Dick Jerardi: College Basketball Wrap

Vols coach Bruce Pearl has led his hot-shooting team to big victories.
Vols coach Bruce Pearl has led his hot-shooting team to big victories.
Posted: December 13, 2010

AROUND THE CITY

DRAGONS KEEP WINNING

Drexel (6-1) needed overtime to beat Rider at the DAC, 71-67. And needed another big game from Chris Fouch.

Nobody in the city has played any better than Fouch in the first month of the season. He scored 27 against Rider (6-5). Earlier, he had games of 23, 26, 30 and 27.

The Dragons have had their moments in recent seasons, but it has been some time since they have had a consistent, dependable scorer who can make long shots. Fouch is starting to look like the one.

Combine that with double-double machine Samme Givens and the Dragons really may have something. Givens had 18 points and 14 rebounds against the Broncs.

If you are going well, you may as well get a big test. The Dragons will get one tomorrow night when they play at unbeaten Louisville.

END OF THE ROAD

When you saw the Saint Joseph's schedule for the first 11 days of December, it did not look promising - at Drexel, Villanova and Princeton, followed by a home game with Minnesota, and at Creighton.

The results were not really surprising. After losing at Creighton, 82-75, the Hawks had lost them all.

St. Joe's (3-7) actually led this game, 30-18, with 6 minutes left in the first half. The Hawks ran out of gas, got passed and could not get back in it. Two unlikely players led Creighton (5-4). Kenny Lawson (30 points) had been averaging 10.8 points. Ethan Wragge (22 points) had been averaging 2.2 points.

St. Joe's got a combined 32 points from sophomore point guards Carl Jones and Justin Crosgile. But the Hawks are not getting nearly enough production from their front line. Now they get a rest and a chance to regroup before playing at Boston University on Dec. 21.

ACROSS THE COUNTRY

PRETTY NICE START

The coach has been getting all the headlines, but the team is really good.

Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl embarrassed himself and his school with his NCAA transgressions, but nobody ever suggested he could not coach.

The Vols have now beaten the teams picked one and two in the Big East, Pittsburgh and Villanova.

Tennessee shot 56.3 percent against the Panthers, which never happens. Scotty Hopson (career-high 27 points) could not be guarded.

NOT FAIR

Syracuse led Colgate 46-8 at the half. For the game, 'Cuse shot 56.1 percent, Colgate 17.9 percent.

Rick Jackson (18 points, 10 rebounds) got his eighth double-double this season.

PLAYING EVERYBODY

Michigan State is the only ranked team to play another ranked team on the road, a loss at Duke. The Spartans also lost to UConn and Syracuse. It's all about March for Tom Izzo's team.

DECEIVING RECORD

Gonzaga is 4-5, but Mark Few's team has played its usual brutal schedule. The Bulldogs have lost to San Diego State, Kansas State, Illinois, Washington State and Notre Dame, teams with combined records of 44-4.

COACH OF THE YEAR

It is very early, but is anybody doing a better job than Fordham's Tom Pecora? Many wondered why Pecora left the safe haven of Hofstra for the Bronx. Well, a season after going 2-26, the Rams are 5-4.

Fordham trailed St. John's, 60-39, at Rose Hill Gym and then rallied for an 84-81 win. That will get you noticed.

Speaking of St. John's, the Steve Lavin era is not off to a great start. The veteran Red Storm (5-3) lost at home earlier in the week to St. Bonaventure. Where have you gone, Chris Mullin?

CLOSE UNTIL LATE

Indiana-Kentucky at Rupp was up for grabs most of the way. And then UK took it by scoring 25 of the game's last 30 points in an 81-62 win.

BREAK UP THE AZTECS

San Diego State has sold out its last three games. Before that, the school had eight sellouts in its history.

SURPRISE TEAM

Has to be Louisville. I don't think anybody saw this coming. The Cardinals have no big names, but this is a team in Rick Pitino's image again. And they never get tired.

HOW GOOD IS DUKE?

Really, really good. I think Kansas State has a Final Four chance and Duke overwhelmed them last month.

That said, the equation changes if Kyrie Irving's ligament damage in a toe does not respond to rest over the next few weeks. Irving is a major star who has Derrick Rose/John Wall-type talent. Let's hope he gets better because he is a player everybody should want to see.

THE UNBEATENS

There are some familiar names among the 14 teams that have not lost yet - Duke, Syracuse, Connecticut, Louisville, Ohio State, Kansas, Baylor and Tennessee. All those who also had Cincinnati, Northwestern, BYU, San Diego State, Central Florida and Cleveland State on their preseason last to lose list, please raise your hands.

Some of this is a result of schedules. But UCF did beat Florida and Northwestern beat Georgia Tech by 20.

Cleveland State is 12-0, which is kind of amazing. Not that it is unbeaten, but that it has already played 12 games. CSU plays at West Virginia on Saturday. That will tell everybody something.

Northwestern has played just five games and none this month.

DICK JERARDI'S TOP 15

1. Duke (10-0): Playing at a ridiculously high level for early December. Crushed Saint Louis, 84-47. Coach K now has 878 wins, one shy of Dean Smith and 24 from Bob Knight.

2. Tennessee (7-0): Beat Pittsburgh, 83-76, at new Consol Energy Center in downtown Pittsburgh. Vols led by 20 in the second half and were in complete control.

3. Kansas (9-0): Beat Colorado State, 76-55. And just wait until Josh Selby starts playing. KU is as good as any team - again.

4. Connecticut (8-0): Has those Maui wins over Michigan State and Kentucky. Kemba Walker (28.1 points) has been the best player in the country so far, nearly doubling his average from last season.

5. Syracuse (10-0): This really was not fair. Beat Colgate, 100-43, its 45th straight in the "series."

6. Ohio State (8-0): Crushed Western Carolina yesterday, 85-60.

7. Kansas State (9-1): Won at Loyola Chicago, 68-60, in Jacob Pullen's homecoming game.

8. Louisville (8-0): Cardinals came from nine down early in the second half to beat previously unbeaten UNLV, 77-69, in their beautiful new arena next to the Ohio River.

9. BYU (10-0): That man, Jimmer Fredette, buried Arizona for the second straight season. Cougars won, 87-65, as Fredette had 33 points. Last season he hit the Wildcats for 49 points.

10. San Diego State (10-0): Not the Fab Five, but Steve Fisher has some team. Beat San Diego, 77-49.

11. Baylor (6-0): Talent up and down the lineup. Will be major factor in a stacked Big 12.

12. Pittsburgh (10-1): Got overwhelmed by Tennessee, but Panthers are still very solid. Don't figure to lose like that again soon.

13. Notre Dame (9-1): Hardly anybody missed for either team as ND beat Gonzaga, 83-79.

14. Villanova (8-1): One win from another perfect Big 5 record after 84-81 win over La Salle yesterday.

15. Michigan State (7-3): Life and death to beat Oakland, 77-76, in Auburn Hills, but will win its share in stacked Big Ten.

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