The Campus Dribble-Drive hit up the Barclays Center in Brooklyn this weekend to check out the CBS Sports Classic doubleheader featuring the No. 11 North Carolina Tar Heels vs. the No. 22 UCLA Bruins, and the No. 4 Kentucky Wildcats vs. the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Early on during the first game, UCLA’s Isaac Hamilton was hotter than Angel Davenport in Idlewild as he scored 12 points in the first five minutes. Bruising forward Tony Parker dazzled in the paint halfway through the opening half as well as the Bruins opened up an 11-point lead.
Once North Carolina made a concerted effort to penetrate and feed the post instead of hoisting up three’s, they fought back to tie the score at halftime, 38-38.
In the second half, the Tar Heels knocked UCLA out like Enzo Maccarinelli did Roy Jones, Jr. two weeks ago. Carolina musta forgot that they were a Final Four favorite in the first half, but they woke up behind Brice Johnson’s 27 points and nine rebounds to cruise to an easy 89-76 victory.
Joel Berry notched a career high with 17 points and added five rebounds and four assists while playing an excellent all-around game alongside his talented backcourt mate Marcus Paige, who’s vision and passing were on display throughout. Paige collected 10 points, four rebounds and six assists and Isaiah Hicks came off the bench to add 12 points and four rebounds.
Despite the injury to talented big man Kennedy Meeks, Carolina looked like the hungrier, more fluid and sleek squad capable of playing inside-out, while UCLA looked disjointed, hesitant and about as unbalanced as Jack Nicholson in The Shining.
In the second game of the afternoon, most assumed that Kentucky would run through Ohio State like Bo Jackson did The Boz, with the Buckeyes already having suffered five losses to teams like UT Arlington and Louisiana Tech.
But Kentucky spent the most of the afternoon getting trucked.
The Wildcats trailed by 12 at halftime and as many as 16 in the second half until freshman guard Jamal Murray started shooting like Steph Curry.
Ohio State played up to their potential, getting four players posting double-digit scoring numbers while freshmen Keita Bates-Diop and JaQuan Lyle outplayed their more celebrated first-year studs Isaiah Briscoe and Skal Labissiere at Kentucky.
Tuesday’s games were early stocking stuffers for us hoops junkies. No. 5 Virginia survived a great effort from Cal to pull off the 63-62 overtime victory behind London Perrantes’ 3-pointer with 10 seconds remaining in overtime. The Bears harassed the Cavaliers all night and have the makings to become a very dangerous squad come March Madness.
No. 11 Iowa State was making easy work of No. 22 Cincinnati, leading by 13 points early in the second half. But the Bearcats play with a hunger that most can’t comprehend and stormed back to take the lead with 4:22 left in the game. Iowa State held it together and weathered the storm, winning an 81-79 thriller.
He does not run fast, jump high or wow you with his athleticism, but the Cyclones’ Georges Niang is one of my favorite players in all of college basketball. He should be in consideration for the prestigious Wooden Award, which is awarded to the nation’s top player. His all-around skill set is a joy to behold.
No. 6 Xavier erased an 18-point deficit and stormed back to beat Wake Forest, 78-70. Keep an eye out on their fantastic young guards, sophomore Trevon Bluiett and freshman Edmond Sumner. Bluiett scored 14 of his 17 points in a second half explosion and Sumner posted a career high of 21points, 13 of which came in the second half as well. The Musketeers work on the offensive glass this year has been exceptional and they just might have the best team ever in school history.
And the duel last night between No. 1 Michigan State’s Bryn Forbes and Oakland’s Kahlil "Kay" Felder will be among the best we’ll see all year. Felder is the nation’s best-kept secret, a strong, diminutive lefty with enough boogie to make James Brown look like Mr. Rogers. Forbes went off for 32 points in the absence of Spartans star Denzel Valentine, and his teammate Eron Harris chipped in with 27 to propel Michigan State (13-0) to their best start in school history.
Michigan State outlasted Oakland 99-93 in overtime, but the Golden Grizzlies will be a bracket buster come tourney time. Felder is making a strong case for consideration as the country’s very best point guard, alongside Providence’s Kris Dunn. Felder is the nation’s second leading scorer with an average of 27 points per game. He’s also leading the country in assists, with nine dimes per game.
Last night, he gave the Spartans all they could handle, before fouling out with 37 points and nine assists. The 5-foot-9 little big man dusted Washington for 38 points and dished out nine assists this weekend as well.
If you have not seen what all the fuss is about, don’t miss Oakland’s nationally televised game against No. 5 Virginia on December 30th. Trust me, you’re in for a special treat. The junior from Detroit’s Pershing High School, a left-handed version of the incredible Tim Hardaway, will make you scream like a Pentecostal at revival!