Stanford v North Carolina State

Late Night Snacks: A Stetson buzzer-beater, Oklahoma’s upset

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Games of the Day

Stetson 69, Florida Atlantic 68: Stetson guard Chris Perez tipped in a miss by Aaron Graham at the buzzer to give the Hatters a win over FAU. “I saw [junior] Aaron [Graham], he shot it, and the ball didn’t hit the rim,” Perez said. “My guy didn’t box me out, so my first thought was just to go rebound, and throw it up there. Thank God it went in.” The final play was set up by Greg Gantt, FAU’s star point guard, who hit a deep three to give the Owls a 68-67 lead in the final seconds.

Stephen F. Austin 56, Oklahoma 55: The Lumberjacks entered this game as the nation’s leader in defensive scoring average, and it showed, as the Sooners struggled to find a rhythm on the offensive end of the floor for much of the game. SFA led by as much as 11 in the second half, but the Sooners made a run down the stretch. They tied the game at 54 on a jumper from Steven Pledger with 2:28 left on the clock, but Hal Batemen gave the Lumberjacks the lead a minute and a half later. With four seconds left, Buddy Hield missed a finger roll — that hung on the front of the rim for what felt like a minute — but got fouled. He only made one of two free throws, however, and the Sooners lost.

The bigger question here has to do with the Big 12 as a whole? Just how good — or bad — is this league? We’ll be taking a closer look at this on Wednesday afternoon.

Important Outcomes

Miami 72, Central Florida 50: The Hurricanes jumped out to a bid lead on UCF in the first five minutes and never looked back, controlling every aspect of the game. We won’t be getting too deep into it again, but Miami looks like they might actually be the second best team in the ACC.

No. 25 NC State 88, Stanford 79: This was a nice win for the Wolfpack, as Stanford has been a bit up and down this season, but the Cardinal have a good amount of talent on their roster. I see two problems for the Wolfpack, however. The first is that they have no depth. Mark Gottfried uses, essentially, a six man rotation with Tyler Lewis getting minutes here and there when someone needs a breather. I’m not sure how long that can survive. The other issue is that CJ Leslie, who is clearly the most talented player on the roster, is currently the third best front court player that Gottfried has at his disposal. And as good as Richard Howell and TJ Warren have been, that’s not necessarily a compliment.


Kris Dunn, Providence: Making his first appearance for the Friars off the bench, Dunn — the highly-touted freshman point guard — finished with 13 assists and six boards on Tuesday night. Will chalk the 3-13 shooting up to his bum shoulder.

Victor Rudd, South Florida: Rudd finished with 16 points and 16 boards as South Florida used a 33-9 run to close out a better-than-you-think Youngstown State team. They were down 45-39 at the time.

Rodney McGruder, Kansas State: McGruder has struggled throughout the early part of the season, including a 1-9 performance in a loss at Gonzaga on Saturday, but he finished with 26 points on 12-17 shooting against Texas Southern on Tuesday night.


Western Kentucky: 35.7% shooting. 32 turnovers. A 76-44 loss to VCU. That’s a bad night. (To be fair, they were missing their starting back court. But still. Yuck.)

Keith Appling, Michigan State: Appling finished 3-9 from the floor with six turnovers as Michigan State hung on to beat Bowling Green on the road. With Big Ten play right around the corner, Appling has to be better.

Old Dominion: ODU allowed Adjehi Baru to go 8-8 from the floor and finish with 20 points and nine boards as they dropped to 1-10 on the season with a 76-65 loss to Charleston. I thought the Monarchs were supposed to be tough in the paint?

The Rest of the Top 25

– No. 4 Arizona 89, Oral Roberts 64
– No. 7 Ohio State 65, Winthrop 55
– No. 9 Kansas 87, Richmond 59
– No. 18 San Diego State 76, Point Loma 49

Other Notable Scores

– UCLA 89, Long Beach State 70
– Western Illinois 70, Illinois-Chicago 54
– Wyoming 71, Denver 61

No. 1 Kentucky survives without Tyler Ulis in lineup

Tyler Ulis
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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Less than a week after giving No. 2 Maryland all they could handle, Illinois State went into Lexington and gave No. 1 Kentucky fits.

