Late Night Snacks: Wednesday proves why conference play is unmatched

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Games of the Night

No. 6 Kansas 97, Iowa State 89 (OT)

Kansas trailed by six points with close to four minutes remaining, but freshman Ben McLemore hit a clutch bank three-pointer with one second remaining to tie the game at 79-79. The Jayhawks controlled overtime and got the victory. McLemore finished with 33 points on 10-of-12 shooting. Both Kevin Young and Jeff Withey posted double-doubles for Kansas. Credit Iowa State, though, for staying in the game and giving Kansas a challenge. Six players scored in double figures for the Cyclones, including a double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds from Melvin Ejim.

Boise State 63, Wyoming 61

Down by one point with just over nine seconds remaining, Boise State brought the ball up the floor and set up for the win. Igor Hadziomerovic drove the baseline after getting a hand-off on the wing and kicked it out to Jeff Elorriaga, who buried a three at the buzzer to win it. Wyoming loses on its home floor and its previously unblemished record is no more. Elorriaga finished with 18 points.

Also of Note: Towson 99, William & Mary 86 (2OT)

Important Outcomes 

1. No. 7 Syracuse 72, Providence 66

The Orange struggled to pull away from the scrappy Friars on Wednesday night, but C.J. Fair and Michael Carter-Williams were able to lead their team to a win. Fair finished with a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds.

2. No. 8 Minnesota 84, No. 12 Illinois 67

We know the Big Ten is going to be a battle all season long, but No. 8 Minnesota has now distinguished itself as perhaps the legitimate third contender in the conference behind No. 2 Michigan and No. 5 Indiana. Joe Coleman had 29 points on 10-of-16 shooting for the Gophers.

3. No. 14 Butler 72, St. Joseph’s 66

Butler got its first taste of what Atlantic 10 conference play is like and responded with a hard-fought win. Rotnei Clarke had 28 points to pace the Bulldogs from the perimeter and Andrew Smith had 24 points and 10 rebounds on the interior. Brad Stevens has his team rolling after it knocked off No. 1 Indiana.


1. Ben McLemore, Kansas (33 points, 10-of-12 FG, 6-of-6 3pt FG)

McLemore played with the poise of a seasoned veteran in his team’s gusty win over Iowa State Wednesday night. He was a perfect 6-of-6 from behind the three-point line and was a perfect 7-of-7 from the free throw line. Kansas needed a hero to beat the Cyclones, and McLemore was there to deliver. NBA scouts are taking notice.

2. Cleanthony Early, Wichita State (39 points, 13-of-19 FG)

The Missouri Valley is turning out to be another wild conference and Early’s 39 points kept No. 23 Wichita State from being upset at the hands of a Southern Illinois team that is now 0-4 in conference play. He added six rebounds and two blocks, as well.

3. Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State (20 points, 18 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocks)

To go along with that impressive stat line, he led the Aztecs to a win and had this ridiculous dunk, throwing the ball to himself off the backboard and slamming it home. Franklin continues to distinguish himself as one of the best players in the Mountain West and will undoubtedly be in the conversation for Conference Player of the Year.

Also of Note: Jerrelle Benimon, Towson (26 points, 12 rebounds) | Jeff Elorriaga (18 points, Game-winning buzzer beater) | Mike Fitzgerald, Air Force (30 points, 9-of-10 FG)


1. Dez Wells, Maryland (2-of-9 FG, 5 points)

In a three-point loss to Florida State, Wells’ lack of production hurt Maryland. He was seven points off his season average and was never able to find his rhythm against the Seminoles.

2. California’s scoring combo, Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs (Combined 7-of-27 FG, 18 points)

Already working through injuries, coach Mike Montgomery turns to Crabbe and Cobbs for an average of 37 points per game together. Both struggled from the floor against Washington, leading to a 15-point loss in Berkeley.

Three Facts 

1. The Mountain West Conference is going to be the best conference in the country west of the Mississippi River this season. If Wednesday night is any indication (New Mexico tough win over UNLV, San Diego State escaping vs. Fresno, Boise State sinking Wyoming), the conference tournament in Las Vegas is going to be wild.

2. Kansas extended its winning streak at Allen Fieldhouse to 31 straight games with its win over Iowa State.

3. Towson beat William & Mary in double overtime, 99-86. The Tigers have now won four straight, the first time that has happened since 2000.

