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Throwaway Play Could Help Give Oregon Their LSU Rematch

Alex Groberman

One throwaway play from the first game of the year for both the LSU Tigers and Oregon Ducks may ultimately play a pivotal role in deciding the 2011 BCS National Champion.

Back on September 3, the Tigers absolutely punished the Ducks in what was touted as the marquee early-season game of the year. LSU’s defense was brilliant from to start to finish, and the offense was surprisingly solid despite the fact that one of the team’s two quarterbacks in Jordan Jefferson was embroiled in a bigtime bar fight scandal that came to light shortly before the start of the season.

With the game already decided and less than 30 seconds left on the clock, Oregon was able to get the ball into the endzone for a touchdown that didn’t mean much in the grand scheme of 13-point shellacking.

The Tigers won that game 40-27.

Following the events of this past weekend, the Boise State Broncos have officially been eliminated from contention for the BCS championship and Oregon has slowly shifted back up the rankings. As it stands, the Ducks are sitting comfortably in fourth place behind the Tigers, Oklahoma State Cowboys and Alabama Crimson Tide.

Conventional wisdom says that Alabama won’t get a rematch versus LSU. It could happen, obviously, but most seem to agree that voters would not want to see a reincarnation of the 9-6 defensive battle fans were privy to a mere two weeks ago.

The Cowboys, meanwhile, control their own destiny. If they can hang on against Oklahoma two weeks from now, they will be the ones to earn a bid to the champion game – no doubt about it. They offer the perfect contrasting style to LSU’s aggressive, defensively-oriented schemes, and the voters would absolutely respond with glee to the possibilities.

If — and this is a big if — Oklahoma State falls to the Oklahoma Sooners, though, that could open the door for Oregon. So long as the team is able to get past the USC Trojans this coming weekend, the vastly-inferior Oregon State Beavers on November 26, and whoever they play in the league championship game on December 2 – they could end up in the big seat with a chance at redemption against LSU.

And it’s safe to say that, had the Ducks not scored that last second seemingly meaningless touchdown on the Tigers back in Week 1 of action, the powers that be wouldn’t have given them the slight advantage that they currently have on the No. 5 ranked Sooners.

Will the stars align for Oregon?

We’ll find out soon enough.

Get more great analysis over at OpposingViews.com.

 

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Writer: Secondary Becoming A Concern For USC

Travis Haney has left The Charleston Post & Courier for a job covering the Oklahoma Sooners’ football program.  Congrats to him.  Meanwhile, as the CP&C looks for a new full-time Carolina beatwriter, longtime sportswriter Andrew Miller will be handling some of the Gamecock coverage this fall.

In his introductory blog on the paper’s website, Miller puts forth a number of observations he’s already made regarding the SEC East favorites.  The one that stands out, is as follows:


“The injury to back-up safety Brison Williams might not seem like a big deal, but it’s turning into one.  With the suspension (DeVonte Holliman) and injuries (Akeem Auguste) the secondary is looking a little thin.  Now, I know every coach whines even when the back-up walk-on long snapper gets injured, but this is starting to turn into a real concern for (Ellis) Johnson, who’s going to have to scramble to fit the right pieces together by the East Carolina game.”


Two thoughts:


1.  If the secondary is banged up, the pass rush becomes even more important for the Cocks.  Jadeveon Clowney will need to be all he’s been cracked up to be right off the bat.

2.  After East Carolina, Steve Spurrier’s crew heads to Athens to face Aaron Murray, the league’s top returning quarterback.  Again, if the secondary is limited, Carolina’s pass rush will have to find a way to get consistent pressure on the very mobile Murray.

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Oklahoma Sooners vs. Kentucky Wildcats (12): Statistical Analyis

Kentucky
Content provided by A Sea Of Blue.

Early this evening, the Kentucky Wildcats tee it up against the Oklahoma Soonersin Maui.  In this article, we will take a look at the statistical comparison between the two teams.

Jeff Capel, former Duke Blue Devil, is the fifth-year coach of the Oklahoma Sooners  Capel’s coaching record is as follows, courtesy of Statsheet.com:

Team Years Record
Oklahoma 2006-2011 83-50 (0.624)
Virginia Commonwealth 2002-2006 79-41 (0.658)

Capel has been pretty successful at Oklahoma, but the program has come under NCAA taint because of allegations surrounding Tiny Gallon, who left for the NBA draft last year.  The Sooners were a disappointing 13-18 last year despite having three players jump to the NBA, and some think that Jeff Capel’s seat in Norman may be getting a bit warm.

