Markel Brown, Perry Ellis

Pregame Shootaround 2.20.13: CO St. visits UNLV, a Big 12 showdown

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Game of the Night: No. 9 Kansas at No. 14 Oklahoma State (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

The Big 12 has turned into a three-team race for the league title, and with Kansas State beating West Virginia at home last night, the Wildcats have taken a half-game lead (in the win column) over both the Jayhawks and the Cowboys. The winner of tonight’s game will move into a tie with KSU, a game ahead of the loser. This is significant because all three teams have an easy schedule down the stretch, with the exception of Kansas State’s trip to Stillwater in the regular season finale.

In other words, if Oklahoma State wins and there are no surprises throughout the rest of Big 12 play, KSU and OSU will play on the final day of the regular season for the Big 12 title. Kansas has won at least a share of the Big 12 title in each of the past eight years, and a lost tonight would mean that they no longer control their own destiny in that regard.

Gallagher-Iba Arena is one of the best college basketball atmospheres with the arena is full, and with Kansas in town, it should be packed. The Jayhawks will be looking to exact revenge for a loss they suffered in Phog Allen earlier this month.

Who’s Getting Upset? No. 22 Colorado State at UNLV (10:15 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Net)

The Rebels have their issues this season, but the one thing that we know for sure is that UNLV is a tough team to beat at the Thomas & Mack Center. I also think that UNLV will be able to matchup with the Rams well. The biggest issue that Dave Rice has run into this season is that Mike Moser gets lost in the shuffle thanks to the play of Anthony Bennett and Khem Birch, but given CSU’s size and their ability to hit the glass, Moser may be a viable weapon tonight.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Night: Santa Clara at No. 3 Gonzaga (11:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Santa Clara is a fun, dangerous team this season. Kevin Foster is as dangerous of a shooter as you are going to find in the country, Marc Trasolini has the kind of size to be create matchups problems and Evan Roquemore is a hidden gem at the point. Gonzaga is a tough team to beat at the Kennel, but there should be plenty of scoring and a lot of threes fired up tonight.

Five Things to Watch For

1) Providence has won four straight games and is playing the best basketball the program has seen in recent memory. They visit Syracuse tonight. (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

2) Ohio State really needs a win to turn around some of the skepticism of their resume. They host Minnesota, a team that has been sputtering as well, tonight. (7:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten)

3) I guess we shouldn’t have been too surprised that Kentucky got smacked in their first game without Nerlens Noel. It was on the road against a tough, solid Tennessee team. Kentucky hosts Vanderbilt tonight. We should get a better gauge of whether or not it’s time to pack in the season for Wildcat fans. (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

4) The sneaky-good game of the night: Iowa State at Baylor. Athletes, threes, zero conscience, bubble implications. (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

5) Is Joel Smith healthy? When he is, Northeastern is far and away the best team in the CAA. But he’s missed time the last two games — he sat out against Delaware and only managed to play 16 minutes against UNC-Wilmington. The Huskies lost both games, and they host James Madison tonight. (7:00 p.m.)

Top 25

  • Santa Clara at No. 3 Gonzaga (11:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
  • Providence at No. 8 Syracuse (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
  • No. 9 Kansas at No. 14 Oklahoma State (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
  • DePaul at No. 11 Georgetown (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • Washington at No. 12 Arizona (11:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
  • Minnesota at No. 18 Ohio State (7:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)
  • No. 19 Wisconsin at Northwestern (9:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)
  • Houston at No. 21 Memphis (9:00 p.m. ET)
  • No. 22 Colorado State at UNLV (10:15 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)

Other Notable Games

  • Ole Miss at South Carolina (7:00 p.m. ET)
  • South Florida at St. John’s (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • Oklahoma at Texas Tech (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
  • Charleston at Western Carolina (7:00 p.m. ET)
  • Air Force at Boise State (8:00 p.m. ET)

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Illinois State ends No. 21 Wichita State’s 12-game win streak

Fred VanVleet
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
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Having won 12 straight games, No. 21 Wichita State entered the weekend one of the hottest teams in the country. And with a four-game lead atop the Missouri Valley standings, clinching the regular season title was more a matter of “when” as opposed to “if.” But none of that mattered Saturday night at Illinois State, as the Redbirds managed to hand the Shockers their first conference loss by the final score of 58-53.

