Missouri State is really starting to worry me. Last night they went to 5-0 and although they haven’t played a killer schedule, laying a smack down on Oral Roberts in a hostile environment is something meaningful. The Bears had another fine offensive performance despite an off night from sharpshooter Blake Ahearn (0-for-6 on threes, 2 points, 3 turnovers). The next potential feat of strength occurs a week from Thursday when they travel to Arkansas. An MSU win there and the SEC West may be demoted to mid-major status for the remainder of the season.

In other news…

– The Bruce Pearl era at Tennessee has gone well early on. I’m speaking mainly from a style standpoint.

                Adj. Tempo (Rank)
                2006         2005 
Tennessee     80.1 (  6)   67.3 (233)
UW Milwaukee  69.5 (203)   72.1 ( 49)

It’s not surprising the two transformations have taken place, with Pearl introducing the pressing style to UT and his replacement at UWM, Rob Jeter, bringing the Bo Ryan philosophy to Milwaukee. The thing is, Pearl inherited one of the best point guards few people have heard of in CJ Watson. Watson has had little help during his career, yet has put up good scoring and assist numbers and doesn’t commit many turnovers. He also gets more free throws than any point guard this side of Chris Hernandez.

So far, Watson is handling the keys to the new offense well and Tennessee has the 33rd lowest turnover percentage. I don’t know if Tennessee will improve this season, but a fast paced team has been missing from the SEC since Nolan Richardson took his 40 minutes of Hell from the basketball court to the legal court.

– On Tuesday, I mentioned that Indiana was unrealistically hot from three and on Tuesday night Indiana State decided to shut down Marco Killingsworth and take their chances with shooters beating them. Non-Australian born players for the Hoosiers went 3-of-18 from three. Note: IU’s Ben Allen, who by all accounts is a great shooter, went 6 for 7 and will surely rise to the top of the list of the Big Ten’s best players (wink, wink). There was more to this game than the Hoosiers less than stellar outside shooting, but look for opposing defenses to continue to focus on defending the paint, even more so when DJ White returns.

– Along these lines, another team I’ll go out on a limb and label a fluke is Houston. In fact, I don’t believe they will deserve an at-large bid come March. I say deserve, because the early wins against LSU and Arizona will carry a lot of weight with the selection committee, but I can see them losing five or six games during the CUSA season. In the two impressive wins, they were a combined 24 of 44 on threes. The thing Houston does well offensively is shoot for a great percentage, and they are overachieving a little in that area. But they are not doing much in the other four factors so when they have bad shooting nights, there’s no safety net for the offense, and hence they can do things like lose at home to VCU.

– Anyone still looking to relive the game of the week from Bucknell on Tuesday should head over to Hoop Time Online to absorb a game diary-esque post. One of the quirks of the college hoops blogosphere is the Patriot League ranks second to the Big Ten in quality blogs.

Here’s an article about Wake Forest’s ever-maligned defense from the Winston Salem Journal. And guess what? No mention of points per game in the whole thing. Lots of field goal percentage. Baby steps, people, baby steps.


Line o’ the Night

                           FG    3pt  FT   Reb
                      Min  M-A   M-A  M-A  O-T   A F S TO BLK Pts
Bryant Dunston         32  7-8   3-3  4-5  1-2   2 3 0  5  4   21
Result: Win. Fordham 62, Virginia 60.

This is definitely a head scratching result with 1-6 Fordham getting their first ACC win in 38 years. Virginia was without starting point guard Sean Singletary, but it’s still a horrible L for them.