Pierria Henry helped lead Charlotte to the Puerto Rico Tip-Off title (USATSI)
Sunday's North Carolina-Louisville clash was the marquee game from the opening week of holiday tournament play, but there were some other notable results as well. Here's a look at which teams' stock rose or fell:
STOCK RISING: CHARLOTTE
Charlotte arrived at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off as an afterthought in a field that included national runner-up Michigan, Atlantic 10 favorite VCU and three other teams from power conferences. The 49ers left as champions, having sprung one of the biggest upsets of the season in the championship game. Terrence Williams went from hero to goat, putting back his own missed layup with just four tenths of a second remaining to give Charlotte a 63-61 victory over Michigan in Sunday night's title game. Williams had earlier missed two free throws that would have iced the game for the 49ers. With victories over Kansas State and Northeastern in addition to the Wolverines, Charlotte improves to 5-1 this season with the only loss coming to Charleston. Exactly how good Charlotte is won't be clear until the 49ers show they can sustain this level of play, but at the very least the performance of their backcourt in Puerto Rico signals that this is a team to watch in Conference USA and perhaps nationally too.
STOCK FALLING: VCU
A tough draw at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off offered 10th-ranked VCU ample chances to collect some marquee non-conference wins that would bolster its resumé for NCAA tournament time. Instead the Rams left having only a narrow victory over rebuilding Long Beach State to show for their time in Puerto Rico. The common thread from VCU's losses to Florida State and Georgetown was that the Rams' swarming pressure defense forced 25 and 26 turnovers respectively yet they still lost. The reason for this was simple: The Seminoles and Hoyas both scored at will when they managed not to turn the ball over, shooting 53.7 percent and 64.7 percent respectively from the floor. Heck, even Long Beach State shot 50 percent against the Rams, and that was two days before the 49ers only scored 38 total points in the seventh-place game against Kansas State. Also alarming for VCU is its inefficient half-court offense, especially from behind the 3-point arc. The Rams averaged 22.3 attempts from behind the arc per game in Puerto Rico yet only made 29.6 percent of them.
STOCK RISING: UMASS
The collection of victories UMass has piled up so far this season are as impressive as any team in the nation. Having already beaten rapidly improving LSU and high-scoring Boston College, the Minutemen (6-0) added 19th-ranked New Mexico and previously unbeaten Nebraska and Clemson to their list of scalps to capture the Charleston Classic title. UMass doesn't go more than seven deep or so, but the supporting cast for star guard Chaz Williams is stronger this season than years past. On a night when Williams went 1 of 12 from the floor against Clemson, the Minutemen still captured the title thanks to 20 points and 12 rebounds from athletic center Cady Lalanne and a rock-solid defensive effort from the entire roster. That UMass can win in a variety of ways bodes well for the rest of the season. The Minutemen deserve a spot in the AP Top 25 on Monday and have established themselves as Atlantic 10 contenders.
STOCK FALLING: GEORGIA
Georgia fans who took a break from lamenting Aaron Murray's torn ACL long enough to pay attention to basketball over the weekend surely did not like what they saw. The Bulldogs lost to Davidson, Temple and Nebraska in the Charleston Classic, falling to 1-4 so far this season with the only victory coming against Wofford in the season opener. The disastrous weekend in Charleston will surely increase the pressure on Georgia coach Mark Fox, who has produced only one winning season in his first four-plus years at the helm of the Bulldogs program. Last season, Fox could not assemble a strong enough roster to take advantage of the presence of SEC player of the year Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as Georgia went 15-17 in a weak season for the SEC. A poor start suggests things could get even worse for Fox this season with Caldwell-Pope in the NBA and the Bulldogs struggling to find front court scorers or generate stops.
STOCK RISING: INDIANA
Undefeated but untested aside from a narrow escape against LIU Brooklyn the previous week, Indiana arrived at the 2K Sports Classic eager to assess where it stacks up against better competition. What the Hoosiers learned is that they're not yet the caliber of last year's Big Ten championship team but the rebuilding process without four starters from that team is coming along faster than expected. Indiana outclassed Washington in its semifinal game and lost by one against No. 18 UConn despite getting zero points and only 10 minutes from foul-plagued freshman Noah Vonleh. Point guard Yogi Ferrell had to do a bit too much against UConn, but for the most part he has shown the ability to distribute, score and make good decisions with the ball. Will Sheehey has increased his scoring and efficiency in a bigger role as a senior, while prior to Saturday night, Vonleh had been the most impressive freshman big man in the nation.
STOCK FALLING: WASHINGTON
It's not hard to figure out why Washington is 2-3 after falling convincingly to Indiana and Boston College this past weekend at the 2K Sports Classic. The Huskies simply can't guard anyone right now. Washington has yielded more than 1.0 points per possession to every team it has faced this season and it allowed both Indiana and Boston College to shoot more than 50 percent from the field. Dribble penetration was the biggest culprit as the Washington guards could not stay in front of the ball and the Huskies lack an Aziz N'Diaye-esque shot blocker in the paint to clean up those mistakes. Injuries to forwards Desmond Simmons and Jernard Jarreau have depleted Washington's frontcourt depth. Center Perris Blackwell, a San Francisco transfer, has performed well so far this season, but 6-foot-9 Shawn Kemp Jr. was replaced in the starting lineup against Boston College so the Huskies could go with a four-guard look. With Nigel Williams-Goss making smart choices at point guard and C.J. Wilcox scoring from the wing, Washington has the firepower from the perimeter to stay in games. Unfortunately for the Huskies, they won't win enough of them unless their defense improves dramatically.
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