My annual east coast trip for the start of the college basketball season is half over. I am covering six tournaments in six nights traveling between New York City and Rhode Island.
The first event on Thursday night was the 2K Sports Classic, benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project, at Madison Square Garden. The semi-final round matched UConn and Boston College followed by Indiana and Washington. Connecticut, ranked #18 entering the game, held off Boston College 72-70. In the end it was a battle between UConn’s Shabazz Napier and BC’s Olivier Hanlan. Napier and Hanlan matched shots late in the game. However Napier missed a free throw late, Hanlon took the ensuing possession and missed a drive at the basket that would have tied the game. Napier missed another free throw with 2.9 seconds left but Lonnie Jackson’s three-pount attempt was blocked a the buzzer giving UConn the win.
DeAndre Daniels led UConn with 23 points while Napier scored 20 to lead the Huskies (5-0). Boston College (1-4) was paced by Ryan Anderson’s 22 points, while Hanlan added 19.
In the nightcap, Indiana (5-0) shot 51.5% from the field and in a relatively easy 102-84 win over Washington. Indiana freshmen Troy Williams (22 points, eight rebounds) and Noah Vonleh (18 points, nine rebounds) were especially impressive. Point guard Yogi Ferrell has improved quite a bit from his frosh year. Ferrell scored 20 points to go along with five assists and only one turnover. Washington (2-2) was led by 24 points from C.J. Wilcox.
After spending Friday morning and afternoon at the National Prep Showcase in New Haven it was back to the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn for the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. Adreian Payne’s career night led top-ranked Michigan State past Virginia Tech 96-77. Payne had a career-high 29 points and 10 rebounds to go along with three blocks and three assists. Payne will be moving up the 2014 NBA Draft first-round. He even showed off his increased range going 4-of-6 on three-pointers. In the first game Oklahoma came from behind to edge Seton Hall 86-85. The Sooners were behind by six points with less than a minute left after trailing the entire game. However, they came up with back-to-back steals on in-bounds passes. After Buddy Hield put Oklahoma up by a point with nine seconds left, Brian Oliver missed a three-pointer that would have won the game for Seton Hall.
Saturday morning I took off for the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT, north of New London. Two four-team groupings of larger and smaller schools, started off with a North Carolina-Richmond and Louisville-Fairfield afternoon doubleheader. North Carolina fought off a pesky Richmond squad 82-72. Marcus Paige was very impressive for the Tar Heels with 26 points on 6-of-9 three-point shooting. Brice Johnson had a solid game with 24 points and 12 rebounds in only 22 minutes of action. Louisville got past Fairfield easily 71-57 behind a 14 point, 12 rebound effort from 6’9 Montrezl Harrell, setting up a highly anticipated championship game against North Carolina tomorrow afternoon.