Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Genotology for Jan. 31, 2018

Photo Credit: Geno Green


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Virginia Tech

Sunday, January 28, 2018

No. 1 Villanova 85, Marquette 82: Brunson and DiVincenzo combine for 54 points in the last visit to the Bradley Center

Photo Credit: Benny Sieu- USA TODAY Sports

MILWAUKEE— The Jalen Brunson show presented itself in peak form with a game-high 31 points as the top-ranked Villanova Wildcats (20-1, 7-1 Big East) knocked off the Marquette Golden Eagles (13-8, 4-5 Big East), 85-82 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

While Brunson put on an offensive clinic, Mikal Bridges made the difference with an offensive rebound off Brunson’s miss from the top of the key with 17 seconds left and found an open Donte DiVincenzo on the bounce pass for a layup to put Villanova up 85-80.

DiVincenzo’s layup highlighted a 23-point effort, highlighted by 10 of the first 12 points of the game for Villanova.

“[Donte] does so many things and is so valuable for us off the bench,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “I was concerned going into today’s game whether or not he could maintain a high level and did a great job. He was huge defensively, especially with the big rebound at the end of the game.”

Villanova exacted revenge in its final trip to the Bradley Center after a 74-72 loss to on Jan. 24, 2017 and Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski gave credit to Wright for preparation.

They were really ready to play and I am sure they watched the film from last season’s loss at the Bradley Center,” Wojciechowski said. “They are good as any team in the country right now.”

After a six-point effort at Xavier on Jan. 24, Andrew Rowsey responded with a team-high 29 points, on 5-of-9 from long range. Despite the scoring outburst, Rowsey wanted to get more of his teammates involved.

“We play with a lot of space in an effort to keep the ball moving at all times,” Rowsey said. “I was not trying to take over at all, but I was trying to get other teammates involved.”

DiVincenzo set the tone on offense with ten points on 4-of-5 from the field in the first 3:31 of the game. In need of a response, Marquette turned to its go-to option as Markus Howard drained back-to-back three-pointers, which sent the home crowd into a frenzy as it trailed Villanova, 14-12 at the 15:00 mark in the first half.

The Golden Eagles found themselves in early foul trouble as Rowsey and Harry Froling went to the bench in an 18-second span with two each as the Wildcats lead expanded to 22-14.

Villanova continued to add to the lead as it grew to 33-21, behind seven straight field goal conversions and a couple of timely baskets from Eric Paschall.

Like Marquette, Villanova found itself in a fragile predicament in the foul department as Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, DiVincenzo and Paschall committed two fouls each. The Golden Eagles seized the moment as Rowsey reasserted himself into the MU offense with six straight points, which highlighted a 13-2 run to go ahead 44-42.

In need of an offensive boost, Villanova turned to seldom used Colin Gillespie as he drained a three-pointer from the baseline to end Marquette’s flurry. The Wildcats finished the first half on a 7-0 run and took a 49-44 lead into the locker room.

The twists and turns continued into the second half as both teams took each other’s best shots on offense. Brunson served as the main catalyst of a Villanova 10-0 run over 3:26 to take a 61-52 lead.

As Villanova’s offense revved into high gear, Marquette’s stalled on the other end as it went 3:27 without a field goal, but would be bailed out by Rowsey once more. Rowsey delivered back-to-back long range makes to pull the Golden Eagles to 73-70 with 6:47 left.

Rowsey found Froling at the rim for the layup and conventional to cut Marquette’s deficit to 80-77 with 3:38 remaining, but would not get any closer as Villanova swept the regular season series.

Looking Ahead:

The Golden Eagles look to avoid a three-game losing streak as they host the Butler Bulldogs on Jan. 31 for an 8 p.m. tip, while the Wildcats and Creighton Bluejays square off at the Wells Fargo Center on Feb. 1 at 5:30 p.m.

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Friday, January 26, 2018

Can Marquette duplicate Bradley Center magic one last time against Villanova?

