Santa, through his NYC-based elves, left us tickets to the UAB-UNC game, so on this beautiful, warm December afternoon we caravanned to the Dean Dome for a late afternoon game.
Last year UAB surprised UNC in Alabama. This year the Blazers traveled to Chapel Hill and lost 89-58. Marcus Paige and Justin Jackson pulled the Heels away with their three point shots. Paige had been off his shot for the past few games but today connected for 2-6 from beyond the arc. Justin Jackson hit 2-3 of is three pointers. Kennedy Meets was on his game tonight cleaning up under the basket, hitting mid-range jumpers, doing his part from the line. Though, the free throw stars for the night go to Isaiah Hicks (5-6) and Nate Britt (4-4). Those FT percentages win games, especially as conference play draws closer.
Tonight is the first night I paid much attention to the new point guard Joel Berry. The point guard position is a hard one to learn. He is beginning to get his feet under him and blossom (short bursts) in the role. Marcus Paige is shining bright right now, but it is good to see Berry learning how to be a Tar Heel PG.
On another note, while I was hopeful that neither Louisville nor Kentucky would win….Kentucky did.
It seems that upsets were in the air in college basketball tonight.
Stanford upset #9 Texas in OT. After loosing to BYU last week, Stanford was looking for redemption and it happened to be wearing orange. With a jump shot from the free throw line in the final seconds, Chasson Randle contributed 22 points and teammate Anthony Brown added 25 more. Texas outshot Stanford 52% to 38% in second half, but Stanford stayed in the game with offensive rebounds and 9 second chance points to the Longhorns 0. This is the first top ten win for Stanford since 2008.
In a shocking (to me at least, I’ve not had my eye on UNLV), the Running Rebels dethrone #3 Arizona from the realm of the unbeatens. I would describe UNLV as inconsistent at best. They have talent, but have had some eye catching losses. It seemed to come together for them tonight as Arizona generally fell apart. The Wildcats struggled all around with some of their starters in foul trouble.
Another OT surprise was #11 Wichita States 1 point win against Hawaii. I watched the beginning of this game and had I known there would be 22 lead changes, 5 in OT alone, I’d have made more of an effort to stay awake. I thought the Shockers had this one in the bag. The final OT play, which looked really similar to their only loss to Utah last year, let them slip by Hawaii to meet George Washington in the final.
In Women’s news, congratulations to South Carolina for topping the AP poll for the fifth straight week. The Gamecocks are ahead of traditional powerhouses UConn (2), Texas (3), and surprisingly Stanford (16). This is the first time the Cardinal has been out of the top ten since 2009 and the lowest they have ranked since 2006 after two surprising losses to Tennessee and Chattanooga (go SoCon!). Welcome Oregon State Lady Beavers (10); they have cracked the top ten for the first time in school history. Always nice to see some new faces at the top!
Former SoCon rival Elon beat UNCG today 71-64. It has been since January 2010 since the Spartans have bested the Phoenix.
Though in the first half Elon was in desperate need of a break for dribble drills, they had three (if not four, I stopped counting) turnovers on walks. If you move with the ball, you have to be dribbling it. Pretty simple, really. The Phoenix also twice fouled our three point shooter- the dumbest play in basketball. There was sloppy passing on both sides and UNCG just could not get their feet under them.
I am also confused as to why Diante Baldwin did not start. He played 30 minutes, but did not start. The Spartans are more focused with a point guard on the court and Baldwin is the best player for that position-why is he not starting?
As for stats, Elon lead in points in the paint, points off turnovers, and points off fast breaks. Their bench was deep contributing 29 points to our 6. Wes was frustrated and it showed. He was particular animated on the sidelines and with just a few seconds left in the game a Technical Foul was assessed to the bench, but it was on Coach Miller. He was mad and it is always nice to see passion on the sidelines!
Coming off last game’s free throw shooting, this game was marked improvement 23-30 (77%) and 10% better than Elon’s 67%. Of course, the 7 points left on the court would have pushed us into overtime.
Our next home game is on New Year’s Eve in Fleming Gym. Such a fun place to watch basketball.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the halftime score of the kentucky-UCLA game: 41-7. Yes, UCLA scored 7 points in 20 minutes of basketball. Those players in that particular shade of blue scored 24 points before the Bruins put any points on the board. God, I hate Kentucky. But it did lead to this sentence, so there, “This was the most lopsided first half of basketball since the Monstars jumped out to a 66-18 lead on the Tune Squad in the movie Space Jam.”
I made two blog posts as pages, so I am combining them into one post and cleaning up the blog:
Battle of Tate Street:
While these two schools do not technically share a border, both UNCG and Greensboro College share space on Tate St. They are separated by mere feet, so yesterday’s game at the Coliseum was essentially a home game for both teams. It was an 11:30am start and kids from Guildford County were in attendance as part of the GCS Education Fair.
I was late to the game and walked in with the Spartans down 22-9, but UNCG turned on the turbo and ended the half tied at 41. This was a close game, UNCG never led by more than 7, the Pride led by 15 at one point, and they were tied 9 times. The stats for both teams show why it was such a close game: Free Throw shooting was excellent on both sides- Greensboro College an impressive 92% (12-13) and UNCG 86.4%. This is how free throws should look at all games.
