Winning Games Again? Sixers in Brooklyn For Sunday Atlantic Battle

Winning Games Again? Sixers in Brooklyn For Sunday Atlantic Battle

Friday was the kind of day that turns around your entire feeling about a
team's season. Starting off with the good news—well, at least, the
not-explicitly-bad news—that Andrew Bynum was going to be ramping up his
activity level and beginning the long road back to recovery, the black
cloud seemingly lifted from the Sixers team, and with Jrue Holiday and
Evan Turner back from injury, the Sixers eviscerated the Hawks at home
in Lou Williams' comeback game at the Wells Fargo Center.

It was
an incredibly satisfying day of Sixers basketball, and it makes you
wonder if it's not too late for the Sixers to actually try to do some
winning in the 2012-13 NBA season.

After losing five games in a
row—none easy, but all winnable—you had to start thinking that if the
news with Bynum this week was more negative than positive, and if Evan
and Jrue were gonna take a little longer than expected getting back on
the floor, that maybe Philly would be looking forward to summer camp a
little early this year. But after a 19-point win like Friday's–against
the team with the third-best record in the East, with the Sixers' key
players all contributing and their bench players finally stepping up a
little as well—maybe it's not time to write the season off just yet.
Maybe, to quote a one-time friend of Philadelphia sports, we can build
on this.

If so, we gotta come correct today in Brooklyn. After a
hot start that had them looking like an elite team in the East, the
Nets have struggled mightily, losing eight of their last ten games and
seeing their leader and presumptive franchise player in Deron Williams
being questioned from all corners for his poor shooting and occasionally
primadonna-ish attitude. Even with their poor play of late, the Nets
are still a game up in the division on the Sixers, but somewhat
incredibly, the Sixers can leapfrog both them and the Celtics with a win
today and end up at 2nd in the Atlantic with their 14-14 record.

It
won't be easy. The Nets can kill the Sixers where it hurts them, up
front, with their seven-foot center Brook Lopez and resurgent power
forward Andray Blatche (not to mention our old buddy, Reggie "The
Rebounding-and-Nuts-Grabbing Machine" Evans). The Sixers are gonna need a
big game on both ends of the court from Lavoy Allen, and if Spencer
Hawes is gonna continue his solid play on offense (almost 15 points and
seven rebounds a game over his last eight, with over 50% shooting), he's
gonna have to find a way not to give it all back on the defensive end.

3:00 tip from Barclays. It's more fun when they win.

College Hoops wrap: St. Joe's edged in usual ending at Saint Louis

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AP Images

College Hoops wrap: St. Joe's edged in usual ending at Saint Louis

No. 2 Villanova bounced back with a win over No. 23 Creighton, clinching the Big East regular-season title outright (see Instant Replay). Meanwhile, Temple was able to clip Tulane in double overtime to end a three-game losing streak (see Instant Replay).

Here's a look at the rest of college hoops in the Philly area. 

Saint Joseph's edged by Saint Louis in unusual ending, 61-60
ST. LOUIS -- Jalen Johnson scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, Mike Crawford hit a key 3-pointer, and Saint Louis edged Saint Joseph's 61-60 with an unusual ending on Saturday.

The Billikens were up 61-58 with five seconds left when Crawford missed a pair of free throws. The Hawks' Jai Williams grabbed the rebound and passed to James Demery. Demery dribbled the floor and bypassed Brendan Casper, who was calling for the ball just outside the 3-point arc, and made a layup as time expired, sealing a one-point win for Saint Louis.

Crawford's 3-pointer gave the Billikens a 59-58 lead with 1:15 to play. Johnson forced a turnover on Saint Joseph's next possession, and Aaron Hines made a layup to stretch the lead to 61-58.

Saint Louis (10-19, 5-11 Atlantic 10) snapped a three-game losing skid.

Chris Clover scored 17 points to lead Saint Joseph's (10-18, 3-13), which has lost eight straight (see full recap).

Drexel downed in Charleston, 80-67
CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Jarrell Brantley scored 22 points, grabbed nine rebounds and had four steals, Joe Chealey added 16 with three steals, and the College of Charleston beat Drexel 80-67 on Saturday to win its fourth straight.

Cameron Johnson scored 14 for the Cougars (23-8, 14-4), who have a No. 2 seed and first-round bye secured at next week's Colonial Athletic Association Tournament.

Chealey's free throw put the Cougars up for good 11-10 en route to a 36-26 halftime lead. Brantley hit three straight free throws and the Cougars led by 18, 70-52, with 6:30 left to play in the second half and were never seriously threatened.

The Cougars shot 27 of 40 free throws and outrebounded the Dragons 39-32, scoring 14 second-chance points off of 13 offensive rebounds.

Kurk Lee scored 13 points for Drexel (9-22, 3-15), which has lost five straight (see full recap).

Penn State allows near triple-double to Mason, loses to Minnesota, 81-71
MINNEAPOLIS -- Nate Mason had 16 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, and Jordan Murphy added 16 points and 16 rebounds for the Minnesota Gophers in an 81-71 win over Penn State on Saturday.

Dupree McBrayer added 15 points off the bench for Minnesota (22-7, 10-6 Big Ten) with Akeem Springs scoring 12. Reggie Lynch had nine points and set a career-high with 11 blocks as the Gophers won their seventh game in a row and avenged an earlier loss at Penn State.

Tony Carr had 20 points and seven assists, while Shep Garner scored 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Nittany Lions, who have lost three straight. Penn State had just five turnovers, all in the first half, but shot 35.5 percent.

Excluding the vacated season of 1996-97, Minnesota has won seven games in a row for the first time since 1978 (see full recap).