If there’s a clear-cut loser during this year’s Tip-Off Marathon, then it’s West Virginia.
The Mountaineers blew a double-digit first-half lead to lose at Virginia Tech 87-82, despite the Hokies missing suspended starting forward C.J. Barksdale.
This is a really bad loss for a West Virginia team hoping to compete in the top-half of the Big 12 this season as they lost to one of the ACC’s worst teams without its starting forward.
West Virginia led 29-10 before squandering its big lead and falling behind 54-45 in the second half as Virginia Tech mounted a furious comeback behind a 44-16 run that spanned the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half.
For Virginia Tech, it’s a confidence-boosting home win for a team searching for an early-season identity.
Sophomore Adam Smith knocked in some big shots down the stretch to finish with 19 points and freshman Ben Emelogu chipped in 20 points off the bench, so if those two and some others can get some consistent scoring around Barksdale, the Hokies could scare some people in the ACC.
West Virginia needs to figure out it’s offensive identity, as at times they looked stagnant, and point guard Juwan Staten will have to shoot better than 3-for-12 from the field if they hope to right the ship before Big 12 play.
Monmouth used a 17-2 run in the final minutes to beat Rider on Friday night, a win that will keep the Hawks within striking distance of the kind of an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament should they fall in the MAAC tourney.
The run was capped by star point guard Justin Robinson, who buried this three with three seconds left to put Monmouth up for good, 79-78:
Allonzo Trier scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half and Parker Jackson-Cartwright scored 16 points in his second career start as No. 17 Arizona knocked off UCLA, 81-75, in Tucson on Friday night.
UCLA was up by as much as 11 points in the first half and took a ten point lead into half time, but in the second half, the Bruins were eventually done in by foul trouble and the stronger front line of the Wildcats.
Ryan Anderson and Kaleb Tarczewski were dominant down the stretch. The duo combined to score 12 of the last 23 point for the Wildcats, including the bucket that put the Wildcats ahead for the first time since early in the first half. Off of a missed free throw, UCLA’s Thomas Welsh battled with Tarczewski for the rebound, but when Welsh finally seemed to gain control of the loose ball, Anderson knocked it out of his hands and bullied through Jonah Bolden for a layup.
All told, those two combined for 20 points and 27 boards, seven of which were offensive. They also managed to foul out both Welsh and Tony Parker, although some of the calls that went against UCLA down the stretch were questionable.
The win keeps Arizona within a game of first place Oregon in the Pac-12 standings and tied for second with No. 23 USC, who will be visiting the McKale Center on Sunday night.