By Paul Seaver (TheArenaPulse)
The 2010-2011 season officially tipped-off on Monday. Eight teams, four games all featured as part of the 2k Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer highlighted college basketball’s opening night.
Pittsburgh had to fight off a pesky URI team, while Illinois rolled over UC-Irvine. Maryland and Texas used big second halves to take care of Seattle and Navy, respectively.
The nation’s fourth ranked team got all it could handle on opening night, and at home to boot. URI was pesky all night, answering Pitt time and time again, shooting 45.2% (14-for-31) from 3-point land.
Brad Wanamaker tied a career-high with 24 points, while also tallying 8 assists, leading the charge for Pittsburgh and avoiding the upset to begin the season. The Panthers used excellent offensive transition and toughness on the glass to create the eventual late separation from the Rams. Pitt out-rebounded URI 40-29.
Delroy James led the way for URI with 20 points, while Ashton Gibbs chipped in with 22 points for Pittsburgh.
URI may have looked a lot better than some anticipated with a strong showing on the road at the Petersen Events Center. The Rams were tough all night, but slacked in defensive transition multiple times, giving up fast break dunks/lay-ups to the Panthers. Pittsburgh got great showings from Gibbs and Wanamaker, but like head coach Jamie Dixon said after the game, they have a lot of things to work on and improve.
Illinois 79, UC-Irvine 65:
Sophomore Brandon Paul had a big game off the bench, going for a team-high 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc. Star guard Demetri McCamey finished with 13 points, 11 of which came in the second half, while also dishing out eight assists.
The Fighting Illini came out strong and never looked back, jumping out to a 26-8 lead around the 6 minute mark in the first half. UC-Irvine struggled offensively out of the gate and never recovered. Darren Moore led the way with 18 points for the Anteaters.
Illinois looked good all-around in a season-opening tune-up as part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. Bruce Weber’s squad had four players finish in double-figures and shot 50.0% as a team from the field.
Toledo will head to Assembly Hall on Wednesday at 8:00pm to challenge the Illini (also part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic).
Maryland 105, Seattle 76:
Jordan Williams opened up the 2010-2011 campaign with a double-double, recording 17 points and 15 boards in 32 minutes of action. Williams was joined in double-figures by Cliff Tucker (16), Sean Mosley (21), and freshman Terrell Stoglin (15).
Seattle hung around somewhat in the first half, trailing 46-36 at the break, but the Terrapins put up 59 points in the second half on route to a 105-76 blowout win to begin the season. Seattle was paced by a 20 point performance off the bench by Alex Jones. Aaron Broussard also chipped in with 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Redhawks.
Gary Williams squad has talent and could emerge as a solid team in the ACC. Jordan Williams showed great signs of an emerging star and the production off the bench from the freshman Stoglin might be key for Maryland moving forward. The Terrapins will play host to Charleston on Wednesday (also part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic).
Texas 83, Navy 52:
Jordan Hamilton started off the season with a bang for Texas. A couple blocks, a few big dunks, and that sweet stroke from 3-point land helped show why Hamilton will be one of the tougher players to defend in the Big 12 this season.
After a shaky first half, the Longhorns exploded in the second half, registering 54 points en route to a 83-52 win over Navy. Navy was led by Mark Vaezey who scored 14 points on 16 total shots.
It was all about Hamilton and Texas in the second half, as the sophomore guard finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds. He was joined the double-double category by Gary Johnson who chipped in with 17 points and 10 rebounds himself.
Rick Barnes and Texas came out slow, putting up just 29 points in the first half while going through a solid mid-first half stretch without a field goal. The emergence of Jordan Hamilton will be key for the Longhorns this season, while strong contributions from Johnson, as well as freshman Corey Joseph and Tristian Thompson will be necessary.
Texas will take on Louisiana Tech at 9:00pm on Wednesday (also part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic).
*Photo: Jordan Hamilton *Credit: ballinisahabit.net
For college basketball news and updates follow The Arena Pulse on Twitter (@TheArenaPulse)