Under The Radar Game of the Day: Louisiana Tech at Stephen F. Austin

For David Griggs’ News, Notes and Highlighted Games for today – CLICK HERE

Louisiana Tech (6-3, 4-3 D1) at Stephen F. Austin (5-2, 2-2 D1) – 7:30 PM EST (ESPN+)

After a weeklong hiatus from one of our writers, the UTR Game of the Day resumes with one of the better matchups we’ve had so far this season – the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs hit the road to take on the Lumberjacks of Stephen F. Austin. In their last outing, SFA finished 3rd in the Belfast Classic in Northern Ireland with an opening-round loss to San Francisco but won their final game against Milwaukee. Shannon Bogues currently leads SFA with 14.3 points a game; Kevon Harris also averages 12.3 points a game and 6.3 rebounds a game.

Louisiana Tech has rebounded a bit from their recent 2-game losing streak against UNC-Greensboro and Delaware; they’ve won a pair of home buy games against Houston Baptist and Prairie View. While the Bulldogs have won a pair of games against Southland teams (they beat Sam Houston State earlier in the season), this is another major road test for the Bulldogs. This will be their first game at SFA in two decades. Louisiana Tech has 5 players averaging double figures in points; Exavian Christon leads the way with 12 points a game.

If you happen to be in the Nagodoches area for the game, SFA is running a cross promotion with Toys for Tots for tonight’s game. Free admission is provided for anyone who brings an unwrapped toy to the game (valued at $10 and up)!

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News, Notes, and Highlighted Games: Friday, Dec 7th

-Iowa bounced back from two straight losses with an impressive showing and win over rival Iowa State in an intense affair.  Purdue also picked up their first big win of the season after knocking off Maryland in a game that came down to the final seconds.

-UMASS AT PROVIDENCE.  Providence is coming off a hard fought win against Boston College, and should be able to improve to 8-2 on the year with a win tonight.

-NEW MEXICO VS SAINT MARY’S (Staples Center).  Both of these teams have a lot of catching up to do, and need to string together a lot of wins in order for it to even be possible.

-LOUISIANA TECH AT STEPHEN F AUSTIN.  These are two pretty good UTR teams that have kind of stumbled this year. A win today would be huge as far as getting them back on track.

-TCU VS USC (Staples Center).  Both teams could really use this win.  TCU is 6-1 on the year, and they just picked up a nice road win at rival SMU.  Another big win away from home could propel them back into the rankings.  USC has some potential, but as of now they really haven’t picked up any wins of note.

-NEVADA VS ARIZONA STATE (Staples Center).  Both teams are ranked, both teams are unbeaten, and both teams are currently on pace to end up as protected seeds.  This is probably the biggest test of the year for either team so far, so it should be fun.

-Oral Roberts @ Missouri
-Southern U W @ South Dakota State

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News, Notes, and Highlighted Games, Thursday, Dec 6th

NEWS AND NOTES

-For our latest Under the Radar Video Podcast – CLICK HERE

-The Gonzaga v Washington history and storyline is amazing!!  What I didn’t think would be amazing was this year’s actual game.  But, it was!  Top ranked Gonzaga opened up an early double digit lead and gave all signs of blowing it open, but never did.  Washington defended well, kept it close, and even took a lead in the second half.  Yet again Gonzaga opened up a lead and appeared to have all the momentum, but yet again Washington fight back and with less than ten seconds to go tied the game.  It was a virtual last second shot (there was less than a second left) that finally won the game for the Zags.  I am SOOO glad this series is back!  It was put on hiatus because of a spectacular coaching and admin feud, but it is now back and it hopefully stays back.  A fantastic effort for the Huskies.  I know it must sting really bad to lose to a rival after playing that well, but if they play that well the rest of the way they’re going to win a lot of games.

-Temple actually had a lead on Villanova for most of the second half, and although Nova ended up winning by 10, they didn’t actually get control of the game until the final minute.  It was a bit of a rock fight, but it certainly didn’t lack in excitement.  Nova continues to dominate the Big Five.

-Nebraska continues to struggle on the road against anyone who is even decent.  They had a lead for most of the game at Minnesota, but just fell apart at the end.  The Gophers pick up a nice conference win after being blown off the floor in their previous game.

