WCC Basketball Tournament - Semifinals San Francisco v Saint Mary's

Weekend preview: Gonzaga can’t figure out San Francisco on the road

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Who’s getting upset? No. 5 Gonzaga at San Francisco (Sat., 4:30 p.m. EST, ROOT):

History is suggesting this one.

Look at the past few years, and the Bulldogs have had an incredibly hard time traveling to War Memorial Gym. The last time they went there, they lost 66-65 last season. The time before that? A 96-91 loss in 2011. Before that? An 81-77 loss. In fact, the last time the Zags won at San Francisco was a 78-74 victory during the 2008-09 season. Not one player on the Dons roster has lost to Gonzaga at home. That’s kinda wild. In fact, this San Francisco team doesn’t have a senior on its roster.

This Gonzaga team, of course, is much better than the ones that visited before. Actually, it’s probably the best team since that one in 2008-09, they went to the Sweet Sixteen that season.

However, I’m a huge believer that mental obstacles exist and are just as tough to get over as physical ones.

UCLA transfer De’End Parker has done his thing since coming over, averaging 12.4 points per game. They’ll need big games from Cole Dickerson (14.6 ppg) and Cody Doolin (12.3 ppg). But the real task will fall on guys like Mark Tollefsen, who have to guard Kelly Olynyk in the paint.

The guard play could be somewhat even with Parker v. Pangos, but Gary Bell, Jr. against Cody Doolin is an interesting match-up to look out for.

Who else is on Upset Alert?

Oklahoma at No. 17 Oklahoma State (Sat., 1:30 p.m. EST, ESPN3): You never know what you’re going to expect in Bedlam. It’s a deeply-rooted rivalry with tons more on the line between the Cowboys and Sooners. I always feel like you can throw a lot of numbers out the window in a big rivalry game. Okie State is hanging in their for a spot in the Big Dance, the Sooners, after their big win over Kansas, are back in position to be on the bubble, which for a team with the recent trials that OU has had, is a great progress. A lot of that is owed the Lon Kruger. Romero Osby v. LeBryan Nash will be interesting, but who will guard Marcus Smart for Oklahoma? Figure that out, and do it, and the Sooners walk out of Gallagher-Iba Arena with a win. Though losing Buddy Hield will be a big problem for OU.

No. 25 Kentucky at Tennessee (Sat., 1:00 p.m. EST, CBS): This is a mental game for the Wildcats. All mental. Can they get past the fact that they’ve lost their best player and most influential court presence for the season in Nerlens Noel? Or will they fold. Kentucky was getting themselves back into the swing things after a conference swoon, then they never threatened at Florida, even before the Noel injury. Paging Willie Cauley-Stein. You have to guard Jarnell Stokes. Can you?

No. 24 Colorado State at Air Force (Sat., 4:00 p.m. EST, check listings): Psst, the Falcons are one of the better teams in the Mountain West Conference. The problem? NO ONE is talking about them at all. They’re 15-8, 6-4 in conference with wins over San Diego State, Wyoming and UNLV. Not sure what else they need to do to get into the conversation. Colorado State is coming off a draining victory over San Diego State. And Air Force is 6-0 at Clune Arena in-conference.

Follow David on Twitter at @David_Harten.

VIDEO: Monmouth celebrates win over No. 17 Notre Dame

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Five ranked teams fell on Thanksgiving Day, with one of those being 17th-ranked Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish ran into Monmouth, which already had a win at UCLA to its credit, at the AdvoCare Invitational in Orlando and lost 70-68 after Justin Robinson hit two free throws with 3.6 seconds remaining.

The Hawks are now 3-1 on the season, with their lone defeat coming at the hands of a USC team that has also surprised people with their strong start. Above is video of the Hawks’ locker room celebration, complete with Austin Tilghman proclaiming that the Hawks “have the juice,” Daniel Pillari enjoying some of said juice and Robinson making it known that besides themselves and their fans “nobody knew we were going to come in here and do this.”

Next up for Monmouth is Dayton in Friday’s semifinals, with the Flyers coming off of a highly-entertaining win over Iowa.

Video credit: Monmouth Digital Network

LATE NIGHT SNACKS: Five ranked teams fall, No. 12 Arizona survives

Brad Horrigan/The Courant via AP
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GAME OF THE DAY: Syracuse 79, No. 18 UConn 76

The former Big East rivals met in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis and the game did not disappoint, with Jim Boeheim’s Orange pulling out a three-point victory. Michael Gbinije (17 points, seven assists) and Trevor Cooney played well on the perimeter, but junior Tyler Roberson and freshmen Malachi Richardson and Tyler Lydon made some big plays as well.

UConn couldn’t get the rebound of a Cooney missed shot in the final seconds, not getting a chance at a game-tying shot as a result. Daniel Hamilton led the Huskies with 18 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.

Rob Dauster wrote more about this game here.