Capel’s team had a very high roster turnover last year.  Follow me past the jump for details:

Major losses from last year:

Name Height Wt Class Status
Tommy Mason-Griffin 5-11 206 Freshman Lost starter
Tiny Gallon 6-9 296 Freshman Lost starter
Willie Warren 6-4 203 Sophomore Lost starter

All three of these guys were high-school All-Americans, and all three of them opted for the NCAA draft.  All three were impact players for the team last year, although Gallon’s NCAA issues and chemistry problems really hurt the Crimson and Cream in 2009-10

Overall, the Sooners lost eight players last year to varying circumstances.  They have added eight replacements, and here are the likely impact players among them:

Name Height Wt Class Status
Nick Thompson 6-9 212 Junior New (transfer) JUCO
Cameron Clark 6-6 195 Freshman New (impact freshman)
Calvin Newell Jr. 6-1 201 Freshman New
Romero Osby 6-8 247 Junior New (transfer) Miss. St.

Nick Thomson has been the most productive of the newcomers, with Cameron Clark right behind.  Romero Osby played well at Mississippi St. for a couple of years, and should figure to have an impact on this team, although at the moment he is sitting out his year in residence and will not be playing for the Sooners this year.

The full roster with notes are below:


Oklahoma Sooners Basketball Roster

# Pos. DOB W H College
Abdul Ahmed 12 F Left team 207 6-10 freshman
Carl Blair Jr. 14 G - 214 6-2 sophomore
Cameron Clark 21 G Impact freshman 195 6-6 freshman
Cade Davis 34 G Returning starter, leading ret. scorer & rebounder 206 6-5 senior
Andrew Fitzgerald 4 F returning occasional starter 237 6-8 sophomore
T.J. Franklin 3 G Returning player 174 5-11 junior
Kyle Hardrick 25 F Returning player 219 6-8 sophomore
Barry Honore` 31 F Returning player 262 6-7 junior
Tyler Neal 15 F - 209 6-7 freshman
Calvin Newell Jr. 11 G - 201 6-1 freshman
Romero Osby 24 F Year in residence 247 6-8 junior
Steven Pledger 2 G Returning occasional starter 206 6-4 sophomore
Ryan Randolph 22 G Returning player 201 6-4 freshman
T.J. Taylor 1 G - 217 6-3 freshman
Nick Thompson 55 F - 212 6-9 junior
C.J. Washington 5 F - 210 6-7 junior

Now, a look at who the two teams have played so far, via Kenpom.com:

Date Kenpom Opponent Rank Opponent Result Kenpom rank Notes Location Record
Oklahoma
Fri Nov 12 321 Coppin St. W, 77-57 64 Home 1-0
Mon Nov 15 293 North Carolina Central W, 71-63 70 OT Home 2-0
Thu Nov 18 337 Texas Southern W, 82-52 70 Home 3-0
Kentucky
Fri Nov 12 100 East Tennessee St. W, 88-65 72 Home 1-0
Fri Nov 19 112 Portland W, 79-48 61 Semi-Away 2-0

The first thing you’ll notice is that Kentucky has played a far tougher schedule to date, and dispatched both opponents with relative ease.  OU handled Coppin St. and Texas Southern with relative ease, but struggled with North Carolina Central due to poor shooting.

The Four Factors

 

Here’s a look at the Four Factors to winning in this game, and how the Sooners and Wildcats stack up against each other.  As you can see, the Wildcats have been shooting a significantly higher eFG%, as well as taking much better care of the basketball.  Kentucky is even doing better on the offensive glass, and if there is one potential weakness of this Kentucky team, that should be it.  The only one of the Four Factors where Oklahoma is clearly winning is on FTRate%, which measures how often you get to the line per field goal attempt, and the importance of that stat is minimized by Kentucky’s high eFG%.

Overall Evaluation

Overall, the Sooners play at a more deliberate pace than Kentucky does, and that makes sense given Kentucky’s extremely athletic and skilled freshmen, and OU’s less athletic squad.

