The Morning Dribble: Arizona, St. John's and Mississippi State Victorious On Opening Night

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The home favorites held serve in all three games on college basketball's opening night.

There's no point in denying it: college basketball has the worst opening day/night in sports.

Last night was Exhibit Q as three BCS conference squads held serve at home in a trio of games that failed to make even the slightest of dents on the national sports landscape. All three games were a part of the 2K Sports Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.

The night was fairly insignificant and the basketball was predictably bad, but this morning is about habits (good ones) and working our way into them.

With that in mind, let's take a quick look at opening night.

SCORES:

#16 Arizona 73, Valparaiso 64
St. John's 74, William & Mary 59
Mississippi State 76, Eastern Kentucky 66

GAME OF THE NIGHT: Arizona 73, Valparaiso 64

Arizona lost its first exhibition game and struggled in its second, so fans at the McKale Center had to be more than a bit nervous when the 16th-ranked Wildcats led by just a bucket at intermission.

A 16-3 'Zona surge to open the second half sparked by senior Kyle Fogg and reserve point guard Jordin Mayes essentially put an en end to the upset bid. The Wildcats would lead by as many as 20 before Valpo got hot from beyond the arc late to make the final score respectable in head coach Bryce Drew's debut.

Fogg led the way for Arizona with 16 points while forward Jesse Perry notched a double-double with 14 points to go with 10 rebounds. Highly-touted freshman Josiah Turner got the start at point guard, but connected on just 1-of-6 field goal attempts and finished the evening with seven points and only one assist.

As things stand, Arizona has no business in the top 25. The Wildcats appear to have zero understanding of the difference between a good shot and a bad shot, they give up way too many easy buckets on the other end of the floor and their desire to clutch and grab rather than move their feet is unrivaled.

The good news is that these are all correctable things. 'Zona has more than enough talent to win a Pac-12 title and Sean Miller has all the time in the world (basketball-y speaking) to get them to that point.

UPSET OF THE NIGHT: None

I almost went with "Fran Fraschilla didn't make anyone kick their dog," but pre-noon on a Tuesday isn't the time to go with a Fraschilla joke. Plus there's no fail-safe way to confirm something like that. I'm sorry I even brought it up.

PLAYER OF THE NIGHT: Dee Bost, Mississippi State

After one day of action, the senior guard is your undisputed front-runner for national player of the year. Bost droped 23 points in 37 minutes to go with six assists and two steals as the Bulldogs held off (76-66) a pesky EKU squad from the OVC.

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QUOTE OF THE NIGHT:

"It's like he's here but he's not. He has ways of letting us know what he expects and what he wants from our team." --St. John's guard Phil Greene on head coach Steve Lavin, who hasn't yet returned to his team after undergoing prostate cancer surgery last month. The Johnnies prevailed on opening night without Lavin, overcoming a seven-point halftime deficit to better William & Mary, 74-59.

NUMBER OF THE NIGHT: 21

The number of turnovers William & Mary committed on Monday to make that second half comeback possible.

What St. John's lacks in experience it makes up for in athleticism, and the Red Storm put constant pressure on the Tribe in the second half, forcing the bulk of those turnovers. The Johnnies - who gave the ball away just four times - ended the evening with 12 steals.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT: None

There are literally zero plays of interest from these games available on the Internet in video form. I almost went with "Fran Fraschilla didn't make anyone kick their dog," but pre-noon on a Tuesday isn't the time to go with a Fraschilla joke. Plus there's no fail-safe way to confirm something like that. I'm sorry I even brought it up.

QUICKIES:

--Mississippi State freshman guard Deville Smith, who had recently been hospitalized because of some dizzy spells and some memory loss, dressed on Monday night but did not play.

--St. John's, which is without three of its nine-member freshman class because of eligibility issues, played just seven players against Bill and Mary. Malik Stith, the lone veteran Red Storm starter, was also the only Johnny not to score in double figures.

--Controversial sophomore big man Renardo Sidney started for Mississippi State last night, but was essentially a non-factor, scoring nine points and grabbing three rebounds in 23 minutes. If Sidney's numbers remain pedestrian during the first part of the season, it seems almost more likely than not that he'll make some type of off-the-court news before February.

--Bryce Drew, who is best-known for his buzzer-beater against Ole Miss in the first round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament, paced the Valpo sidelines for the first time as head coach Monday night. Drew is taking over for his father, Homer, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in September.

ON TAP FOR TONIGHT: Nothing

I'm not doing the Fraschilla thing again.

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