Photo Credit: Marquette Athletics

In need of a program-changing win in coach Steve Wojciechowski’s then-third season, the Marquette Golden Eagles delivered with a 74-72 upset win over the then-No. 1 Villanova Wildcats on Jan. 24, 2017 at the Bradley Center.

Fast forward a little over a year later as Marquette (13-7, 4-4 Big East) and Villanova (19-1, 6-1 Big East) are in familiar territories— the Golden Eagles with added credibility off a NCAA Tournament appearance last season, while the Wildcats are the current the top-ranked team in the Associated Press Poll with a collision course on Sunday afternoon in Milwaukee.

The visit from Villanova will be the final trip to the Bradley Center as Marquette moves across the street next season to its new digs (Arena name TBD. 

Villanova coach Jay Wright views the Marquette game as an equal compared to the other Big East schools on the round robin schedule.

“We try and not get into any of that stuff because it gives you more respect for Marquette because they always have a good crowd every time we go to Milwaukee,” Wright said in Thursday’s Big East teleconference.

Villanova’s strength this season has been its perimeter with 13 games in the double-digit mark in three-pointers made. With at least 12 Wildcat long-range makes in their last five games, Golden Eagles coach Steve Wojciechowski knows limiting open perimeter looks will be key to another upset win.

“When you are playing Villanova, they hit a lot of three pointers per game,” Wojciechowski said. “You gotta be able to limit their three-point shooting as well.”

The status of Marquette forward Sam Hauser is day-to-day with a hip injury suffered in the second half in a 89-70 loss to Xavier on Jan. 24.

“Sam is our rock and is important of a player as we have on our team and we will see how he is feeling,” Wojciechowski said.

The Wildcats have been stellar as they have held opponents to under 40 percent shooting in the last three games, but will be in for a challenge as they have the task of stopping the conference’s top two scorers in Markus Howard (22.1 PPG) and Andrew Rowsey (20.1 PPG) for the second time this season.

“You have to look at the team you are playing and not get caught up in the stats,” Wright said.

“Marquette had 11 three-pointers in the last meeting and we felt like we did a decent job guarding on defense. Any other time we give that amount of threes, it means we did a terrible job. Hauser, Howard and Rowsey do a great job, but it is the other guys that hurt us driving the ball to the rim. Marquette is a really balanced team.”

Villanova will be without Phil Booth indefinitely with a fractured bone in his hand, which he suffered in an 89-69 win over Providence on Jan. 23. Wright acknowledged that various players will have to make up in different styles in Booth’s loss.

“It will mean more minutes for Dhamir (Cosby-Roundtree) and Omari (Spellman), along with getting Tim Delaney back into the rotation,” Wright said. “Phil Booth is a huge loss to us because he is the most respected guy on our team. Doesn’t mean we can’t be successful without him, but we will have to play a bit bigger and make up for his loss in other areas.”

Expect Jalen Brunson’s workload to increase, but might not be much of an issue as he leads the Big East in the assist-turnover ratio with 3.3.

No. 1 Villanova at Marquette

Tip: Noon, Bradley Center

TV/Online: FOX/FOX Sports GO

Commentators: Brian Anderson, Len Elmore and Shannon Spake (sidelines)

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Genotology for Jan. 23, 2018

Photo Credit: Geno Green


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Monday, January 22, 2018

No. 6 Michigan State 87, Illinois 74: Michigan Bridges stay up with a 31-point outburst

Photo Credit: Mike Granse- USA TODAY Sports

CHAMPAIGN, Ill.— Revenge can be sweet and for the No. 6-ranked Michigan State Spartans (18-3 6-2 Big Ten), they wrote a wrong from last season in an 87-73 win over the Illinois Fighting Illini (10-11, 0-8 Big Ten) at the State Farm Center.

After a 73-70 loss to Illinois in the last meeting on March 1, 2017, Michigan State came out with a purpose and sophomore Miles Bridges put together his most complete game of the season with a game-high 31 points, on 11-of-13 from the field, to go along with eight rebounds.

The majority of Bridges’ 31 points came off precision passes from Cassius Winston and Tum Tum Nairn. Bridges also used the baseline to his advantage with repeated cuts to the rim, which the Illini defenders could not stop.

