Colorado tops Murray State to capture the 2012 championship
By Jon Cooper
The fifth annual Charleston Classic presented by Foster Grant featured outstanding guard play and incredible shooting by young and old. In the end, youth was served and defense rewarded, as Tad Boyle’s Colorado Buffaloes took home the championship, topping the more experienced Murray State Racers. Here’s a team-by-team rundown of the 2012 Charleston Classic.
Auburn never found its rhythm in its opener, falling 79-59 to Murray State. The Tigers trailed by as much as 30 in the first half, and were down 45-19 at intermission. The deficit would hit 38 in the second half, and AU trailed by 30 for most of the second 20 minutes. Asauhn Dixon-Tatum had 12 points and eight rebounds, and Rob Chubb added 12 points and seven boards. Auburn shot only 33.3 percent (26.7 from three) and lost star guard Frankie Sullivan with 15:13 to play after he crashed into the scorer’s table. Sullivan returned for the next game with 20 stitches in his shooting arm and a hot hand, sparking the Tigers to a 55-51 victory over College of Charleston. He scored the first 14 points of the second half—outscoring the Cougars 14-8 and rallying Auburn, which trailed 23-22 at intermission. Sullivan hit 9-of-18 shots (2-of-5 from three) while the rest of the team shot a combined 10-for-35 (28.5 percent), 4-for-12 from three. Auburn’s aggressive defense forced 19 turnovers. In the finale, Sullivan scored a game-high 22 points, with five assists, but Auburn lost, 73-63, to Dayton. Chubb added 11, and Noel Johnson 10. Dayton closed the first half on a 13-2 run to take a 10-point lead into the locker room, and Auburn would trail by double-digits most of the final 20 minutes. AU shot only 25 percent from three (4-for-16), and was outscored 27-13 at the foul line. Auburn would meet Boston College in a non-bracketed matchup in Chestnut Hill three days after the Classic ended, and while Sullivan stayed hot, scoring a game-high 23, the Tigers dropped a heartbreaker, 50-49. Chubb added 12, but no other Tiger scored more than seven points.
No. 16/17 Baylor played a big second half in its 84-74 Classic opener win over Boston College. Guard Pierre Jackson had a game-high 31 points on 10-of-15 shooting (6-of-10 from three), and center Isaiah Austin added 16 on 7-of-12 shooting. The Bears shot 51.7 percent for the game and 54.5 in the second half, when they pulled away. Baylor’s defense turned 13 turnovers into 21 points. In its next game, BU came up short, 60-58, to Colorado in a rematch from last season’s NCAA Tournament. This time, there were 10 ties and seven lead-changes, with neither team leading by more than six points. Baylor led most of the half, but Colorado closed on an 8-0 run to take a 35-30 halftime lead. The Bears clawed back from a six-point deficit with 4:04 to play, but couldn’t equalize, as Austin’s desperation jumper at the buzzer rimmed out. Cory Jefferson led Baylor with 17 points on 7-for-7 shooting (3-for-3 from the line), nine rebounds and three blocks. Baylor struggled offensively, shooting only 37.3 percent (18.8 from three), with last year’s NCAA Tourney hero Brady Heslip making only one of five from three. Baylor and Heslip bounced back in their finale, thumping St. John’s, 97-78. Heslip shot 8-of-11 from behind the arc on his way to a game-high 29, while Jefferson (20 points, 14 rebounds) and Austin (13-13) each had double-doubles. Baylor dominated the lane, holding a 34-18 edge in points in the paint and a 41-20 bulge in rebounding. The Bears also were on from the perimeter, shooting 61.1 percent from three. A.J. Walton handed out a game-high 10 assists as the Bears led almost wire-to-wire. Both Jackson and earned berths on the All-Tournament team.
Baylor didn’t get to play College of Charleston during the Classic, but did host them in an unbracketed game six days afterward, when they fell, 63-59. The loss was the first at home to a non-conference opponent since Jan. 2, 2009 (85-84 to South Carolina). Jackson scored 21 points with five assists and five rebounds, but Baylor was done in by 23.5 percent shooting from three.
Boston College gave No. 16/17 Baylor a battle before falling 84-74 in its opener. Ryan Anderson scored a team-high 25 points on 9-for-16 shooting, with six rebounds, and freshman guard Olivier Hanlan added 16, with six boards. B.C. shot 54.5 percent in the first half (42.9 from three) and led 43-41 at intermission. But the Eagles cooled off in the second half, shooting below 40 percent, and Baylor took the lead for good with a little over 12 minutes to play. B.C. got more solid freshman play in its next game, this time from Joe Rahon, who had a team-high 16, but lost to Dayton 87-71. Anderson added 14 points, eight rebounds and three assists, and Patrick Heckmann had 13. The Eagles made one field goal over the final 8:14 of the half as Dayton closed on a 17-3 run to take a 37-26 lead into the locker room. Both teams heated up in the final 20, as B.C. shot 59.1 percent (54.5 from three), but could not stop Dayton (78.3, 83.3 from three). In the finale, playing without Anderson (ankle), Heckmann was heroic off the bench, but B.C. dropped a 71-67 decision to College of Charleston, which played without starter Trent Wiedeman. Heckmann led four double-digit scorers with 18, hitting 4-of-6 from three, as B.C. led 34-29 at the half. But a 19-8 Charleston run midway through the second half gave the Cougars the lead for good. The Eagles cut an eight-point deficit to one with 2:21 left but could not get any closer.
