The First Family made a trip out to see Craig Robinson and his Oregon State Beavers take on Maryland on Sunday afternoon:
Allonzo Trier made his first appearance of the season for No. 14 Arizona but it was Kobi Simmons who was the star for the Wildcats as Sean Miller’s club picked up their biggest win of the season, going into Pauley Pavilion and knocking off No. 3 UCLA, 96-85.
Simmons had 18 points, five boards and five assists, providing the spark at the end of the first half as Arizona opened up a 48-37 lead. Lauri Markkanen, who has been Arizona’s best player on the season, finished with 17 points while Trier chipped in with 10 points, seven boards and four assists.
The win moves Arizona into sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 – at least until No. 11 Oregon plays at USC tonight – at 7-0, a full two games ahead of the Bruins in the loss column. Arizona still gets UCLA in the McKale Center, but their only game against Oregon will come in Eugene.
For the Bruins, Lonzo Ball led the way with 24 points, eight assists and six boards, but he had very little impact on the game in the final 12 minutes. The bigger talking point for UCLA is their defense. They entered Saturday ranked 92nd in the country in defensive efficiency, according to KenPom, and giving up 96 points to the Wildcats isn’t going to help that. Arizona was able to penetrate at will on Saturday, and it’s a concern for the Bruins that is glaring.
SATURDAY’S THINGS TO KNOW
Quality win for No. 10 Florida State as they jumped out to a 16-2 lead and held on to beat No. 16 Louisville for a home ACC win. I have five takeaways on this one, including when we’ll know if this Seminoles team is a legitimate contender for the ACC title.
Playing their first game without senior point guard Mo Watson Jr., No. 7 Creighton struggled in a home loss to Marquette. The Bluejays had some promising production from reserve guard Davion Mintz (17 points, eight assists) and Marcus Foster went nuts (30 points) but they allowed seven double-figures scorers for Marquette. Rob Dauster has a deeper look at Creighton here.
The SEC had a pretty bad day for its NCAA tournament hopes on Saturday. No. 19 Florida dropped a game a home against a struggling Vanderbilt team that lost four straight entering the game. That loss won’t take the Gators out of the field but it leaves them with little room for error.
Georgia was also comfortably ahead of Texas A&M by double digits in the second half on the road before squandering that lead and losing 63-62. A clock malfunction ultimately cost Georgia a possession in the end. The Bulldogs led by nine points with 2:09 left and the Aggies closed the game on a 10-0 run. That’s the kind of loss that could keep Georgia out of the NCAA tournament.
Marcus Keene, Central Michigan: The nation’s leading scorer went off for 50 points in a win over Miami (OH).
V.J. Beachem, Notre Dame: The senior had a monster outing in an Irish win over Syracuse as he went for 30 points and shot 6-for-10 from three-point range. Beachem also added seven rebounds and two blocks.
Deonte Burton, Iowa State: When Burton plays well, Iowa State reaches a new level and he hit for 31 points in a double-overtime road win over Oklahoma on Saturday. Burton also had this thunderous dunk to send the game to overtime.
Josh Hart, Villanova: Adding another solid game to his Player of the Year campaign, the senior had 25 points (10-for-16 shooting), six rebounds and four assists in a Wildcat win over Providence. Hart was also 2-for-2 from three-point range and 3-for-3 from the free-throw line for the game.
Jared Brownridge, Santa Clara: The senior sharpshooter knocked in the game-winning three-pointer with five seconds left for the Broncos in a WCC win over Loyola Marymount as he tallied a game-high 25 points.
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
- Top-ranked Villanova took care of Providence for a Big East home win as Josh Hart had another strong game and Kris Jenkins added 19 points.
- Devonte Graham led four double-figure scorers with 18 points as No. 2 Kansas moved to 7-0 in the Big 12 with a home win over Texas.
- No. 4 Virginia got past Georgia Tech for an ACC home win as Marial Shayok had 19 points.
- It was tight for a little while but No. 9 North Carolina scored 56 points in the second half and ran past Boston College for an ACC road win. Justin Jackson (22 points) and Kennedy Meeks (20 points) paced the Tar Heel offense. Rob Dauster has more on the Tar Heels winning on an off-game from Joel Berry.
