Game of the Day
No. 12 Illinois 81, Auburn 79: The Illini struggled to score inside over Auburn’s sizable frontcourt, and Tiger guard Frankie Sullivan poured in 5 of 12 from deep in a game that was closer than it rightly should have been. Brandon Paul was a tad turnover-prone in this one, and scored just 13 points, but he and the Illini were bailed out by Tracy Abrams’ huge 29-point day.
North Carolina 79, No. 20 UNLV 73: Carolina still doesn’t look like the speed merchants of old, but the Tar Heels are edging closer to finding the point guard they need this season. Freshman Marcus Paige put in 34 minutes, dropped off four assists and scored 12 points in mostly half-court sets to help Carolina get back on track. P.J. Hairston showed some defensive chops with four steals, and Brice Johnson scored 12 points in 15 minutes, subbing in for a temporarily hobbled James McAdoo (leg cramps). Mike Moser’s return for UNLV was spoiled by five quick fouls that sent him right back to the bench for most of this one.
No. 1 Duke 90, Santa Clara 77: Kevin Foster saves his biggest games for Santa Clara’s toughest opponents. He scored 30 at St. Louis earlier this season, and poured in 29 in a serious upset bid in the unfriendly environs of Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Broncos raced out to a 5-0 lead to start this game, and regained the lead several times throughout an up-and-down game. In the end, Duke’s starters regained control, paced by double-doubles from Kelly and Plumlee on the front line, and 31 points from a hot-shooting Seth Curry.
Games of the Night
Xavier at Tennessee, 6:00 pm ET
George Mason at South Florida, 7:00 pm ET
UMKC at No. 25 Kansas State, 7:00 pm ET
Washington at Connecticut, 7:30 pm ET
No. 18 Butler at Vanderbilt, 8:00 pm ET (ESPNU)
No. 15 Cincinnati pounced on Memphis from the start, taking a 51-32 lead into halftime.
Then, Gary Clark decided to add insult to injury to start the second half. Seriously, how did he catch that?
Mick Cronin’s team is much better offensively than in previous seasons. I’m sure fans in the Fifth Third Arena can get used to seeing more plays like this.
Michigan State freshman guard Cassius Winston had just one field goal in the first half. And it was a half-court buzzer-beater as the Spartans capped a sizable run to take a 49-31 lead over Nebraska going into the break.
The Spartans ended the half on a 21-5 run.
Winston provided a serious boost off the bench during that stanza. Moments earlier, he helped the Breslin Center erupt when he lobbed a pass off the backboard to teammate Miles Bridges.
Michigan State opened the day projected as one of the final at-large bids in the NCAA Tournament. The margin for error is thing and it appears the Spartans are playing with a sense of urgency.
Wednesday’s slate of games had several wild results.
Former Ohio State walk-on turned blogger turned author Mark Titus, who is currently writing for The Ringer, joined Rob Dauster on the latest episode of the CBT Podcast to go over last night’s games. The two also discussed who is the best team in the nation at the moment, as well Frank Mason III’s rap single from several years ago #BIFM
You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Audioboom
North Carolina’s Roy Williams called fellow Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino to apologize for a fan’s behavior during Wednesday night’s game in Chapel Hill.
While leaving the floor at halftime, Pitino had to be restrained by members of the Louisville coaching staff and he and a UNC fan exchanged words as he made his way to the locker rom. There’s video of Pitino pointing and shouting at a fan, who reportedly said, “Pitino, you suck!”
“I don’t like that,” Williams said, according to the Charlotte Observer. “I mean we’re in North Carolina. We don’t have to be like everybody else. We can raise Cain. You can boo, but you don’t have to say the stuff that we as coaches have to put up with.”
“I hope that never happens at North Carolina ever again.”
No. 8 North Carolina defeated No. 7 Louisville, 74-63.
STILL TO PLAY
Georgia at Alabama (RPI: 68, KenPom: 61, next four teams), 7:00 p.m.
Nebraska at Michigan State (RPI: 43, KenPom: 55, No. 10 seed), 7:00 p.m.
Towson at UNC Wilmington (RPI: 41, KenPom: 57, No. 12 seed), 7:00 p.m.