Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Guest Contributor Ray Floriani -- Legends Classic

by Ray Floriani

East Rutherford, NJ - The attendance on both nights of the Ticketcity Legends Classic was, to put it politely, sparse. Too bad. There were four close games that got sloppy at times, remember it is not even Thanksgiving, but were not short on excitement coming down to the wire.

outside the Izod Center

The Scores:

Semifinal Games...
Vanderbilt86 79North Carolina State
Oregon State100 95Texas

Consolation Game...
North Carolina St.77 74Texas

Championship Game...
Vanderbilt64 62Oregon St.

We will look at the final evening's consolation and championship games from the Izod Center.

The possessions and efficiency:

North Carolina St.68113

For the second straight night the Longhorns showed an efficiency that should win you a basketball game. But came up short. Unfortunately that was the case in each of Texas' games here. On Saturday they posted a gaudy 117 OE only to generously allow a 127 OE to Oregon State in that overtime affair. Both teams shot the ball well (Texas 52% eFG, NC State 50%) and cared for the ball rather well. Texas had a 19% TO rate while the Wolfpack of the ACC came in at 16%. Both numbers are what you would love to have in March, and are ecstatic about in November. Achilles heel for Texas, and it was noted by coach Rick Barnes, was the persistent fouling. NC State had an off the chart 75% FT rate. They shot 33 of 44 from the line.

NC state came back from 18 points down. They made the decisive run the latter part of the second half after Texas' J'Covan Brown fouled out. With the Texas lead guard exiled on fouls, the Longhorns were a different team. And one who could not hold off the surging Wolfpack.

Leading scorers:

CJ Leslie, NCSU1713
Sparked Wolfpack off the bench each game
J'Covan Brown, Texas1717
Shot 7-14, 1 turnover & 7 assists

Championship Game

Oregon State State7187

Resilience was the key. Vanderbilt by as much as nine but in a game with nine ties and lead changes, Oregon State was determined not to go away. The decision was sealed in the final seconds on a jumper by Vanderbilt's Brad Tinsley. Chalk it up to Oregon State's persistence coupled with Vanderbilt's 'bull in a china shop' care of the basketball. The Commodores were guilty of 22 turnovers, translated, a ridiculously high 32% TO rate. Oregon State wasn't much better with a 24% TO mark. The SEC representatives also outshot Oregon State from the field with a 54-45% eFG mark. In a one possession outcome that is a big factor.

John Jenkins' 14 points for Vanderbilt, included a huge three pointer in the stretch. Jared Cunningham of Oregon State, entered the game with a 26 ppg scoring average, was held to nine points but did have seven steals.

Vanderbilt is a very good club at this juncture. One would be safe to assume, they will be even better when 6-11 Festus Ezeli returns from a knee injury and rejoins the Commodores in a few weeks.

Leading Scorers:

Devon Collier, Oregon St1925
John Jenkins, Vanderbilt146

Upper press view of the Izod Center court

Jenkins' Manley number was affected by 5 of 13 shooting from the field, no assists and three turnovers. Make no mistake though, Jenkins' came up big both nights for coach Kevin Stallings and Vanderbilt.

Official Jim Burr and Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings
share a lighter moment

MVPJohn Jenkins, Vanderbilt
All Tournament Team:C.J. Leslie North Carolina St.
Sheldon McClellan, Texas
Jared Cunningham, Oregon St.
Jeffrey Taylor, Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt raises the championship trophy

And Then There is...
--   Good officiating friend Guy Pagano, who lives in Northern New Jersey, worked the final with Jim Burr and Mike Stephens.

--   Had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with one of the tempo-free 'Gods', John Gasaway. John was covering with Basketball Prospectus colleague Andrew Cannon.

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