Posted on: December 6, 2011 9:09 am

Basketball Wakeup Call: Vitale gets court honors

By Matt Norlander

This got a lot of run on the 'Net Monday: the 45 Most Powerful Images of 2011. Just some absolute all-timers in there. // Yesterday had to be the biggest day in space news in ever. First, there was the planet with possible life on it. // We've got NASA Voyager up and out of this piece we call our Solar System. // The really happy news: astronomers have found black holes the size of 10 billion suns. There's only one way for this party to end, folks. // I hate that lists start so early in December (can't we wait until the 20th or so?), but here are/were the top stories on Twitter, Yahoo and Bing ...

★ How great was it that Dickie V got the floor named in his honor at Detroit last night? Good for him.

★ Utah's dumpster fire of a season continues.

★ The third accuser in the Bernie Fine case has fessed up to molesting a young himself.

The 10 sophomores a certain high-profile CBS TV analyst thinks you need to be watching for from here through March.

★ If you missed us linking to it yesterday, the gallery of every Sports Illustrated Sportsman or Sportswoman of the Year.

★ Looking at UNC-UK from a scout's perspective. Jonathon Givony does good work here.

★ I absolutely refuse to click on the video linked in this blog post, but I do wonder if Weber State's in for a lot of trouble in the next few weeks.

★ Love the hoops doubleheader. It's really no big deal for those kids -- they played three games in one day on the regular during AAU tournaments.

★ It's already starting to feel like a lost year for Utah State, yes?

★ The details of Chauncey Hardy's death overseas just seem like such a waste. A trial is now pending, since the investigation has been completed.

★ A different kind of Christmas tree.

★ Valpo has certainly become one of the good-not-great surprises of the season.

Now Ben Howland is seeing the light?

► This will get is annual airtime on ESPN tonight. Watch, as usual. Be moved, like you always are. One of the best things about ESPN's programming, undoubtedly.

♬ I could only hold out for a month before giving Jimi a bump. If you're just a casual Hendrix fan, then I just don't get it, but here's a tune you may not have heard before. It's in my top five.

Posted on: December 5, 2011 5:06 pm

Florida expects Erik Murphy back for 'Zona game

By Matt Norlander

After initially indicating it would be "pushing it" to have junior forward Erik Murphy back for his team's Wednesday game against Arizona, Florida head coach Bill Donovan said Murphy is good to go.

The news was first reported by the Associated Press.

Murphy sustained a torn meniscus in his right knee in practice Nov. 24, and missed games against Jacksonville, Stetson and No. 3 Syracuse.

Donovan says Murphy worked out Sunday and felt fine after running. He says Murphy will have limited contact in practice Monday and Tuesday, adding that a setback is the only thing that would prevent Murphy from playing against the Wildcats.

So the possibility remains Murphy still won't play against 6-2 Arizona. The Gators are 5-2, coming off a close loss on the road to Syracuse Friday night. Murphy is big to Florida's system because he's a 6-10 guy who can step out and shoot; he's a matchup problem for a lot of teams, and with him on the floor, the Gators are much more dynamic.

Murphy missed the team's previous three games with a right-knee injury. He is averaging 10 points and four rebounds per game this season.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: December 5, 2011 8:40 am

Wakeup Call: Let's keep laughing at the BCS

By Matt Norlander

Sean Miller is just begging for anyone to give him some love.

Since no one was hurt, I can pull a Jerry and say, "Ah, that's a shame." // Man gets mugged, treats mugger to a meal, gets his wallet back. // THE WORLD INHABITS CREATURES THAT WANT TO END US. // Just good kill-time-til-lunch viewing: Notable front pages from the Los Angeles Times, dating back to 1881. // Is the Internet a bad thing? I'm inclined, on this here webpage, to say no ...

★ 'Twas quite a big weekend in college basketball. Lot of things to try and track. If you missed, here's a link worth checking.

★ Raphielle Johnson also gives you good-to-know anecdotes you could've missed.

★ The Friday night stuff can get buried sometimes, so I wanted to link to what I wrote about Jim Boeheim after he finally apologized following his team's win over Florida.

See if you can find Goodman in this picture.

