2015 Wooden Legacy Preview

24 Nov

Holiday tournaments are well under way and one of the better fields gathers in Fullerton, California on Thanksgiving for the Wooden Legacy.  The field is highlighted by Michigan State and Arizona but also includes the likes of Boise State, UC-Irvine, Santa Clara, Boston College, Providence and Evansville.  Here is a look at the first-round match ups for the tournament.

Boise State (2-2) vs UC-Irvine (4-0)

Senior guard Anthony Drmic has returned from injury for the Broncos and promptly leads them in scoring through four games with over 18 a contest.   But it has been the junior duo of Nick Duncan and James Webb III that have carried Boise State offensively with a combined 28 points, 12.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game, while Drmic’s backcourt mate senior Mikey Thompson has added over 14 points and a team-high five assists per game.

Defensively the Broncos have a bunch to worry about when facing the Anteaters.  First and foremost is the man in the middle, 7-6 300lb. junior center Mamadou Ndiaye averages over three blocks a game to go along with his 10 points and five rebounds on the offensive end.  UC-Irvine also has a couple of international guards much like Boise State.  Both Luke Nelson (16 points) and Alex Young (eight points) competed for Great Britain this summer in international competition.  Joining Ndiaye up front is 6-10 senior Mike Best who is averaging over 12 points and five rebounds for the undefeated Anteaters.


Michigan State (4-0) vs Boston College (3-0)

The Spartans are 4-0 including a win over Kansas in the Champions’ Classic. They have been led, perhaps predictably by their senior All-American candidate Denzel Valentine who has averaged nearly a triple double so far with 15.3 points, nine rebounds and 9.8 assists in fact he did accomplish the feat in the win over Kansas.   It has been the interior play that has carried the Spartans thus far.  Freshman Deyonta Davis, sophomore Javon Bess and senior Matt Costello combined for 30.8 points and 20 rebounds so far this season.

The Eagles have a total of one senior on the roster that was with the program last season.  Despite such a young squad coach Jim Christian has the team off to a 3-0 start with three convincing wins.  The only other senior on the roster, graduate transfer Eli Carter has immediately been a leader leading the Eagles in points at 18.7 per game.  The only other Eagle in double figures is freshman Jerome Robinson at 13.3 points.  The Eagles have won this year with defense, holding each opponent under 60 points.  How long can they hold down the Spartans.


Evansville (3-0) vs Providence (4-0)

The Evansville Purple Aces may be the forgotten team in the Missouri Valley with the likes of Wichita State and Northern Iowa but they are a dangerous team.   They have an inside-out duo of seniors D.J. Balentine and Egidijus Mockevicius who are both averaging over 20 points a game.  Mockevicius is also averaging over 13 rebounds per contest, juniors Jaylon Brown (10) and Mislav Brzoja (12.3) are the other Purple Aces in double figures.

The Providence Friars return the best guard in the country in Kris Dunn but they also must replace key cogs Tyler Harris and LaDontae Henton.  They are off to a 4-0 start thanks to Dunn and his 18.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.8 assists a game.  Dunn isn’t alone however, sophomores Ben Bentil and Rodney Bullock have lit it up for the Friars with 31.8 points, 16.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists.


Arizona (4-0) vs Santa Clara (0-5)

The Wildcats lost a ton of talent after last season but they still have plenty at their disposal.  Senior Gabe York leads the team with 16 points with Boston College transfer Ryan Anderson averaging a double-double (13.7 points, 10.3 rebounds) and freshman Allonzo Trier is contributing 13.3 points.  In the middle Sean Miller’s squad has a trio of guys helping out.  Between seniors Kaleb Tarczewski  and Mark Tollefsen and sophomore Dusan Ristic averaging 22.8 points and 18.3 rebounds for the undefeated Wildcats.

The Broncos have struggled to an 0-5 start and they have struggled on offense scoring no more than 65 points in a game.  They are led predictably by their dynamic junior guard Jared Brownridge and his 15.4 points but fellow junior Nate Kratch has contributed 8.4 points and 10 rebounds per game.

The Wooden Legacy may not have the pub of the Maui Invitational or the Battle 4 Atlantis but the field and match ups are quite intriguing.


Wooden Legacy Coaches’ Teleconference

Game 16: #13 Michigan State 79 #4 Kansas 73

18 Nov

In the finale of the Tip-Off Marathon #13 Michigan State trailed #4 Kansas by as many as 13 and it turned into the Denzel Valentine show.  The Spartan senior recorded his first triple-double with 29 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists to go along with just one turnover in leading his team to a 79-73 win.  Freshman Matt McQuaid found his way into the spotlight as well hitting some big threes for nine points to go along with a block on the defensive end late in the game to help preserve the Spartan lead.  Bryn Forbes added 13 and Matt Costello threw in 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the winners.

