The Connecticut backcourt duo of Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright combined for 34 points and nine assists as the unranked Huskies upset No. 17 Notre Dame Saturday in South Bend, Ind., 65-58.
Boatright and Napier have been the engine of the Connecticut offense all season and, despite a tough matchup with Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant for Notre Dame, they each scored in double figures and orchestrated an offense that turned the ball over just seven times. Atkins finished with 18 points and four assists.
The biggest key for Connecticut Saturday was to contain Notre Dame forward Jack Cooley, an early candidate for the conference’s Player of the Year award. It is difficult to completely shut Cooley down, but forward DeAndre Daniels and Tyler Olander combined to hold Cooley to 14 points and nine rebounds.
Olander scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds, while Daniels had eight points and nine rebounds.
The larger story here, though, is the continued success that Connecticut has enjoyed under coach Kevin Ollie in his first season after taking over for longtime head coach Jim Calhoun.
That, combined with a mass exodus of players in the offseason and a postseason ban due to a low APR, and the Huskies were supposed to struggle. But struggle they have not.
Saturday they played with poise on the road against a Top 25 team, a team that was supposed to exploit a big weakness, a lack of depth on the interior. But the Huskies found ways to win by limiting turnovers and shooting 51 percent from the field in a tough environment.
Connecticut returns to the floor Monday against No. 3 Louisville.
Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_
Two of the best guards in the country went absolutely bananas on Tuesday night as Iona senior A.J. English and Davidson junior Jack Gibbs had huge nights.
English dropped 46 points and went 13-for-19 from the 3-point line as the Gaels raced past Fairfield. The Iona star went 15-for-25 from the field and also had eight assists in the win.
Not to be outdone, Gibbs started Davidson’s game against Charlotte by going 14-for-14 from the field. Finishing 14-for-17 for the game, Gibbs had 25 points by halftime and 39 points at the under-12-minute timeout in the second half before deferring to teammates in a blowout win.
The 40-point efforts for both English and Gibbs were the first of their college basketball careers, and given the way both have scored the past two seasons, it’s not out of the question that this could happen again.
Michigan 66, N.C. State 59: Playing without starting point guard Derrick Walton Jr. in the second half, the Wolverines still played well enough to win on the road in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Caris LeVert played a tremendous overall floor game to finish with 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists while Duncan Robinson came off the bench to hit five 3-pointers and finish with 17 points.
A.J. English, Iona: Iona was able to run past Fairfield as the senior guard had 46 points and made 13 3-pointers in the win. English also tallied eight assists as he went 15-for-25 from the field and 13-for-19 from 3-point range.
Jack Gibbs, Davidson: The junior guard had 25 points by halftime and he went 14-for-14 before finally missing a field goal in the second half. Gibbs finished with 41 points in total in the win over Charlotte as he was 14-for-17 from the field.
Robert Hatter, Cornell: The junior guard helped the Big Red to a win over Siena as Hatter had 32 points and six assists to go along with three rebounds and three steals.
D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Georgetown: The Hoyas earned an easy home win over Maryland-Eastern Shore as the senior guard went for 30 points on 10-for-16 shooting.
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
- Another big game for Wayne Selden Jr. as he had 18 points, six rebounds and four assists to lead No. 4 Kansas to a big win over Loyola (MD). In his debut, Cheick Diallo went 6-for-8 from the field for 13 points, six rebounds and three blocks.
- Abdel Nader had 21 points and Jameel McKay had 15 points and 19 rebounds to lead No. 5 Iowa State past North Dakota State.
- No. 8 Villanova won a road game in Philly as they defeated Saint Joseph’s, 86-72. Kris Jenkins and Josh Hart each finished with 18 points while Ryan Arcidiacono had 17 points.
- Virginia was able to win on the road at Ohio State without London Perrantes as Malcolm Brogdon had 22 points and six rebounds. The Buckeyes have lost four consecutive games.
OTHER NOTABLE RESULTS
- Quality blowout win for Florida as they easily dispatched Richmond. John Egbunu finished with 17 to pace the Gators while Dorian Finney-Smith had nine points, 13 rebounds, six assists and three blocks.
- Northwestern outlasted Virginia Tech in overtime as Bryant McIntosh had 19 points and Tre Demps finished with 17.
- Georgia Tech defeated Wofford at home as Adam Smith led with 16 points for the Yellow Jackets.
- Georgia needed 23 points from J.J. Frazier and 21 points from Yante Maten to outscore Oakland in a close win.
- B.J. Tyson had 15 points and nine rebounds to help lead East Carolina past Florida Atlantic.
- Nice win for William & Mary over Old Dominion as Omar Prewitt had 18 points and seven rebounds.
- Ohio got past Marshall as guard Jaaron Simmons had 25 points, six assists and five rebounds.