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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Four noteworthy performances from Tuesday’s exhibition games

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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1. SYRACUSE'S YOUNG CENTERS SHOW PROMISE

What happened: With the departure of Rick Jackson leaving Syracuse without a proven low-post defender or rebounder, the Orange desperately need either sophomore Fab Melo or freshman Baye Moussa Keita to fill that role. It's far too early to say whether either are capable of rising to the challenge, but their performance Tuesday night against Cal State Los Angeles at least showed promise. Melo put the memory of a disappointing freshman season behind him and showcased the benefits of shedding 18 pounds this summer, posting 14 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. And Moussa Keita took advantage of his strength and athleticism advantage over the opposing big men by pulling down nine rebounds of his own.

Quote to note: "I thought Fab and Baye were real good. They were really active. They showed a lot of advancement from last year. I think it was a good game. I think it'll really help us and our preparation going forward." -- Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim (The Associated Press)

2. JUSTIN COBBS THRIVES IN CAL DEBUT

What happened: If Justin Cobbs didn't win Cal's starting point guard job Tuesday night, he at least continued his push for more playing time. The Minnesota transfer excelled in his first game in a Cal uniform, scoring 17 points, dishing out four assists and committing zero turnovers off the bench in a win over UC San Diego. By contrast, incumbent point guard Brandon Smith went scoreless on 0-for-4 shooting, though he did have three steals and three assists. Cobbs will play at least 20 minutes a night at either guard spot whether he starts or not, but it's crucial for Cal's Pac-12 title hopes that he emerges as an impact player. Smith is a steady defender and distributor, but he's better suited for a reserve role because his shooting and finishing abilities remain liabilities.

Quote to note: "I feel like he is a pretty good point guard and knows how to run the team. He knows us and that is what the point guard does, is try to run the team, and I think he did a pretty good job of that." -- guard Jorge Gutierrez on Cobbs' performance. {YSP:MORE}

3. ROBBIE HUMMEL LOOKS HEALTHY

What happened: The way Robbie Hummel played in his first game since suffering a pair of devastating ACL tears in the same knee, it was easy to forget the Purdue star had ever been injured at all. In a 78-46 thrashing of Northern State, Hummel had a game-high 18 points and seven rebounds in a mere 15 minutes of action. He scored 11 consecutive points midway through the first half, singlehandedly extending Purdue's lead from 15-7 to 26-11. Whereas Hummel could afford an off night before because JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore were there to pick up the slack, Purdue needs the 6-foot-8 forward to be on top of his game this season. Consider this a promising start.

Quote to note: "It felt great. It felt great to be out there with the guys. It was everything I could hope for. My knee feels solid, and I feel like I am getting better every day in practice." (Indianapolis Star)

4. ANDRE HOLLINS BIDS TO START AS FRESHMAN

What happened: Junior college transfer Julian Welch missed Tuesday's game against Division II Bemidji State, so true freshman Andre Hollins utilized extended minutes to audition for Minnesota's starting point guard role. The Memphis native took a few bad shots and was slow to get a hand in the face of opposing shooters, but he made up for 2-for-7 shooting with his ability to set his teammates up for open shots. Hollins finished with eight assists and zero turnovers, great numbers even against subpar competition.

Quote to note: "I thought he had a good all-around game. I would like to see him push it more in transition. That's one thing we've got to get him to do a better job of." -- Tubby Smith on Hollins (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

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