Youngstown State deserves to advance to the semifinals of the Legends Classic in Brooklyn later this month, judging by the way the team handled its business on Monday night. Instead, the very team the Penguins walloped in the preliminary round of the event has an automatic bid to the tournament’s final four.
Youngstown State drubbed Georgia, 68-56, in one of several undercards to the prefixed Legends Classic to be played Nov. 19 and 20 in Brooklyn (NY). Despite the result, the overmatched SEC doormat, not the up-and-coming Horizon League program, gets to travel to the newly-christened Barclays Center for a chance—this kind of chance—at winning the tournament. That’s a made-for-TV event in a nutshell.
Were it not for the revenue at stake, Georgia should think long and hard about keeping its team home in two weeks rather than subjecting itself to the inevitable embarrassment at the hands of Indiana and the Georgetown-UCLA loser.
Throwing the Bulldogs a bone
Mark Fox may have to turn to Mark Richt for offensive help before it’s too late. Georgia shot a paltry 12.5-percent from the floor (3 of 24) in the first half on Monday night, and the only three made baskets belonged to Kendavious Caldwell-Pope. The Bulldogs didn’t score their 10th point until the 2:37 mark and finished the half with just 14 points in total.
Georgia managed to make just one shot in the first eight minutes of the game against Youngstown State after going scoreless from the field for the final six minutes of Friday’s season-opening win over Jacksonville. That’s 14 straight minutes of basketball against mid-major competition in which the Bulldogs managed just one bucket.
It’s not too early to sound the alarms in Athens.
Georgia’s offense did pick up in the second half, when the team tripled its first half production by scoring 42 points on 48-percent shooting. But the Bulldogs could pull within no closer than three after one of five Caldwell-Pope treys early in the second half. The sophomore guard finished with a career high 27 points in a losing cause.
It’s a quick turnaround for the Bulldogs. Georgia welcomes Southern Miss to Stegeman Coliseum on Thursday in segment two of the “it counts, but not really” round of the Legends classic.
These Penguins are no joke
Youngstown State, meanwhile, showed why it can be a viable contender in the now Butler-bereft Horizon League. Kendrick Perry, who led the Horizon League in scoring last season, finished with a team-best 23 points while Kamren Belin chipped in 17. Perry was kept in check in Saturday’s upset win at George Washington (A-10), mustering just three points on 0 of 9 shooting from the floor.
If the Penguins can continue to get the contributions they’ve gotten thus far from Belin, a junior college transfer, and senior guard Blake Allen, Youngstown State could content with Cleveland State for the conference crown. Kendrick Perry can measure up with anyone in the conference, and now Jerry Slocum may have the supporting cast to raise eyebrows around college basketball.
Up next for Youngstown State is a home tune-up against St. Francis (PA) on Friday before traveling to Pittsburgh for the sub-regional rounds of the Legends Classic. Dates with North Dakota State (Nov. 19) and Duquesne (Nov. 21) close out the event for the Penguins.