Monmouth 70, No. 17 Notre Dame 68: Justin Robinson made two free throws with 3.6 seconds remaining to give the Hawks a two-point win over the Fighting Irish at the Advocare Invitational in Orlando. Robinson scored a game-high 22 points, with Demetrius Jackson leading Notre Dame with 20.

No. 25 Texas A&M 62, No. 10 Gonzaga 61: Billy Kennedy’s team played outstanding defense on the Bulldogs’ final possession of the game, switching all screens and hanging on as Silas Melson’s shot missed the mark. Danuel House scored 19 points and Tonny Trocha-Morelos added 14 for the Aggies, who will play Syracuse in Friday’s Battle 4 Atlantis title game. Kyle Wiltjer scored 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds for Gonzaga.

San Diego State 72, No. 14 California 58: With 17:24 remaining the Golden Bears led 45-30 and looked well-positioned to advance to Friday’s Continental Las Vegas Classic title game. From that point on they were outscored 42-13, with SDSU combining improved offense with stifling defense. Winston Shepard scored all 15 of his points in the second half and Skylar Spencer added ten second-half points to lead the way for the Aztecs, who will play West Virginia Friday. Ivan Rabb scored 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Golden Bears.


Denzel Valentine, Michigan State: Valentine posted his second triple-double of the season in the Spartans’ 99-68 win over Boston College, finishing with 29 points, 11 rebounds and ten assists.

Devin Williams, West Virginia: The junior forward scored 23 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead the Mountaineers to a 67-59 win over Richmond in Las Vegas.

Charles Mitchell, Georgia Tech: Mitchell scored 18 points and grabbed 18 rebounds in a win over Arkansas.

Jared Brownridge, Santa Clara: Sure he shot 11-for-29 from the field in scoring his 44 points, but given Santa Clara’s youth and lack of a consistent supplementary scorer Brownridge has to take those shots. The Broncos took No. 12 Arizona to overtime before falling by two points.


Stanford: Not only did the Cardinal shoot 26 percent in their loss to No. 8 Villanova, but they also committed 23 turnovers on the day.

Ryan Kemrite, Liberty: Kemrite shot 1-for-10 from the field, scoring two points in the Flames’ 73-62 loss to Appalachian State.

Arizona’s perimeter shooting: The Wildcats shot 3-for-22 from three in a two-point win over Santa Clara. Over the last two games Sean Miller’s team has shot 8-for-44 from beyond the arc.


  • No. 3 Michigan State rolled to a 99-68 win over Boston College, with the result being Tom Izzo’s 500th win as a head coach. Denzel Valentine went for 29 points, 11 rebounds and ten assists.
  • No. 8 Villanova shot just 30.6 percent from the field, but their opponents shot even worse in the 59-46 Wildcat win over Stanford. The Cardinal shot 26 percent from the field and committed 23 turnovers.
  • No. 12 Arizona survived questionable shot selection and a 44-point night from Jared Brownridge to beat winless Santa Clara 75-73 in overtime. Ryan Anderson scored 17 to lead the way for Arizona, which lost Kaleb Tarczewski in the second half to a left ankle injury.
  • Bennie Boatwright scored 22 points to lead USC to a 72-69 win over No. 20 Wichita State. Ron Baker led all scorers with 25 points, but he and Markis McDuffie (14 points) were the only Shockers to reach double figures.
  • No. 23 Xavier took over in the second half of its game against Alabama, outscoring the Crimson Tide by 16 points to win by the final score of 64-45.


  • Texas exacted a measure of revenge on Washington, beating the Huskies 82-70 at the Battle 4 Atlantis. The Huskies won the first meeting between the two teams this season in Shanghai in the season opener for both.
  • Georgia Tech advanced to the title game of the Preseason NIT with a ten-point win over Arkansas in Brooklyn. Charles Mitchell went for 18 points and 18 rebounds for the Yellow Jackets, who play No. 8 Villanova Friday.
  • Anthony Drmic scored 21 points and Chandler Hutchison added 13 points and ten rebounds as Boise State beat UC Irvine 71-64 at the DirecTV Wooden Legacy in Fullerton, California.
  • Devin Williams scored 23 points and grabbed 12 boards in West Virginia’s 67-59 win over Richmond at the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational. The Mountaineers only forced 14 turnovers, but they made up for it by limiting Richmond to 39.1 percent shooting.
  • Ben Bentil scored 24 points and Kris Dunn added 18 as Providence beat Evansville 74-64. The 24 points represents a career high for Bentil.
  • Scoochie Smith made two huge baskets and Charles Cooke scored 22 points as Dayton went on a game-ending 11-2 run to beat Iowa 82-77. Jarrod Uthoff led the Hawkeyes with 18 points.
  • Moritz Wagner scored 19 points to lead four players in double figures as Michigan rolled to a 102-47 win over Charlotte. After struggling offensively against UConn on Wednesday, the Wolverines shot 61.9 percent from the field against the 49ers.