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10 Takeaways: Who’s No. 1, Jimmer gets angry and a Blake Griffin moment

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No. 1 lost, another pair of ranked showdowns went down and a Cleveland State player did something no college player’s done the last 15 years besides Blake Griffin.

Yeah, I’d call that a pretty good little Saturday.

So take a stroll through the top stories of the day in our 10 Takeaways.

Who’s the 1? Despite Ohio State suffering just its first loss of the season –at No. 13 Wisconsin, a place where the Badgers win 93 percent of the time – conventional wisdom holds that there’ll be a new No. 1 team when Monday’s rankings are released. So who will it be?

If you ask players for No. 2 Kansas, they’re the ones.

“I want to be No. 1,” junior forward Marcus Morris said after throttling Iowa State, 89-66. “I want to have that chip on our shoulder every time we go out. I want to be the one that gets everybody’s best shot because I believe we can take it.”

The Jayhawks were atop the polls for 14 weeks last season and say their desire to be No. 1 comes from taking it for granted. They have something to prove. Odd thing is, the team that handed Kansas (24-1, 9-1 in Big 12 play) its only loss – and at Allen Fieldhouse, no less – says it doesn’t want those honors.

“I don’t want to be No. 1,” freshman Tristan Thompson said after holding off Baylor at home, 69-60. “Enjoy No. 3 and keep climbing that mountain.”

Teammates Jordan Hamilton echoed that statement, which is probably a good thing for the ‘Horns (22-3, 10-0 in big 12 play). They started off last season 17-0 and hit the top spot, only to fall into an epic freefall and nearly miss the NCAA tournament.

So who’s that leave? No. 4 Pitt managed a win at No. 9 Villanova without leading scorer Ashton Gibbs, who’s out a few weeks due to a knee injury. At 23-2 and 11-1 in the Big East, the Panthers’ résumé is fairly impressive. Same with No. 5 Duke (22-2, 9-1), which plays Sunday at Miami. But you know who’s record is the most impressive?

Ohio State’s. A road loss at the nation’s No. 13 team? Pssh. Kansas and Pitt may have beefs, but nobody’s been better thus far than the Buckeyes (I’m not alone in this view, either). Keep them atop the polls.

(It’s all just posturing until the NCAA tournament anyway, right?)

About those Buckeyes: Ohio State football was also No. 1 when Wisconsin’s stunned it earlier this academic year. It’s the second time the Buckeyes’ basketball and football teams have lost to the same school in the same timeframe (Florida did in 2006-07). That trivia nugget aside, Ohio State isn’t sweating this right now.

Yes, it lost to a team that overcame a 15-0 second-half deficit, but coach Thad Matta says there wasn’t much his team could’ve done. Sometimes, the other team just has your number.

“They had to play, for that stretch, darned near perfect to get us and they did,” he told the Wisconsin State Journal. “I don’t know what exactly we could have done differently.”

Mostly, it’ll reinforce the notion that there are no dominant teams this season, which is fine. Should make for a lively NCAA tournament.

Nation, meet Jordan Taylor: Allow me one more on the day’s big game. Can’t ignore Jordan Taylor. The Naismith and Cousy Awards might, but those are simply examples of how they ignored one of the nation’s top players. As Rob Dauster wrote earlier, Taylor could do no wrong in Wisconsin’s win, scoring 27 points (he missed just six of 13 shots) and dishing seven assists in 39 minutes of action. How’d he get this good? Read this fantastic piece by Luke Winn.

Kentucky’s road woes: The Wildcats’ 81-77 loss at Vanderbilt brought about one of the day’s big questions: If Kentucky can’t win an SEC road game (it’s now 1-5), what happens during the NCAA tournament? A win at Louisville on Dec. 31 seems ages ago. Big Blue Nation can console itself with the fact that the ‘Cats only have two road games remaining on the schedule, and one’s at Arkansas. But coach John Calipari wonders if his team is “mentally” tough enough to win a dogfight.

Jimmer gets angry! The nation’s leading scorer had 23 in a win vs. Utah, but needed 19 shots to do it and even had some harsh words for referee Mike Reed after a late foul. Reed told the BYU bench to get Fredette out of the game because “he’s losing control,” according to the Salt Lake Tribune. No word if it’s because he saw Michelle Peralta at the game.

How good is that Valley? Good enough to get two teams into the NCAA tournament. Wichita State and Missouri State both logged solid road wins on Saturday, keeping them knotted atop the conference standings. The Shockers (21-5, 12-3) held on at Northern Iowa, while the Bears (20-6, 12-3) kept pace by beating Illinois State.

Streaking: Coastal Carolina now has the nation’s longest win streak (22) after beating Winthrop 61-56. George Mason won its 11th straight, 82-68 over rival James Madison. Murray State got its eighth W in a row and 10th in its last 11 by beating Jacksonville State. Meanwhile, Centenary remained the only winless team on the season, dropping to 0-27 with a 91-58 loss at UMKC.

Slumping: Maryland dropped to 16-9 overall and 5-4 in the ACC with a loss at BC. It gets worse when you consider the Terps’ lone wins since Jan. 1 are Wake Forest (twice), Georgia Tech, Virginia, Clemson and Longwood. Of those, only Clemson has a winning record. K-State (16-9, 4-6) lost at Colorado. Its lone impressive Big 12 win (Jan. 24 vs. Baylor) is looking more and more like an anomaly. Both the ‘Cats and Terps will be hard pressed to reach the Big Dance.