Beyond that, the field goal percentage for each team was 44% for Greensboro College and 45% for the Spartans. The Pride connected on 50% from beyond the arc and UNCG made 30% of theirs.
I would be remiss not to mention the TWO fouls on three point shooters committed by the Spartans. One connected for a total of 4 points for the Pride on a single play and one missed with their shooter making all three free throws. Fouling a three point shooter is the worst play in the book and we did it twice.
What I think helped put UNCG up was help off the bench. UNCG got 21 bench points highlighted by Jordy Kuiper and Diante Baldwin. This was Baldwin’s first game of the season, as he has been dealing with an knee injury, and it is delightful to have a true point guard on the court!
NC State vs Wofford:
There is a particular shade of dark blue that I hate.
Kentucky beat UNC this weekend. It was awful and there’s not much more to be said there.
I was much more stunned by the 55-54 upset of NC State by the Wofford Terriers last night. The Terriers made their late basket and State’s got waved off leaving Wofford up by one.
I’m not sure why I’m surprised. Wofford was last season’s SoCon Champion (UNCG’s conference) and they “returned nearly its entire team from last year’s Southern Conference tournament champions, and is the preseason favorite to win the league again.” Parity is coming to men’s basketball (women’s is a whole other conversation- but “way to go” to South Carolina for being #1 over traditional powerhouses UConn, Tenn, and Stanford this week). Even though the ACC has lost to SoCon before (Va Tech, Georgia Tech come to mind- and we are not talking about when some of those teams were in the SoCon), it is still surprising, but it shouldn’t be. A team like Wofford, with a recent conference championship, returning much of it’s experience and leadership should be a force to be reckoned with. The schools that tend to attract the one and dones (ESPN top10s, height that other conferences can’t recruit, and the NBA’s own rule about being a year out of high school are all details we can discuss) can have flashes of greatness, but schools that build solid teams with leadership and experience- and we can look at mid-major conferences here like VCU’s Shaka Smart- step up to those larger courts and televised games with knowledge and support, from their coaches and each other, to win close games like this one.
Tomorrow UNCG faces UNC at the Greensboro coliseum, their own home court. Will UNC be looking for a recovery win? Will UNCG capitalize on their recent winning ways? Either way, I’ve got GREAT seats!
Over 11,000 people trekked to the Greensboro Coliseum today to watch the UNCG Spartans take on the UNC Tar Heels. While there was plenty of Blue and Gold represented, it was practically a home game for UNC since it is only about 50 miles from campus to campus.
The final score UNC 79- UNCG 56. The Tar Heels led the the whole game, but it was not a beautiful game on either side. If I had to describe this game in three words it would be sloppy, hesitant, and unfocused. Both teams had issues with throwing the ball away and poor passing. UNCG, in particular, didn’t follow through on their shots causing some easy points to be missed- not to mention the free throw misses. The 15 points that the Spartans left out of play at the line would have put them in contention for this game. However, the Spartans did find their game in the second half- scoring 39 points- and began to play with more confidence.
Numbers for the Tar Heels will not blow anyone away- 49% FG, 21% from the three, and 69% from the line. UNCG has plenty of room for improvement (hopefully before we meet Elon on Saturday)- 35% FG, 21% three points, and 42% free throw. That is where the Spartans need to practice- 42% is just not acceptable at the college level.
For the Spartans Kayel Locke led with 17 points. Nicholas Paulos contributed 12, including some late threes that brought the crowd to their feet. Diante Baldwin, who did not start the game, added a respectable 13 from the point guard position. It is nice to have a point guard back on the court and my question for Wes Miller is: why is Baldwin not starting? With the leadership he showed today he should be one of the starting five on Saturday.
The Spartans lost to triad rivals HPU 76-68 tonight. While there was effort on the floor and a few bright plays, particularly by Tevon Saddler and RJ White, this was a game lost in the hustle. UNCG committed 16 turnovers, was soundly out rebounded, and left points on the foul line. None of which win games.
I had to teach, so I was late to the game. However, we went into halftime behind by 7, the game comfortably in range. In the second half, Nicholas Paulos hit a three to top of a 10-0 run and tie the game at 45, but the Spartans didn’t rally from there.
The refs were on a foul calling rampage tonight, with both coaches demonstratively showing their displeasure at the calls. Wes, at one point, looked for something to kick (but held himself back) and later in the half threw his pen in frustration. And it was frustrating, I believe Jordy Kuiper got a foul when he was nowhere near a player and RJ White, who subsequently fouled out of the game, had a foul called on him while he was prone on the floor. I’m not sure if the refs cleaned their contacts before this game!
As is often the case, the better foul shooting team wins the game. HPU shot for 84.8% from the line tonight only leaving behind 5 points. While UNCG could not have one this game on the line, leaving 6 points on the charity stripe (60%), it would have made it much easier to be in the running in the last two minutes.
Next Wednesday we meet Greensboro College in a day game. We play at 11:30 and kids from the Guilford County Schools will be there. As long as none is paying attention- I’m gonna play hooky for the afternoon!