★ I've said 3 goggles are out of fashion for a good while now. This makes it official.

★ This Doc Sadler ejection was silly, but not silly enough to warrant its own post on here. That's why I'm thankful for Ballin' is a Habit.

★ For me, this is a "well played, John."

★ Dick Vitale: guaranteed to cry a river tonight.

★ Kind of non-hoops, but don't know I never saw this brilliant mock logo before.

★ It's my guess we'll be reading less and less about VCU as the season goes on, so get your familiarity in with this team now.

★ Damian Lillard is lighting and filling it up this year -- unexpectedly. Scoring more per game than any other player in the nation.

★ Player pages and stats and enlightenment are now up at KenPom.com. You can only see them if you have a $20/year subscription. If you want to know more about basketball, hop to it.

★ Yep, this photo will be making the December compilation.

★ If Utah continues along this path of awfulness, it may warrant its own post. But we've got to wait another month or so before really seeing if this is one of the worst BCS teams in the past decade.

► And this is why we had Tu Holloway as one of the five best players in America before the season started.

♬ If you're just tuning in now, since college football's joke of a postseason can now bloom, I offer up a music recommendation every day in this space. Alberta Cross gets the nod today. I honestly have no idea if this band is any good, but I know they hit the spot sometimes. I had this song stuck in my head -- before I knew who played it -- for about four months.

Posted on: December 3, 2011 10:15 pm

Night Court: UK vs. UNC was everything we wanted

Jeff Borzello

Here’s everything you need to know about Saturday’s slate of college basketball games …

Game of the day: Charleston and Chattanooga played two overtimes, and – oh, who am I kidding? Clearly the best game of the day – and possibly the year – was the much-anticipated Kentucky vs. North Carolina tilt. The two teams went back and forth for 40 minutes, with about 10 future first-round picks trading shots and blocks. Down by one in the final seconds, UNC’s John Henson had a chance to hit the winning shot – but Kentucky’s Anthony Davis reached out and blocked the shot, sealing the victory for the Wildcats. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had 17 points and 11 rebounds.

Win to brag about: Marquette went to in-state rival Wisconsin and snapped the Badgers’ 23-game home winning streak, 61-54. The Golden Eagles were without Junior Cadougan, but Darius Johnson-Odom and Todd Mayo stepped up for Buzz Williams’ group. Jordan Taylor struggled for the Badgers, turning it over early and getting saddled with four fouls. Marquette dominated the glass, especially on the offensive end, and also didn’t let Wisconsin get open outside shots.

Loss to hide from: Hate to keep going to the well, but Boston College’s 14-point home loss to Boston University was the latest in a bad Eagles’ defeats. BU had started 0-4, but has now won four in a row. Boston College was outrebounded by 13 and gave up 13 offensive boards.

Player who deserves improper benefits: Tu Holloway didn’t scored the most points of anyone on Saturday, but he proved once again he is the most clutch player in college basketball. He led Xavier to a 19-point comeback in the final 10 minutes, beating Purdue, 66-63. Holloway hit three 3-pointers in a 70-second span in the final two minutes, and also hit the game-clinching free throws. 

Player who does not deserve improper benefits: Robert Sacre didn’t have a bad stat line on Saturday, finishing with 16 points in an 82-75 loss to Illinois. However, he scored only two points over the final 24:22, and grabbed just two rebounds all game. Defensively, he allowed Meyers Leonard to post 21 points and six rebounds. Despite having Sacre and Elias Harris, Gonzaga was also outscored in the paint. That just shouldn’t happen.

Numbers don’t lie:

  • 1.95: That was the points per possession for Xavier in the final 8:03, when it overcame a huge second-half deficit.
  • 1991: The last time Tulane started a season 9-0, which the Green Wave now are after beating Georgia Tech on Saturday. It was their first win over an ACC win in eight years.
  • 23: The number of offensive rebounds Connecticut allowed against Arkansas, despite winning 75-62. When’s the last time a UConn frontline allowed so many second chances? 

