not done yet after following up a win against Oklahoma State by beating surging Missouri at home.

  • Love how Kansas State won a game it was supposed to by beating Colorado in Boulder in advance of hosting Texas Monday.
The Morning After is our quasi-daily morning recap post. Try not to make it awkward.

San Diego State 74, No. 14 New Mexico 64: You may exit the New Mexico bandwagon; the door is to your left. It was just this time last week that New Mexico, having soared into the Top 25, hosted a surprising Texas Tech team at home. The Lobos* took home a 90-75 win in Albuquerque and looked for all the world to be a legitimate tournament contender. But that win came after a loss to Oral Roberts. I don't remember really considering the Oral Roberts loss when discussing the Lobos -- it happens, right? -- but put together with last night's loss to a just-OK San Diego State team, and the New Mexico train is starting to look less and less like a ride I want to be a part of. After all, this is still Steve Alford, and Alford, for as well as he's done at three mid-major schools in his career (Manchester College and Southwest Missouri State before Iowa) his failures at Iowa are still pretty fresh.

(*I can never see the word "Lobo" and not immediately think of former college and WNBA great Rebecca Lobo. And now you know.)

It's not that New Mexico isn't still a good team. It's just that, after two soft wins in four games, they're not the dominant mid-major their nonconference success seemed to suggest. Adjust accordingly.

Georgia 73, No. 17 Georgia Tech 66: This is the stuff rivalries are made of. Georgia Tech came into Tuesday night's game with a national ranking, a blue-chip recruit in Derrick Favors, an impressive 11-2 record, and every reason to think it could keep a far inferior Georgia team at bay. It also had its football team triple-optioning itself into the ground in the Orange Bowl. Instead, it was a very bad night for Tech: Georgia's Trey Thompkins scored 20 points as the Bulldogs defense held Georgia Tech to less than a point per possession in Athens, Ga.

This is a legitimate upset: Pomeroy ranks Georgia Tech No. 31 in the country based on adjusted efficiency, while Georgia, even after this win, floats all the way down to No. 112. This is why college basketball is awesome: Even when your team is bad -- and make no mistake, Georgia is still looking pretty bad -- for one night, it need not matter. Forty minutes of basketball at a time is too small of a sample size to be beholden to anything as reasonable as logic. That's why we love it.

No. 4 Purdue 79, Minnesota 60: Purdue just keeps rolling. Tuesday night's handy win over Minnesota pushed Purdue to 14-0, tying the best start in school history. Matt Painter is somehow convinced his team can win by 19 points, hold the opposing team to .84 points per possession, score 1.1 points per possession itself, and still play "not great." But if you think about it, his point makes sense. The Boilermakers turned the ball over 17 times last night; their turnover percentage wasn't super high (23.9 percent), but a national championship contender like Purdue will want to iron that sort of thing out before it gets too deep into conference play. Knowing Painter, it will. And then Purdue will be really scary.

Everywhere else: No. 2 Texas got a scare from Arkansas before pulling away late ... No. 18 Ole Miss easily handled UCF ... Luke Harangody almost singlehandedly kept Notre Dame from dropping a Big East road game to South Florida, scoring 36 points and making a free throw with 1.9 seconds left to give ND the one-point win ... and Oklahoma State got a little breather with Coppin State, which it beat handily.