-VCU picked up a much needed road win at Texas.  It’s a tale of two teams.  VCU got a huge win that may play a big role in defining their season and getting them to the NCAA Tournament, and Texas just lost their second straight home game to an unranked team.

-Southern Illinois, who we were especially hard on after they were blown out by UMass, is the only Missouri Valley team that looks any good.  They seem to have finally gotten into step and have won six out of their last seven, including a nice win against a pretty good Saint Louis team last night.  For SLU, this is a road win that they really could have used.

-Utah State, who I had been praising all over the place, was blown off the floor by a BYU team that had pretty much looked asleep in their games leading into last night.  A really nice win for the Cougars.

-Loyola Chicago lost at home.  Again.  This time to Ball State.  They don’t look a whole lot like an NIT team right now, much less an NCAA team that was just in the Final Four.

-San Diego picked up a nice (and very feelgood) road win at San Diego State.  We really like this Toreros team, and they’re now 7-2 with two true road wins.  As for the Aztecs, they are in trouble.  They really need to blow through the rest of their schedule to even have a chance.

HIGLIGHTED GAMES

-MARYLAND AT PURDUE (Big Ten).  This is a tough road game for a pretty good Maryland team, and it comes against what appears to be a pretty good Purdue team that really needs a big win.

-IOWA STATE AT IOWA.  LOVE this rivalry!!  Like a lot of rivalries, it may not resonate with the entire country as being as big as Duke v North Carolina, or Louisville v Kentucky, but in the state of Iowa it is HUGE.  And, it’s been a ton of fun with some great games since both teams became regular NCAA Tournament caliber teams.  I’m really looking forward tot his one tonight.  Iowa has had some nice wins, but is coming off two straight losses and were totally blown out in their last game.  Iowa State has held serve throughout the year, but this would be their biggest win of the season up to this point.

-Kentucky Christian @ Wofford – umm, why?
-Utah Valley @ Arizona

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Under the Radar: December 5th

Chad, David, and Rocco start off by looking at the Missouri Valley and how it has collectively underachieved with Loyola Chicago getting out to a slow start, Illinois State struggling, and Southern Illinois dropping some early games (although they had a big win against SLU during the recording of this show).  After that we look at the other 21 UTR conferences and talk about the early and continued road success of Stony Brook, how Vermont appears to be strong again despite having lost so much from last year’s team, how Conference USA has taken a step back but how North Texas continues to play well, the overall strength of the SoCon and MAC conferences, the surprise year that Abilene Christian is having, and how New Mexico State once again looks strong.  We also review the big Lipscomb v Belmont game from the night before and look at how good both those teams are and how good that rivalry has become.  And as we do every week, we close with our UTR Top Ten.

 

And for all you radio lovers, below is an audio only version of the show…

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Go Fish: HoopsHD interviews brand-new LA Sparks head coach Derek Fisher

The WNBA has plenty of coaches who were great players in their own right including Pokey Chatman (All-American PG at LSU who set school records for most career AST/STL), Katie Smith (7-time WNBA All-Star/3-time Olympic gold medalist who was inducted into the Hall of Fame earlier this year), and Taj McWilliams-Franklin (6-time WNBA All-Star who remains the league’s all-time leader in ORB). They are getting even more championship company today as it was reported that the LA Sparks are hiring Derek Fisher to be their new head coach. Fisher has been a winner for most of the past 2 decades: 1996 Sun Belt POY at Arkansas-Little Rock, 1st round pick of the Lakers in the 1996 NBA draft, 5 championships with the Lakers from 2000-2010, and he remains the all-time NBA record holder with 259 career playoff games (LeBron James is currently in 4th place with 239 career playoff games). Prior to the announcement, HoopsHD’s Jon Teitel got to chat with the new coach about his prior success at the Staples Center and making 1 of the most clutch shots in NBA playoff history.

In 1996 at Arkansas–Little Rock you were named Sun Belt POY: what did it mean to you to receive such an outstanding honor? It was definitely an honor…but what made it really special is that I was a little better statistically as a junior: some of our best players sustained injuries so I had more of a scoring burden. As a senior I was able to fall back into my all-around game and we had a successful year.

In the 1996 Sun Belt tourney title game you scored 17 PTS but Tyrone Garris made a scoop shot at the buzzer in a 1-PT win by New Orleans: how much of a home-court advantage did you have while playing at Barton Coliseum, and where does that rank among the most devastating losses of your career? We probably did have a home-court advantage: it also served as the local fairgrounds so our opponents had to deal with the stench of elephants and the sight of asbestos! It is not my most devastating loss but is close to it: I never got to play in the NCAA tourney, which is 1 of my all-time regrets.

