What everyone will be talking about over their morning coffee:
Well, New Mexico State did what it needed to do on Saturday night. It helped that McKenzie Moore didn't play for UTEP as he was one of the keys to the Miners being able to turn the tide this time around.
The final was 77-68, and not many people saw it, mostly because it wasn't televised anywhere (someone has to do something about this. At least get it on the air locally!)
As far as the other keys to the game go, the Aggies only got one other complete. Renaldo Dixon was a nonfactor, but he didn't need to be one in this game. The Aggies got plenty of help from KC Ross-Miller who had 26 points and six assists. It is clear that the lack of a strong defender out at the top of the key allowed him to take over.
Tshilidzi Nephawe had a better game than Julian Washburn, and that basically is how a sweep is made: value from places you don't expect value, a strong game from the guy moving up and one of the key players on the other team missing.
Side of bacon:
So About that Oakland Horizon Championship
Ok, so it is still early in this season, and the conference slate has yet to start, but fans in Oakland have to be starting to worry. The team is now 0-5, and hasn't put it together very well outside of its loss to Cal. Saturday the Grizzlies lost 84-75 to Louisiana-Lafayette (not totally a slouch team there), and it was the way they lost that was just heartbreaking.
Oakland held a 12-point lead in the second half and then just forgot how to score. The Ragin' Cajuns held them scoreless for three minutes and tied the game. The scoring issues continued after that as the Grizzlies managed just two baskets in the next six minutes.
If you are counting at home, that is two baskets over nine minutes. 2/9 = 0.
Oakland allowed the Ragin' Cajuns' two best players to just make a mockery of them. Elfrid Payton had 32 points and seven rebounds, and Shawn Long added 24 points, 17 rebounds and five blocks. Just read that Long line again. Oakland didn't even let any player have that nice a night against them in any of the previous games, and some of those were blowouts.
Although he was reinstated, Duke Mondy didn't play, but Dante Williams contributed eight points off the bench for the Grizzlies in his return. Travis Bader led the way with 19 points and Corey Petros added 14 points and 12 boards.
Until Mondy returns for this team, it is very possible that the losses will continue. Khalil Felder hasn't been the distributor that the senior Mondy is. He dished seven assists in this game, but also turned the ball over seven times. You just can't have that from your point guard (not to mention five fouls).
Oakland has another tough game against St. Francis Brooklyn on Sunday, and it is very probably we will be seeing them fall to 0-6.
- Boston University blew a 15-point lead to begin the game, but still managed to trip up UC-Irvine, 74-68. The Terriers started on a 15-0 run, but eventually allowed the Anteaters to take the lead. The good news for them in this one is that they shot well from beyond the 3-point line, going 10-for-18, and shooting 50 percent overall. The prolific shooting from outside allowed them to avoid Mamadou Ndiaye, the giant of a man that UC-Irvine has in the middle. He recorded just a single block in the contest. The Terriers still need to come up with what is different about this year. They haven't spread the wealth like they would like and the third man is still fleeting for them. DJ Irving had 18 points and six rebounds and Dom Morris added 17 points and eight board. Will Davis led the Anteaters with 12 points and eight rebounds.
- Marshall's Elijah Pittman had 35 points on 13 of 21 shooting, and he knocked down eight 3-pointers as Marshall beat UNC-Wilmington 96-78. Kareem Canty added 19 points and 10 assists (Hey Felder, he had just three turnovers too!) in the win. Addison Spruill scored 19 for the Seahawks in the loss.
- So Rutgers is really going to the Big 10? Well, maybe they should stop playing against the CAA when they do. William and Mary became the second Colonial team to knock off the Scarlet Knights, doing so with a 72-62 win. The Tribe was expected to be improved this season, but not this improved. The whole thing was sparked by a 20-0 run to begin the second half helped along by six turnovers from Rutgers. Marcus Thornton finished with a game-high 28 points (16 from free throws) and six rebounds in the win. You have to give the conference credit here in the early going. Between Drexel's trip though the NIT and now this win, along with Delaware's strong showing even without Saddler, the CAA could be very fun league to watch this season.
- Augustine Rubit became the all-time leading rebounder for South Alabama during a 74-70 win over Wright State. Rubit had 23 points and 12 boards in the win, as the Jaguars managed to hold off a strong charge by the Raiders. This could end up being a very good win for South Alabama as Wright State is one of the favorites in the Horizon League. This could look like a very good win come March. AJ Pacher led Wright State with 18 points and five rebounds in the loss.
- The unthinkable happened. After 30 free throws in a row from Bryn Forbes, he finally missed one with a little more than 4 minutes remaining in an 87-74 win by Cleveland State over Robert Morris. Forbes finished with 18 points, despite some real stuggles shooting in this one. The Vikings still managed to shoot 51 percent overall despite a 4-for-12 night from their star guard. Six Cleveland State players finished in double figures.
- Eastern Washington just flat out embarrassed LIU-Brooklyn to start their game Saturday. The Eagles began on a 30-3 run, and never had to look back in a 102-70 win. Eastern Washington shot an unbelievable 64 percent from the floor, serving notice to the rest of the Big Sky conference in the process. Tyler Harvey had 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists in the win. Jason Brickman was held to just four assists for the Blackbirds.