The plan is to run this College Basketball column on Friday. Due to the holiday, we pushed it to Monday, but expect them on Friday from now on. We won’t be covering No. 1 UNC losing; the Tar Heels got an entire post early Sunday morning.
1. UConn led the University of Central Florida 50-33 with 17 minutes left in the game Friday in the Bahamas … and lost, 68-63. It was the first defeat for the defending champs. Number worth remembering: point guard Shabazz Napier committed seven turnovers. The next night, in the 3rd place game against Florida State, freshman Ryan Boatright made his debut. He plays point guard, too. His first college line: 33 minutes, zero turnovers, three assists, 14 points, and three clutch FTs with :07 left to force overtime. Boatright, Napier and Lamb might a Bibby-Simon-Dickerson combo come March.
2. Slow your roll on Long Beach State. Remember how the 49ers won at Pittsburgh? It has now lost to San Diego State – Steve Fisher’s team has beaten USC and Arizona since a loss to Baylor – and Montana. Casper Ware (18 ppg) is still one of the best mid-major players in the country, but before crowning LBSU as a March sleeper or dreaming about an at-large berth, let’s see how it does against Louisville (tonight), Kansas, UNC and Xavier in the coming weeks.
3. Anthony Davis, factor: The Kentucky freshman, who probably has already overtaken Harrison Barnes as the top draft pick in the 2012 NBA draft, is 2nd in the country in blocks (26 in six games). He’s a dunking machine, he runs the floor like a gazelle, and to me, is the spitting image of Marcus Camby, though he handles much better and has more range on his jumper.
4. Guard controversy in Syracuse? The Orange won the NIT Tipoff at Madison Square Garden last week, but the real story was the crunch time minutes going to sophomore guard Dion Waiters – he’s a Stevie Thompson clone – instead of senior Scoop Jardine. Waiters attacks the rim and has a better shot selection. (We briefly talked about Waiters’ minutes this summer.). Will Boeheim – assuming he survives this Bernie Fine mess – be able to massage egos?
5. UCLA still stinks. Yes, we’ve covered UCLA plenty, but are you aware the 1-4 Bruins still don’t have a win over a Division I team? Chaminade is a DII school. The Bruins hope to get that much-needed win tonight against 3-2 Pepperdine.
6. A Comeback That Trumps Central Florida’s: Texas led NC State 65-47 with 11:43 left in the 2nd half a week ago, and then J’Covan Brown was hit with a technical foul. The technical was Brown’s 5th foul, ending his night. NC State went on an astounding 28-2 run spanning nine minutes and won, 77-74. Brown, UT’s best player, had 17 points when he fouled out. Said NC State coach Mark Gottfried: “J’Covan Brown, he sliced us up like a side of fries.”
7. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist threw it down. An unknown player on Portland just got annihilated. It isn’t often you see two-handed dunks over opponents.
8. Most Clutch Shot of Thanksgiving Week: Tyler Thornton, Duke. Yes, this is probably included because Duke was a 5.5 point favorite and it didn’t look like the Blue Devils would cover down one with 80 seconds left. Then Thornton hit two three pointers and Mason Plumlee sank two free throws and Duke won, 68-61. Also, this was an incredible basketball game, the best one I’ve seen of the young season.
9. The basketball career of Tim Abromaitis might be over. Technically, there’s still a chance Notre Dame’s best player petitions for a 6th season. But a torn ACL (in practice) might be a career-ender. He’s not an NBA prospect, but was a very nice college player, and is currently 38th in scoring in school history.
10. The week that is: Xavier vs. Vanderbilt (Monday), Duke vs. Ohio State (Tuesday), Wisconsin vs. North Carolina (Wednesday), Florida at Syracuse (Friday), UNC vs. Kentucky (Saturday).