In a non-bracketed match-up three days later in Chestnut Hill, Boston College got tremendous play from freshmen Hanlan and Rahon, who combined for 68 percent of the team’s scoring in edging Auburn 50-49. Hanlan went for 19 with six rebounds, while Rahon added 15. The Eagles nearly blew a late eight-point lead but held on as Frankie Sullivan’s long, game-winning three bounced away at the buzzer.
COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON
In its first game, College of Charleston fell behind by as much as 14 in the first half and never caught up, losing 64-53 to St. John’s. Nori Johnson had a team-high 11, and Trent Wiedeman added 10 for Charleston, which trailed by 10 at halftime and by 18 early in the second half. The Cougars shot 32.3 percent in the first half and 37.5 for the game and committed twice as many turnovers as the Red Storm, 14-6. The Cougs came out strong defensively in its next game but lost late to Auburn, 55-51. Anthony Stitt had a team-high 11 points, and Adjehi Baru grabbed 11 rebounds. Charleston limited Auburn to 25.8 percent shooting in the first 20 minutes, while shooting 42.9 and scoring four points in the final 21 seconds of the first half to take a 23-22 lead into the half. But the second 20 was a 180 from the first. The Cougars cooled off, while Auburn hit 50 percent of its shots. Charleston reduced a seven-point deficit to three on three occasions but could not equalize. In the finale, Andrew Lawrence, who saw his streak of 33 consecutive starts end the previous game, bounced back and led Charleston to a 71-67 victory over Boston College. Lawrence scored 17 of his game-high 22 in the second half, and keyed a 19-8 run coming out of the locker room, as the Cougars overcame a 34-29 halftime deficit. Charleston, which also got 12 from Stitt and 10 from Anthony Thomas, shot 51.9 percent in the second half, while limiting the Eagles to 33 percent shooting (20 percent from three). They were never challenged once they took the lead. Both teams played without a star player, as Wiedeman and B.C.’s Ryan Anderson sat out with ankle injuries.
The Cougars traveled to Baylor in a non-bracketed game six days later and stunned the No. 21 Bears 63-59. Willis Hall had 12 points to lead four double-digit scorers, and the Cougars claimed the school’s sixth victory over a ranked opponent and first since beating North Carolina in 2010. Charleston won the battle on the boards and hit a season-best 50 percent from three (9-for-18), with Lawrence and Johnson hitting three each.
Colorado got hot in the second half to beat Dayton 67-57 in its opener. The Buffs shot 59.1 percent after intermission, 75 percent from three (6-of-8) in outscoring the Flyers, 44-30, and overcoming an early, second-half eight-point deficit. CU used a 16-2 stampede to take the lead, then pulled away in the final seven minutes. Askia Booker led four double-digit scorers with 16, and André Roberson pulled in a game-high 14 rebounds. Colorado limited Dayton to 33 percent shooting in the second half (1-for-10 from three) and 32.8 for the game. In the next game, Colorado earned a measure of revenge, beating No. 16/17 Baylor 60-58. Booker led Colorado with a career-high 19, and Spencer Dinwiddie added 11 in avenging last season’s NCAA Tournament loss to the Bears. CU held last year’s foil, Baylor guard Brady Heslip, to seven points and 1-for-5 shooting from three. The Buffs did allow the Bears to stick around, making only four of 18 free throw attempts, and missing five of six down the stretch, but held on as Baylor center Isaiah Austin’s shot at the buzzer did not go. The win was CU’s first against a ranked team in non-conference regular-season play since 1973. In the championship game, Colorado knocked off Murray State 81-74. Booker set his career-high for the second straight game, scoring a game-high 23, on 10-of-18 shooting (2-of-5 from three), and Dinwiddie nailed 11 of 12 free throws. Facing a more experienced Racers squad, Colorado led by a deuce at the half, despite 11 turnovers, then used an 11-1 second-half run and clutch foul shooting to seal the deal. Booker—who averaged 19.3 ppg on 51.1 percent shooting (24-of-47), 43.8 from three (7-of-16), with 3.0 assists per game—was named the Tournament MVP.
