The opening game in college basketball is supposed to be a feel good romp. Tonight there were a few tense moments in the early games; a few “how is this happening?” moments. But thus far, everyone in the conference can exhale.
Kansas State and Oklahoma had to overcome half-time deficits to win. Missouri wasn’t that much better, as they enjoyed only a two point lead at the break.
I was bouncing around a lot and didn’t focus on one game in particular, so I’d be making up any comprehensive analysis I put on here. Thus, here is a quick overview of the action:
Charleston Southern 67 – Kansas State 72
The head-scratching moment of the night came in Manhattan, where the Wildcats found themselves down by 15 at halftime. Had they been trailing by a few points it wouldn’t have been that surprising, since for the first time in the Frank Martin era they don’t had a clear cut go-to guy.
But as you’d expect, Martin had the Wildcats ready to mount a rally in the second half. Rodney McGruder began to assert himself more offensively towards the end of the first half, and ended up as the game’s leading scorer with 20 points. McGruder also pitched in with 10 rebounds. Jordan Henriquez was solid, and Will Spradling made some key plays late, allowing the Wildcats to take their first lead with a little over three minutes left.
Idaho State 74 – Oklahoma 78
Well don’t I look stupid (at least right now). I had wrote the other day that Andrew Fitzgerald and Cameron Clark, and to a lesser extent Steven Pledger, would handle virtually all of the scoring load for OU this season. That is 99 percent likely to still be the case, but on this night the three combined for only 9 points (though Pledger was suspended).
Despite the fact OU did find itself behind at half, they have some things to be encouraged about other than simply escaping Lloyd Noble with a win. They won on a night their two presumptive “biggest” contributors didn’t score much. Romero Osby, the hyped up transfer, actually looked the part in filling up the stat sheet (17 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists).
Their point guard play, a concern heading into the season, looked alright in an extremely small sample size. Newcomer Sam Grooms had a nice A/TO rate (8-2) and incumbent Carl Blair wasn’t so bad either (5-2) after struggling mightily last year in that category. They also got an unexpected scoring boost from guard Calvin Newell, Jr. who had a great time chucking up three’s (4-11).
Southeast Missouri State 68 – Missouri 83
The Tigers hit a rough patch midway though the first half with SEMO leading by as many as six. But Missouri swung momentum with a run into halftime and didn’t look back in the second half. Marcus Denmon had a predictably good game, doing what he does best: scoring (20 points) and not turning the ball over (0 TO’s). Kim English and Ricardo Ratliffe also played well.
The interesting thing for Mizzou was that Frank Haith’s worst fears were realized right away. Without Laurence Bowers the Tigers are very thin in the frontcourt. Behind Ratliffe, only Steve Moore and Kadeem Green provide any size, and Green’s first minute tonight was his first in official NCAA competition. Moore and Ratliffe have an affinity for fouling, will probably cause a ton of problems for Haith this year.
He got some experience shuffling his lineups in this manner against SEMO as Moore picked up a few early fouls in the first half and was rendered basically useless throughout the game because of this (12 minutes, 4 fouls). Ratliffe picked up his third foul early in the second half, and the tightrope act began.