Gonzaga v Butler

Late Night Snacks: Butler tackles Gonzaga in nip-tuck Bulldog Battle

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We had an internal argument conversation about whether we should pick one game of the night each night, or leave room for the notion that more than one game might be equal to the honor. My position was that – as with evil rings of power and immortal swordsmen – there can be only one. Tonight, I’m going to stick to my guns, but oh, man was it hard. Lots and lots of great games. And yet, there’s no argument as to which one stood out tonight.

Game of the Night

N0. 13 Butler 64, No. 8 Gonzaga 63: Out of all of the fantastic games tonight, I had to pick the non-conference showdown between two rumored future members of the Catholic 7. The setting – historical Hinkle Fieldhouse – put it on top of the heap already, but then Kevin Schwartz, who was in Hawaii when Rotnei Clarke splashed his miracle shot to beat Marquette earlier this season, emulated his hero by dropping a half-court shot to win $18,000. Schwartz said he’d pay off his trip to the island first during a halftime interview. On top of all that, the game was absolutely dynamite. After a back-and-forth tennis match of a game, Gonzaga had the ball and a one-point lead with just over three seconds left. Kelly Olynyk muffed the inbounds pass, Roosevelt Jones took it to the hoop, and the game was over… or was it? The officials reviewed the play mid-floor-storming to determine if Jones had released the ball in time. They quickly (for once) ruled the play good and Butler had a huge, epic, historical, heart-palpitating win. And they did it without Rotnei Clarke, who was still recovering from a terrifying neck injury. An absolute heavyweight punch-out from beginning to end.

Watch the amazing ending here, courtesy of ESPN:

Meaningful Results

N0. 18 Michigan State 59, N0. 11 Ohio State 56: The Spartans laid claim to the Big Ten lead as Wisconsin fell to Iowa. Keith Appling and Adreian Payne led the Spartans.

No. 21 Oregon 76, No. 24 UCLA 67: Arsalan Kazemi was a starter at Rice, and is the only reason anyone has thought much about Rice basketball over the past five years. Now, after transferring to Oregon to play for Dana Altman, he’s a bench option. A bench option who scored 12 points to go with 11 rebounds to help down surging UCLA and vault the Ducks to 5-0 in the Pac 12. Oregon center Tony Woods led all scorers with 18.

Cincinnati 71, No. 25 Marquette 69 (OT): It’s only fitting that Sean Kilpatrick made the game-winning bucket for the Bearcats, since he did just about everything else before that. Kilpatrick scored 36 points on the evening, aided mightily by Titus Rubles and his ten rebounds.

Wyoming 58, No. 15 San Diego State 45: The Cowboys regulated, shutting down Chase Tapley and holding Jamaal Franklin to 13 points in a huge win that helps keep the MWC as wild as we could ever hope. And that’s without the guy who jacked somebody up in a bar fight.

No. 16 Kansas State 69, Oklahoma 60: Oklahoma, under long-time veteran (and former Kansas State) coach Lon Kruger, was starting to look like a threat in the Big 12 after a 3-0 start. Kansas State under – and I cannot stress this enough – Bruce Weber dished the Sooners their first loss in league play. Rodney McGruder scored 20.

Alabama 50, Texas A&M 49: I wish people would stop saying that Elston Turner was “held to” 13 points in a game like this. The 40 points at Kentucky is the outlier, not the 13. That said, Alabama is now 3-1 in an SEC that looks wide open. With some hideous chili stains on their non-con record, the Tide will have to keep this up all the way into the SEC tournament, but winning is like, you know, better than losing, no matter when it happens.

Starred

Kevin Schwartz: Duh.

Kwamain Mitchell, St. Louis: 29 points, 7 assists, 6 steals in a 82-80 OT loss to Rhode Island.

Ray McCallum, Detroit: 25 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 1 block in a 98-47 beatdown of Illinois-Chicago.

Struggled

Phil Pressey, Missouri: Two points and 10 turnovers in a big loss to Florida as the Tigers continue to fall apart without Laurence Bowers in the lineup.

