CJBL Tournament - Sweet 16 Recap
- By Michael Miller, Day 164, 2021
GAME CAPSULES - Due to the overall talent present in this round, instead of breaking down individual player performances by stars/duds, it made more sense to evaluate them in a game to game context.
Arizona 76 - Kansas 75: In a tournament that has been defined by double-digit wins, this matchup clearly presented the best game of the tournament thus far. Kansas, led by Marcus Dunn's solid performance (22 points on 8 of 13 shooting) led for almost the entire game (35:30). Arizona did not take the lead until very late, and only had the lead for less than a minute the entire game. Once again, Trendon Knox was the difference, as he put up 28 points on 10 of 22 shooting with 5 assists and 3 steals. As far as the difference in the game, while Kansas dominated in the paint by a 30 to 14 margin, Kansas's other two pro prospects failed to show up. C/PF Deandre Stackhouse had only 8 points on 3 of 11 shooting although with 13 rebounds and SG/SF Rene Lyles had a -11 plus/minus score for the game. Overall, Kansas matched up very well with Arizona and had a better offensive efficiency rating than Arizona, but a bit of luck and the electric performance by Knox ended up being the difference.
Georgetown 88 - Syracuse 70 - The Hoyas were not challenged by the Orange, as Georgetown led by double digits at the half and were never seriously threatened. It was a disappointing end for both Dakarai Savage (14 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks) and Eddie Clemons (17 points and 3 assists), who put up solid performances but just could not compete on the interior with Georgetown because lottery-bound prospect Rashaad Haslem was dominant with 29 points on 10 of 22 shooting with 7 rebounds and 3 blocks. Freshman forward Devion Jensen was also a strong contributor for Georgetown on the boards, as he led the team in 11 rebounds. All told, Georgetown outrebounded Syracuse by a +8 margin, had 16 more points in the paint and dominated Syracuse in offensive effiency by a 129.4 to 101.4 margin.
Connecticut 98 - UCLA 83 - Not to put the blame on any one player, but after a breakout performance got UCLA into the Sweet 16, much was expected of Brandon Kelly to take the leap against a very good Connecticut team. Unfortunately, Kelly was just not up to it, as he only put up 11 points on a woeful 4 of 15 shooting. His night was not completely wasteful, as he did contribute 10 rebounds a steal and 2 blocks in the losing effort. He has a hard decision as to whether to come back to school and increase his draft stock. Kelly did not have much help from his teammates and Connecticut largely dominated from the tipoff. Connecticut led 45-41 at the half, and UCLA did have a strong surge after halftime to take a 4 point lead with 17:24 to go. The Huskies then turned it on, however, and built their lead up to as high as 18 points with just under 4 minutes to go in the game. Tyrese Porter was the star of the game, as he had 29 points while shooting .500 from the field and chipped in with 5 rebounds and 4 assists with no turnovers. Alexei Davdidov also came through with a consistent performance, putting up 31 points and 12 rebounds.
Duke 85 - Arkansas 82 - It was a heartbreaking loss for Arkansas, who had a 5 point lead with just under 8 minutes to go but let Duke come back to steal the win. Arkansas had a solid performance from its three pro prospects - C/PF Antoine Willis (19 points, 5 rebounds), SG/SF Javon Noble (15 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists) and PG Isaiah Leonard (19 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals) - but no one player stepped up when needed late in the game. Conversely, Duke PG Calvin Astroth had a strong game and helped his draft stock after scoring 21 points on 8 of 10 shooting and chipping in 9 assists. Versatile swingman Tywan Liggins also had 18 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists in a strong effort. While Duke had more turnovers to keep Arkansas in the game, they ended up outrebounding the Razorbacks by a +11 margin and received 11 points from their bench whereas Arkansas only had 4 points. In games this close, where they were tied 6 different times, these small margins make up the difference.
Ohio State 86 - Marquette 66 - After several relatively close calls early in the tournament, it looked to be more of the same early in this game as Marquette took a 47-40 lead into the half. Something sparked the Buckeyes during halftime, however, as they outscored the Golden Eagles 43-19 in the second half to come away with a double digit win. The difference appears to be transition offense, as Ohio State came away with 20 fast break points whereas Marquette only had 6 points in transition. Ohio State also won on the boards by a +12 margin and Marquette struggled from the 3 point line with a 28.6 percentage from behind the arc (6 of 21). Brandon Weir (19 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks) and Derek Okwarabizie (21 points, 5 assists) can hold their heads high with solid performances in the loss, as the rest of Marquette did absolutely nothing to support those two. Meanwhile, C/PF Jarnell Doaks had an efficient, although relatively quiet, performance by putting up 13 points on 62.5% shooting, 5 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 assists.