Take me through the magical 2001 NBA playoffs with the Lakers:
In Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals against San Antonio you scored a career-high 28 PTS/6-7 3PM: was it just 1 of those scenarios where every shot you put up seemed to go in because you were “in the zone”? I really had not experienced being in a “zone” like that before. My role was not to shoot the ball that much based on how our team played but it just seemed to come together for me during the postseason. I missed most of the regular season due to a foot fracture but that allowed me to spend a lot of time practicing my shot.

In Game 5 of the NBA Finals you scored 18 PTS/6-8 3PM in a win over Philly to help clinch your 2nd straight title: how were you able to play your best when it mattered the most? A lot of my experience at Little Rock as well as some big high school games back home helped. When games were close down the stretch I just tried to make plays to help my team win. I had a calm/confidence that came from experiencing the same situations before, even if they were not in the NBA.

You won the 2002 Western Conference Finals over Sacramento, which is widely regarded as 1 of the best series in NBA playoff history (with each of the last 4 games coming down to the final seconds): what was your reaction when referee Tim Donaghy later alleged that Game 6 was fixed (your Lakers attempted 18 more FTs than Sacramento in the 4th quarter of your 4-PT win)? I do not have many comments on that: I do not know where he would have gotten that information from. There were 6 other games played during that series: my opinion is that the Kings lost Games 1&7 in Sacrameto, which shows that we were able to beat them on their home court. It is always interesting to hear such discussions but it did not impact the shots that we made in that series.

In Game 5 of the 2004 Western Conference Semifinals after 3 timeouts were called with only 0.4 seconds left, you received an inbounds pass and made a turnaround jumper at the buzzer to beat San Antonio: did you think that your shot was going in, and how did that shot change your life (if at all)? When I 1st shot the ball I thought that I might have put too much on it, but once it got a little closer I knew that it was online and had a chance to go in. I did not know for sure until I saw it go through the net. It changed my life from the standpoint of hitting a game-winner in the NBA playoffs: it is not an experience you get to have very often and it was the 1st time I had such an opportunity with the game on the line. Those are the moments you dream about as a kid and it actually happened!

Prior to Game 2 of the 2007 Western Conference Semifinals with Utah you flew from New York to Salt Lake City after your daughter Tatum’s emergency 3-hour eye cancer surgery and arrived after the game had already tipped off, found out that starting PG Deron Williams was in foul trouble and backup PG Dee Brown was injured, got a police escort to the arena, received a standing ovation as you walked onto the floor in the 3rd quarter without having a chance to warm up, made a key defensive stop on Baron Davis late in the 4th quarter to help send the game into OT, then made a 3-PT shot in the closing minutes to help seal a 10-PT win over Golden State: how were your emotions doing by the end of that long day, and how were you able to stay focused on the court despite so much happening off the court? My emotions were all over the place as you might suspect at a time like that. I do not know how I kept my emotions in check: it was almost like an out-of-body experience where my body was not connected to the way I was feeling. I was kind of on auto-pilot and just going through the motions to convince my body to do what I had practiced to do my entire life.

In the 2012 Western Conference Finals with Oklahoma City, the Spurs won the 1st 2 games of the series to extend their winning streak to 20 games: how on earth were you able to win the next 4 games in a row to clinch the conference title? In 2004 with the Lakers when I hit my famous shot we were down 0-2 before winning 4 in a row to win the series. In 2007 we trailed Houston 0-2 in the 1st round before beating the Rockets on the road in Game 7 to win the series. From my experience it had happened before so we just tried to win Game 3, which changed the scope of the entire series.

In the 2014 Western Conference 1st round against Memphis your team set an NBA record for the most OT games in a series with 4 (which were all in a row from Games 2-5): how exhausted were you by the end of that 7-game series? I was completely wiped out! We were operating at less than full-strength and were not able to make all the plays we were capable of without a healthy Russell Westbrook. I was emotional because it ended up being my last year as a player, and combined with a long series against a good team was tough.