Marshall Henderson Shot Tracker

Ole Miss’ Henderson finished with 32 points in a win over Tennessee on Wednesday night, but shot just 3-of-12 from three-point range. He was helped by his ability to get to the line, going 13-of-14 from the stripe.

Top 25 Scores

No. 2 Michigan 62, Nebraska 47

No. 3 Louisville 73, Seton Hall 58

No. 6 Kansas 97, Iowa State 89

No. 7 Syracuse 72, Providence 66

No. 8 Minnesota 84, No. 12 Illinois 67

No. 11 Florida 77, Georgia 44

No. 14 Butler 72, St. Joseph’s 66

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

College Basketball Talk’s Top 25: Xavier, Syracuse, Texas A&M are big winners

AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.
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At this point in the season, I think it is still too early to solely base rankings off of on-the-court results. That’s why you’re going to find North Carolina higher in this poll than likely anywhere else on the internet. Until we see what the Tar Heels look like with Marcus Paige — which, mind you, could happen on Tuesday night when they host Maryland — I’m not sure I’m ready to drop them, even for a team that looks as good as Michigan State or Kansas.

The biggest risers of the week: Xavier and Syracuse, who both won big tournaments over the Thanksgiving holiday. They also both happened to knock off rivals in the process, as the Musketeers blew out Dayton while the Orange knocked off UConn.

1. Kentucky (6-0, LW: No. 1): Kentucky got a real scare over the weekend, as Tyler Ulis hyper-extended his elbow against South Florida. He appears to be just fine.

2. Maryland (6-0, LW: No. 2): The Terps have not looked great early on this season, but they’re going to get a real test on Tuesday when they visit UNC.

3. North Carolina (5-1, LW: No. 3): Here’s to hoping Marcus Paige is healthy when Maryland comes to visit this week.

4. Michigan State (7-0, LW: No. 4): Denzel Valentine has been sensational this season, but the most impressive part of Michigan State’s win over Providence on Sunday was that they did it while Valentine was in foul trouble and struggling to shoot the ball.

5. Kansas (4-1, LW: No. 6): The Jayhawks had a pretty good week. They won Maui, they blew out a good Vanderbilt team, Wayne Selden showed up and Cheick Diallo got eligible. I hope Bill Self bought some lottery tickets.

6. Villanova (6-0, LW: No. 5): I really like the Wildcats this year, I do, but I dropped them a spot for two reasons: 1. I thought Kansas was better entering the season and the Jayhawks looked terrific this week in Maui, before Cheick Diallo played, and 2. Villanova hasn’t beaten anyone of note yet. Next Monday they get Oklahoma. We’ll know then.

7. Iowa State (5-0, LW: No. 7): The Cyclones are 5-0 with wins over three high-major programs, but their best win may be the win over Chattanooga. I think we’ll really get a feel for how good this team next month, when, in a 12-day stretch, they get Iowa, Northern Iowa and Cincinnati on the road.

8. Oklahoma (4-0, LW: No. 8): The Sooners put a whooping on Wisconsin on Sunday afternoon, the kind of performance that made it very clear Oklahoma is a contender this season and Wisconsin is not. Buddy Hield has been terrific, but so has big man Ryan Spangler.

9. Duke (6-1, LW: No. 10): The loss to Kentucky continues to look like the aberration in Duke’s early season schedule, as they rolled over Utah State and Yale this week. The big news: Luke Kennard has finally found his rhythm, as he scored 22 points and went 4-for-5 from the floor on Sunday.

10. Virginia (5-1, LW: No. 11): Virginia has won four straight since their loss at GW, scoring at least 80 points in every game and never giving up more than 66. It’s not the stiffest of competition, but it should go to show you (like I said at the time) that the loss at GW said more about GW than Virginia.

11. Xavier (7-0, LW: No. 21)
12. Purdue (6-0, LW: No. 15)
13. Vanderbilt (5-1, LW: No. 16)
14. Miami (5-1, LW: No. 9)
15. Syracuse (6-0, LW: UR)
16. Texas A&M (6-1, LW: UR)
17. Gonzaga (4-1, LW: No. 17)
18. Oregon (5-0, LW: No. 25)
19. Cincinnati (7-0, LW: No. 20)
20. Baylor (4-1, LW: No. 22)
21. Butler (4-1, LW: No. 23)
22. UConn (4-2, LW: No. 18)
23. Providence (6-1, LW: UR)
24. West Virginia (6-0, LW: UR)
25. SMU (4-0, LW: UR)