Three other notable results:

  1. Spurred by seven points in 90 seconds from Ashton Gibbs, Pittsburgh beat Tennessee in the Panthers’ first game without Travon Woodall.
  2. Led by 19 points from Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan defeated Iowa State, 76-66. Royce White had 22 and 13 for the Cyclones.
  3. Kansas outscored South Florida by 25 points in the second half en route to a 70-42 victory.


  • Evan Ravanel started in place of the injured Jared Sullinger for Ohio State. He had 11 points and seven rebounds in an easy win over Texas Pan American.
  • Reeves Nelson played zero minutes in the second half, as Texas outscored UCLA by 16 after halftime and won 69-59. Ben Howland said Nelson missed a defensive assignment in the first half.
  • USC’s Dewayne Dedmon was expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a stress fracture in his right foot, but he started on Sunday, playing 26 minutes.

On tap: There’s no Kentucky vs. North Carolina for you, but Sunday has a pretty solid slate of games. Two undefeated teams go at it when Baylor travels to Northwestern, and UNLV puts its 8-0 record on the line against Missouri Valley contender Wichita State. Out west, California and San Diego State will wage battle. An under-the-radar matchup could be Dayton against 8-0 Murray State.

Photo: US Presswire

Posted on: December 3, 2011 2:08 pm
Edited on: December 3, 2011 2:16 pm

UK vs. UNC lives up to all the hype -- and more

By Jeff Goodman

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Almost always, these games don't live up to the billing. This didn't -- it exceeded expectations.

It has been hyped all offseason as the No. 1 vs. No. 2. As it turned out, North Carolina came into the game fifth in the nation -- after a road loss to UNLV -- and it was Kentucky that entered with the top billing.

But it didn't matter.

The game was electric from the tip. Kentucky punched North Carolina in the mouth, taking a quick 9-2 lead. However, the Tar Heels responded and wound up taking a 43-38 lead into the break.

However, North Carolina also went into halftime with three fouls on star forward Harrison Barnes - who picked up his third with a little more than six minutes in the first half.

Then it was Doron Lamb who backed up his words in the second half.

Lamb, who less than 24 hours prior said that his team was more talented and the backcourt clearly had superior talent to UNCm had a couple of huge drives midway through the half - and then buried two mammoth 3-pointers to give Kentucky control.

North Carolina, after a missed free throw by Kentucky freshman Marquis Teague with 20 seconds left, had a chance to win the game on the final possession.

The play was designed to go in the post to Tyler Zeller, but ultimately ball wound up in John Henson's hands - who shot what appeared to be an uncontested 12-footer from the right side. Then the only guy in the country who could block Henson's shot, Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis, did just that to seal the win.

Kentucky 73, North Carolina 72.

I'm not sure I've seen a more riveting December game. Two teams loaded with pros -- in a crazy setting at Rupp Arena.

It was so entertaining, I want to see it again.

Maybe April 2.

More College Basketball coverage
Posted on: December 2, 2011 4:48 pm

Kentucky's Lamb says 'Cats are more talented

By Jeff Goodman

LEXINGTON, Ky. - John Calipari delivered the message - over and over - about North Carolina's experience while Terrence Jones kept a stone-face while attempting to convey that this was just another game. Senior Darius Miller said all the correct things. 

Doron Lamb. 

He told the truth. No filter. No BS. 

"I think we're more talented offensively and defensively," Lamb said less than 24 hours before top-ranked Kentucky welcomes North Carolina to Rupp Arena.

And what about the two backcourts, Doron?  How do you think they stack up against one another?

"I think we're way more talented," he said. 

I wonder if Kendall Marshall and Dexter Strickland will get a look-see at those comments when they arrive in Lexington. 

Unlike Jones and even Miller to an extent - who both downplayed the significance of this game - Lamb spoke the truth. To be honest, it's refreshing.

"It's a big game for us," Lamb said. "We want to try and keep our No. 1 spot." 

This was supposed to be a battle of No. 1 vs. No. 2. UNLV ruined that when the Running Rebels pulled the upset over North Carolina a week or so ago in Vegas. Now the Tar Heels enter the contest at No. 5 in the country, but the numbers don't matter. 

"You want games like this because they help you learn about your team," Calipari said. 