Florida State: Not only did the Seminoles lose a 56-36 laugher to a rather average UVA team, but not a single Seminole player eked into double figures on the night. Worst of all, Terrance Shannon went down with a serious neck injury in the waning minutes of the game and had to be taken to the hospital on an immobilizing backboard.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

No. 14 West Virginia takes care of No. 15 Baylor

West Virginia forward Devin Williams (41) dunks the ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor, Saturday, Feb, 6, 2016, in Morgantown, W.Va. (AP Photo/Raymond Thompson)
AP Photo/Raymond Thompson
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Not exactly noted for their ability to knock down shots from the perimeter, No. 14 West Virginia grabbed sole possession of first place in the Big 12 thanks in part to their perimeter shooting. The Mountaineers shot 7-for-14 from three and 49.1 percent from the field in a 80-69 win over No. 15 Baylor that wasn’t as close as the final margin would lead one to believe.

Bob Huggins’ team led by as much as 19 in the second half, and the way in which they did it is what makes the win so impressive. “Press Virginia” yielded just ten Baylor turnovers, but that low number didn’t matter much thanks to West Virginia’s execution offensively.

They found quality looks against Baylor’s 1-1-3 zone in the first half and made them at a good clip, forcing Scott Drew to switch to man-to-man. That change didn’t do much to slow down West Virginia either, as Daxter Miles Jr. scored 20 points and sixth man Jaysean Paige added 17 off the bench. And with Devin Williams chipping in with 16 points and seven boards in the post, outplaying Baylor’s Rico Gathers Sr. (five points, seven rebounds), West Virginia grabbed control of the game in the first half and did not relinquish it.

The usual formula for West Virginia offensively is to attack the offensive glass, as their offensive rebounding percentage (43 percent) is tops in the country. “Their best offense is a missed shot” is a familiar refrain heard when people discuss the Mountaineers, who entered the game shooting just over 30 percent from three.

They didn’t need to lean on those second chances as heavily as they normally do Saturday night, not only because of the improved accuracy but also the improved work in finding shots. The ball moved against the Baylor defense and so did the players, resulting in an offensive attack that proved tougher for the visiting Bears to stop that one would expect given the statistics entering the game.

West Virginia was already established as a contender in the Big 12, but thanks to their win Saturday night the Mountaineers are the current pace setters. With a showdown at No. 7 Kansas set for Tuesday night, this was a big win for Bob Huggins’ team to get. And with it coming in spite of a low turnover (forced) count, this should only help West Virginia in the confidence department moving forward.

No. 22 Indiana falls at Penn State

Penn State's Shep Garner (33) moves towards the basket during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Indiana in State College, Pa., Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Ralph Wilson)
(AP Photo/Ralph Wilson)
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Brendan Taylor scored 24 points to lead Penn State to a 68-63 upset of No. 22 Indiana on Saturday night.

The Nittany Lions were 2-8 in Big Ten play entering the weekend. Indiana? They were 9-1 and tied for first in the conference. It’s the second loss in four games for the Hoosiers following a 7-0 start to Big Ten play, a fact made all the more concerning by the fact that their league schedule is finally about to get difficult.

The Hoosiers play No. 5 Iowa at home and No. 10 Michigan State in East Lansing next week. The following week they get No. 18 Purdue at home. In the final week of the regular season, Indiana squares off with No. 5 Iowa on the road and close the regular season with a visit from No. 4 Maryland.

That’s a lot of good teams that the Hoosiers to close out the year.

The question has been asked since Indiana’s hot start to league play: Are they for real? Did the Hoosiers really somehow turn things around defensively, or was that winning streak simply a by-product of their schedule?

The truth is that it was probably a combination of both. Calling them a fraud would be unjust — if you watched those games, there wasn’t much fluky about them; Indiana earned the Ws — but it does seem fair to say this is something of a regression to the mean.

They were going to slip up eventually.

And it will totally be forgotten if the Hoosiers can find a way to close the regular season with a winning record in their final seven games.