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Morning Coffee: Drexel, Kevin Pangos and Kent State Edition

It is Thanksgiving morning, so while you are preparing your turkey, take some time to sip that coffee and read up on college basketball. We have Drexel's near miss against Arizona, a major game by Kevin Pangos, and Kent State prevailing in a battle of two underrated mid-majors.

Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE

Everyone is waking up this morning with a little less pep in their step. Either they just traveled across the country, or down some interminable highway in traffic, or they woke up at the crack of dawn to start cooking some obnoxiously large bird.

Either way, people are definitely needing their coffee this morning.

And what better way to pass the time while basting that bird than talking about college basketball. Here is your primer.

What everyone will be talking about over their morning coffee:

Drexel Almost Takes Out No. 4 Arizona

Things looked to be going well for Drexel until they weren't any longer. The screens weren't as effective, and the shots just stopped falling.

It was all a matter of how much foul trouble really hurt the bigs for the Dragons, and how much much they really missed having three weapons at the end of the game with Damion Lee's untimely injury.

After the game, it appears that things are looking up for the Drexel guard and the chance he is available to play against Alabama on Friday is growing. It will be another chance for Drexel to prove its might after a certain CBS writer called them among the best backcourts in the country.

That is high praise for the team, and probably has a hint of truth in it. They are at least the best trio, or quad in the CAA. But they need to close out one of these big games against a tough opponent to earn that spot among the elites.

Either way, this was another close call for Drexel, and another reason why they are not the same team that stumbled to a mediocre season last year.

Side of bacon:

Kevin Pangos Routs Razorbacks

No one expected Gonzaga to be playing in the loser's bracket out in Maui. This was a team that wasn't supposed to lose until maybe the championship game of the tournament.

And yet here they are, and they are showing that the team is much better than the one that lost to the eventual 3rd place Dayton Flyers.

"This was a different experience for us, to be in the breakfast bracket. It really challenges who you are and what you're all about," Few said after the game.

That challenge was nothing when it came to Kevin Pangos who has made the rest of the teams in the "breakfast bracket" pay at every turn. Wednesday, he dismantled Arkansas for 34 points, and made 7 of his 8 3-point shots, including a run of three in a row that put the game out of reach.

Pangos is back to being the player that made him one of the most valuable freshmen two years ago. The WCC should be very afraid if this is what he is made of.

Sam Dower had 19 points and David Stockton had four points, six assists and two steals in the win.

Other bites:

  • Shawn Long was one of the best freshman of last season, and he is only improving for Louisiana-Lafayette. The sophomore is averaging more than 20 points per game after helping the Ragin' Cajuns finish off Northwestern State 105-74. He had 22 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks in the win. That helped to push his average blocks per game to 3.0. This is definitely a player we all need to be watching in tandem with his point guard Elfrid Payton. The duo is definitely dangerous.
  • No one believed in Winthrop coming into this season, not if you want to believe the preseason picks everyone made. That is everyone but our own Parks Smith. Winthrop scored a big win Wednesday against James Madison, 69-57, to move to 5-1 on the season. The trio of Andre Smith, Tevin Prescott and Joab Jerome led the way for the Eagles, who could be flying high much earlier than expected.
  • When you play VMI, you know the game is going to go, but you usually expect the benefactors of that on the opposition to be the guards who are scoring in transition. That wasn't the case when the Keydets took on William and Mary. Tim Rusthoven had 26 points, 16 rebounds and five assists in the win, a huge game for the Tribe's big man. But he wasn't the only one who turned up the juice against VMI. Terry Tarpey had 10 points, nine boards, four assists, six steals and two blocks, to probably be the most unsung hero in this game, while Omar Prewitt (Omar Coming!) made 5 of 7 from beyond the arc, and scored 22 off the bench in the win.
  • As we mentioned, Dayton finished off Cal 82-64 to take home 3rd place in Maui. Devin Oliver had 21 points and seven rebounds, while Jalen Robinson had 17 points and two blocks in the win. All in all, it's a nice finish for the Flyers who established themselves as a very scary team in the stacked Atlantic 10 this season.
  • Someone check the Gatorade at the Gulf Coast Classic. Kelsey Barlow went off for 21 points over 10 minutes, and finished with 38 as UIC took out Wagner 94-76. This is not a UIC team that is expected to do very much in the Horizon League, but taking out one of the favorites in the Northeast in this manner is a big step for the Flames. Barlow's total was a new career high, erasing the one he had set just two days before ... and doubling it ... and adding four to that. He also had seven rebounds and five assists in the win. I might have to run a Game Score on this.
  • Christophe Varidel lost his magic. He scored just seven points on 3-for-13 shooting, and committed six turnovers in an 83-68 loss to Minnesota in the 7th place game in Maui. Fare thee well, Mr. Varidel, we will see you soon.
  • Another SWAC team, another great name. Julysses Nobles had 22 points and missed a shot at the buzzer that could have given Jackson State a major upset victory. The Tigers fell to Mississippi State 58-56, but played very good defense that held the Bulldogs to some atrocious shooting numbers in the first half. Brandon West added 10 points, 12 boards and three steals for the Tigers.
  • Finally, a game that if it were played on the weekend, could easily have been the game of the week for the site. Kent State used its board-clearing ability to help put away Youngstown State 83-79, Wednesday night. The Golden Flashes were very close to being the final team in my personal top 15 this past week, but that spot went to New Mexico State barely. I think I may have to reconsider after they took out the Penguins. Both of these teams deserve more recognition for their early play, and really only Youngstown got any because it strung together so many games early in season. But Kent State has been on fire as of late. It was a balanced effort to take out Youngstown State with five players finishing in double figures, led by Derek Jackson with 15. The big contributor though was K.K. Simmons who came off the bench to hit three 3-pointers in a row and kill the rally that the Penguins were on after the break. He finished with 12 points, all from behind the arc. Kamren Belin had 32 points, seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks in the loss, while Kendrick Perry added 16 points and five assists. More on this one over at Hustle Belt.