Game of the Night
Vanderbilt 66, Xavier 64 OT: Kyle Fuller scored 12 of his career-high 25 points in overtime as the Commodores went into the Cintas Center and picked up a win they desperately needed, coming back from a 40-27 deficit early in the second half. Fuller gave Vandy the lead for god with 1:26 left in overtime on a leaner in the lane and followed that up with an and-one drive that pushed the lead to four. This is a bad loss for a Xavier team that had been a pleasant surprise early in the season. Vandy is young and, frankly, not very good. They lost to Marist by 17 already this season, scoring 33 points in the process.
No. 4 Syracuse 84, Long Beach State 53: CJ Fair went for 16 points and 13 boards and Michael Carter-Williams added 15 points and 10 assists as the Orange used a vicious press late in the second half to open up a 20 point lead. The 49ers were never able to respond.
No. 11 Cincinnati 87, Arkansas-Little Rock 53: The Bearcats got 18 points from Sean Kilpatrick as they ran over UALR. The score was 44-17 at the half.
No. 17 San Diego State 84, UCSB 70: Chase Tapley went for 23 points and the Aztecs shot 11-17 from three in a win over the Gauchos.
LaDontae Henton, Providence: Henton went for 21 points and 17 boards while playing the full 40 minutes in a 72-57 win over in-state rival URI.
Greg Gantt, Florida Atlantic: Gantt had 34 points and seven boards as the Owls knocked off Stetson 88-78.
Doug McDermott, Creighton: McDermott went for 27 points on 10-19 shooting as the Bluejays beat their in-state rival Nebraska by 22.
James Ennis and Mike Caffey, LBSU: The 49ers shot 29.2% from the floor as a team, but their two stars — Ennis and Caffey — couldn’t hit anything. Ennis was 3-14 from the field and Caffey was 2-7. They’ll need to shoot better to have a shot at beating Ohio State in Columbus.
Arkansas-Little Rock: They had 32 turnovers against Cincinnati. 32. Thirty. Two.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.
Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.
After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.
Video credit: Wyoming Athletics
Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.
Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.
Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.
Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.
Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.
But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.