Oklahoma is fairly dangerous from the perimeter, but they have yet to face an opponent ranked as high as the top 150 in the land, so it’s difficult to say how much of that success has been due to the futility of their opponents.  Oklahoma is not projected to do very well in the Big 12 this year, but this is a team that can improve and has some players that will give them a chance to win 16-18 games this season.

Unfortunately for Sooner fans, Oklahoma is mismatched against the Wildcats.  For one thing, they are not big enough to provide a physical mismatch, and not athletic enough to keep up with the cheetah-like speed of  the Kentucky Wildcats.

What Oklahoma has done well so far is get to the line, and if they can force Kentucky to foul them a lot, it would be a big benefit to them both in terms of easy points as well as putting the thin UK squad in a bind personnel wise.

Barring that, however, the Sooners are in tough versus the Wildcats, and they will have the devil of a time figuring out how to keep Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones from killing them at the rim, or from the perimeter, depending on how they choose to defend.


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Maui Invitational Round 1: Oklahoma Sooners @ Kentucky Wildcats (12): Open Game Thread

Kentucky
Content provided by A Sea Of Blue.

Tonight, the Kentucky Wildcats kick off their visit to the Aloha State against the Oklahoma Sooners out of the Big 12 conference.  Game details as follows via UKAthletics.com:

Oklahoma @ Kentucky
Game Notes Kentucky Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader | Oklahoma Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader
Date & Time Mon., Nov. 22, 5:30 p.m. ET
Coverage TV: ESPN2
Radio: BBSN
GameTracker
Online Audio
Live Video via ESPN3
Text Updates
Location Lahaina Civic Center
Maui, Ha.
Maui Invitational With a win, the Cats next face the winner of Virginia-Washington at 9:30 p.m. ET. With a loss, the Cats will face the loser of Virginia-Washington at 4:30 p.m. ET.

 

Once again, the Wildcats find themselves in paradise, and for the second time in a row, John Calipari will be there at the same time — this time at the head of the team he and his Memphis Tigers beat the last time Kentucky was in Maui.  Irony never seems to die in college basketball.

For the Oklahoma perspective on this game, be sure to visit SB Nation’s excellent Oklahoma Sooners blog, Crimson and Cream Machine.  More after the jump.

Tonight, Kentucky must keep their cool and not let the hot, intimate setting get to them.  This is a young team, and sooner or later, that youth is going to show up.  So far, they have manhandled more experienced teams, to the surprise of many, but this is their first BCS opponent, and the level of competition goes up, albeit not hugely.

What Kentucky needs to do tonight to win:

  • Continue the excellent ballhandling and shooting;
  • Get to the line more;
  • Do a better job prying the ball lose on defense;
  • Keep the defensive intensity they showed against the Portland Pilots.

What can go wrong and set Kentucky up for their first loss:

  • Allow the intimate, warm venue to get to them;
  • Be lulled into a false sense of security by their lofty ranking and success so far;
  • Fail to show up on the glass;
  • Allow the Sooners to force the tempo into a half-court game;
  • Force shots.

This is a Kentucky team that must make jumpshots to survive.  They don’t have to make them all, but they do have to make a fairly high percentage and don’t force them.  When this team is relaxed and attacking the rim, they are extremely tough to handle.  When they are turning the ball over and shooting tough shots, they are much less threatening.

One step at a time …

Go, ‘Cats!


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The EA Sports Maui Invitational: Looking at UK’s First Two Opponents

Kentucky
Content provided by A Sea Of Blue.

If the 'Cats are to come home happy, Darius Miller and Terrence Jones will lead the way.

Greg Wahl-Stephens – AP

If the ‘Cats are to come home happy, Darius Miller and Terrence Jones will lead the way.

View full size photo »

Will Maui become a Kentucky Wildcats (No. 12 AP; No. 13 ESPN) paradise for only the second time in five tries?  The boys in blue will begin to find the answer to that question on Monday at 5:30 EST against the Oklahoma Sooners on ESPN2.

Having won only a single Maui Invitational tournament title (1993 on a Jeff Brassow last mili-second put-back; fast forward to the seven-minute mark) in four previous appearances (’93, ’97, ’02, ’06), the ‘Cats will look to exit paradise with a duffel bag full of shiny new hardware.  But more importantly, coach John Calipari should have a good idea of how far his team has come since the beginning of practice in mid-October.  For the competition has more experience, more size, and the talent to send the ‘Cats home with their tail between their legs … or, will the ‘Cats claw their way up the Maui ladder and put the nation on notice?

