Jimmy V Week

Posted: 07/12/2010 in NCAAB
Two huge games in the spotlight to kick off Jimmy V Week

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(13) Memphis (7-0) at (4) Kansas (7-0)

For the third time in the last four seasons, powerhouses Memphis and Kansas will square off on the hardwood, as the fourth- ranked Jayhawks and 13th-ranked Tigers collide at Madison Square Garden this evening in the Jimmy V Classic.

The Jayhawks have endured some turnover in terms of All-American talent from a year ago, but the team continues to produce, starting this season out with a flawless 7-0 mark thus far. It hasn’t been easy though, including a controversial 77-76 victory over UCLA last Thursday as part of the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series.

The Tigers are also sporting a perfect 7-0 mark thus far. Memphis has certainly enjoyed home cooking this season, with six of its seven games coming at the FedExForum, including Saturday’s 77-61 victory over Western Kentucky.

Kansas has won five of the seven all-time meetings in this series, including the memorable 75-68 overtime win in the 2008 National Championship Game. last year, the Jayhawks won another tight affair, topping Memphis 59-57 in the Basketball Hall of Fame Showcase in St. Louis.

Joe Jackson led the Tigers with 15 points, but it was D.J. Stephens who ignited Memphis in the win over Western Kentucky, recording his first career double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Tarik Black also posted double digits in the win with 11 points, as Memphis shot a solid .483 from the floor overall, while forcing the Hilltoppers into 20 turnovers. Balance has been the key for Memphis thus far, with the team getting the job done at both ends of the floor. The Tigers have the ability to fill up the basket at 85.3 ppg, but it doesn’t come at the expense of defensive effort. Teams are shooting well below 40 percent against Memphis (.369), leading to a mere 65.7 ppg. Wesley Witherspoon leads three Tigers in double figures, averaging 13.7 ppg. Jackson is next in line (12.1 ppg), followed closely by Will Barton (11.9 ppg).

Much like Memphis this season, Kansas has flourished at both ends of the floor, resulting in an impressive +30.4 scoring margin. The team is netting nearly 90 points per game on a ridiculous 56.9 percent shooting. The Morris brothers have taken over as the leaders on this team and the two talented forwards have been a devastating duo at times. Marcus Morris is converting 64.5 percent of his shots in the early going, averaging 18.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per outing. Markieff Morris is a distant second in the scoring column at 11.9 ppg, but is nearly averaging a double-double with a team-high 9.1 rpg. Guards Tyshawn Taylor and Tyrel Reed provide backcourt balance with 10.4 and 10.1 ppg, respectively. Kansas was able to earn its 64th straight home court victory with the one-point win over UCLA last time out, thanks to a foul-call in the waning moments that sent the Jayhawks to the free-throw line to win the game. Reed and Taylor had huge games in the win, posting 17 points apiece. Marcus Morris tallied 16 points and six rebounds in support.

(7) Michigan State (6-2) at (8) Syracuse (8-0)

Madison Square Garden is the site of tonight’s non-conference showdown between the seventh-ranked Michigan State Spartans and the eighth-ranked Syracuse Orange. The game is part of the Jimmy V Classic.

Michigan State has already suffered two losses this season, but it is important to point out that the setbacks have come against top-ranked Duke and a UConn team that is far better than anticipated. The Spartans have currently won three of their last four outings to move to 6-2 overall, and they are coming off Saturday’s 74-39 thrashing of Bowling Green. Tom Izzo is once again equipped with enough talent to make a run at the Final Four, something he seems to do annually.

As for Syracuse, it is led by head coach Jim Boeheim, one of the winningest program leaders in the history of the sport. Boeheim is undoubtedly happy with the way that things have gone thus far for his squad, as the Orange has won all eight of their games to date. On Saturday, they knocked off NC State by a 65-59 final, and the Orange won’t play their first true road game of the season until January 8th.

Syracuse holds a narrow 9-7 advantage over Michigan State, which includes three consecutive victories over the Spartans. The most recent matchup took place in 2004.

Through eight contests, Syracuse is generating 78.6 ppg on 49 percent shooting from the floor, and the team is permitting 66.5 ppg on 38.8 percent field goal efficiency by opponents. Kalin Lucas entered this season widely regarded as the top returnee in the Big Ten Conference, and the standout guard currently paces the Spartans with 14.9 ppg. Durrell Summers is close behind with 14.5 ppg, and Draymond Green contributes 13.8 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. Summers paced a balanced attack with 14 points in the romp over Bowling Green on Saturday. Delvon Roe was the only other starter to reach double figures in scoring with his 10 points. The Spartans connected on only 29.6 percent of their shots from the floor in the first half and led by only six points at intermission. Fortunately, they were able to connect on 60 percent of their field goal attempts in the second half, and they finished the game with a 51-26 rebounding advantage. Defensively, MSU was able to limit BGSU to 27.3 percent shooting.

Heading into the most recent game against NC State, Syracuse was averaging 70.6 ppg while allowing only 58.9 ppg. On an individual basis, Kris Joseph was pacing a trio of double-digit scorers with 14.6 ppg for the Orange. In the clash with the Wolfpack, Syracuse held a four-point lead at intermission and was able to hold on for the victory despite shooting a mere 29.6 percent from the field in the second half. The club did play solid defense in the affair, and the fact that it finished with just five turnovers suggests that the Orange played smart, calculated basketball. Scoop Jardine posted 23 points for SU, although his 7-of-21 shooting effort from the floor left much to be desired. Rick Jackson added 16 points and eight rebounds for Syracuse, which got only eight points from Kris Joseph due to his poor 3-of-12 shooting performance.

– Steve

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