The Flyers were grounded in their opener, falling 67-57 to Colorado. Vee Sanford had a team-high 13, and Devin Oliver grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds. Dayton led 27-23 at the half, despite shooting 32.4 percent, but foul trouble limited star guard Kevin Dillard to 10 points in 23 minutes, and cold shooting (32.8 percent for the game) doomed the Flyers. Dayton led 35-27, with 14:48 to play, but the Buffs answered with a decisive 13-0 run to lead for good. The Flyers found their collective stroke the next game, an 87-71 rout of Boston College, as freshman Dyshawn Pierre scored a game-high 23 to lead five double-figure scorers. It was a perfect night for Pierre, who hit all eight FGAs, five from three, and nailed 2-for-2 from the line. Oliver (17) and Jalen Robinson (15) also scored season-highs. Dillard bounced back, with 14 on 5-for-6 shooting (2-for-3 from three). The Flyers shot 62 percent in the first 20 minutes and closed the half on a 17-2 run to lead 37-26 at intermission. They then topped that in the second half, shooting 78.3 percent, 83.3 percent from three (5-of-6). The Flyers led by double digits most of the second half, and by as much as 17. The Flyers finished with a flourish, beating Auburn, 73-63. Dillard scored a career-high 20, hitting 12 of 14 from the foul line, with three assists and two steals. Robinson contributed 12 points and seven rebounds off the bench, and Oliver chipped in 12 and six. A 12-2 run gave Dayton a 10-point halftime lead, and a second-half 11-3 run pushed the lead to 16. The game stayed at double-figures the rest of the way.
Murray State hit on all cylinders in besting Auburn 79-59, in its opener. Isaiah Canaan had a game-high 26 and Stacy Wilson added 18. The Racers led 45-19 at the half, as its defense held the Tigers to 26.7 percent shooting and created 20 points off turnovers. In the second half, State used an early 10-2 run to extend the lead to 34 and cruised home. Wilson, a native of Mullins, S.C., made his homecoming in style, hitting 6-of-10 shots, 4-of-5 from three. In their next game, the Racers used a late 12-0 run to come from behind and catch St. John’s at the wire. Murray shot only 32 percent in the first half but used a half-closing 13-3 run to cut a 13-point lead to three at the break. State trailed by eight with six minutes to go until a 17-4 run gave them the lead for good. Wilson had a career-high 26 points to lead five double-digit scorers. Canaan had 15, and Ed Daniel added 15 with 11 rebounds. The Racers shot 41 percent from three and 52 percent overall in the second half. In the championship game, not even the presence of Bill Murray could help Murray State, as the Racers ran out of gas, losing 81-74 to Colorado. Canaan led MSU with 21 points, Daniel had a 20-10 double-double, and Dexter Fields put in 18 points on 6-for-9 shooting, 5-for-8 from three. State trailed 33-31 at intermission in a game that saw four ties and seven lead changes, and the game remained tight throughout. MSU took a three-point lead with a 12-3 spurt early in the half, but Colorado answered with an 11-1 run and led by at least two-possessions the rest of the way. Canaan earned a place on the All-Tournament team, averaging 20.7 points on 44.9 percent shooting, 34.6 from three, with 3.6 assists and 3.0 rebounds.
The Red Storm started fast and cruised, beating host College of Charleston, 64-53, in its opener. D’Angelo Harrison had a game-high 21 points, as St. John’s used an 11-0 run to open up a 22-11 first-half lead. It led by 10 at the half. A 10-2 run to open the second half doubled that lead, and the game was double-digits to the end. JaKarr Sampson also had pulled down 10 rebounds and just missed a double-double with eight points. In the next game, Harrison put up another monster game, but St. John’s was caught late, 72-67, by Murray State. Harrison had a game-high 27 points and was a rebound short of a double-double, while Sampson scored a career-best 14 with seven rebounds. The Johnnies shot 50 percent in the first half, and led by as much as 13, but they were unable to weather a decisive Murray State 12-0 deluge. St. John’s shot for the tie in the final minute, but missed three game-tying three-pointers. The Red Storm shot an icy 14.3 percent (2-for-14) from three. In its finale, the Red Storm got 20 from Harrison, who hit six threes in recording his fourth straight 20-point game to start the season, and career-highs from Phil Greene IV (24, with five rebounds and seven assists, both team-highs) and Sampson (18), but lost 97-78 to No. 16/17 Baylor. The game was closer than the final score, as a late 15-1 Baylor run blew open a close game. The Johnnies led 28-19 early, as Harrison, who was benched by Coach Steve Lavin after missing a team bus, came in and hit three straight threes. But the Storm allowed a 15-0 run and trailed by three at intermission. The game remained tight throughout the second half until Baylor’s late run. St. John’s was outscored 34-18 in the paint and outrebounded, 41-20. Harrison was named to the All-Tournament Team after averaging 22.7 ppg on 42.3 percent shooting, 33.3 from three, and 91.6 from the line.
University of Maryland alum Jon Cooper is an Atlanta-based freelance writer.