Welcome to the first in our daily series recapping the previous night’s action around the country. As the season rolls on, this morning scoreboard check will include unranked Big 12 teams, as well. And as a catch-all disclaimer, it should be noted that on some mornings, sleep just seems more valuable than the scoreboard rundown.
#4 North Carolina 88, Florida International 72 – After all of the off-season controversy surrounding the alleged mix-up in scheduling this game, it appears that perhaps Isiah Thomas didn’t have that much to worry about. Thanks to a ridiculous 26 Tar Heel turnovers, the Golden Panthers were able to keep the game respectable for much of the night, never falling behind by more than 26 points.
For Carolina, the bright spot of the night was the defense. The Heels blocked eight shots and held the Panthers to 30% shooting in the first half. Ed Davis led the block party for Carolina, swatting away four shots to go with his double-double performance of 13 points and 11 rebounds. Deon Thompson led all scorers with twenty.
#12 California 75, Murray State 70 – The final score indicates a much closer game than what actually transpired out west, but it also makes way for concerns about the Bears’ killer instinct. Mike Montgomery’s squad built a lead as big as 18 points in the second half of this one, but the hot-shooting Racers hit 53% of their shots in the second stanza and refused to give up.
The backcourt combination of Jerome Randle and Patrick Christopher provided 31 points for the Bears, including Randle’s 10-of-11 shooting from the charity stripe. Cal lost the battle on the glass by a 30-29 count, and had a meager 1.25 assist-to-TO ratio.
#17 Ohio State 100, Alcorn State 60 – The least competitive game of the night also gave us the least information about a Top 25 team. With the Buckeyes cruising the whole way, Thad Matta was able to go deep on his bench, dishing out at least thirteen minutes to ten different Buckeyes.
Jon Diebler hit 6-of-9 treys in a 22-point performance, but the standout star of the night was Evan Turner. The junior from Chicago held down point guard duties and logged a triple-double with fourteen points, ten assists, and 17 rebounds.
If the dominating win wasn’t enough to get Buckeyes excited about the new season, big man Dallas Lauderdale is expected back for Thursday’s game against James Madison.
#25 Syracuse 75, Alabany 43 – It didn’t take long for Jim Boheim to get over the 800-win hump, reaching that milestone in the first game of the 2009-10 season. The Orange bounced back quickly from their embarrassing exhibition loss to Le Moyne, decimating the Danes with suffocating defense. Syracuse forced 32 turnovers, including 21 steals, and held their opponents to just 27% shooting from the floor. Former Iowa State Cyclone Wes Johnson had six of the Syracuse steals and added twelve points and eight rebounds.
Guard Andy Rautins had to leave the game with just over fourteen minutes left. After jumping to pass to big man Arinze Onuaku, he landed on an opponent’s foot and twisted his ankle. Rautins wore a walking boot the rest of the evening, and his status is still in doubt for Wednesday’s game against Robert Morris.