NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 06: Phil Pressey #1 of the Missouri Tigers drives against Dominic Cheek #23 of the Villanova Wildcats during the Jimmy V Men's Basketball Classic at Madison Square Garden on December 6, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
The 2011 Jimmy V Classic did not have the meat as in previous seasons, but there was no doubt plenty to be gleaned in this year's edition of an always highly anticipated double dip.
Missouri vs. Villanova particularity generated interest in these parts because of the direction both teams may or may not be headed in this season.
Is Villanova really going to be mediocre? Can Missouri continue to win with nothing but guards in the rotation?
The Tigers were in complete control for the middle 20 minutes of the game, but let the Wildcats back in late. Perhaps they were bored, because they were clearly the better squad.
Here's what we learned...
- Missouri will see your two and raise you a three. The Tigers pulled ahead by double digits to close out the first half, and kept Villanova at bay for most of the second half by scoring off their scores. A number of times the Wildcats would get a lay-up or dunk suggesting they were about to mount a comeback, but it was all for naught. The Tigers wouldn't flinch, and converted a three-pointer at the other end of the court before the someone could say, "Jabroni!"
- Maalik Wayns will make you shake your head. Coming into the game, the Wildcats point guard was committing a frustrating 3.3 turnovers a game with a 1.3 assist-to-turnover ratio. With 30 percent of the Wildcat's possessions ending with Wayns, it would be nice if he were a bit more effective on offense. Tonight, he had an impressive eight assists, but turned the ball over four times, including an incredibly befuddling decision to dribble directly into the corner then hurl it back to mid-court with just over one minute to play in the game. Jay Wright has limited options on offense, so he may just have to roll the dice with Wayns.
- Don't bet on the Tigers. Not in the figurative sense, but literally placing a wager on a game that involves Frank Haith's club. The Tigers started the game 8-26 from the floor; 1-8 from three-point land. With nearly 70 percent of their offense coming from players 6'5" or less, the Tigers do not get a ton of easy baskets if they're not forcing turnovers. They're shooters - very good shooters, but there are going to be nights when the iron is unkind and they struggle to get points of their opponent's mistakes.
- Ricardo Ratliffe is going to get a ton of easy baskets this season. The loss of Laurence Bowers is Ratliffe's gain. Through eight games this season, the senior forward is averaging 14 points a game on over 78 percent shooting. With so many excellent dribble penetrators around him, Ratliffe is going to get bunnies all season, and likely finish the season with statistics that generate an incredibly overinflated value of Ratliffe as a player; something far more than just a serviceable player. He should be buying his teammates lunch every week.
- Jay Bilas' tweet game now impressing upon a general audience. I'm pretty sure he quoted Young Jeezy tonight. It felt great. Bilas did not, however, tell his story he always tells during Jimmy V week: the one when he was playing for Duke, and appeared to commit a foul on a Wolfpack player while blocking his shot. As Valvano was screaming at the referees, the coach found a quick second to mumble "great block" as Bilas ran back on defense.