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Mixed results for college hoops in the Bay Area on Saturday

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With four teams in action Saturday, California’s Bay Area shifted its attention away from the San Francisco 49ers and Stanford’s upcoming bowl game and over to college hoops, where fans got mixed results. Take a look at the recap below:

No. 1 Duke 90, Santa Clara 77

The Broncos kept it close early, trailing by only two at halftime, but Duke’s size buried Santa Clara in foul trouble in the second half. Senior Kevin Foster was impressive with 29 points on the afternoon, including 18 in the first half that almost single-handedly kept Santa Clara in the game.

Against the nation’s No. 1 team, an up-tempo style helped to minimize Duke’s size advantage in the first half and Foster’s hot shooting was key. But Foster picked up his third foul less than 10 seconds into the second half and the Blue Devils found a way to neutralize Santa Clara’s full-court game and grind it down to a half-court bout. Seth Curry’s hot shooting overextended the Santa Clara defense and pushed it out to the perimeter, opening up opportunities for center Mason Plumlee on the inside.

It was a valiant Santa Clara effort, but Duke proved to be too much. The tough loss showed that the Broncos are likely the fourth-best team in the WCC, trailing national power Gonzaga, St. Mary’s, and BYU.

San Francisco 93, Dominican Cal 76

Cole Dickerson had a double-double of 30 points and 10 rebounds as the Dons cruised to a win Saturday night by dominating in nearly every key statistical category. San Francisco shot 56 percent from the floor and outrebounded Dominican 42-25. It is a bounce-back win for the Dons after going 1-2 in the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii over the Christmas holiday.

They open conference play on Jan. 2 against Santa Clara.

Stanford 65, Lafayette 59

Stanford was never able to put Lafayette away, thanks in large part to 11-of-19 shooting from three-point range for the Leopards. Stanford’s zone defense had a difficult time rotating to shooters and was giving too much space on the perimeter, allowing a smaller Lafayette team to stay in the game.

Poor Cardinal shooting from the perimeter (3-of-19) only amplified the offensive problems, but a late-game push to get the ball inside to junior Dwight Powell exploited Stanford’s size advantage. Had the Cardinal not outrebounded Lafayette by such a large 42-24 margin, we likely would have had an upset at Maples Pavilion.

Keep an eye on Josh Huestis, who continues to be an impact player and a complement to Powell on the interior. He narrowly missed a double-double Saturday, scoring eight points and grabbing 14 rebounds.

Harvard 67, California 62

Cal ran into many of the same problems against Harvard that Stanford did against Lafayette. Laurent Rivard and Wesley Saunders combined for 37 points, including 7-of-15 shooting from three-point range to extend the California defense and power an upset Saturday. Harvard was patient offensively and controlled the clock in the second half to dictate the pace and force the Bears into uncomfortable half-court sets.

Allen Crabbe turned in another high-scoring performance with 27 points on 10-of-18 shooting, but a short Cal rotation hurt Mike Montgomery’s team down the stretch. Both Crabbe and Justin Cobbs had bouts with cramps late in the second half, likely a result of Harvard milking each offensive possession and forcing Cal to play 35 seconds of defense nearly every time down the floor.

The Crimson continue to get production from freshman point guard Siyani Chambers, if not as a scorer than as a facilitator. He shot just 2-of-15 from the floor Saturday, but had nine assists and just two turnovers.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Wisconsin ends No. 2 Maryland’s 27-game home win streak

Wisconsin forward Vitto Brown (30) shoots during the first half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Maryland, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in College Park, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
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Just over a month ago Wisconsin lost at Northwestern, dropping to 9-9 overall and 1-4 in the Big Ten and had the look of a team that would have to fight simply to get into the NIT. Since then, Greg Gard’s Badgers have won seven straight games with the most recent triumph being a 70-57 victory at No. 2 Maryland. Not only did Wisconsin become the first Big Ten team to beat the Terrapins at the Xfinity Center since Maryland joined the Big Ten, but they also ended Maryland’s 27-game home win streak.

And it was Wisconsin’s offensive balance that stood out, as four starters scored in double figures led by forward Vitto Brown.

Brown, who accounted for 18 points and five rebounds in Wisconsin’s win over Nebraska Wednesday night, was even better against Maryland as he scored a career-high 21 points on 8-for-14 shooting from the field and grabbed seven rebounds. While Bronson Koenig (16 points, six rebounds, five assists) and Nigel Hayes (14 and six rebounds) are the ones expected to shoulder much of the load, players such as Brown, Ethan Happ and Zak Showalter (11 points) will also be key as Wisconsin makes its push for an NCAA tournament bid.

In Wisconsin’s first five conference games Brown averaged 4.4 points and 1.8 rebounds per contest. Since then he’s averaging 11.4 points and 3.9 rebounds per game, scoring in double figures in each of Wisconsin’s last three games.

