Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, February 27, 2012 at 9:21 AM
It was Hollywood's turn to hand out lots of shiny little trophies at Sunday night's 84th Oscars (and it only seems that Best Actress Meryl Streep has been nominated 84 times!) and now we're here to match the nominated top movies with a handful of College Basketball teams/players that really shined here on the final weekend in February. So, roll out the red carpet, get all primped up in your best attire and let's get the Jim Sez show on the road.
Congrats to the Oscar-winning flick that stayed silent from start to finish but how about Kentucky freshman F/C Anthony Davis who let his game speak for itself in last Saturday's closer-than-it-appeared 83-74 non-cover win against 11 ½-point road underdog Vanderbilt?
Hey, Davis now has led the Wildcats (28-1) to their 14th consecutive win without a loss in Southeastern Conference play and the 6-foot-10 star was an offensive stud on this day in Lexington while scoring a career-best 28 points on 10-of-11 field-goal shooting and let's not forget he contributed his usual numbers on the other end of the floor too with 11 rebounds and 5 blocked shots. Davis has been an artistic genius from Day One for the blue-and-white that has now won 50 consecutive home games at Rupp Arena and did you happen to notice the impact he had on Vanderbilt's usual dead-eye shooters as the Commodores canned just 26-of-64 FGs (a 40.6 accuracy rate).
No doubt that Best Actor Jean Dujardin was ecstatic about winning his first-ever Oscar and something tells us Davis will be collecting some shiny hardware at year's end too. Bravo!
If the Wisconsin Badgers wanted to be taken seriously as one of the Big 10's elite teams (along with the likes of Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan-all of whom sport double-digit win totals in conference play at this time) than Bo Ryan's squad needed somebody to step forward and make a big-time splash in Sunday's late matinee tilt in Columbus:
Hello to someone named Jared Berggren who scored Wisconsin's final five points (and 18 points in all) in the Badgers' ultra-plucky 63-60 shockeroo upset of 9-point favorite Ohio State.
Berggren stepped out to try a three-pointer with the shot clock running down and just 31 seconds left on the clock and he drilled the sucker while everyone was expecting star guard Jordan Taylor to take the clutch-time shot. Thus, "The Help" came from Berggren who pushed Wisconsin to 10-6 in Big 10 play (and just one game back of both Ohio State and Michigan who are tied for second place behind 13-3 Michigan State) and 21-8 overall and- if you ask us- the win here practically guaranteed Wisky that it will be no worse than a #4 seed in next month's NCAA Tournament and with home games against Minnesota and Illinois it's the Badgers who might wind up running in second place in the best league in the land
We'll get to a couple of other "movies" in a second but first this key reminder:
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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Did you happen to check out the ESPN featured game this past Saturday night ... now you know the reason for our little movie title! The decibel count was sky-high as the UConn Huskies- yes, a desperate team these days even if ESPN Bracket Boy Joe Lundardi continues to claim that they are in the "Last Four In" category as we speak- made a major run at #2 Syracuse at Gampel Pavilion but wound up on the short end of the proverbial stick once again.
The 'Cuse (29-1, 16-1 in Big East play) frittered away a 17-point second-half lead and than had to be rescued by Fab Melo's follow-up dunk (we thought it was basket interference when we first spotted it) and Jim Boeheim's club didn't seal the deal until C.J. Fair blocked a shot by Connecticut's Roscoe Smith right before the final buzzer. Boy, the joint was jumping and UConn appeared headed for one of the great comeback wins in school history as G Jeremy Lamb scored 19 points and C Andre Drummond stuffed the stat sheet with 17 points and 14 boards but it was went for naught- save for the fact Connecticut covered the 4-point price tag.
Maybe Syracuse is playing too many of these games "to the level of its competition" but the fact remains is that gritty comeback wins the past week against South Florida and now Connecticut are likely steeling the Orange for what lies ahead in March.
And you thought Melo and Tom Hanks had nothing in common!
Forget Brad Pitt and his role as the Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane and consider the fact that 6-of-16 on-the-board College B-Ball games played this past Sunday were decided by three points or less including Louisville's scary 57-54 non-cover triumph over 8-point road dog Pittsburgh.
There may not have been any last-second jumper to win this Big East free-for-all but there was a gut-check game for the U of L's Kyle Kuric who bounced back from Thursday's dreary 0-for-11 FG night in a road loss at Cincinnati while scoring 17 points here and don't forget his late-game triple that really made a big difference for Rick Pitino's crew.
Kuric- a senior who missed the final shot attempt to tie things in the 60-56 loss to the rival Bearcats- drained 5-of-8 FGs on Sunday with four of the makes three-pointers and so a 'Ville bunch that badly needed a jump-start after losing two of its prior three games leaned on Kuric and he came up with a "money" performance.
Folks, ask us and we say if Kuric's downing some trifectas come March than this club could be Elite 8-type material ... let's see if he remains unafraid to take the big shot.
So who's gonna climb aboard, get in the saddle and get a big victory in the early-week games this week?
No question that Monday's headline game between Notre Dame at Georgetown will have a major impact on the Big East standings (the Irish are 12-4 in league play and the Hoyas are 11-5) but does Mike Brey's ND bunch have the grit to bounce back from Saturday's sloppy 61-58 loss against 6-point pup St. John's at Madison Square Garden?
Notre Dame shot a dreary 4-of-31 from beyond the arc (that's 12.9 percent and that's not gonna win anyone a gold star!) and now must get G Jerian Grant (1-of-8 FG shooting against the Red Storm) jump-started early here or this could be a down-the-stretch disaster as note the Irish finish up regular-season play home to Providence on Friday night and even the Friars can be dangerous at this stage of the season.
Then, there's the Tuesday night game in Indiana between Big 10-leading Michigan State and the overachieving IU Hoosiers (22-7) who are assured of getting into the NCAA Tourney next month but may want to finish the pre-Big 10 Tournament sked with a splash as Indy's won five of its last six games and and that includes Sunday's 69-50 conquest of 2-point home fav Minnesota- how about a 21-of-25 performance from the free-throw line for Tom Crean's club who also gets "straight 'A's" for holding Minny to 31 percent FG shooting (that's 18-of-58)?
If Indiana climbs aboard and plays defense like that against M-State than it will be time to write bigger/bolder headlines about this comeback season for the Bloomington boys. Right?
NOTE: Catch our College Basketball Mid-Week Report in the next edition of Jim Sez and don't forget we'll have plenty to say about all the conference tournaments- a/k/a the mini-tourneys -- in the coming days.