Regardless, it should be an exciting tournament.  For the particulars of UK’s initial opponent, and the second round  possibilities, follow me after the jump.   

First up for the ‘Cats are the …

Oklahoma Sooners — Go here for my pregame look at Jeff Capel’s squad for CoachCal.com.

Next up for Kentucky will either be the University of Washington Huskies, or the University of Virginia Cavaliers.  Let’s begin with the …

Washington Huskies (No. 17 AP; No. 15 ESPN/Coach’s) 

Results: Beat McNeese State, 118-64; beat Eastern Washington, 98-72.

Selected by most prognosticators to win the Pac 10 this season, UW returns several key contributors from last season’s 26-10 (11-7) third place Pac 10 squad.  But Lorenzo Romar’s team lost its leading scorer to the NBA in the form of Quincy Pondexter (19.3 points per game, 7.4 rebounds per game), an athletic, 6-6, 225 lb swingman. 

Picking up the slack for the Huskies in 2010-2011 is 6-9, 240 lb senior forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning.  Bryan-Amaning is averaging 21.0 points and 11.5 rebounds per game (5.5 offensive rpg) for UW after putting up 8.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game last year.  The solid shooting frontcourt player is making 61.5% of his shots from the floor (16-26) and provides Romar with a physical presence in the paint.  Helping out in the Huskie frontcourt is 6-6, 180 lb senior forward Justin Holiday.  Holiday, who averaged only 5.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game last season, has raised his scoring average to 14.5 points per game so far this year.  Not the physical player Bryan-Amaning is, Holiday will drift out beyond the arc and take a three-pointer (3-9 on the year), but still rebound the ball effectively (4.0 rpg).

Adding depth and bulk to the Huskie front line is 6-8, 225 lb forward Darnell Gant.  Gant, who doesn’t shoot the ball often (4-13 from the field; 30.8%), does provide Washington with rebounding (3.5 pg).  Gant is averaging 5.5 points per contest.

Freshman swing Terrence Ross, an athletic, 6-6, 180 lb freshman, is being looked at to provide immediate help, and has so far come through for Romar — Ross is averaging 7.5 points and 2.5 rebounds per game.  A strong shooter from outside, Ross has yet to find his range at the collegiate level: Ross has made only six of 16 shots from the field (37.5%) and 2-9 long range tries (22.2%).

The spark plug, the man who makes the Huskies go, is 5-8, 185 lb junior point guard Isaiah Thomas.  A 1st Team All-Pac 10 selection last year, Thomas is super quick, both offensively and defensively.  He is averaging 13.0 points and 3.5 assists per game, and shooting the ball quite well, making 47.1% of his shots from the floor, and 62.5% of his trey tries (5-8).  Pondexter was the unquestioned leader of last season’s Huskies team, and his absence opens the door for Thomas to take over the leadership mantel. 

Abdul Gaddy, a 6-3, 190 lb sophomore guard, has been very solid in the early going of the 2011 season, averaging 11.5 points per game, and leading the squad in assists with 5.5 per contest.  Gaddy is shooting the ball extremely well, making 9-14 shots overall (64.3%), and 4-6 three-point attempts (66.7%).  Adding depth, experience, and a fearsome defensive presence to the Huskie backcourt is 5-11 senior guard Venoy Overton.  While not averaging a ton of points (5.5 pg), he provides Washington with great court vision (team-leading 7.0 apg) and a toughness all good teams need (4.0 rebounds & 3.5 steals pg).

Rounding out the UW rotation is redshirt freshman C. J. Wilcox (10.5 ppg & 4.5 rpg).  Possibly the team’s best three-point shooter, Wilcox has made 5-11 trey attempts (45.5%) and six of 13 shots overall (46.2%).  Six-six, 185 lb junior guard Scott Suggs will also see plenty of floor time, and is so far averaging 10.0 points and 3.0 assists per game.  Another outside threat, Suggs is making 38.5% of his shots behind the line.

Romar also has at his disposal 7-0 sophomore transfer (College of Southern Idaho) center Aziz N’Diaye.  N’Diaye, a shot-blocker extraordinaire, has yet to play much this season.

