Pat Connaughton,Russ Smith

Late Night Snacks: Pluck of the Irish

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Game of the Night

No. 25 Notre Dame 104, N0. 11 Louisville 101: Of the 205 points scored in this game, 85 came in extra time. Louisville lost four players to fouls, and Notre Dame lost three. The night’s Iron Man award goes to Eric Atkins, who played 60 minutes, scored 14 points and somehow had only three fouls. The takeaway from all this madness? The dissolution of the Big East sucks.

Meaningful Results

N0. 13 Kansas State 79, Iowa State 70: K-State became sole owners of the Big 12 lead with this win over a consistently dangerous Iowa State squad. They’ll take the mojo on the road Monday to face in-state rival Kansas for a chance to extend the Jayhawks’ misery.

N0. 12 Michigan State 78, Purdue 65: Don’t look now, Sparty is standing atop the B1G all by his lonesome. Pretty impressive feat in the Big Ten meat grinder.

No. 6 Gonzaga 74, Loyola Marymount 55: I mention this only because it’s very easy to forget about the Zags during conference play, when they tend to disappear off TV screens in most of the country. The Bulldogs are 10-0 in their league, where they appear to be safe from the upset-itis hitting the rest of the top ten.

UNLV 64, N0. 15 New Mexico 55: The Mountain West continues to be an exemplar of parity. Just when New Mexico seemed poised to pull away, the Rebs dragged them back a step. Colorado State is just 1/2 game behind the Lobos, and hosts San Diego State on Wednesday.

No. 19 Oregon 73, Utah 64: The Ducks trailed for much of this game, but turned on the jets to break a three-game losing streak. That they did it against one of the Pac-12’s worst teams is something we’ll just have to accept.

Illinois State 75, No. 16 Creighton 72: The MVC is getting to be as unpredictable as the Mountain West. Plenty of good teams, but nobody seems to want to seize the day and become the undisputed best team in the league. Creighton should be that team, by pure dint of talent and star power, but they aren’t. Puzzling.

Starred 

Jerian Grant, Notre Dame: Down five with less than a minute left in the game and star Jack Cooley fouled out, some Fighting Irish fans filed out of the Joyce Center to beat the traffic. They missed Jerian Grant’s personal crusade to force OT, best described by Blue Ribbon’s Chris Dortch:

The Summit Show: There were no national TV cameras there, but South Dakota State vs. Oakland was likely one of the best individual matchups of the year. Jackrabbit star Nate Wolters had a slight edge, putting up a line of 36 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists, but his opposite number Travis Bader finished with 31 points, 3 assists, 3 steals and one big W for the Golden Grizzlies. Duke Mondy’s 26 off the bench didn’t hurt.

La Salle shooters: Sam Mills broke out of a slump in a big way against Fordham, hitting seven of eight from behind the arc. The bounty from deep wasn’t limited to Mills alone, however. Ramon Galloway was 5-7 and Tyreek Duren 4-4 from three point range. As a team, the Explorers tied the program record for made treys, hitting 18 to match a mark set against Oregon in 1991.

Struggled

Elijah Johnson: The embattled KU point guard has become the focal point for much of the heat surrounding the team’s three-game losing streak. Johnson was 3-11 from the field against Oklahoma, and was ineffective leading the offense as well. The only thing saving his starting job? Backup Naadir Tharpe is so clearly not ready for prime time either.

Lobo Shooters: New Mexico’s starting perimeter players were terribly ineffective. They failed to score over UNLV’s guards, hitting just 7-26 from the floor, and precious few of those from deep. On the other end of the floor, they played matador defense, allowing the Rebs to top 40 percent from behind the arc.

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

No. 4 Maryland refocuses, slows down No. 18 Purdue

Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon watches from the sideline during a break in play in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Purdue, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in College Park, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
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No. 18 Purdue and No. 4 Maryland exchanged leads for most of the first 33 minutes before the Boilermakers scored five straight points on layups by Rapheal Davis (who was fouled on his make) and Caleb Swanigan. Purdue was getting the touches it wanted around the basket, and Mark Turgeon’s Terrapins weren’t doing a whole lot to keep it from happening either.