13 of MSU’s 15 assists came from Winston (game-high eight assists) and Nairn as Michigan State dominated on both sides of the ball.

Illinois’ lack of depth off the bench with its big men got exploited as Michigan State finished with a 35-15 advantage in the rebound department.

22 of Kipper Nichols’ career-high 27 points came in the second half as the Illini pulled as close as eight points with 1:03 left, but dropped to 0-8 in the Big Ten for the first time in school history.

The Illini came out aggressive on defense early as they forced the Spartans into a couple of turnovers, which translated into baskets as the game was knotted at six.

In need of a confidence boost, Izzo turned to the MSU bench as Nairn made an impact in short time on an alley oop pass to Bridges for the thunderous dunk and subsequent foul call to put the Spartans up 9-6 at the 15:47 mark of the first half.

As the turnover woes settled for the Spartans, more would be made as Winston would be substituted for Nairn after committing his second foul 6:55 into the game.

Despite nine turnovers committed, MSU channeled open backdoor looks as Bridges continued to flush dunks with ease as it clung to a 25-24 advantage over Illinois. The Spartans looked more fluid on offense as they would string together a 10-2 run over 3:46.

Michigan State led for the remainder of the first half and took a 39-32 lead despite 15 turnovers committed.

The start of the second half saw a complete Spartan team as the turnovers were a distant memory and they used a combination of size and speed, highlighted by another Bridges alley oop dunk to expand the lead to 48-36, 2:35 into the second half.

The Spartans continued to grasp more control as the Illini’s Leron Black went out the game with his fourth foul at the 16:52 mark. To make matters worse, the Illini missed eight of their first nine shots to start the second half, which helped aid the Spartans.

Black’s foul trouble opened the door for MSU to go full throttle on a 9-2 run to take a 62-44 lead on Illinois and would not look back.

Looking Ahead:

The Illini look for their elusive first win in the Big Ten as the Indiana Hoosiers make the trip to Champaign on Jan. 24, while the Spartans host the Wisconsin Badgers at the Breslin Center on Jan. 26.

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Sunday, January 21, 2018

No. 6 Michigan State looks to stay on track as Illinois looms

Photo Credit: Michigan State Athletics

Fresh off a three-game stretch, which included losses to the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan Wolverines, the No. 6 Michigan State Spartans appear to be back on track after an 85-57 win over the Indiana Hoosiers on Jan. 19. The grind of the Big Ten schedule keeps the Spartans on alert as they travel to Champaign, Ill., to face the Illinois Fighting Illini on Jan. 22.

Miles Bridges looked in prime form once more after a 22-point performance against Indiana and could be a matchup nightmare for any Illinois player who draws the primary assignment.

The Spartans also excel in their frontline as Nick Ward has been the consistent force with six double-doubles this season and comes into the Illini game third in the country in field goal percentage.

Cassius Winston has been the straw that has stirred the drink for MSU’s offense as he has at least seven assists in 12 games this season and finished with eight against Indiana.

Despite a 0-7 start in league play, the Illinois Fighting Illini have held a lead in six of those losses, but not good enough for coach Brad Underwood’s standards. On the other hand, Underwood has been through similar circumstances last season as the Oklahoma State Cowboys started 0-6 in the Big 12, before rattling off 9 of the last 12 wins to make the NCAA Tournament.

Not saying history will repeat itself once more, but the Illini are a team dominated by underclassmen led by freshman phenom Trent Frazier, who is second on the team with 11.0 PPG and has provided instant offense this season, highlighted by a career-high 27 points against Iowa on Jan. 11.

Most assume the Spartans have little to play for, but not so fast my friend.

In the second to last regular season game on March 1, 2017, Illinois outlasted Michigan State, 73-70 as Lourawls Nairn missed what would have been a game-tying three at the buzzer.

The Spartans have a chance to exercise one of their demons from last season as the quest to the month of March inches through.

No. 6 Michigan State at Illinois

Tip Time: Monday, 8 p.m.

TV/Online: FS1/FOX Sports GO

Commentators: Tim Brando and Bill Raftery