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NCAA Daily Links

Fri, 12/23/2011 - 1:38pm

December 23, 2011

It has been a busy holiday season for NCAA Basketball. While most students are home for the holidays, basketball season keeps right on moving with the end of most team'Brad BealBrad Beals non-conference schedules and a few late pre-conference tournaments. Here is the latest NCAA Daily to break down the latest news and action:

Beal Big in #11 Florida's Win Over Florida State
(Scott Carter/FoxSportsFlorida.com)

Florida knew that it was getting one of the top incoming freshmen in the nation when they signed SG Bradley Beal, but people were anxious to see where he would fit in. This is a team, after all, that had made the Elite 8 the year before, were returning both of their starting guards and had incoming transfer Mike Rosario who would definitely require minutes. After this last game against Florida State, it is safe to say that Beal is fitting in just fine and may indeed not only be the Gators best prospect, but also their best player.

Beal had 21 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals in an 82-64 win over rival Florida State, with a beautiful throw down dunk and his usual shooting barrage. His offensive prowess, capped by a picturesque shooting stroke, has the names of NBA stars Ray Allen and Eric Gordon being thrown around as possible comparisons. Beal is very much carving out his own niche as a make shift SF, averaging a solid 6.3 rpg on the season to go along with 15.5 ppg.

Billy Donovan's bunch played with fantastic intensity, led by Beal, but given a solid punch from numerous players. Junior Kenny Boynton, the Gators leading scorer on the season, struggled for his 14 points. Boynton's defense was exemplary, however, and he turned the tides on the usually defensive minded FSU Seminoles. Patric Young was another huge key to the victory, with 15 points (7-7 FG!) and one of the more beautiful blocks of the year. Young pinned center Bernard James shot against the glass with one monstrous swat, coming down with the ball as well.

The Seminoles still played some tough defense at times, but were thoroughly outclassed by a much more competent Florida offense. The bottom line is, these Noles struggle to score the ball in the best of times. When you are up against a team with Florida's fire power, they needed much more than they received. They held FSU's leading scorer, Michael Snaer, to 4 points and Young dominated their big men physically. Florida State does have a lot of big bodies and can be imposing to some teams, but Florida stood up to them beautifully in this win.

Shabazz Napier Powers #8 UConn To Victory
(Don Amore/Hartford Courant)

Connecticut scored a 79-71 win over in-state Fairfield, but coach Jim Calhoun did not mince words about his disappointment in his teams play.

"We got up by 20 points, and then we decided it was time to go home for Christmas," Jim Calhoun said.

The Huskies were indeed up by 22 points with 13:22 remaining, but saw that lead slip to 3 after a Rakim Sanders lay-up with 2:23 in the game. Luckily, the Huskies managed to pull the game out, but Calhoun has every right to be bold about his teams performance. In many ways, the Huskies are coming together as a club, but you never want to let up on a lead, because the outcome could have definitely been different.

Shabazz Napier had 24 points on the night after having 3 games in single digits. The sophomore floor general has taken on a leadership role with the departure of last seasons team star, Kemba Walker. Fellow soph Jeremy Lamb, the teams leading scorer on the season, chipped in with 18 points. The two players got off to a very hot start, but when they let their guard down, Fairfield countered with a perimeter barrage that had them back in the game.

Andre Drummond, going up against teammate Tyler Olander's brother Ryan on Fairfield, had a fantastic first half capped off by a steal for a dunk to put UConn up 20 going into the half. Drummond finished with 16 points, 9 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 blocks, but Calhoun was not impressed with Drummond's second half intensity. The big man had only one basket and rebound after half time. Fairfield is not a bad team, led by former Boston College forward Rakim Sanders with 20 in the game, but this should be a wake-up call for Connecticut to play high intensity basketball all game long.

#9 Missouri Wins Bragging Rights Over #25 Illinois
(Paul Klee/IlliniHQ.com/The News-Gazette)

In what is referred to as "The Braggin' Rights Game", Illinois could not hold on to beat rival Missouri in a close 78-74 contest. Illinois even had the lead with close to 2 minutes remaining, but Missouri pulled out their toughest victory of the season by far remaing a perfect 12-0. Marcus Denmon struggled from the field for the Tigers, who relied on Flip Pressey and Michael Dixon scoring 18 apiece. Ricardo Ratliffe also had 14 points on 7-10 FG shooting, below his season average of 76.2%.

Illinois had some big performances of there own, with sophomore Joseph Bertrand having the game of his short career. Bertrand was perfect from the field and line, as his 19 points were more than he had scored his entire freshman season. Brandon Paul continued to work towards becoming a more aggressive scorer, with 19 points of his own and 10 rebounds. 7-foot soph Meyers Leonard also made his presence felt in the close loss, as he finished with 14 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists for the Illini. The team is now 11-2 on the season.

