Temple's upset of No. 3 Syracuse big for A-10, more hoops
The Owls dissected the patented Syracuse 2-3 zone, utilizing Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson's ability to pass the ball out of the high post to create space around the rim for Anthony Lee (21 points, nine boards) and open jumpers for the Temple guards. The fact he was only credited with three assists borders on criminal.
Looking at the big picture, this win not only was huge for Temple -- who looked like a legitimate contender to Butler and VCU in the Atlantic 10 -- it was big for the league as a whole. Saturday also saw Charlotte lose to Florida State, St. Joe's lose to Fairfield and Xavier lose to Wofford. The A-10, for as balanced and hectic as conference play is bound to be, doesn't have the kind of power at the top of the league that many expected. Temple's win is a nice statement.
As far as Syracuse is concerned, this loss isn't a huge deal, but it did expose some issues. Their defense appeared lethargic at times, they were crushed on the offensive glass down the stretch, and Michael Carter-Williams, for all the assists he hands out, had some serious issues scoring the ball. He can't shoot and he doesn't finish well in traffic. That's not a good combination.
In his first significant action of the season for the Tigers, newly-eligible Jabari Brown had 18 points and seven boards. More importantly, he went 3-for-7 from three. Frank Haith's club desperately needs his shooting prowess.
The bigger question coming out of the Sprint Center on Saturday night was whether this result had more to do with Kansas State finally playing up to their potential or Florida, who lost last Saturday night at Arizona, coming back to earth. For as good as the Gators are defensively, they are not an elite team when they are getting production from their backcourt. Kenny Boynton entered the game 3-for-27 from three in his last four games. On Saturday, he had 11 points but finished 4-for-11 from the floor and 1-for-5 from three.
What makes the win all that much more impressive is SDSU was forced to take a bus all the way to New Mexico because Winter Storm Draco closed down airports. That's a long bus ride home that got a lot more enjoyable.
Marquette 84, LSU 80: The Golden Eagles blew a 21-point first half lead, allowing LSU to tie the game in the second half on a number of occasions. But Marquette was able to put together a late run to regain control of the game to avoid their second consecutive ugly loss. Davante Garnder led the way with 19 points off the bench.