Cincinnati 75 - USC 61 - The stellar career of SG/SF Cortez Ellison came to a thud against Cincinnati, although he was not the cause of the team's poor performance. Although Ellison only put up 13 points, he was the only significant positive on the floor for the Trojans, as he put up a +9 while the other USC starters were a combined -53 when on the floor. The Trojan's lack of a strong inside presence came to bear against C/PF Latrell Mason, who put up 28 points and 17 rebounds in another excellent tournament performance. Jaylen Cobb chipped in with 11 more rebounds, and SG Alexander Washington added 22 points, going 6 of 11 from the 3 point line for the Bearcats. The margin of victory was likely due to transition offense (Cincinnati had 22 points to USC 9 points) and rebounds (Cincy with a +11 margin).
Texas 74 - North Carolina 66 - After losing Josh Gamble to the JBL, it turns out the Longhorns just needed to reload and not rebuild around star SF DeAnthony Hunter. Just like in the last round, Hunter put up a stellar performance with 26 points on 10 of 20 shooting, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Freshman PG Erie Eliason also had a solid game, adding 15 points on 7 of 13 shooting. PF Andrew Fishback, currently a second round prospect, was a beastly rim protector with 5 blocks. While these were all solid individual performances, just has been the difference all season, it was a collective efficient effort that won the day over North Carolina. Texas turned the ball over only 4 times in the entire game, and allowed zero points off of those turnovers. Meanwhile, they capitalized on the Tarheels mistakes with 20 transition points. The only pro prospect considered to be on North Carolina, PF Jawon Tyndell, had a solid game as he scored 15 points and had 16 rebounds in the losing effort.
Kentucky 87 - Stanford 79 - Kentucky jumped on Stanford early, building a 12 point lead in the first half and held through Cardinal second-half surge to put the game away late. With 13:03 left in the second half, Stanford was up by 8 points and it seemed like the favorite was starting to pull away. Kentucky SG Malik Phillips had a Jekell/Hyde game, scoring 33 points on 14 of 30 shots, but only went 2 of 7 from beyond the arc and had a ridiculous 8 turnovers. "Steady" Mehdy Brown, however, continued his efficient play with 10 assists and 2 turnovers and was a strong +17 when on the floor. For Stanford, SF Jacob Rogers had a disappointing performance as he only shot 8 of 23 from the field and was unable to really have any consistency. Osa Much came off the bench to spur the strong second half effort, and had a +10 point differential on the floor, but it was not enough to overcome the barrage by Kentucky's Phillips.
ELITE EIGHT PREVIEW
Arizona vs. Georgetown - The Wildcats road to the championship continues through a difficult Georgetown team. Devion Jensen and Vince Stallings are tough perimeter defenders, and they promise to give Knox the toughest test he has had in the tournament to date. Meanwhile, this may be C/PF Rashaad Haslem's best chance to elbow his way into the conversation to be the #1 pick in the upcoming JBL Draft.
Connecticut vs. Duke - Two balanced teams with strong perimeters players, it will be interesting to see if Duke's SF/SG Tywan Liggins can contain Huskie SG Tyrese Porter. This is also a statement game for PF Alexi Davydov, who has been consistently good for Connecticut but has not had that staple game that could elevate him into first round consideration.. Similarly, PG Calvin Astroth can really separate himself from the other point guard prospects who have already been eliminated by building off of his strong Sweet 16 performance.
Ohio State vs. Cincinnati - This Ohio inner-state rivalry is nasty, and the stakes have never been higher. C/PF Jameel Doaks has quietly been one of the more consistent performing big men in the CJBL this season, but has been lost in the focus over the Bearcat's C/PF Latrell Mason. Their head to head matchup will be fascinating.
Texas vs. Kentucky - With a strong performance, Texas SF DeAndre Hunter could vault himself into consideration for a Top 5 draft pick. He will have plenty of help as Texas is perhaps the most balanced team left in the tournament. Kentucky is the lowest seed left, but they should not be looked at lightly. PG Steady Mehdy Brooks has elite shooting touch, but that has not shown in the tournament to date. If he can take advantage of the Longhorns' inexperienced guards, then the Wildcats may make it through to the CJBL Final Four.