#2 Ohio State Routs Miami (OH)
(Doug Lesmerises/The Plain Dealer)

Despite Julian Mayunga having a 20-10 performance one would usually reserve for Jared Sullinger, his Redhawks lost to the Buckeyes 69-40. It was a relatively quiet night for Sullinger, who had 11 points and 6 rebounds in 24 minutes, still seeming to shake off some injuries. Senior guard William Buford had 18 points and Deshaun Thomas had 15 as the Buckeyes outscored their opponents by 20 in the second half. Freshman LaQuinton Ross made his season debut for the team, scoring 5 points in 4 garbage time minutes.

Wiltjer Scores The Difference For #3 Kentucky
(Kyle Tucker/Courier-Journal)

The game would have ended in a tie if you took out Kyle Wiltjer's 24 points. Well, more than likely not, but the freshman filled in admirably once again for the injured Terrence Jones in Kentucky's 87-63 blow-out over Loyola (MD). Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist each scored 15 points as the Greyhounds got a heavy dose of the Wildcats fantastic freshmen. Davis tapped off his day with 11 rebounds and 3 big time blocks for the now 11-1 Wildcats. Only one more game left against Lamar until their monstrous rivalry showdown with Louisville on New Year's Eve!

#6 Baylor Tops St. Mary's At Las Vegas Classic
(Steve Carp/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

It was 5'10 junior Pierre Jackson's home coming, but Baylor's stars Quincy Miller and Perry Jones III stole the show. Miller had a game high 15 points while Jones III added 14, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks. Senior Quincy Acy chipped in with a 12-10 double-double and the Bears ended an 8 game St. Mary's win streak, 72-59. The Bears are now 11-0 while the Gaels are now 10-2 on the season. Baylor gets a tough game tonight in the finals of the Las Vegas Classic against West Virginia. The game is at 9 pm EST and should give Baylor one of their better opponents thus far.

Bob Huggins Claims 700th Career Win As West Virginia Wins OT Thriller Over Missouri State
(John Terry/The Daily Athenaeum)

Coach Bob Huggins added his 700th career victory, but it did not come easy. It appeared he made have to wait a game until freshman Gary Browne hit a 3 with 1.6 seconds left in the game to send it to OT. They ended up pulling out a 70-68 win to get to the finals of the Las Vegas Classic. Afterwards, Browne definitely was happy to be a part in getting his coach this big time win.

"He's going to be my coach for four years. I've had a lot of coaches back home that are really good, but Coach Huggins is a hall of famer," Browne said, who finished with 13 points and seven rebounds. "I respect him. I want to learn everything he tells me. Number 700 win means a lot for him, but if we don't win (against Baylor Friday), this win won't mean anything to him."

Kevin Jones and Truck Bryant played the entire game for Huggins Mountaineers, Jones finishing with 16 points and 13 rebounds while Bryant chipped in with 15. Should be a very interesting contest against Baylor tonight, hopefully West Virginia has some legs for all of those athletes.

West Virginia's Aaric Murray Arrested on Misdemeanor Charge
(Andrew Forgotch/wdtv.com)

In some bad news that came before the game, West Virginia center Aaric Murray was arrested. Murray was charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana while at home in Philadelphia. The center is not currently playing with the team, sitting out the one year required as he transferred from LaSalle.

Men's basketball coach Bob Huggins told 5 News in a statement, "I've been alerted about the situation and the matter will be handled internally".

We will see what happens, but it appears to be some unfortunate news. Murray is expected to make a big impact once he hits the court, but the team definitely could have lived without this news during a day that obviously was about a major achievement for the team and their coach.

#1 Syracuse Uses Big End of Half Run To Stay Unbeaten
(Brent Axe/Syracuse.com)

The Orangemen seemed to be going back and forth with opponent Tulane, until a 19-0 run put them in the drivers seat for the rest of the contest. The Orange once again displayed their remarkable depth to score an 80-61 victory over the Green Wave. This victory should be enough to keep Syracuse at the top spot in the nation after Christmas. Dion Waiters led the Orangemen with 15 points while senior wing Kris Joseph had 13.

#14 Xavier Still Reeling After Brawl, Drop Another Game
(Shannon Russell/Cincinnati.com)

Star PG Tu Holloway returned, but that was not enough as Xavier fell 68-58 in their match-up with Long Beach State 49ers in the Diamond Head Classic. Surely Honolulu would have been much nicer for the Musketeers if they had the services of Mark Lyons and Dez Wells, but both were still serving suspensions after a bench clearing brawl against rival Cincinnati. Holloway had a game high 17 points, but it was not enough to overcome five 49ers in double figures.

Long Beach State may only be 6-5, but the 49ers have played once of the nations toughest schedules and were ready for a Xavier team without some key components. Mark Lyons suspension should be lifted for tonights consolation contest with Hawaii. The 49ers are set to play Auburn in the finals of the Hawaiian tournament.

