Weekend Review: A Streak Ends for Kansas, And UConn's Texas Troubles Continue

1/6/14 in NCAABB   |   EdIsaacson   |   15 respect

The first weekend of the New Year usually signals the start of conference play, though a major non-conference game drew plenty of headlines. Let's take a look back at 3 big games from the weekend:



Connecticut at SMU

Connecticut, coming off a loss to Houston in their AAC opener, had another game in Texas against another new conference mate, SMU on Saturday. It is starting to seem like the state of Texas is not good for the Huskies. SMU had little trouble with UConn, winning 74-65. Sophomore point guard Nic Moore, a transfer from Illinois State, outplayed the more well-known Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright, scoring 20 points, including 3 of 4 from behind the arc, and dishing 6 assists. Senior Nick Russell and sophomore Markus Kennedy did a great job on the boards, collecting 15 rebounds, while also scoring a combined 24 points.  Freshmen guards Sterling Brown and Keith Frazier will be two players to keep an eye on as the year goes on. Larry Brown had a solid defensive plan for the Mustangs, forcing UConn to shoot from the perimeter and not let them get into the lane, and his team did a great job, holding UConn to 37% shooting, 31% from three-point range.

UConn's trio of Napier, Boatright, and DeAndre Daniels were held to 10 of 29 from the floor, though 5 of 11 from three-point range. The Mustangs also beat them handily on the boards, with a defensive rebound percentage of 68.8% and offensive rebound percentage of 41.9%.   

San Diego State at Kansas

Kansas went into this game with a 68-game non-conference winning streak at Allen Field House. 2 hours later, the streak was over as San Diego State outplayed Kansas for most of the game to come away with a 61-57 win.   Xavier Thames continued his strong senior year with 16 tough points. Though he shot only 5 of 16, two of those were big threes as Kansas mounted a comeback. The Aztec duo of Josh Davis and Skylar Spencer dominated the Jayhawks on the interior, combining for 23 points and 23 rebounds. The Aztecs forced the Jayhawks to shoot from the perimeter as often as possible and the results weren’t pretty. Kansas was held to 30% from the floor, including 25% from three-point range. It was just enough for Steve Fisher’s team which shot 38% from the floor, but outrebounded Kansas on the offensive glass 19 to 13, and 47 to 35 overall.

For the Jayhawks, Andrew Wiggins had trouble getting his shot to drop early on, and his woes carried throughout the game. He finished with 14 points on just 4 of 14 from the field.  Joel Embiid had 12 points and 12 rebounds, but was consistently getting pushed around by the Aztecs more aggressive forwards. Naadir Tharpe was a combination of bad decision-making and bad shooting, leading to an awful game, including just 5 points on 2 of 10 from the floor. Wayne Selden, Jr. offered very little himself with 6 points on 2 of 8 shooting, while fellow freshman Frank Mason tried to get the Jayhawks going in the 2nd half by attacking the basket and getting out in transition. The biggest mistake on the Jayhawks part was the defensive rotations, or lack of, whenever San Diego State went to the high screen to get to the basket. Embiid would hedge out on the ballhandler, but nobody rotated behind him to stop any passes.

USC at UCLA

There is no love lost between the two new PAC-12 coaches in Los Angeles, but Sunday was the first time Steve Alford and Andy Enfield would be on opposite benches at the coaches of UCLA and USC. Nothing happened of note between the two coaches during the game, but UCLA dominated on the court, scoring 107 points and beating the Trojans by 34 points.  The UCLA guards did the damage with their pace on Sunday, along with getting easy shots all afternoon long. Kyle Anderson led the way with 23 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists, while fellow sophomore Jordan Adam had 21 points, including 5 of 8 from behind the arc, and 6 steals. The freshman duo of Zach LaVine and Bryce Alford combined for 36 points on 12 of 20 from the floor, and 6 of 9 from three-point range.

USC’s lone bright spot continues to be the play of junior Byron Wesley, who finished with 21 points and 9 rebounds. The Trojan defense just couldn’t stop the Bruins, allowing them to shoot 58% overall, including 48% from three.   
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