DROPPED OUT: No. 12 Cal, No. 13 Arizona, No. 14 Indiana, No. 19 Notre Dame, No. 24 Wichita State

WEEKLY AWARDS: Denzel Valentine’s big week, Kansas makes a statement

Denzel Valentine
(AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Denzel Valentine, Michigan State

In the title game of the Wooden Legacy, a game that was billed as a matchup between the two best players in college basketball — Valentine and Kris Dunn — Valentine was downright bad …

… by his standards. He finished with “just” 17 points, six assists and five boards. I say “just” because, in the previous two games of the tournament, the Spartan superstar averaged 30.5 points, 10.0 boards and 8.0 assists. He’s been, hands down, the best player in college basketball this season, and that didn’t change this week.


  • Ben Bentil, Providence: Kris Dunn is the guy that is going to get all the national praise, but it was Bentil’s emergence that was critical for the Friars. He averaged 21.7 points and 6.0 boards in three games in the Wooden Legacy, carrying PC when Dunn was battling foul issues.
  • Wayne Selden, Kansas: The highlight of Selden’s week was scoring 25 points on 8-for-11 shooting in the Maui title game win over No. 19 Vanderbilt. For the week, he averaged 19.3 points and shot 12-for-17 from three.
  • Justin Robinson, Monmouth: Robinson averaged 25.7 points in three games for Monmouth at the Advocare Invitational. The Hawks beat No. 17 Notre Dame and USC in the process, only losing to Dayton by three.
  • Justin Jackson, North Carolina: Remember when Justin Jackson was struggling? He averaged 21.5 points, 9.0 boards and 5.0 assists in wins over Northwestern and Kansas State. That came on the heels of a 25-point performance in the loss at Northern Iowa.
  • Henry Ellenson, Marquette: Ellenson notched three straight double-doubles for the Golden Eagles this week, which included 16 points and 11 boards in a win over Ben Simmons and LSU.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Kansas Jayhawks

Kansas headed out to Maui as a team that many weren’t really sure what to make of. They looked good against Michigan State for 30 minutes, then they blew that game as Denzel Valentine went bananas. They had as much depth as anyone in the country, but Brannen Greene was suspended, Cheick Diallo was ineligible and Wayne Selden was the most notable of a handful of talented players that had been somewhere between inconsistent and ineffective this year.

That all changed in Maui — well, other than Greene’s suspension — as Kansas rolled over Chaminade, UCLA and Vanderbilt to bring home the tournament title. Blowing out Chaminade was to be expected. But beating down a talented UCLA team? Dominating a very good Vanderbilt squad? That’s the Kansas we’ve been hoping to see show up for a few years now. The question is whether or not it’s sustainable, and at least on paper, it appears to be. Selden’s shooting percentages will come back to earth, but his raw numbers are less important than his confidence and aggressiveness. Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham are going to continue to take pressure off of each other in the back court. Perry Ellis isn’t going anywhere.

I questioned whether or not Kansas was truly one of the nation’s elite when the season started. I think they answered that question for me.


  • Xavier: The Musketeers not only won the Advocare Invitational in Orlando, they blew out in-state — and former Atlantic 10 — rival Dayton in the finals.
  • Syracuse: The Orange are going to be a factor in the ACC this season. How much? I don’t know. But after winning the Battle 4 Atlantis by knocking off No. 18 UConn and No. 25 Texas A&M, it’s clear they’re going to be involved all season.
  • Northeastern: The Huskies picked up a road win against No. 15 Miami on this buzzer-beating jumper.
  • Arkansas-Little Rock: The Trojans picked up their second huge road win of the year, going into Tulsa and knocking off the Golden Hurricane. They’re now 5-0 on the season, having also won at SDSU.
  • Tournament winners: West Virginia knocked off Richmond and San Diego State to bring home the Las Vegas Invitational title, No. 24 Cincinnati beat Nebraska and George Washington in the Barclays Center Classic and Marquette knocked off LSU and Arizona State to win the Legends Classic.


Tuesday: No. 2 Maryland at No. 9 North Carolina, 9:30 p.m.
Wednesday: Butler at No. 24 Cincinnati, 7:00 p.m.
Wednesday: Louisville at No. 3 Michigan State, 7:15 p.m.
Wednesday: No. 13 Indiana at No. 6 Duke, 9:15 p.m.
Saturday: No. 11 Arizona at No. 10 Gonzaga, 3:15 p.m.