NCAA Basketball Tournament - Murray State v Marquette

Isaiah Canaan drops 30; Murray St. beats ODU

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Old Dominion took the lead several times in the second half of a back-and-forth battle between the Monarchs of the CAA and the Murray State Racers of the Ohio Valley Conference on Saturday night. Various ODU players contributed to mini-runs, with DeShawn Painter, Dmitri Batten, Donte Hill and Nick Wright making clutch plays along the way. For Blaine Taylor’s youthful final CAA squad before heading to Conference USA, every night will be a search for the main man, the marquee performer.

On the other side of the ball, it was obvious who played the role of Superman. It has been ever since last season, when the Racers won 31 games and entered the Big Dance with a #6 seed – when in need, get the ball to Isaiah Canaan. We believed in Canaan as well, so much so that we made him a preseason first-team All-American. Our faith, and that of Racer fans, is well placed.

Canaan dropped 30 points on Old Dominion in a 79-72 win at CFSB Center in Murray, KY. His transcendent night included 10-18 shooting from the floor, 6-11 from deep, and 4-5 from the free throw line. Canaan’s big night was seasoned with 3 assists, 2 steals and a block for good measure.

The Racers also got a huge 15 point, 15 rebound game from Ed Daniel, and 13 points from senior forward Brandon Garrett as well.

Painter — an NC State transfer — had a decent night for the visitors from Norfolk, putting in 13 points off the bench to go with 11 boards, 2 steals and 2 blocks. The cold-shooting Monarchs simply didn’t have enough to overcome Canaan’s barrage.

The win took the Racers to 4-1 overall, leaving them in good shape as they cruise toward conference play. Early wins over BCS-level programs Auburn and St. Johns plump up a resume that will be slightly strengthened by league games against new OVC member Belmont after the new year.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: