NCAA BK

BURLISON: Georgia road warriors, motivated Blue Devils, comeback 'Cats

Share This Story

Frank Burlison

 
   
 
I didn't think I'd see a more remarkable pair of regular-season victories by a team this season than those by Arizona against Maryland and Florida on Nov. 8-9 in Madison Square Garden. But Jim Harrick's Georgia team has me seriously reconsidering that stance. The Bulldogs, picked by some to finish sixth in the six-team East Division of the Southeastern Conference this season, have knocked off both Kentucky and Florida in the past couple of weeks — in Lexington and Gainesville! Considering that Harrick lost five of his top seven scorers from last season and came into this season with just nine scholarship players — a couple of which were suspended last week pending an investigation of an alleged on-campus rape — victories on the home courts of two potential Final Four teams borders on the stunning. The Bulldogs are 15-3 (4-1 in the SEC) and, barring a collapse, are on the receiving end of the best job Harrick has done in his 22 seasons as a Division I head coach.

Devils earning their due

Taking the name plates off his players' dressing stalls, and pulling photos of the current players off the Duke locker room wall following the Blue Devils' Jan. 6 loss at Florida State, made for interesting reading in North Carolina, I suppose. But I have a gut feeling that Mike Krzyzewski's team might have had the juice to slap around Georgia Tech, North Carolina State, Maryland and Wake Forest following that stunner in Tallahassee, anyway. Kudos to Krzyzewski, though, if the re-decoration job in the locker room helped kick-start his team into the high octane energy level it is playing at right now. The Blue Devils take an ACC respite — maybe it's the other way around — when they travel to Boston College Thursday before facing Virginia Sunday night. I would suppose that B.C.'s marvelous backcourt of junior Troy Bell and sophomore Ryan Sidney have had Jan. 24 circled on their calendars for a while ¿ with the chance to show the country how they stacked up against their Duke counterparts, Jason Williams and Chris Duhon. Let's see if that matchup ends up being filed under the "be careful what you wish for" category.

Comeback 'Cats

The most eye-popping thing about Oregon's 6-1 start in Pacific-10 Conference play is, without question, its pair of lopsided victories against the University of Arizona. And what's even more impressive about those wins against the Wildcats is that they were able to build and hold onto big leads in both. Because, after all, Arizona has shown very succinctly that it doesn't consider any deficit too big for it to overcome this season. The Wildcats trailed by 21 in Tucson late in the first half of a Pac-10 game with Oregon State in Tucson before pulling it out. But that comeback paled in comparison to the one they slapped on UCLA Saturday. The Bruins built a 73-53 advantage with a little more than 13 minutes to play in the McKale Center before the Wildcats outscored Steve Lavin's lads, 43-13, the rest of the way. Relative to the caliber of opponent, someone is going to have to go a ways to surpass what Arizona did to the Bruins over those final 13 minutes.

BOUNCING AROUND THE COUNTRY:

  • Stanford's program has operated better against the UCLA Bruins in Pauley Pavilion (where the Cardinal has won four seasons in a row) than it has at home of late. The Bruins have knocked off the Cardinal the past two seasons in Maples Pavilion — both times when Mike Montgomery's Stanford squad was rated No. 1. They have a solid opportunity to snap that Pauley Pavilion streak Thursday night — assuming Dan Gadzuric doesn't spend most of the time on bench in foul trouble, which he is apt to do even against opponents not nearly as big or gifted as Stanford center Curtis Borchardt. UCLA has done a fairly solid defensive job against the Cardinal's Casey Jacobsen, though. In four games vs. the Bruins, Jacobsen is shooting just .375 (21 of 56) from the field. His UCLA counterpart Jason Kapono — a one-time youth level hoops teammate in Southern California — isn't shooting much better in those four games (.404, 19 of 47). If UCLA plays much man-to-man defense Thursday night (and that's doubtful), look for Jacobsen and Kapono to be pitted one-on-one for longer stretches of time than they have been previously in college.
  • Barring a sudden reversal of fortune, the University of North Carolina Tar Heels, 5-10 after dropping five games in a row, are destined for only their third losing season since 1954-55. Even if that's the case, there should still be no shortage of optimism next November in Chapel Hill. A five-player recruiting class will help see to that. Three of its members — forward Sean May and guards Raymond Felton and Rashad McCants — are near locks to be McDonald's All-Americas and even more certain UNC starters as freshmen. At least one sophomore could also start next season for Matt Doherty — as could a fourth freshman, 6-8 Byron Sanders of Harrison High in Gulfport, Miss., who committed to the Tar Heels a little more than a week ago. The Heels are taking a lot of lumps this season; they'll be doling them out again before too much longer.
  • If you were asked to rattle off the hottest teams in the country, it's very unlikely "Xavier" would be among the first names out of your mouth. But check this out: Since getting whacked at home by city rival Cincinnati by 20 points on Dec. 14, the Musketeers have won eight in a row — four of those on the road. Now 13-3 and atop the West Division in the Atlantic 10 Conference with a perfect 5-0 conference mark, they've obviously adjusted very comfortably to new coach Thad Matta and seem to be in solid position to move to bring a 17-3 record — as well as a 12-game winning streak — into their Feb. 9 game at St. Bonaventure. Junior David West (19.4 points and 10.2 rebounds per game) is among the top half-dozen — and that's a conservative estimate — post players in the country. But Xavier is also getting outstanding play from sophomore swingman Romain Sato (14.0 ppg and 6.6 rpg) and junior guard Lionel Chambers (11.8 ppg and 3.9 assists per game). Xavier's only regular-season meeting with Saint Joseph's (leading the East Division, also at 5-0), takes place on Feb. 16 in Cincinnati. That will be one to check out.
  • Just when you start to think that this Hawaii team is one that can not only get into the NCAA tournament but maybe win a game once it gets there, the nearly unthinkable happens:
    CRAZY FOR COLLEGE BASKETBALL?
    Catch the best ACC action every Sunday night on Fox Sports Net. This week's marquee matchup features , as the No. 7 Cavaliers look to take down the top-ranked Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Keep coming back to FOXSports.com to send feedback to the Sunday Night Hoops crew, vote in the latest ACC on Fox poll, and compete in the latest Fox Sports South contest.
    The 15-2 Rainbow Warriors lost at the 5-13 San Jose State Spartans Saturday night. This trip to the mainland (only the second of the season for them) includes another Western Athletic Conference game at Rice Thursday night, then concludes with the ultimate measuring stick — a Saturday tussle with Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane are 14-3 under first-year coach John Phillips and could crack the next FOXSports.com Top 25. History should tell us that Tulsa shouldn't count on keeping Phillips around too long, though — the legacy of Nolan Richardson, Tubby Smith, Steve Robinson, Bill Self and Buzz Peterson is a reminder that Tulsa is one of the first stops when athletic directors with hefty checkbooks come looking for a coach.
  • I don't want to say it appears as if it's a prerequisite that anyone affiliated with or rooting for Illinois in Assembly Hall wear orange clothing but ... you could have splashed a few gallons of white and yellow paint in the place during the Jan. 14 game with Iowa and it would have looked like the world's largest bowl of candy corn. Frank Burlison can be reached at his email address: fburlison@foxsports.com.
  • Tagged: Cincinnati, Oregon, Arizona, UCLA, Stanford, Southern California, California, Oregon State, Iowa, Illinois, North Carolina State, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Virginia, Duke, Florida State, Maryland, Kentucky, Georgia, Florida, Radford, St. Bonaventure, Xavier, Boston College, Rice, Hawaii, Tulsa, San Jose State