Overall Wisconsin’s looked far more fluid offensively during this win streak, and over the last three games the Badgers have shot very well from the perimeter as they made nearly 51 percent of their attempts (12-for-26 against Maryland). Add in Wisconsin’s ability to take advantage of Maryland’s defensive rebounding issues, converting 13 offensive boards into 20 second-chance points, and it was easy to see why Wisconsin was able to grab control of the game in the first half during a 20-0 run that gave them the separation they needed.

Maryland’s issues throughout conference play remain the same, as they struggled to end defensive possessions while also turning the ball over far too often (seven times) during the aforementioned Wisconsin run. With Melo Trimble not playing at the level he’s capable of reaching (he may not be completely healthy), Maryland has some things to address during this stretch run.

But more than anything, Saturday was the product of a Wisconsin team that’s starting to click at the right time. And as crazy as it may seem, given how Wisconsin began Big Ten play, the Badgers only two games out of first place.

No. 5 Xavier finds shooting touch in 74-57 blowout at Butler

Xavier head coach Chris Mack talks with James Farr (2) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Butler, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Indianapolis. Xavier won 74-57. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
AP Photo/Darron Cummings
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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) No. 5 Xavier learned its lesson.

To keep winning, it must continue do the dirty work.

Four days after stumbling at Creighton, the Musketeers got back to basics and used a balanced offense and a smothering defense to run away from Butler 74-57 on Saturday.

“We played much better today and after about the first four or five minutes, we defended,” coach Chris Mack said. “Our shots were, in my opinion, really good ones because we got in the lane, we made the extra pass and I thought that was the difference.”

Whatever the explanation, the Musketeers (22-3, 10-3 Big East) certainly looked worthy of the highest ranking in school history.

After making a season-low 30 percent from the field and just 1 of 21 3-point attempts in Tuesday’s loss, Xavier rebounded by shooting 56.9 percent and going 9 of 18 beyond the arc. J.P. Macura led the way with 13 points while Edmond Sumner and Remy Abell each had 12.

But the biggest improvements showed up in other areas – defense, rebounding and effort. They allowed 36 points over the final 31 1/2 minutes.

“Everybody was boxing out and rebounding, and on the offensive end we have so much talent we could get whatever we wanted,” said Abell, who started his college career playing for the Indiana Hoosiers.

The difference was obvious.

Butler (17-8, 6-7) was held almost 25 points below its season average.

Kelan Martin, with 15 points, and Andrew Chrabascz, with 12, were the only players to score more than 10. And the top three scorers – Martin, Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones – were a combined 11 of 39 from the field as the Bulldogs’ three-game winning streak came to an end.

Xavier crushed the Bulldogs so thoroughly that chants of “Let’s Go X” resounded throughout sold out Hinkle Fieldhouse over the final minutes.

“We didn’t have near the effort, the juice, the purpose defensively and we didn’t move the ball offensively and that was actually the case from the opening minute,” Butler coach Chris Holtmann said. “We mentioned that in the four-minute media and said that had to improve and when it doesn’t these things happen.”

Butler used a 9-0 first-half run to take a 21-13 lead midway through the first half.

Xavier answered with a 27-6 run that included four 3s and a three-point play in a 27-6 run to make it 40-27. The Bulldogs got as close as 47-39 early in the second half, which later became a seven-point deficit after a replay review gave Dunham a 3.

But the Bulldogs couldn’t get closer.

“You can go 1 for 21 one game, and then the next game it’s – I’m sure it was better,” Macura said. “That’s basketball.”

POINTERS

Xavier’s dominance showed up in two key stats on the box score. The Musketeers outscored Butler 36-14 in points off the bench and 36-18 in the paint despite having only two offensive rebounds. Xavier has won six of its last seven.

ON THE ROAD

Even the road has been kind to the Musketeers this season. They have won seven times in true road games, their highest season total since 2010-11. They have also won five Big East games on the road – more than they won in either of their first two seasons in the league and they have won 10 of the last 13 at Hinkle.

MOVING UP

Dunham continues his ascent on the Bulldogs’ career scoring list. After moving from 14th to sixth on the list in the first 23 games this season, Dunham moved passed Lynn Mitchem (1,798) for fifth and within one point of A.J. Graves (1,807) for fourth. Matt Howard is third (1,939) and the only 2,000-point scorers in school history are Chad Tucker (2,321) and Darrin Fitzgerald (2,019).

TIP-INS

Xavier: Former Indiana prep star Trevon Bluiett had 11 points and four rebounds and James Farr had 12 rebounds. … Each of Xavier’s 22 wins has come by at least seven points. … The Musketeers were the highest-ranked team to play at Hinkle Fieldhouse since No. 3 DePaul visited Feb. 23, 1981.

Butler: Shot 33.3 percent overall and was 8 of 22 on 3s. …. The Bulldogs only have three wins at home against Top 10 teams – No. 8 Gonzaga in January 2013, No. 3 Michigan in 1965-66 and No. 5 Tennessee in 1958-59. … Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence attended the game.

UP NEXT

Xavier hosts No. 20 Providence on Wednesday.

Butler hosts Creighton on Tuesday.