Thursday, November 24, 2005

That's A Lot of Tears, Mr. Cash

“When I hear that whistle blowin’, I hang my head and cry.” ~Johnny Cash, “Folsom Prison Blues.”

It was not the dominating performance that the Tops put on display against Austin Peay last week, but WKU (2-0) did enough to keep IUPUI (1-2) at arm’s length for the duration of this whistle-prolonged game. Fifty-eight fouls were called in this affair, and it severely hampered either team’s ability to establish any offensive or defensive continuity. Johnny, if you can hear me, you would have had vertebrae damage from all of the head-hanging and crying in this game. The whistles blew every possession for awhile. There were 27 real-time minutes between media timeouts at one point in the second half. The Tops did not do a good job of adjusting to the tight foul-calling. And the end of the one hour and twenty minute second half, the Tops had earned an 89-75 victory.

1st Half
15.53: Both teams have come out with excellent defensive intensity. It is a mere 4-2 at the first media timeout.
11.14: The Tops go on a one-minute mini-burst that includes a Benson Callier leaner and an Anthony Winchester stick-back on the offensive glass to make it 14-6. I allow myself to entertain the thought of blowing this team right out the water.
7.57: Hee hee hee. No. IUPUI refocuses their defensive effort and the Jags slice through the Topper press at will. 18-17, Tops.
4.43: The Tops are starting to dictate tempo, and IUPUI seems to be just fine with it as George Hill buries a Three from the right wing. 28-25, Tops.
0.41: The next few possessions are characterized by sloppy Topper defense resulting in a bevy of open looks for the Jags. This nonsense is brought to a quick halt by my first pterosaur sighting of the season. The Great Red Pterodactyl (aka Elgrace Wilborn) throws down a monster two-handed jam that ignites the crowd and gives the Tops a 44-38 halftime lead.

2nd Half
Holiday travels…you gotta love it. I left my game notes in Bowling Green and I am now on the road. I'll do my best from memory.

Let me sum it up this way: IUPUI scored 35 second half points and only made FIVE field goals. There were 58 total fouls in the game. IUPUI shot 48 free throws as the road team. Just let those numbers sink in a bit.

With about 11 minutes to go, it was 60-56. The Tops then went on an 18-7 spurt that essentially put the game away by the 5-minute mark. Anthony Winchester and Courtney Lee both were there to make big baskets when needed…and they certainly were needed. They were the catalysts in the run that gave the Tops a comfy double-digit lead. Read more about the game and see stats here.

IUPUI played solid defense throughout and consistently broke the Topper press for the first 30 minutes, but they started to break down during the last 10 minutes. Lee and Winchester, coupled with the Tops’ depth, proved too much. The Jags should have some success in the Mid-Con this year, although Oral Roberts is likely to dominate the conference.

The Tops have a giant game on Saturday at 7 pm CT when former Coach Dennis Felton makes his return to Diddle with his Georgia Bulldogs (2-1). It will take a good effort to beat the young, but talented Dawgs. WKU made a quantum leap in Felton’s third year on the Hill, and I expect Georgia to be much better this year than most experts project them to be (it’s Year Three for Felton in Athens). Fallen Topper Danny Rumph, who died unexpectedly of cardiomyopathy this past summer, will be honored before the game. He was recruited by Felton and played under him for a year before Horn arrived. Emotions will be high for both Danny and for Felton’s return—and for a big win over a power conference opponent.