    More Stories From Frank Burlison



    More Than Sports on MSN

    Fox Sports Store

      itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
      Nike Florida Gators #1 Replica Elite Basketball Jersey - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/885881/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_885000/ff_885881_xl.jpg&w=100 74.95 Nike Florida Gators #1 Replica Elite Basketball Jersey - Black
      Nike Georgetown Hoyas #22 Hyper Elite Road Performance Jersey - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Georgetown_Hoyas/browse/featuredproduct/1030243/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1030000/ff_1030243_xl.jpg&w=100 119.95 Nike Georgetown Hoyas #22 Hyper Elite Road Performance Jersey - Navy Blue
      Nike Duke Blue Devils #5 Tourney Takeover Replica T-Shirt - Duke Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Duke_Blue_Devils/browse/featuredproduct/1032710/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1032000/ff_1032710_xl.jpg&w=100 27.95 Nike Duke Blue Devils #5 Tourney Takeover Replica T-Shirt - Duke Blue
      Nike Oregon Ducks X-Ray Ball T-Shirt - Green http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Oregon_Ducks/browse/featuredproduct/1052002/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1052000/ff_1052002_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Oregon Ducks X-Ray Ball T-Shirt - Green
      Nike Ohio State Buckeyes Road Warrior Tri-blend T-Shirt - Scarlet http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Ohio_State_Buckeyes/browse/featuredproduct/1052645/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1052000/ff_1052645_xl.jpg&w=100 29.95 Nike Ohio State Buckeyes Road Warrior Tri-blend T-Shirt - Scarlet
      Indiana Hoosiers 2013 NCAA Men\'s Basketball Road to March Madness T-Shirt - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Indiana_Hoosiers/browse/featuredproduct/1124528/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1124000/ff_1124528_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Indiana Hoosiers 2013 NCAA Men\'s Basketball Road to March Madness T-Shirt - Cri..
      adidas Louisville Cardinals 2013 March Madness #10 Premier Swingman Jersey - Red http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Louisville_Cardinals/browse/featuredproduct/1127200/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1127000/ff_1127200_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas Louisville Cardinals 2013 March Madness #10 Premier Swingman Jersey - Red
      adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2013 March Madness #45 Premier Swingman Jersey - White http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Notre_Dame_Fighting_Irish/browse/featuredproduct/1127218/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1127000/ff_1127218_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2013 March Madness #45 Premier Swingman Jersey ..
      Nike Gonzaga Bulldogs March Madness Bracketville T-Shirt - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Gonzaga_Bulldogs/browse/featuredproduct/1155821/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1155000/ff_1155821_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Gonzaga Bulldogs March Madness Bracketville T-Shirt - Navy Blue
      Top of the World Miami Hurricanes 2013 NCAA ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Champions Adjustable Hat – Green http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Miami_Hurricanes/browse/featuredproduct/1177723/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1177000/ff_1177723_xl.jpg&w=100 25.95 Top of the World Miami Hurricanes 2013 NCAA ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Cham..