#16 Georgetown Tops Memphis, Again
(Michael Palmer/The Hoya)

After needing OT to beat Memphis at the Maui Invitational, Georgetown held them off once again at home, 70-59. Georgetown built a 20 point lead with around 12 minutes remaining and while Memphis battled back to cut the lead to 7, Georgetown held course. Senior guard Jason Clark had 18 for the Hoyas, while junior win Hollis Thompson had a nice 17 and 9. Sophomore's Chris Crawford and Will Barton had 17 and 12 respectively, though Barton struggled shooting on the day. Barton did add 11 rebounds for his 5th double-double of the season.

Moultrie Monstrous for #18 Mississippi State
(Ross Dellenger/Clarion Ledger)

The Bulldogs continue to be on a major roll and Arnett Moultrie seems to be the ring leader. Moultrie had 24 points (8-11 FG, 8-8 FT) and 14 rebounds as the Dogs dropped the Demons of Northwestern State, 82-67. It is Moultrie's 7th double-double in 13 games this season as the junior pulled down 11 offensive boards! He is quickly becoming a name everybody knows in regards to this upcoming draft with rare athleticism for a 6'11 player. Fellow junior Renardo Sidney had 9 points in 11 minutes for Miss State as he is rested a wounded knee.

Drew Crawford's 34 Not Enough To Conquer #23 Creighton
(Steve Pivovar/Omaha World-Herald)

Junior wing Drew Crawford had an impressive 34 points (13-17 FG, 3-4 3PT, 5-5 FT), but it was not enough as his Northwestern Wildcats lost 87-79 to the Creighton Bluejays. Jays star Doug McDermott scored 27 points, even after being saddled to the bench for 12 minutes after two quick fouls in the first half. John Shurna played the entire game for Northwestern, putting up 18 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists, but obviously had little answer for McDermott. Creighton moved to 10-1 on the season, with junior Grant Gibbs setting a new CenturyLink Center record with 12 assists.

#19 Michigan State Overcomes First Half Deficit In Beating Lehigh
(Brandon Howell/MLive.com)

Draymond Green scored 11 of his 16 points in the second half as Michigan State went from a 3 point first half deficit to a 90-81 win over Lehigh. The senior forward, who came off of the bench for unspecified reasons, overcame a 1-8 start from the field, grabbing 10 rebouns with 6 blocks in the victory. Keith Appling led the Spartans with 19 points, going 12-12 from the FT line, while freshman Branden Dawson had 14 points and 8 boards. Lehigh's Holden Greiner had a game high 24 points, with CJ McCollum chipping in with 19 in the loss.

#17 Indiana Shows Impressive Depth in Whupping UMBC
(Tim Ethridge/Evansville Courier & Press)

Playing without key reserves Will Sheehey and Derek Elston, not to mention losing Verdell Jones to injury at the close of the first half, Indiana perservered to an 89-47 win over Maryland Baltimore-County. Kentucky game hero Christian Watford led the charge with 22 points and 10 rebounds as Tom Crean's team is now 12-0 heading into Big 10 competition. With all things considered, the Hoosiers appear to be a mortal lock for the NCAA tournament unless more unforeseen injuries arise. It will be upon them just how high they are seeded, but they have shown an ability to compete with the best when at full strength.

Early Christmas Present For Cuonzo Martin?
(Patrick Brown/Times Free Press)

Certainly appears that way, as blue-chip recruit Jarnell Stokes informed the general populace of his intentions to play basketball for the Tennessee Volunteers. The plan appears to be that Stokes, who is now a high school graduate, will play for the Vols at the start of the new semester in January. This is definitely not typical for a big time recruit to do such a thing, but I am assuming the struggling Vols would love to get a big, athletic boost in the form of the 6'8 and 250 pound Stokes. If he is cleared for eligibility, struggling Tennessee could be a lot tougher to take down in the SEC.

That is Friday's NCAA Daily, thank you for reading! Happy Holidays, Happy Channukah, Merry Christmas and everything good as 2011 is quickly coming to a close. Hope everyone enjoys their Christmas present in the form of the NBA! SO EXCITED! I will be back with more, but again, wishing all of my readers the best in this holiday season!

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Memphis might be struggling

Memphis might be struggling right now becuz of a tough early schedule and lack of defense,lack of size upfront,poor rebounding and too much 1 on 1 play..But Will Barton has stepped up this year and might make someone's all american list..Freshman Adonis Thomas has played well lately,Pastner wants him to be tougher inside...Seton Hall Transfer F Hall might help them..Nobody really knows whats going on between coach Pastner and gaurd Charles Camouche,1 day Pastner says he's ready to play, the next day Pastner says he's sitting out ,then the next day Pastner says Camouche is injured...But 1 of the team's biggest problems is Joe Jackson after performing well during the summer Jackson has been a disappointment so far..But he did spark a rally in the 2nd half of the lost to Louisville..If Jackson picks up his game this will be a much different Memphis team...

Mississippi State might have 1 of the top best starting lineups in the nation..Moultrie hasnt shown any signs of rust dispite sitting out a year..Sidney seems alot more motivated this year,he was off to a great start in the 1st half of last night's game until he had to sit out the 2nd half becuz of an injury..Reports today say he's available to play the next game....

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