In 2014 you were hired as head coach of the Knicks by your former coach/team president Phil Jackson: how did you like being a coach, and what do you hope to do in the future? Despite some of the stumbles we had at times I loved coaching. Not a lot of people get to coach the Knicks so I loved the idea of trying to help the organization figure out how to sustain success. If I get the opportunity again I want to be an integral part of doing something bigger than any 1 person and working together to be successful.

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News, Notes, and Highlighted Games: Wednesday, Dec 5th

NEWS AND NOTES

-If you took the night off last night, you missed quite a bit of fun.  We had multiple overtime games, multiple Big Ten games that came down to the wire, and some other close calls.

-I’m gonna start with a game that most people probably missed because it was a UTR game, and that’s Lipscomb v Belmont.  This is a fun and long running rivalry that has gotten a lot more fun in recent years.  They play twice a year despite it not being a conference game, it’s called the Battle of the Boulevard because the two schools are three miles apart on the same road.  They’re also both conference frontrunners, and last night was the fourth straight time it has come down to the wire.  The game seesawed back and forth, and it ended with Lipscomb getting a three point shot off at the buzzer after inbounding the ball with less than a second to go, and it didn’t go in.  It was the second time Belmont had beaten Lipscomb this year, but these are the only two games that Lipscomb has lost.  Their wins include at TCU and at SMU, and they are the clear frontrunners in the Atlantic Sun.  Don’t be surprised to see both these teams in the NCAA Tournament, and if one or both of them blow through their conferences, we may see them pretty close to the bubble.

-Indiana picked up their second straight 2-point Big Ten Conference win as they defeated Penn State on the road.  It’s a real nice resume win for the Hoosiers, and kind of setback for a Penn State team that we thought would be really good this year (and still may be), but is now just a modest 4-4.

-Northwestern suffered their second straight 2-point Big Ten Conference loss in a thriller against Michigan.  Michigan has looked as good as anyone in the country last year, and has blown out three ranked teams.  Northwestern played a fantastic game and had a chance to pull the upset and pick up a huge resume win, but came up just short.  It’s a little soul crushing for the Wildcats, but it is far from their only opportunity at a big win.

-Providence v Boston College isn’t quite the rivalry it used to be now that it’s not a conference game, but it still has some heat, it’s still a fun series, and it’s still usually a thrilling game.  Last night was no exception as the game seesawed back and forth and went into overtime before Providence was able to pull out the win.

-Oklahoma got a really nice win against Notre Dame in the Jimmy V Classic.  I wasn’t that big on the Sooners, but they are making it impossible for me to just brush them off.

-Miami FL is making it very easy for me to just brush them off.  They lost their third straight last night, and their second straight to an Ivy League school, as Penn beat them rather handily.

-The postgame interview of the evening belongs to Georgia State coach Ron Hunter!  After coming from behind to beat Alabama with a 3-pointer at the buzzer, he proclaimed that they were 2-0 in the SEC, and therefore in first place!

-West Virginia is in trouble.  It’s better to be in trouble in early December than it is in March, but they have not looked good at all this year.  They lost to a Florida team last night that had also been struggling, but that didn’t even have to sweat last night to beat the ‘Eers.

 

HIGHLIGHTED GAMES

-OHIO STATE AT ILLINOIS (Big Ten).  Ohio State is looking to bounce back from their first loss of the season, and shouldn’t have too much trouble against an Illinois team who’s program appears to be getting better, but just isn’t quite there yet.

-MARSHALL AT DUQUESNE.  Both teams are out to decent starts that are better than the kinds of starts we’re used to seeing, but probably not good enough to indicate that they’re NCAA Tournament teams without the automatic bid.  Still, this would be a nice win for whoever pulls it off.

-NORTH TEXAS AT INDIANA STATE.  This game is flying way under the radar, but both teams come into this with just one loss, and the Trees have won five straight.  We may be continuing to hear from them as the season goes along, at least on the Under the Radar show.

-MIDDLE TENNESSEE AT VANDERBILT.  We weren’t expecting too much out of Vandy.  Then the season started and they looked better than we expected.  Now, the injury bug has hit them hard with Darius Garland being out for the year.  They have a crosstown feud to deal with tonight as they begin to adjust to life without him.

-VCU AT TEXAS.  Texas is coming off a surprising home loss to Radford and is looking to bounce back.  VCU is coming off a somewhat surprising loss to Old Dominion and is not just looking to bounce back, but to pick up the kind of win that would indicate they belong in the tournament.  I don’t think they’ve got it in them, but they will certainly get the chance tonight against their old head coach, and I’ve certainly been wrong before.