- Not the prettiest win but No. 13 Butler escaped DePaul with a one-point road win in the Big East. Kethan Savage had 20 points and freshman Kamar Baldwin added 18 more points.
- All of Notre Dame’s ACC wins came by single digits until Saturday as the No. 15 Fighting Irish ran past Syracuse for a home win. V.J. Beachem had 30 and Bonzie Colson had 14 points and 14 rebounds.
- Wins continue to come easy for No. 20 Cincinnati as the Bearcats cruised to an American road win at Tulane. Cincinnati has won 10 straight games as Jacob Evans led with 15 points.
- Easy win for No. 21 Purdue as they made quick work of Penn State for a Big Ten home win. Sophomore big man Caleb Swanigan stayed in the Player of the Year discussion with 19 points, 12 rebounds and four assists.
- It took two overtimes but Iowa State came through with the road Big 12 win at Oklahoma. The Cyclones had 31 points from Deonte Burton.
- Sticking in the Big 12, Texas Tech suffered a bad home loss for its NCAA tournament credibility as they got blown out by Oklahoma State. Jeffrey Carroll led the Cowboys with 25 points.
- Rutgers earned its first Big Ten win of the season with a one-point home win over Nebraska. Sophomore Corey Sanders had 25 points and the game-winner with one second left.
- Earning its first conference road win in three years was Wake Forest as the Demon Deacons shocked N.C. State with another bad home loss. John Collins had 21 points and nine rebounds in the win.
- D.J. Wilson had 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists as Michigan won at home in the Big Ten over Illinois.
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) When V.J. Beachem gets to the rim, opportunities open up for him and No. 15 Notre Dame.
Midway through the first half Saturday against Syracuse, Beachem streaked along the baseline and threw down a thunderous two-handed dunk. Next trip down the court, there was Beachem again with another flush off a nifty behind-the-back pass from Matt Farrell.
Beachem decided to take it outside from there, banging home consecutive 3-pointers in a personal 10-2 run that broke things open for the Irish in an 84-66 victory over the Orange.
Beachem finished with a career-high 30 points for Notre Dame which snapped a four-game losing streak against Syracuse.
“The drive really opens up the outside shot for me,” Beachem said. “When you can get into the middle of the lane and make everybody look and collapse, that’s when the outside really opens up.”
Farrell added 15 points and nine assists for the Irish, who were coming off a three-point loss at No. 10 Florida State that stopped a seven-game winning streak.
“V.J. was fabulous,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “When we can get him flowing like that, it’s a confidence-giver to his teammates.”
On an unseasonably warm January day for Northern Indiana, with temperatures in the 50s, Notre Dame (17-3, 6-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) was hot from outside, hitting 11 3-pointers against the Syracuse zone.
“We were really anxious to play against (the zone),” Beachem said. “The way we play offensively, we felt like we’d be fine against it.”
Beachem tied his career high with six 3s and added seven rebounds. He finished 12 of 22 from the field and his point total was the most by an Irish player since Bonzie Colson had 31 against Duke last season.
“Beachem, we just couldn’t get to him,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “He’s a tremendous shooter and we just didn’t get to him.”
Despite sitting much of the first half with foul trouble, Colson still finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds for his 12th double-double of the season. Steve Vasturia added 11 points.
Tyler Lydon had 24 points and 10 rebounds for Syracuse (11-9, 3-4). Tyus Battle added 17 points and Andrew White III had 16.
“We can’t win with just three guys against anybody,” Boeheim said. “We have to have more guys. I can’t even describe how disappointed I am in a couple guys on our team.”
After being outrebounded by 20 in a loss to North Carolina on Monday, the Orange were again beaten on the boards, 39-28. Syracuse also struggled from deep, going just 6 of 19 from 3-point range.
“I think our defense was really the key today,” Brey said.
Notre Dame took a 16-point lead early in the second half with a 9-0 run and led by double digits the rest of the way. Rex Pflueger’s 3 with just over 4 minutes left gave the Irish their largest lead of 22 points.
Syracuse: The Orange are 0-5 on the road and have yet to beat a ranked team, after being ranked as high as No. 16 earlier in the season.
Notre Dame: The Irish have yet to lose consecutive games this season and figured out a response after dropping their first ACC game on Wednesday.