For the Jayhawks Perry Ellis scored a team-high 21 while Frank Mason III added 14 points, five rebounds and three assists and Wayne Selden, Jr. netted 12 points.

Kansas used a balanced attack, with eight players finding their way into the scorebook to take a six point lead into the half but were unable to control Valentine coming out of the locker room.

Game 15: #3 Maryland 75 Georgetown 71

17 Nov

The atmosphere inside was electric all night as an old rivalry was renewed in Maryland as the #3 Terrapins faced off against Georgetown and it did not disappoint.  Duke transfer Rasheed Sulaimon hit a three with just over a minute to play to give Maryland a lead they would never relinquish as they defeated Georgetown 75-71.

The best point guard in the country Melo Trimble scored a game-high 24 points and Jake Layman added 15 to pace the Terrapins offensively.  Sulaimon finished with 10 and fellow transfer Robert Carter chipped in with 12 points and eight rebounds.

Georgetown had all five starters finish in double figures but got just three bench points in the loss.  Big man Bradley Hayes had the best game of his career with 16 points and eight rebounds and potential Big East Player of the Year D’vauntes Smith-Rivera finished with 14 points, four rebounds and four assists.  The threesome of Isaac Copeland, Marcus Derrickson and L.J. Peak combined for 38 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists in the loss.

Game 14: #2 Kentucky 74 #5 Duke 63

17 Nov

In the first game of the Champions’ Classic Kentucky got the best of Duke 74-63. Kentucky’s Tyler Ulis led the team offensively with 18 points and six assists and Marcus Lee added a 10 and 10 double-double.  Jamal Murray one of the Wildcats’ other talented freshmen added 16 points, five rebounds and five assists and Isaiah Briscoe added 12 more for Kentucky.  On the defensive end they forced 16 Blue Devil turnovers and held Duke’s leading scorer Grayson Allen to just six points.

Amile Jefferson was the offensive star for Duke with 16 points and 15 rebounds and Marshall Plumlee on the back of a strong first half finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds while Matt Jones finished with 16 points.

Coming into the game the talk was about the top two recruiting classes of Kentucky and Duke and rightly so but it was a couple of Blue Devils that grabbed the first half headlines but for different reasons.  Plumlee scored Duke’s first nine points and finished the half with 11 points and seven rebounds and  Allen was the talk of the town averaging over 27 points a game in Duke’s first to games went scoreless shooting 0-9 from the field in the first 20 minutes.  It was Isaiah Briscoe’s 11 points and Marcus Lee’s controlling of the backboards with nine rebounds that helped Kentucky take a 37-31 lead into the break.

Game 13: #8 Oklahoma 84 Memphis 78

17 Nov

In a game that saw no team have a lead greater than eight, the eighth ranked Oklahoma Sooners pulled away late from the Memphis Tigers to win 84-78.  The Sooners were carried by their starters and were by All-American guard Buddy Hield who poured in a game high 30 points to go along with eight rebounds, three assists and three steals.  Jordan Woodard filled up the stat sheet with 15 points, nine rebounds and seven assists and Ryan Spangler added a double-double chipping in 11 points and 12 rebounds.  Isaiah Cousins rounded out the quartet of Sooners in double figures with 13 points and six assists.

The Memphis Tigers shot just 34% from the field and just 58% from the free throw line (stop me if you have heard that one before).  The game was a coming out party for freshman Dedric Lawson who had 22 points, 15 rebounds, two assists, two steals and three blocks in the loss.  Markel Crawford and Avery Woodson added 12 points each and Trahson Burrell netted 10 points in the loss.

Game 12: Penn State 68 DePaul 62

17 Nov

The Penn State Nitany Lions got 22 points from Brandon Taylor and 16 more from Shep Garner on their way to defeating DePaul 68-62.  Penn State also held the Blue Demons to 37% shooting from the field and just 2-11 from 3-point land.  Peyton Banks and Josh Reaves added 10 points apiece to help the Nitany Lions to victory.

Myke Henry paced DePaul with 17 points and nine rebounds and the duo of Billy Garrett and Eli Cain combined for 27 points and seven rebounds in defeat.

Game 11: Colorado 91 Auburn 84

17 Nov

Auburn hit eight three pointers in the first half but led the Colorado Buffaloes by four at the break, but Colorado shot 57% and committed just four second half turnovers in a 91-84 come-from-behind win.

Kareem Canty led Auburn with 24 points, with 19 in the first half and Tyler Harris added a double-double with 23 points and 12 rebound.  T.J. Dunans was the only other tiger in double figures with 12 points.

The Buffaloes also had three players in double figures with sophomore George King leading the way with 27 and senior Josh Scott added 24 points and nine rebounds and Josh Fortune chipped in 11 points and five rebounds.


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