-OKLAHOMA STATE AT TULSA.  Both teams have a lot of catching up to do if they want to get into the fray of relevance.  Winning tonight would be a nice start.

-WESTERN KENTUCKY AT MISSOURI STATE.  WKU is still looking for their first true road win.

-SAINT LOUIS AT SOUTHERN ILLINOIS.  The Salukis got off to a kind of sluggish start, but they have won five of their last six and their last three by double digits, so they could be stepping onto the level that we thought they’d be at.  They have a big game tonight against a pretty good Saint Louis team that really needs this win because, quite frankly, they play in an A10 conference that is predominantly made up of sub-NIT caliber teams this year.

-TEMPLE AT VILLANOVA (Big Five).  Temple hasn’t generated a whole lot of chatter this year, but they are 7-1 on the season and have won two true road games.  If they can pull off the win tonight against a Nova team that has struggled in most of their games then they will probably be catapulted into national relevance, not to mention pick up a huge win on their resume, not also not to mention win some major Big Five bragging rights.

-NEBRASKA AT MINNESOTA (Big Ten).  Nebraska is in the rankings and has a smattering of decent wins on their resume.  Picking up their second true road win, along with a conference win, will keep their momentum going.  Minney needs to win this game to help get their season back on on track.

-UTAH STATE AT BYU.  Utah State is off to a fantastic 7-1 start with some pretty nice wins away from home.  BYU is a modest 5-4, but all five wins have come at home and they should be pumped up for this game given the rivalry that the two schools have.

-IDAHO AT WASHINGTON STATE.  It is very rare that either one of these teams are in the hunt for the NCAA Tournament, but I still really like this rivalry.  Did you know that the two rival schools are about eight miles apart (7.4 according to Google Maps)?  Did you also know that they’ve never met in the NCAA Tournament?  Geez, I don’t think there is any other college basketball rivalry where that is the case!!

-DENVER AT AIR FORCE (Front Range).  We at Hoops HD Love the Front Range!!!!  Actually, as much as we love the Front Range, surely there is a better game on than this one.  Okay, moving along….

-SAN DIEGO AT SAN DIEGO STATE.  These two have played some exciting games in recent years, and this year seems to be more evenly matched than normal.  San Diego State still has an outside shot of playing their way inside the bubble, but they really need to start racking up some wins.  San Diego comes in with just two losses and is a team that we think will make some noise in the West Coast later this year, so it should be a fun match-up.

-ARKANSAS AT COLORADO STATE.  This is a tough road game (and the first true road game) for an Arkansas team that has played a lot better than what we were expecting this year.  Still, it will be good for the Razorbacks to get that first true road win on their profile.

-TCU AT SMU.  These two teams have been playing for a long time, but only recently did it become a game where both teams looked like they could be NCAA Tournament caliber teams.  Having said that, both have gotten off to slower starts than we expected, so in addition to being a rivalry game it’s a big resume and momentum game as well.

-WASHINGTON AT GONZAGA.  Stay up late for this one!  This rivalry goes beyond just the fans and extends into the administrations, although they seem to be on much better terms now.  At least the series is back.  Gonzaga is ranked #1 and playing for a #1 seed in the Tournament, and Washington is trying to pick up what would probably be their biggest win of the season, at least in terms of their resume.

-SAN FRANCISCO AT CALIFORNIA.  The Dons are coming off their first and only loss of the season against a really good Buffalo team.  Although they are the road team, they are the far better team that Cal and should get the win.

 

BUY GAMES (and other games worth mentioning, but not highlighting)

-Lafayette @ UConn
-Mount Saint Mary’s @ Saint John’s
-Ohio @ Xavier – Ohio is 5-2 and may put up a bit of a fight
-Hartford @ Duke
-VMI @ Virginia Tech
-Le Moyne (nondiv1) @ Buffalo
-Brown @ Butler
-Western Carolina @ NC State
-Central Arkansas @ Louisville
-Detroit @ Toledo – Toledo can improve to 8-1
-Pine Bluff @ Texas Tech
-UNC Wilmington @ North Carolina
-LMU @ Cal State Fullerton – LMU trying to improve to 9-1

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