NEW YORK -- Regardless of what occurs when Duke plays Michigan on Friday night in the final of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer (ESPN2, 7 ET), Gerald Henderson can point to the second half Thursday night as evidence that he now can dominate a game.The Blue Devils needed someone other than Kyle Singler to take over. For whatever reason, Henderson hadn't done that this season in the three games prior to Thursday night and he hadn't done it in the first half against Southern Illinois, whose stingy defense led to Duke's unusually erratic play (15 turnovers).
AP Photo/Frank Franklin IIGerald Henderson broke out of an early season slump with a dominating performance in the second half against SIU.
• UCLA coach Ben Howland said over the summer that he thought the Bruins were way too high in the polls. He was right. This Bruins team isn't ready to be mentioned among the elite this season -- yet. The Michigan game exposed its offensive limitations.
Senior guard Darren Collison (13 points) and freshman wing Jrue Holiday (13 points) were the only two players creating their own shots. Senior Josh Shipp (2-of-9 for five points) has to be much more active, and the inside games of James Keefe and Alfred Aboya need to be much more assertive on the block. The Bruins got much-needed, double-figure scoring from reserve Nikola Dragovic (11 points). But freshmen Drew Gordon, Jerime Anderson and Malcolm Lee and junior guard Michael Roll are going to have to produce.
The Bruins won't play against teams that defend as well as Miami (Ohio) and Michigan (except for Washington State and possibly Arizona State), but the offensive futility has to change. UCLA's defense will carry this squad for a while until the balance of the offense catches up to the Bruins.
• The MEAC scored another significant win for its conference Thursday night when Hampton beat George Mason 50-44. Howard knocked off the Pac-10's Oregon State in its season opener.• It's hard to underscore the importance of Illinois' win at Vanderbilt on Thursday night. The Illini, much like Michigan, needed something positive to occur. Getting a road win against Vandy, which is rebuilding a bit but still is one of the toughest places to play in the SEC, is a major confidence boost for the Illini. • Mississippi Valley State's ridiculous road swing continues. The Delta Devils lost at Montana on Thursday, adding to road losses at Arizona State, Washington State and Oklahoma. • Keno Davis found a pretty solid bench player for Providence as Marshon Brooks scored 30 points and had five steals as a reserve in PC's 111-87 win over Sacred Heart. • The Pac-10 so far has lost to:
Howard (Oregon State)
Seton Hall (USC)