Turgeon called a timeout to get his team back in sync defensively, and as a result Maryland went on a 9-0 run that ultimately led to their winning by the final score of 72-61.

Maryland’s big men, Robert Carter Jr. and Diamond Stone, did a much better job down the stretch of keeping Purdue from getting the ball inside to senior center A.J. Hammons. Hammons finished the game with 18 points and ten rebounds, but only two of those points came after Maryland’s 9-0 second half run. But keeping the ball from getting inside is just as much about the players defending the passers as it is keeping the big(s) from getting to his preferred spot.

Defensively Maryland took away the passing angles and essentially made Purdue’s guards make plays, something they’ve struggled with at times this season. That led to far too many perimeter shots for Purdue, which shot 3-for-23 on the day from beyond the arc. Add in the fact that they attempted just five free throws as a team, making two, and areas in which the Boilermakers can benefit went neglected in College Park.

By comparison Maryland was able to make a habit of going to the foul line, shooting 24-for-27 from the charity stripe with Rasheed Sulaimon and Melo Trimble combining to go 17-for-19 on the day. The foul line helped Trimble make up for an off day from the field, as he shot 2-for-12, but the sophomore’s ability to work off of ball screens ultimately opened things up for Maryland even with his shots not falling.

Add in the fact that Sulaimon (21 points, ten rebounds) and Carter (19 points, seven rebounds) were able to pick up the slack, with Diamond Stone adding 12 points and six rebounds, and it’s easy to see why Maryland was able to turn things around down the stretch.

Maryland’s been a good defensive team this season, but they got away from that for a significant portion of Saturday’s game. A key timeout to get the team refocused paid off, the the Terrapins defending at a level that made it incredibly difficult for Purdue to get anything going. And as a result, Maryland remains within a game of leaders Iowa and Indiana in the Big Ten title race.

Darryl Reynolds shines, Kris Dunn struggles as No. 3 Villanova beat No. 11 Providence

Villanova forward Darryl Reynolds (45) dunks the ball in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Creighton, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, in Villanova, Pa. Villanova won 83-58. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)
(AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)
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Replacing the injured Daniel Ochefu, who missed his third straight game as the result of a concussion, Darryl Reynolds finished with a career-high 19 points and 10 boards as No. 3 Villanova went into Providence and knocked off the No. 11 Friars, 72-60.

Josh Hart chipped in with 14 points and 13 boards (seven of which were offensive), Kris Jenkins notched a double-double as well and Ryan Arcidiacono added 16 points for the Wildcats, who improved to 10-1 in Big East play, keeping them all alone in first place in the league.

Perhaps the most impressive part of this win, which wasn’t quite as close as the final score would indicate, is that Villanova did it while shooting just 5-for-22 from three. The Wildcats have been reliant on the three during this recent run atop the conference, and on Saturday, they won by controlling the the glass and the paint.

Reynolds’ performance was something else. This is a guy who entered the game averaging just 2.3 points and a reputation for being little more than the reason that Ochefu played so many minutes, but it got to the point on Saturday that he was being double-teamed in the post to get the ball out of his hands. That’s pretty remarkable.

As if the fact that Villanova, playing without their best rebounder, grabbed 12 offensive rebounds and totally controlled the defensive glass.

 

Much of that is likely due to the fact that Ben Bentil, the 6-foot-8 forward for the Friars that is the Big East’s leading scorer, was dealing with an ankle injury he suffered at DePaul earlier this week. He finished 20 points, but much of that came in the form of jumpers and shots at the rim while his two rebounds was much more indicative of the impact that he was able to make with his ankle.

But what was really concerning for Providence was that Kris Dunn was downright awful. He shot 4-for-15 from the floor, committed six turnovers and simply made the wrong decision too many times. Yes, he was likely pressing due to the fact that Bentil was injured and Villanova’s defense was keying on him, but it’s not exactly comforting to know that this is what his floor is.

He’s Kris Dunn.

He’s going to be keyed on by defenses every single time he steps on a basketball court.

He has to be better than he was today.