Calipari is all about spin, but that's not spin. 

No one is really going to care about who won this game if these two teams meet again in April 2 in New Orleans -- as many anticipate to be the case. Both teams will likely be No. 1 seeds entering the NCAA tournament come March and these two clubs will have a different look to them in four months time. 

This game is about figuring out your team's deficiencies and trying to correct - or at least - soften them. For North Carolina, it'll be whether they are able to defend and match Kentucky's toughness - among other things. For Kentucky, it'll be whether Marquis Teague can play with poise - and whether Terrence Jones truly is a different player from a year ago -- also among other things. 

Calipari and Roy Williams won't commit to continuing this series, using their league slate and other non-conference matchups as an excuse to halt the matchup. So this could be it for a while - so we need to enjoy it. 

"The moment I saw it on the schedule, I started looking forward to this game," Lamb said. "Everybody's been talking about it." 

Lamb and just about every diehard college hoops fan. You've got no shortage of potential lottery picks -- Anthony Davis, Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for Kentucky and Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Tyler Zeller with North Carolina - in addition to plenty of others with NBA futures. It'll take place in arguably the most electric environment in college basketball: Rupp Arena. 

It won't be a methodical affair as was the case in the previous game for both teams, when North Carolina had to grind one out against Wisconsin and Kentucky was forced to watch St. John's milk the clock in an effort to stay in the game. 

Williams and Calipari have athletes - and they let them go. 

This should be terrific. 

Any predictions, Doron?

"We win," he said with a smile. "And leave the arena by 3 p.m.. -- and then I enjoy my day off Sunday."  

Posted on: December 2, 2011 3:08 pm
Edited on: December 2, 2011 4:32 pm

Kentucky vs. UNC: A complete breakdown

By Jeff Borzello

It’s not No. 1 vs. No. 2, but it still features about 10 first-round picks and is certainly the “Game of the Year.” Of course, we’re talking about North Carolina vs. Kentucky, the showdown set for high noon in Lexington on Saturday.

North Carolina entered the season atop the polls, but a 10-point loss at UNLV dropped the Tar Heels back a bit. They haven’t played to their potential just yet, but there’s still plenty of time – starting Saturday. On the other side, Kentucky has looked every bit as talented as everyone thought they would be heading into the year. The Wildcats’ best win is over Kansas, but they could really send a message against UNC on Saturday.

With all the talent on stage, let’s go position-by-position.

POINT GUARD: Kendall Marshall vs. Marquis Teague

Two completely different point guards, both extremely talented in their own right. Marshall ranks second in the country in assists, notching at least 14 assists in three different games. The lefty doesn’t push the ball like a classic UNC point guard, but he moves the ball in transition with the pass. Teague is very quick and athletic, but he’s still adjusting to life as a college point guard. He has been taking care of the ball far better lately, but he can still improve his decision-making. EDGE: North Carolina

SHOOTING GUARD: Dexter Strickland vs. Doron Lamb

The two least-touted in the starting lineups, both play a key role nonetheless. Strickland is a very good defender who uses his length and athleticism to be effective in transition. He’s also the de facto backup point guard when Marshall goes to the bench. Lamb is one of the best 3-point shooters in the SEC, knocking down 48 percent of his outside shots this season. He’s also a solid distributor and playmaker who can go off the dribble. EDGE: Kentucky

SMALL FORWARD: Harrison Barnes vs. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

Both were No. 1 high school prospects at some point in their career, and actually matched up as top prospects at the NBA Camp in 2009. Barnes has started better this season than he did last year, making a killing in the mid-range and also knocking down outside jumpers. Kidd-Gilchrist is a do-it-all player who makes things happen at both ends of the floor. He’s a very good defender who uses his strength go get to the rim as well. EDGE: North Carolina

POWER FORWARD: Tyler Zeller vs. Terrence Jones

An interesting contrast of players. Zeller is a back-to-the-basket scorer who has a variety of post moves and gets to the free-throw line on a consistent basis. He’s been up and down this year, not surpassing 12 points or seven boards in his last four games. Jones is playing some of the best basketball in the country, looking like a matchup nightmare for nearly every opponent. The lefty is excellent around the rim and in transition, but also has the ability to step out and knock down a three. EDGE: Kentucky