RING OF HONOR
Former All-America guard David Rivers was inducted into Notre Dame’s ring of honor at halftime. Rivers, who played from 1984-88, scored over 2,000 points in his career and was a first-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Lakers in 1988.
Rivers, who comes from a family of 15 children in Jersey City, NJ, nearly died in a car accident in 1986, but came back and averaged 22 points per game in his final season at Notre Dame.
Former Notre Dame coach Digger Phelps has called Rivers the best player he’s ever coached.
“When I hear that, it’s humbling,” Rivers said before Saturday’s game. “I take it as one of the greatest compliments I could ever receive, and I just move on, because I’m familiar with some of these names that are up there (in the ring of honor) already. It’s just awesome company.”
Following a close loss at No. 10 Florida State on Wednesday, the Irish don’t figure to slide much after keeping pace with the ACC’s top teams.
Syracuse: The Orange return home for two, starting with Wake Forest on Tuesday before No. 10 Florida State visits on Saturday.
Notre Dame: The Irish host three of their next four, beginning with No. 16 Virginia on Tuesday.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) Josh Hart saw an opportunity to drive with the ball and kept attacking the basket instead of shooting jumpers.
Hart scored 25 points, Kris Jenkins had 19 and No. 1 Villanova beat Providence 78-68 on Saturday.
The defending national champion Wildcats (19-1, 7-1 Big East) have won five straight since their only loss at Butler on Jan. 4 temporarily knocked them out of the No. 1 spot in The AP Top 25.
Hart tied a season-low with only two 3-pointers attempted and made both. He scored seven of his 10 baskets on layups. Villanova only tried 17 shots from 3-point range, making seven. The Wildcats entered the game averaging 25 attempts from beyond the arc.
“They do a great job of taking away 3s,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said of Providence. “Our guys did a good job of reading the defense and not taking contested 3s. Josh is as relentless at attacking the basket as anybody I’ve ever seen.”
Hart finished 10 of 16 from the field.
“Just be aggressive is something Coach always says,” Hart said. “If they step up, make the right pass, If they don’t, you score.”
Rodney Bullock had 17 points and Jalen Lindsey added 14 for Providence (13-8, 3-5).
The Friars were coming off consecutive wins over Seton Hall and Georgetown but couldn’t compete with Villanova.
An 8-0 run to start the second half gave Villanova its biggest lead to that point, 43-31. Mikal Bridges got it started with a layup and jumper, Jenkins hit a jumper and Hart made another layup.
“Villanova took advantage of every mistake we made,” Friars coach Ed Cooley said. “The game was lost on the first five possessions of the second half.”
Jalen Brunson and Jenkins nailed consecutive 3s from almost the same spot to extend it to 60-43 midway through the second half and the Wildcats led by 20 at one point.
But Providence wouldn’t go away. Lindsey hit three straight 3s to cap a 13-2 run that got the Friars within 66-57 with 5:05 left.
Then Villanova scored the next three baskets, including a nifty, driving layup by Brunson to put it away.
“They have a great defensive team, they’re gritty and tough,” Cooley said.
Hart hit a 3-pointer to start the scoring and Villanova never trailed. The Friars tied it at 12 midway through the first half before Villanova went on a 10-0 run capped by Bridges’ 3-pointer.
Providence: G Kyron Cartwright scored 12 points before he left the game with a stomach bug in the second half. … Isaiah Jackson also scored 12. … The Friars are 2-14 all-time against the top-ranked team. … They are 38-60 vs. Villanova. .. . The teams meet again on Feb. 1 at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
Villanova: Bridges had 15 points and Brunson added 13. … The team shot 51.7 percent (30 for 58). … The Wildcats played the second of four games at the home of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers, who host New Jersey on Saturday night. They are 15-2 at the Wells Fargo Center since the 2012-13 season. … Junior G Phil Booth, who led all scorers with 20 points in the national championship game last April, missed his 17th straight game because of inflammation in his left knee.
SPREADING THE LOVE
“Kris is rare,” Hart said of his teammate. “He’s a gifted scorer who gets more excited at other people’s success and that shows a lot about his character.”
Providence will host St. John’s on Wednesday.
Villanova visits Marquette on Tuesday.
