Game of the Night
No. 13 Illinois 85, No. 10 Gonzaga 74 – If you had any questions about Illinois, consider them answered. Gonzaga had the clear advantage inside, and the Bulldogs were playing in front of a rabid crowd of faithful fans at the Kennel. Even when Tyler Griffey and Nnanna Egwu fouled out, the Illini had the game in hand, because Brandon Paul was unstoppable. His line of 35 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocked shots in a hostile environment put Illinois in line for a top-ten ranking come Monday.
West Virginia 68, Virginia Tech 67 – It was nip/tuck all the way as the Hokies took their perfect record into Morgantown and came away with a very narrow first loss. Kevin Noreen came off the bench to post career highs in points and rebounds in an early must-win game for the slumping Mountaineers.
No. 8 Arizona 66, Clemson 54 – The Tigers threw a block party, rejecting 12 shots in a hotly contested game at Littlejohn. Mark Lyons and Nick Johnson combined to score 33 of the Wildcats’ 66 points to salt away a tough road game, good practice for a Dec. 15 date with No. 6 Florida.
Middle Tennessee 65, Mississippi 62 – Bad news comes in bunches for Ole Miss. First Andy Kennedy had to dismiss a young big man before he’d set foot on the court, then comes a non-conference road loss to a lightly regarded foe that dropped his previously unbeaten team to 6-1. Contrary to standard operating procedure in such games, MTSU played everyone they could, getting 26 points from bench players, compared to a paltry 6 reserve points from the Rebs.
Tulsa 50, TCU 49 – Pat Swilling, Jr. scored the winning point for Danny Manning’s Golden Hurricane, hitting a free throw with three seconds left, but it was senior guard Scottie Haralson who sealed the deal by securing the rebound when Swilling missed the second. The close win over a Big 12 opponent will give Tulsa a dash of confidence as a Dec. 15th date with No. 16 Creighton looms.
Jordan Bachynski – Move over, Jeff Withey. The Northridge Matadors waved a red cape in Bachynski’s face, and he took it personally. His 13 points, 12 rebounds and 12 blocks will go down as the first-ever triple-double in Arizona State’s basketball history. The 87-76 win moved the Sun Devils to 8-1 on the season. Pitchfork Posts, in a post written before Bachynski’s history-making effort was consummated, tells us which other Sun Devils came close to performing the feat.
Syracuse backcourt – You know you whupped somebody when the guy with eight assists is nowhere near your leading passer. In a 108-56 hiding of Monmouth, Brandon Triche had a pretty good game, dishing the aforementioned eight-pack to go along with 18 points. Which would be awesome if Michael Carter-Williams hadn’t gone for 15 points, 5 steals, 4 blocks and an amazing sixteen assists.
Matt Hunter – No. 1 Indiana curb-stomped poor Central Connecticut State (Motto: We’re the Other Blue Devils) 100-69 on Saturday. And yet I found something to laud about the performance turned in by 6’5″ junior Matt Hunter, who scored 40 quixotic points, which is pretty freakin’ indomitable if you ask me. That’s 58% of his team’s points on the night. He’s no Jack Taylor of Grinell, but not bad for a DI player.
The Texas end game – In the Battle of Who Could Care Less, it was the success of the Free Shabazz Muhammad movement that gave UCLA the win. Muhammad scored 16, and while Myck Kabongo sits, the Texas offense continues to stall at crucial moments. When UCLA’s Jordan Adams missed a free throw with five seconds left, 6’7″ forward Jonathan Holmes snagged the rebound and brought the ball up the court himself, heaving a poorly-aimed desperation three when a two would have sent the game to OT.
Delvon Roe – The former Michigan State forward fought off sleep just long enough to poke fun at an old rival via Twitter:
Not one Badger hit double figures in a 60-50 loss to in-state rival Marquette.
The CAA – Drexel beat Princeton and William & Mary defeated Radford, but the rest of the night was a shambles for the once-proud mid-major league. Lame duck Georgia State’s win over something called Southern Polytechnic State did little to salve the pain of OT losses by George Mason, James Madison and Delaware. Garden variety two-set losses by Towson, Wilmington, Hofstra and Northeastern were the kettle drums in the league’s ongoing symphony of pain.
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.