CENTER: John Henson vs. Anthony Davis

This is going to be fun. Two of the most athletic, longest big men in the country will go head-to-head with someone who can match up evenly. Henson is a tremendous shot-blocker, and is also a double-double threat every night out. He’s improved his offensive ability this season. Davis is the best freshman in the country and the sure-fire No. 1 pick for the NBA Draft. He’s an unbelievable shot-blocker as well, and uses his athleticism to make things difficult for opponents. He’s also excellent in transition, running the floor extremely well. EDGE: Kentucky


Both teams have impact players coming off the pine. North Carolina uses future lottery pick James McAdoo on the inside. He’s athletic and can score in different ways. Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston are knockdown shooters with athleticism, although Hairston might miss the game with a sprained wrist. On the other side, Kentucky has experienced forward Darius Miller leading the way. He’s a former starter and can do a little of everything. Kyle Wiltjer is an inside-outside threat, while Eloy Vargas gives post minutes. EDGE: North Carolina (if Hairston plays)


North Carolina:

  • Putting Strickland on Teague – Marshall won’t be able to keep up with Teague, but Stickland is quicker and more athletic
  • Containing Jones – Zeller might not be able to guard Jones when he goes off the bounce, but can’t let Jones dominate
  • Perimeter shots – Kentucky has plenty of trees around the rim, but the Tar Heels need to open up the defense by knocking down 3-pointers


  • Second chances – North Carolina is susceptible to offensive rebounds, while Kentucky has the athletes to get points off put-backs
  • Taking advantage of matchups – It remains to be seen if UNC can keep up with Kentucky in transition; the Wildcats need to push it
  • Perimeter shots – Like UK, North Carolina has shot-blockers at the rim. The Tar Heels don’t guard the 3-point line that effectively, though


There is going to be a ridiculous display of talent and athleticism on the floor come Saturday in Rupp Arena. There are interesting personnel matchups across the floor, as well as stars coming off the bench. John Calipari has his troops humming right now, while Roy Williams is still working out some of the kinks. Expect plenty of transition baskets and fast-break dunks. In the end, I think the home-court advantage could be enough for Kentucky – the Wildcats will continue to hit their stride.

Photos: US Presswire

Posted on: December 2, 2011 9:09 am

Wakeup Call: More good Friday hoop tonight

By Matt Norlander

Tayshaun Prince at last night's Kentucky game. Links will be in short measure today, as I'm in Syracuse and missed out on most of my Internet rummaging last night.

As a former layout guy in newspaper, hey, I get it. The person behind that blunder hasn't slept since, I bet. // I posted the best college hoops photos from November yesterday -- here's the best photos in sports from the 11th month. // The best college to goM to in the United States is ...

★ Beyond any moral or emotional or journalistic takes/responses you have to the Bernie Fine story, remember, this is a high-profile case with the law now. Big and stiff penalties could likely be coming.

★ The uniqueness of UNLV and Mike Moser.


★ Linked him yesterday, will do so again today, because Sean Keeley has done a fantastic job staying on top of and keeping everything in order with the SU stuff. More thought-provoking questions raised here.

★ What Hollis Thompson did to Twitter last night.

★ That was a nice November for college basketball. Not tremendous, but quite good. Let's take a quick look back before getting eager with December.

★ Rasheed Wallace: epic troll!
★ Harvard won a good game on the road against Vermont last night. This is a nice stat.

★ Which guys are hurting their teams most right now/

★ Want to get smarter about basketball stats and understand what they really mean in the grand scheme? Click on this and bookmark the page.

This is ... I don't know ... funny? If the girl's OK with it, I guess it's koo.

★ "ESPN Keeps Trying to Pretend it Cared about the Bernie Fine Molestation Allegations All Along."

► Darius Miller flies high.

♬ You remember Fountains of Wayne, right? That Stacy's Mom song took over your radio all those summers ago. But that song was on a really fantastic album, Welcome Interstate Managers. Here's one of the many really good ones off a great pop record. Yes, this is clearly an Oasis imitation -- and I love.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com