What everyone will be talking about over their morning coffee:
Massachusetts Does it Again, New Mexico Latest Victim
We showered Massachusetts with a lot of praise Friday morning for taking care of business against every major conference opponent they have faced. Now they have done it again against a ranked foe.
The Minutemen took down New Mexico 81-65 to reach the finals of the Charleston Tournament against Clemson. The big difference was the pressure defense of Massachusetts that helped to wear down a New Mexico squad that had played 50 minutes the night before to defeat UAB.
Once the Lobos gave in, it sparked a 14-0 run and the game was over. Chaz Williams finished with a game-high 19 points, adding five rebounds and five assists in the win. And Cady Lalanne had his best game of the season so far with 16 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks.
Side of bacon:
Something clicked in VCU about midway through the second half, or to be clear, something clicked in Juvonte Reddic. If the forward hadn't come alive for the Rams, this game could have ended with the same shocked faces that Florida State caused the night before.
Instead, Reddic turned on his defensive skill and also became the prime target on offense for VCU. The Rams were eventually able to wear down a very good Long Beach State team that is still defining itself this early in the year.
The final score showed 73-67 but this game was a lot closer than that would indicate. Not that they should give out points for effort, but the 49ers certainly earned some Friday, and definitely earned the respect of their coach and any college basketball fans that were watching.
- The upside-down Puerto Rico bracket will make for an interesting final between Charlotte and Michigan, after the 49ers held off Northeastern for an 86-77 win in the semifinals. They used superior 3-point shooting (10-for-16) and seven blocks to earn the victory. Shawn Lester led the way with 20 points and Ben Cherry added 18. Mike Thorne was the big man in the middle with 10 points, eight rebounds and four blocks. On Northeastern's side, well, we have heard this name a lot this season: Scott Eatherton had 22 points, 11 rebounds, two blocks and two assists in the loss.
- Northern Iowa is very much out of the public eye right now, given its 1-2 start, but this team is just waiting to explode. Witness their 90-81 win over previously unbeaten Loyola Marymount. The Panthers got 20-plus points from three players: Seth Tuttle (21), Matt Bohannon (22) and Deon Mitchell (23). Tuttle added 11 rebounds and two blocks, and Mitchell and Wes Washpun each had five assists in the win. This was the team we were hoping would challenge George Mason during our previous Game of the Week, and they certainly seemed to wake up against the Lions. This was another team that went crazy from deep Friday night, shooting 12 of 21 from behind the arc. Anthony Ireland had 24 points and three steals for Loyola Marymount and Evan Payne added 22 points off the bench in the loss.
- Eastern Washington had pushing Washington in their game last week, but Friday night's final was not something that I expected. The Eagles took out Boston University 80-68 with 20 points, eight rebounds and three assists from Venky Jois. Tyler Harvey added 21 points in the win. This comes as a big surprise as these Terriers are supposed to be the favorites in the Patriot league, and they are supposed to have a well-balanced team, able to withstand when one or more of their players are focused on. There was just no third man Friday night to help out Maurice Watson and Nathan Dieudonne (16 points, 12 boards). That is not a promising sign for BU.
- Kent State made a team-record 18 3-points baskets to outlast USC Upstate, 79-78. Amazingly the game didn't end with a three, but rather the second free throw by Kris Brewer who was sent to the line with three seconds remaining. But the Golden Flashes still rained from deep, with Devareaux Manley leading the charge, sinking seven of the triples by Kent State, for all of his 21 points. Darren Goodson had 12 points, six rebounds and six assists in the win. Ty Greene had six 3-pointers, and 20 points, for USC Upstate, and Torrey Craig scored 21 in the loss.
- You have to wonder what would have happened if Delaware had had Devon Saddler. The Blue Hens fought Villanova every step of the way Friday in an 84-80 loss. Each time that the Wildcats would pull ahead, Delaware would find some combination of scorers to come back and push them a little harder. Davon Usher finished with 27 points, and Jarvis Threatt had 16 points and eight assists in the loss. All around, Delaware has to like what the team showed even without its best inside man. The interior still looks to be a concern, but when Saddler returns from his suspension in December, the Blue Hens will suddenly be very dangerous.
There were a lot of big numbers all-around Friday:
- Josh Ritchart had 35 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks as UC Davis beat SIU-Edwardsville 80-75.
- Niagara's Antoine Mason continued his scoring outburst to start the season with 35 points against Western Carolina. He was matched on the other side by Trey Sumler who had 35 points and 10 assists as the Catamounts beat the Purple Eagles, 98-90.
- North Carolina Central's Jeremy Ingram scored 36, including 18-for-24 from the free throw line in a 76-70 win over Appalachian State. Emanuel Chapman had 12 assists in the win.
- Stony Brook's Anthony Jackson went 12-for-16 from the floor, including 7 of 9 from 3-point range, good for 36 points, but not good enough for the win against Toledo. The Rockets scored 103 points as both teams shot better than 52 percent in the game.