Photo courtesy of University of Michigan Athletics.
By David Cordova
November is here and college basketball is in full swing. Fans are excited to see their teams dueling it out. One of the biggest events christening the new season is the 2K Sports Classic, which has four teams playing in the most historic basketball venue there is, Madison Square Garden.
The 2K Sports Classic, which has been around for over twenty years, has been hosted at the World’s Most Famous Arena consecutively for the last nineteen years. Past champions in this event include the likes of Syracuse, Duke, Kansas, Arizona, Florida and UConn.
This year, four teams would partake in the event. SMU, Pittsburgh (who won the tournament in 2010), Michigan and Marquette would all duel in this event and showcase themselves in front of the New York faithful on this night.
SMU 76, Pittsburgh 67
Within the first minute & a half, SMU came out the aggressor, aided by sophomore guard Shake Milton’s first five points of the game. The Mustangs dominated throughout the first half with the post presence of Harry Froling & the outside shooting of Dashawn McDowell and Sterling Brown, which brought them up 31-20, with 5:59 left in the first half.
But the Panthers, behind senior forward Mike Young, used their toughness to bring that deficit down to three, 31-30 with 2:37 left in the half. Then senior forward Jamel Artis hit a three to take over the lead with over 50 seconds left in the opening half to bring the Panthers the lead at 33-31, which is where the game stood at halftime.
The second half started as a battle on the boards for both teams. But SMU recaptured the lead, behind junior Semi Ojeleye, as they took over leading, 47-39, with 14:45 left in the second half. Although the Mustangs held the lead, the Panthers still kept the game close. Ryan Luther & Jamel Artis hit clutch baskets down the stretch to bring Pitt to within 63-57, with over 5 minutes left.
But the tandem of Ben Moore, Ojeleye & Milton would keep the Mustangs ahead for the rest of the game & would lead them into the championship game against Michigan tomorrow night at 7:00 pm.
Ojeleye led the winners with 24 points and 6 rebounds, Milton added 14 points & Moore led with 12 points and 9 rebounds. For the Panthers, Young led with 22 points & nine rebounds and Artis added 20 points in the loss, which will lead them into the consolation game at 4:30 against Marquette.
Michigan 79, Marquette 61
In the first couple of minutes, both teams traded baskets & battled hard under the boards on both ends of the court. But Michigan drew first blood early, leading 24-15, after a three-point play by junior Muhammad-Ali Abdul-Rahkman & a three-pointer by Duncan Robinson with over 11:08 left in the first half.
Due to the Wolverines’ pressure defense & their ability to score, they then brought the lead to within sixteen, 36-20, with 6:30 left in the half. The Golden Eagles’ inability to make shots helped their counterparts get the advantage for most of the half, as they trailed by twenty-four points at the half, 50-26.
As the second half started, Marquette tried to avenge their dismal start, as they went on a run & cut the deficit to 57-33, highlighted by a couple of baskets by senior forward Luke Fischer & a dunk by senior guard Jajuan Johnson. Then with the help of Johnson & freshman Markus Howard, the Golden Eagles cut the deficit to 67-53 with 6:34 left. However, the Wolverines would not let them get any further, as they punched their ticket to the championship game against SMU at 7:00 pm.
Zak Irvin led all scorers with 16 points and six assists and Abdur-Rahkman added 15 points and five rebounds. Mark Donnal also contributed 15 points for the Wolverines. As for the Golden Eagles, Fischer added 19 points and five rebounds, sophomore guard Haanif Cheatham added 12 points and eight rebounds and Johnson added 11 points in the loss, which will send them to the consolation game aginst Pittsburgh tomorrow at 4:30 pm.