Basketball Prospectus: Unfiltered Everything Else is Fluff.

January 21, 2010

Streak-fail all around

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Gasaway @ 11:39 am

It’s been a while since you could respond to “Anything happen last night?” with “Well, Memphis lost a CUSA game and DePaul won a Big East game.” Funny thing is, while both streaks were of course bound to be snapped sometime, neither figured to end last night. This here sport will surprise you.

The Tigers fell to UTEP 72-67 at the Fed Ex Forum in Memphis, bringing their 64-game CUSA winning streak to an end. For a team with a shield-your-eyes bad offense (see below) marooned in a media oubliette like El Paso, the Miners have received a surprising amount of coverage and attention this season. But last night Tony Barbee‘s group earned the pub, hitting 53 percent of their twos, 44 percent of their threes, and 16-of-22 free throws. Give the credit there to Jeremy Williams and Christian Polk, among others. Meanwhile Memphis officially committed just 12 turnovers but to the naked eye it looked like 11 of those came in the last four minutes. If a steal can be one of those proverbial “daggers,” Randy Culpepper picking Elliot Williams‘ pocket with 58 seconds left in a four-point game was a dagger.

There’s no particular shock and awe attached to an unranked team not going undefeated in their conference, of course. But you have to admit this does look a little strange…. 

I’ve never seen anything except “Memphis” next to that “1.” 
Through games of January 20, conference games only
Pace: possessions per 40 minutes
PPP: points per possession    Opp. PPP: opponent points per possession
EM: efficiency margin (PPP – Opp. PPP)

                     Pace    PPP    Opp. PPP   EM
1.  Marshall         66.8    1.23     1.05   +0.18
2.  Tulsa            67.4    1.16     0.98   +0.18
3.  Memphis          63.2    1.12     1.01   +0.11
4.  Houston          70.4    1.09     0.99   +0.10
5.  UAB              64.0    0.99     0.92   +0.07
6.  UTEP             63.2    0.96     0.93   +0.03
7.  UCF              68.8    1.09     1.09    0.00
8.  SMU              59.2    1.00     1.01   -0.01
9.  Tulane           68.7    0.94     1.01   -0.07
10. Southern Miss    60.7    0.93     1.02   -0.09
11. Rice             65.9    0.96     1.17   -0.21
12. E. Carolina      67.6    0.91     1.15   -0.24

Speaking of downright visually strange, try this on for size:

I’ve never seen anything except “DePaul” next to that “16.” 
Through games of January 20, conference games only

                     Pace    PPP    Opp. PPP   EM
1.  Villanova        71.7    1.21     1.04   +0.17
2.  West Virginia    64.4    1.13     0.99   +0.14
3.  Louisville       68.7    1.14     1.03   +0.11
4.  Syracuse         71.6    1.10     0.99   +0.11
5.  Georgetown       64.2    1.11     1.03   +0.08
6.  Pitt             64.8    1.10     1.02   +0.08
7.  Marquette        61.1    1.13     1.06   +0.07
8.  Connecticut      69.2    1.02     0.97   +0.05
9.  Cincinnati       66.4    1.01     1.00   +0.01
10. Notre Dame       66.5    1.09     1.12   -0.03
11. Providence       72.5    1.05     1.10   -0.05
12. St. John’s       65.5    0.93     0.98   -0.05
13. Seton Hall       71.1    1.03     1.10   -0.07
14. S. Florida       67.5    0.95     1.09   -0.14
15. DePaul           63.4    0.88     1.12   -0.24
16. Rutgers          71.1    0.91     1.16   -0.25

The Blue Demons beat Marquette 51-50 at Allstate Arena last night, thanks to a game-winning jumper from Mike Stovall with 0.7 seconds left. It was a fitting capper to an improbable result: Stovall is pretty good at recording steals but he hasn’t exactly been unconscious from the field this year. Go figure, he scored five points in the game’s last ten seconds to end DePaul’s 24-game Big East regular season losing streak. (Note that, rather capriciously, the Memphis streak included conference tournament games. The Blue Demons’ streak did not. This team won a game at Madison Square Garden against Cincinnati last March.)

If you saw any part of this game you likely noticed that DePaul simply looked different in their body language. They were active on defense. (Yes, I just wrote those words about a post-2007 DePaul team.) I don’t suppose that Tracy Webster‘s group is a shoo-in for an NIT bid or anything, but it would appear that perhaps a corner, at long last, has been turned. 

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