Tuesday’s Shootaround: Not doubting Syracuse and not buying Baylor
No. 5 Kansas 59, Kansas State 53: See here.
No. 2 Syracuse 52, No. 18 Louisville 51: Sometimes, we look too deep into the outcome of a game, which is why some people look at the score and the opponent and think that, somehow, this should take away from what we think about the Orange. Let’s put this in a vacuum. The No. 2 team in the country goes on the road to play the No. 18 team, who also happens to be one of the hottest teams in the country, and comes out with a win despite playing poorly. That’s a bad thing? Because that is precisely what happened at the Yum! Center on Monday night.
There is no question that Syracuse is a better team than they showed tonight. Scoop Jardine played as poorly as he has all year -- he shot 0-8 from the floor, but he did hand out five assists while turning the ball over just twice -- and neither Kris Joseph nor Dion Waiters were much better. CJ Fair, who scored 13 points on 5-12 shooting, and Fab Melo, who chipped in with 11, were the offensive stars for a Syracuse team that managed to shoot just 34.1% from the floor. Generally speaking, that’s not the formula for winning on the road, especially when you are playing a team that perennially has your number.
Louisville went on a 15-2 run to take a 51-46 lead with 3:39 left. The Orange were on the ropes, and they buckled down. Louisville didn’t score again, and the Orange left with a win. Remind me again: how is this a bad thing?
No. 10 Baylor 79, Iowa State 64: This is where we fall into the trap of Baylor (which is ironic given Baylor’s trouble with a trapping defense), because they actually looked good against Iowa State. Pierre Jackson was creating, Perry Jones and Quincy Miller looked like lottery picks, Baylor hit their threes and Quincy Acy dunked everything he could get his hands on. Iowa State is the fourth best team in the Big 12, and they got handled easily by the Bears.
The problem is that we know its all a ruse. We saw what happened when they played against Kansas and when they took on Missouri. We know how Bears reacted when they took a punch against an elite level team. I’m not buying it until I see Baylor do this against Kansas or Missouri, and that will have to wait for the Big 12 Tournament.
Delaware State 74, Morgan State 73: Tahj Tate went for 24 points as the Hornets continued their run towards the top of the MEAC standings. Jay Threat added 12 points, nine boards, five assists and three steals, but it was Marcus Oliver who, for the second straight game, who was the hero. He scored the game-winning bucket on a put-back at the buzzer.
Mississippi Valley State 58, Southern 53: The Delta Devils all but clinched the SWAC’s regular season title on Monday night. Behind 23 points and 15 boards from Paul Crosby, MVSU took a four-game lead on second-place Southern with five games left to play. Barring a massive collapse, MVSU will win a league title and, at worst, be heading to the NIT.
Belmont 106, Stetson 93: Ian Clarke scored 23 points to lead five players in double figures as the Bruins moved into a first-place tie with Mercer atop the Atlantic Sun standings. At 12-2, they hold a two-game lead. They also play on the last day of the regular season. That will be fun.