The other possible second round Wildcat opponent are the …

Virginia Cavaliers

Results: Beat William & Mary, 76-52, beat South Carolina Upstate, 74-54, lost @ Stanford, 81-60.

Second-year Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett is firmly in rebuilding mode.  After posting a better-than-expected 15-16 (5-11) record last season, Bennett returns only five scholarship players to campus this year, and making a bad situation worse, he lost his best player in highly touted swingman Sylven Landesberg (17.3 points & 4.9 rebounds pg), and experienced guard Jeff Jones (7.3 ppg)  Bennett, though, hit the recruiting trail, and reeled in some big fish who will contribute to this year’s Cavalier effort.  But, despite Bennett’s recruiting haul, the Cavaliers are picked by most to come in last in the 12-team ACC.

Virginia is led this year by 6-8, 240 lb senior forward Mike Scott (a blast from the UK past).  Scott averages 15.0 points and 9.0 rebounds per contest.  He has become a solid shooter in the paint area, evidenced by his 15-27 accuracy from the field (55.6%), and Scott is solid from the free throw line, having made 15-17 charity tosses (88.2%).  A ferocious rebounder, Scott will sorely test the the big blue big men if the two teams face one another.  Assane Sene, a 7-0, 234 lb junior center starts for the Cavs but plays only 12.7 minutes per game.  In the game primarily as a defender, Sene has yet to block a shot, and averages only 1.3 rebounds per game. 

Also manning the frontcourt for Virginia is 6-9, 217 lb senior forward Will Sherrill.  Sherrill, a big man who will pop-out and take the occasional three-pointer (3-6 on the year), will also mix it up under the basket, grabbing 4.0 rebounds per game.  Overall from the field, Sherrill is 5-11 (45.5%).

Running the show for the Cavaliers is 5-11, 185 lb point guard Jontel Evans.  While only a sophomore, Evans gained valuable experience last season as a rookie, and has displayed a defensive intensity unusual for a player so young, a commodity coach Bennett looks for in his players.  Evans has shot and distributed the ball very keenly thus far; he has made 11-20 field goals (55.0%), and he’s averaging 4.3 assists per game (13 assists to only four turnovers).  The other starting guard is 6-4, 175 lb senior Mustapha Farrakhan.  Farrakhan is averaging 11.7 points per game, and 1.7 assists per game.  Not shooting the ball with efficiency so far this year (11-26 field goal attempts for 42.3%; 6-18 three-point tries for 33.3%), he’s been a dead-eye at the free throw line where he’s made 7-8.

The future of the Virginia basketball program, though, lies with the three super freshmen Bennett brought to the Cavalier campus: The 4A Alabama Player of the Year, 6-5, 200 lb guard K. T. Harrell.  Harrell has found himself playing a key role this season, and is averaging 7.0 points and 2.3 rebounds per game.  He’s not shooting the ball with great confidence yet, having made only eight of 21 shots (38.1%), but he seems to be finding the range on the long bombs; Harrell is 4-10 from beyond the arc (40.0%).  The next, next great Cavalier is 6-2, 188 guard Billy Baron.  The son of Rhode Island coach Jim Baron, Billy prepped last season at Worcester (MA) Academy, and his time their seems to have been well spent.  This season, Baron is averaging 11.7 points per game, and sports an 8-1 assist to turnover ratio.  Baron’s shooting from the field has also been solid — 10-17 overall for 58.8%; 7-13 from long-range good for 53.8% — and like many coach’s sons, he brings enthusiasm to the defensive end of the floor. 

Rounding out the super frosh Cav contributors is 6-6, 202 lb guard Joe Harris.  Harris has provided Bennett with depth in the backcourt, as well as a knack for scoring (7.3 ppg).  He is shooting the rock pretty well early on (8-17, 47.1%), especially from three-point range where he’s made five of 13 attempts (38.5%).

Kentucky 81  Notre Dame 76

A big congratulations to UK Hoops, aka, the No. 9 ranked Kentucky Wildcats women’s basketball team for their epic win over No. 12 ranked Notre Dame on Sunday afternoon in Memorial Coliseum.  Coach Matthew Mitchell’s Wildcats are working on a 20-game Memorial winning streak.

Thanks for reading, and Go ‘Cats!


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