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Morning Coffee: UMass Wins, USCB Tries Really Hard, and J.J. Mann Rides Again!

UMass stayed perfect (though it was in doubt for a while), UCSB gave UCLA a run for their money, and some familiar names had some huge games last night.

Stephen Dunn

Know what's agreat way to stay in a game? Either block a whole bunch of your opponent's shots, or make it rain from long range and have your opponent rethink their defensive strategy. Is it enough to win? Not last night it wasn't, but it sure made things interesting.

What everyone will be talking about over their morning coffee:

UMass Notches Another Win, However Ugly

The Minutemen remained undefeated by notching what is their first win as a ranked team in 15 years, as they overcame an ugly start and some ridiculous defense by an up-to-the-task Eastern Michigan squad for a 69-57 win. EMU had a ridiculous 11 blocks during this one, including five by Da'Shonte Riley. To be fair, though, UMass had nine of their own while Raphieal Putney (15 points, 9 rebounds, four assists, three blocks) and Cady Lalanne (12 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks) led the way to a 7-0 record. Next up, a massive home game Saturday against BYU.

Side of bacon:

It's kind of funny. We thought we would give UCSB a mention in the bites even if they couldn't hang with UCLA for the entire game. But they kept hanging with them... and hanging with them... Alan Williams never really found his shot in the first half, but he didn't need to since his teammates had his back. Michael Bryson scored 15 without missing a shot, and the Gauchos opened the game shooting 9-for-12 from long range. Williams only had six at the half, but the Gauchos were looking at a tie game, 42-42.

The problem is that Williams (23 points, eight rebounds) was less than stellar from the line once he started getting there, and his teammates stopped helping on the defensive glass as the game wore on. UCLA extended their 2-3 zone to shut down the perimeter shooting, and started running a three-quarter court press, and all that energy beating the press just visibly wore down the Gauchos such that they never recovered the offensive rhythm that got them as far as it did. UCLA didn't take the lead for good until about 7 1/2 minutes left in the game, but they closed the game on a 21-6 run to bring about the 89-76 final.

Other bites:

  • Who is this North Carolina Central team, and what are they doing in the MEAC? Tonight's 76-69 overtime win over Old Dominion is their sixth in a row after losing their opener to Cincinnati, and they are not looking like a MEAC team at all. Well, they kind of did for while there in the second half, when they made three baskets in 10 minutes while letting the Monarchs erase a 13 point deficit to get the game to overtime. However, a balanced offensive attack featuring 16 points from Alonzo Houston and 14 points from three other players was too much, and NCCU will now look to keep the streak going against IUPUI.
  • Jordan Downing spent the night raining holy hell on UNC-Greensboro, shooting 11-of-15 from the field (including five from long range) and 10-for-10 from the line. He nearly outscored the other team by himself in the first half on the way to 37 points for Presbyterian.
  • Milwaukee finished off Northern Iowa to run their record to 8-2 and add to an impressive start to their year. The size of the Panthers (the Milwaukee ones) is just way too much for so many teams to handle, and Matt Tiby (19 points) is getting better every single game. At this pace, he is headed for All-Horizon honors and could have the Panthers making a huge turnaround this season.
  • Downing had some competition out in Murfreesboro, TN, where Belmont's J.J. Mann scored 32 points of his own and Belmont beat Middle Tennessee State 70-58. Perhaps more impressive is that Mann was only 2-of-6 from the field for 7 points in the first half before going off for 25 in the second, largely on the strength of 12-14 free throw shooting.
  • Delaware and Charleston Southern played again, and the visiting team won again, as Delaware took home an 85-80victory. This is shaping up to be a really good non-conference rivalry, as Kyle Anderson's 29 points (including eight three-pointers) was enough to stave off CSU's balanced attack.
  • Speaking of the SWAC, Southern has gotten off to a rough start, but the Jaguars pushed Denver to overtime before losing 75-74 to the Pioneers. Southern trailed by as many as nine in the second half, but battled back to take a late lead before a pair of Chris Udofia free throws tied the score with 48 seconds left in regulation. Yondarius Johnson scored nine of his 16 points in overtime including the three-ball that closed the final score, but it just wasn't enough in the end.
  • Florida International gets a mention here at the bottom because they lost 77-59 to Nova Southeastern. Yes, that name sounds unfamiliar for the exact reason you expect - Nova is a D-II team that was 1-5 entering tonight's game. Again to recap, the Panthers turned the ball over 23 times last night, and managed to lose by 18 points to a near-winless D-II squad. We'll have more this weekend, but clearly this team is struggling to replace Raymond Taylor.