Where’d they come from? UCLA got 19 from Malcolm Lee in a 69-61 win vs. Oregon State for its fifth straight win and ninth in last 10 games. The Bruins are now 18-7 overall and 9-3 in the Pac-10. Memphis (19-6, 7-3) rallied past Southern Miss and is within half a game of the C-USA lead. The Tigers play UAB on Wednesday. Both had rough starts to the season, but could be darkhorses to watch in March.

Blake Griffin? Really? Yes, really. Cleveland State guard Norris Cole throws up stellar numbers – 20.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 2.3 steals per game – but Saturday he hit a different level. He put up 41 points, 20 rebounds, nine asissts and three steals in a win over Youngstown State. Nobody’s posted a 40-20 game in college the last three years except Griffin, the 2009 Player of the Year at Oklahoma. Take a bow, Norris.

Want more? I’m also on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

No. 5 Xavier stumbles at Creighton, lose 70-54

Creighton's Cole Huff (13) and Toby Hegner, left, guard Xavier's Jalen Reynolds (1) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Omaha, Neb., Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
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Mo Watson went for a career-high 32 points, seven boards and five assists as Creighton jumped out to an early 21-4 lead and never looked back, beating No. 5 Xavier, 70-54, in Omaha on Tuesday night.

 

It was a massive win for the Bluejays, who still have an outside shot at earning an at-large bid this season. (We wrote all about that here.)

As well as Creighton played, the bigger story here may actually be Xavier, who lost for just the third time this season; they had been the only top ten team with just two losses to their name.

The issue for the Musketeers tonight was two-fold, but they both are a symptom of what could be an issue down the road for this team: Xavier doesn’t really have a true point guard.

They certainly didn’t have anyone to stop Watson. By the second half, they had essentially asked Reynolds, who was playing the middle of their 1-3-1 zone to matchup with Watson. It was weird but was actually somewhat effective.

The Musketeers also started out ice cold from the floor, missing 11 of their first 13 shots, and those misses led to leak outs from Bluejays, who got layups and open threes in transition to build that 17 point lead. Once Xavier got behind, it turned into scramble mode for Xavier. They forced shots early in the clock and didn’t start pounding the ball into the paint until it was too late. What they needed was someone to be able to settle things, to ensure that offensive would get initiated and sets would get executed when they were able to get the lead down to single digits.

That 1-for-19 shooting performance from beyond the arc certainly didn’t help matters, and neither did the fact that they got just nine field goals all game from players not named James Farr or Jalen Reynolds. The most frustrating part for head coach Chris Mack? They had good shots. It wasn’t like Creighton took away everything that Xavier wanted to do.

The kids just had one of those nights where nothing went down.

Those happen.

And when you combine them with a total inability to contain the opposing team’s point guard, what you get is a 16 point loss on the road against a team that was desperate to get a good win.

Gill’s 16, ‘D’ lead No. 7 Virginia past Virginia Tech, 67-49

Lehigh Virginia Basketball
AP Photo/Andrew Shurtleff
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) Anthony Gill scored 16 points and No. 7 Virginia turned the tables on state rival Virginia Tech with a 67-49 victory Tuesday night, the Cavaliers’ seventh straight.

Isaiah Wilkins added a career-best 14 points and Malcolm Brogdon had 12 for the Cavaliers (20-4, 9-3 Atlantic Coast Conference). Virginia avenged a 70-68 loss to the Hokies in Blacksburg on Jan. 4 in what rates as their worst performance of the season, and extended their winning streak at John Paul Jones Arena to 17 games.

Freshman Justin Robinson scored 16 points and classmate Chris Clarke had 11 in his first action for the Hokies (13-12, 5-7) since breaking his right foot in late December. Virginia Tech’s top two scorers, Zach LeDay (16.0 ppg) and Seth Allen (14.5), were limited to seven and six points, respectively, in part because of foul trouble.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett said his team wasn’t ready to play when it lost to the Hokies earlier, but they have been surging of late and were focused from the outset. They were credited with assists and 14 of their first 15 baskets and forced 10 turnovers in the first half; they forced just eight in the last meeting of the teams.

For most of the game, the Hokies had more turnovers than field goals.

The Cavaliers led 32-20 at halftime and extended their advantage to 47-29 on a three-point play by Mike Tobey with 12:11 remaining. It capped an 11-4 run for Virginia, during which LeDay was whistled for his fourth foul. On Virginia’s next trip down court, it got the ball to Gill inside and LeDay basically backed off and let him score, quickly earning a spot on the bench.

The Cavaliers’ lead never dipped into single digits again.

The Hokies had just eight turnovers and outscored Virginia 26-6 off turnovers in their first meeting. This time, Virginia Tech had 10 turnovers by halftime and the Cavaliers had already turned them into 15 points. Virginia Tech finished with 16 field goals and 15 turnovers.

Already leading 9-6, Virginia got scoring from eight players in a 23-8 run that spanned about 8 1/2 minutes.

Gill started it with a dunk, Brogdon hit a 3-pointer, London Perrantes had a four-point play and Wilkins finished it with two free throws, giving the Cavaliers a 32-14 lead with 2:06 left in the half. They didn’t score again, and the Hokies closed within 32-20 by halftime.

TIP-INS

Virginia Tech: The Hokies shot 57.1 percent (15 of 26) from the field in the second half of their 70-68 victory against Virginia on Jan. 4. … Virginia Tech’s starting five totaled four points in the first half.

Virginia: The Cavaliers have held four consecutive opponents to 50 points or fewer.

UP NEXT

Virginia Tech plays at No. 12 Miami next Wednesday.

Virginia plays at Duke on Saturday.

Follow Hank on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/hankkurzjr

The AP’s college basketball page: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org