The Redbirds never really threatened UK in the second half, but they went into the break tied and were within single digits down the stretch, eventually losing 75-63.

Kentucky was flustered. They turned the ball over 15 times compared to just eight assists, they shot 2-for-12 from three and just 29-for-46 (63 percent) from the charity stripe. They simply did not handle Illinois State’s pressure all that well.

And there was a reason for that.

Tyler Ulis didn’t play.

Sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate just what a player brings to a team until that player is not in the lineup, and that was precisely the case with Ulis on Monday night. It was crystal clear what he provides Kentucky. Beyond leadership and the ability to break a press without throwing the ball to the other team, he’s a calming presence. He doesn’t get rattled when a defender is harassing him and he doesn’t get overwhelmed by a situation like a mid-major threatening the No. 1 team in the country in their own gym.

He’s everything you look for in a pure point guard, and for as good as Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe have looked at times this season, it should be crystal clear who the most important player on this Kentucky team is.

LSU loses to Charleston, eliminates at-large bid margin for error

Ben Simmons
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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Ben Simmons scored 15 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, the second time in his six-game career that the LSU freshman has collected that many caroms, but that wasn’t enough for the Tigers to avoid dropping a game on the road to the College of Charleston, 70-58. It was the third straight loss for Simmons’ crew, as they fell to Marquette and N.C. State at the Legends Classic last week.

But here’s the thing: LSU didn’t just lose.

The game really wasn’t close.

LSU was down by as many as 23 points. It was 39-17 at the half, and that was after Charleston had a shot at the buzzer called off upon review. They made a bit of a run in the second half but never got closer than seven. When LSU would cut into the lead, the Cougars would respond with a run of their own, killing LSU’s spirit while keeping them at arm’s length.

[RELATED: Ben Simmons’ one college year a waste?]

Now, there are quite a few things here to discuss. For starters, LSU’s effort was, at best, apathetic, and, at worst, regular old pathetic. The team has a serious lack of leadership that was plainly evident on Monday night; would Fred VanVleet let his team fold against a program picked to finish at the bottom of the SoCon? Would Tyler Ulis? For that matter, would Tom Izzo or Mike Krzyzewski or John Calipari?

Perhaps more importantly, does any of that change when Keith Hornsby and Craig Victor get back?

Simmons did show off his potential — 18 boards, four assists, he even made his first three of the year — but he also showed precisely why there are scouts that are trying to curtail the LeBron James comparisons. Simmons was 4-for-15 from the floor with seven turnovers against a mediocre mid-major team. There are so many things that Simmons does well, but scoring efficiently — particularly in half court setting — and shooting the ball consistently are not on that list.

But here’s the biggest issue: LSU may have put themselves in a situation where they aren’t a tournament team. As of today, they’re 3-3 on the season with losses to a pair of teams that, at best, seem destined to be in the bubble conversation on Selection Sunday in addition to this loss to Charleston. The rest of their non-conference schedule is ugly. The only game worth noting is at home against No. 6 Oklahoma at the end of January.

The NCAA factors in non-conference schedule strength when determining at-large teams. You need to at least try, and LSU didn’t try; they have one of the worst non-conference schedules in the country.

The great thing about being in the SEC — as opposed to, say, the Missouri Valley — is that the Tigers will have plenty of chances to earn marquee wins. Six, by my court: Kentucky twice, Texas A&M twice, Vanderbilt on the road and Oklahoma at home. They probably need to win at least two or three of those games to have a real chance, and that’s assuming they can avoid anymore horrid losses in the process.

The season isn’t over six games in, not by any stretch of the imagination.

But LSU has done a hell of a job eliminating their margin for error.