In addition to the 12-game win streak, which was second to Stony Brook (15 straight wins), Wichita State also saw its 19-game win streak in Valley regular season games come to an end. Illinois State was the last Valley team to beat Wichita State, eliminating the Shockers in the Arch Madness semifinals last March, and they played with the confidence of a team that believed it could win.

And after a rough first half the Redbirds found a way to come back, erasing a 16-point second half deficit in the process.

Wichita State’s issue in the second half was the fact that they couldn’t make shots. The Shockers shot just 26.7 percent from the field and 1-for-14 from three in the second half, with Fred VanVleet going scoreless and Shaq Morris scoring just one point. And just two players, Ron Baker and Conner Frankamp, managed to make multiple field goals in the game’s final 20 minutes. Illinois State certainly deserves credit for that, as they took away the quality looks Wichita State was able to find in building its lead.

And on the other end of the floor Paris Lee took control of the game during Illinois State’s comeback, scoring 13 of his 19 points in the second half with Deontae Hawkins adding 11 second-half points. Illinois State was even worse from the field, finishing the game shooting just over 27 percent from the field. But they were able to attack the Wichita State defense and get to the foul line, outscoring the Shockers 22-9 from the charity stripe. And in a game in which neither team could get much going offensively, the ability to get points from the line proved to be the difference.

This defeat doesn’t help Wichita State, but did anything really change? Maybe the margin for error when it comes to an at-large bid gets a little smaller with the loss in the eyes of some. But when considering injuries to the likes of VanVleet and Anton Grady in non-conference play, those early season losses are understandable. Saturday was a rough night for Wichita State, but given the maturity and talent on at Gregg Marshall’s disposal the Shockers will be fine moving forward.

VIDEO: New Mexico loses game on blown call by officials

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Nothing like a nice, controversial finish to get the blood flowing.

New Mexico was on the receiving end of a rule misinterpretation on Saturday afternoon, and that interpretation likely cost the Lobos a win over San Diego State and, arguably, a shot at the MWC regular season title.

Here’s the situation: New Mexico is up by three with 12 seconds left and the ball under their own basket. Their allowed to run the baseline, so Craig Neal calls a play where the inbounder throws the ball to a player running out of bounds.

Totally league as long as the player establishes out of bounds before touching the ball. The referee rules that he doesn’t.

Here’s the video:

The problem?

According to the rules, Xavier Adams — the player receiving the pass from Cullen Neal — only needed one foot on the floor out of bounds in order to establish himself as an inbounder that was able to catch that ball. He got one foot down (see the picture above), but the referees appeared to rule that he needed to have both feet down.

That was incorrect, according to the Mountain West office.

“While this was a very close judgment call made at full speed, it has been determined after careful review of slow-motion video replays the call was in fact incorrect,” the league said in a release. “The New Mexico player did get one foot down (two feet are not required) out-of-bounds before receiving the ball, thus establishing his location in accordance NCAA Basketball Playing Rules 4.23.1.a and 7.1.1.  By rule, the officials were not permitted to go to the monitor during the game to review this play.”

And here’s the kicker: When SDSU got the ball back, they hit a three to send the game into overtime, where the Aztecs won. But if New Mexico had won this game, they’d be sitting at 8-2 in MWC play, one game behind SDSU in the loss column with a return game against them in The Pit.

Instead, they’re now three games back with seven to play, meaning that the race is effectively over.

It’s tough to blame the referees here — it was a bang-bang call that is only clear in slow-motion replay — but man, that’s a big call to miss.