Using a hot start in which they jumped out to a 16-2 lead, No. 10 Florida State held on from there as they outlasted No. 12 Louisville for a 73-68 ACC home win.
The Seminoles (18-2, 6-1) led for the entire game as this was a one-point game with under two minutes left with a chance for Louisville to take the lead.
Florida State ultimately held on as I have five takeaways from this one.
1. Jonathan Isaac is getting comfortable
Florida State’s stud freshman registered 16 points and 10 rebounds on Saturday, making a number of key late plays on both ends of the floor. Isaac has put together three straight double-doubles and it looks like the 6-foot-10 forward is getting very comfortable with this team. The Seminoles become so dangerous with Isaac playing like this because they already have talented scorers like Dwayne Bacon, Terance Mann and Xavier Rathan-Mayes around him.
Isaac fits in very well alongside those guys because he doesn’t need the ball in his hands to be productive like Malik Beasley did last season. At 6-foot-10, Isaac can rebound both ends of the floor, is a menace defending multiple positions and he’s making tougher face-up plays on the offensive end. With Isaac playing this way, Florida State can reach a new level.
2. Louisville will be fine without Quentin Snider during his injury
When Florida State jumped out to a 16-2 lead before the first television timeout, it looked like Louisville was going to be in deep trouble. Credit first and foremost goes to Louisville for fighting back and making this a one-point game with under two minutes left. The Cardinals looked like they had no business taking a go-ahead shot with the way they played early.
It also showed that Louisville should be okay without point guard Quentin Snider during his injury. After dismantling Clemson at home, the Cardinals went toe-to-toe with a top-10 team on the road and fell just short after a slow start.
Louisville obviously needs to find someone who can start more quickly so that the Cardinals don’t have an awful start like they did on Saturday. But this team shouldn’t make a big slide down the standings without Snider in the lineup.
3. Florida State’s defense can take away main options
One of the impressive things about Florida State’s defense on Saturday was how they took sophomores Donovan Mitchell and Deng Adel and neutralized them after the duo combined for 36 points in the win over Clemson.
Mitchell and Adel were only held to 18 points on 6-for-23 shooting on Saturday as the Seminole defense did the best they could to harass those two into a bad game. With Mitchell and Adel struggling to drum up consistent points, the Cardinals had to turn to Tony Hicks as the senior graduate transfer took 17 shots and led the team with 17 points.
If Louisville wants to beat elite teams, then Tony Hicks can’t be the guy shooting that many shots. If teams are going to be keyed in on Adel and Mitchell then Louisville needs to adjust its gameplan or have a more balanced backup plan in place for offense.
Back to Florida State’s defense though, they have the type of long and athletic defenders that they can throw at you in waves and they also have length at the rim with guys like Michael Ojo and Isaac. They’re a tough group to score on if they’re focused.
4. The Florida State offense still needs work
Florida State’s March ceiling will ultimately come down to which offense they bring to the NCAA tournament. The Seminoles have the length, athleticism and rotation to wear down teams on defense if they want to. As we’ve seen with Leonard Hamilton teams of the past, the Seminoles’ offense can be maddeningly inconsistent.
The good news is that Florida State has been efficient as a whole. We know that Florida State might be built to last because they’re pulling off the impressive feat of ranking in the top 30 in KenPom in adjusted offensive efficiency, adjusted defensive efficiency and adjusted tempo.
Not many teams in the country play fast and can play well on both ends of the floor. Florida State can. But the offense can still stall out at times and go to too much hero ball. Lots of talent remains on the floor for the Seminoles but isolation-heavy sets can take foot. When this team stops moving the ball they can be in trouble.
5. We’ll know if Florida State is in the ACC race after this three-game road trip
For as much praise as we’ve given Florida State this season — and much of it justifiably so — the Seminoles also only have one true road win this season.
That road win happened to come at Virginia, which has been one of the toughest places to play in the country the last few seasons, so that erased some doubts for Florida State, but this next three-game trip should teach us a lot about this group.
With three winnable games coming up at Georgia Tech, Syracuse and Miami, the Seminoles can make a statement that they can compete for the ACC title if they take care of teams like that on this trip.
If Florida State returns from that trip 3-0 then it will be time to really take them seriously in the ACC race.