Kyle Anderson UCLA

Pregame Shootaround: Big Saturday of games highlighted by UCLA at Missouri

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 18 UCLA at Missouri (12:30 p.m., CBS)

A matchup of 8-0 teams headlines Saturday’s improved slate of college basketball games thanks to the end of the college football regular season. The Bruins are 8-0 under new coach Steve Alford and have yet to face an opponent the caliber of Mizzou as the Bruins own early-season wins over Drexel (when fully healthy), Nevada and Northwestern. Missouri will welcome the Bruins after a win over West Virginia in the Big 12/SEC Challenge earlier this week. Both of these teams can really score at times, so this one could turn into a shootout if both teams elect to play fast.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE DAY: Kansas at Colorado (3:15 p.m., ESPN2)

Kansas faces another nonconference test as they travel to former Big 12 conference opponent Colorado for a game with the 8-1 Buffaloes. Colorado has won eight straight games after losing its opener against Baylor and hasn’t faced a truly quality opponent since then, except for some decent wins over Harvard and on the road at a new-look Colorado State. But while the Buffaloes haven’t faced great competition lately, they have the talent to run with the Jayhawks. Spencer Dinwiddie is averaging 15.3 points per game and shooting at very good percentages (45%, 87% FT, 40% 3PT), and Josh Scott averages 12.2 points and 8.7 rebounds per game as well.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET? BYU at No. 21 UMass (1:30 p.m. CBSSN

This wouldn’t be a major upset as UMass is just appearing in the top 25 and BYU is a very strong opponent. This is another game that could quickly accelerate into triple digits, although UMass has slowed it down and kept it in the 60s in their last two wins over Clemson and Eastern Michigan. BYU, however, has a prolific offense at times and has the shooters to space the floor around their bigs like freshman Erik Mika. This will be an interesting matchup for both teams, especially if it gets really uptempo.

MID-MAJOR GAME OF THE DAY: New Mexico State at No. 19 Gonzaga, 11:00 p.m., ESPNU

I’m not sure which New Mexico State team to expect against their biggest test of the season at Gonzaga. Will we see the Aggies that beat UTEP twice or the team that has dropped two straight to Colorado State and New Mexico? Again, New Mexico State doesn’t have many chances to face competition like Gonzaga heading into the WAC and these next two games for them — Arizona follows — could determine how good they can be come March.

FIVE THINGS TO KNOW

1) UNLV is off to a sluggish start at 3-3, but they have enough talent to scare No. 2 Arizona if they so desire. Or this game could get ugly if UNLV doesn’t show up. Can this Runnin’ Rebel team figure things out?

2) The Marquette and Wisconsin rivalry is one of the most underrated rivalries in the country and although the Golden Eagles struggle for points, if they can slow down Wisconsin’s potentially potent offense then they’ll make this a game.

3) An interesting slate of games in the Hy-Vee Big Four Classic as No. 17 Iowa State takes on Northern Iowa and No. 23 Iowa takes on Drake in a doubleheader in Des Moines. The Iowa in-state rivalries on neutral courts between high-major and mid-major programs is great for the fans and should make for some good games.

4) It was awfully tempting to put North Carolina’s home game against UNC Greensboro in the “Who’s getting upset?” column, after the Tar Heels bookended losses to Belmont and UAB following their upset of Louisville. Now that North Carolina knocked off No. 1 Michigan State at home, will they overlook another mid-major opponent?

5) Texas is off to a solid 7-1 start in a year where many media members — myself included — listed Rick Barnes on the hot seat. The Longhorns and their young nucleus will face a tough road test today at Temple for a chance at an 8-1 start.

THE TOP 25:

  • UNLV at No. 2 Arizona, 5:15 p.m., ESPN2
  • Binghamton at No. 4 Syracuse, 7:00 p.m., ESPN3
  • Central Connecticut State at No. 5 Ohio State, 4:30 p.m., BTN
  • No. 6 Kansas at Colorado, 3:15 p.m., ESPN2
  • LA-Lafayette at No. 7 Louisville, 1:00 p.m., ESPN3
  • Marquette at No. 8 Wisconsin, 2:15 p.m., BTN
  • Oral Roberts at No. 11 Wichita State, 8:00 p.m.
  • No. 14 Villanova at St. Joseph, 6:00 p.m., CBSSN
  • Northwestern State at No. 16 Memphis, 1:00 p.m., ESPN3
  • No. 17 Iowa State vs. Northern Iowa, 6:00 p.m.
  • No. 18 UCLA at Missouri, 12:30 p.m., CBS
  • New Mexico State at No. 19 Gonzaga, 11:00 p.m., ESPNU
  • BYU at No. 21 UMass, 1:30 p.m., CBSSN
  • Houston Baptist at No. 22 Michigan 12:00 p.m., BTN
  • No. 23 Iowa vs. Drake, 8:30 pm, BTN2
  • No. 25 Dayton at Illinois State, 8:05 p.m., ESPN3

NOTABLES:

  • Texas at Temple, 12:00 p.m., ESPNU
  • Tennessee Tech at Tennessee, 12:00 p.m., ESPN3
  • Richmond at Wake Forest, 2:00 p.m., ESPN3
  • Eastern Michigan at Purdue, 2:00 p.m., ESPN3
  • New Orleans at Minnesota, 3:00 p.m., ESPN3
  • Marshall at Penn State, 4:00 p.m., ESPN3
  • Virginia at Green Bay, 5:00 p.m., ESPNU
  • UNC Greensboro at North Carolina, 7:00 p.m., ESPNU
  • Alabama at South Florida, 9:00 p.m., ESPNU

No. 5 Xavier stumbles at Creighton, lose 70-54

Creighton's Cole Huff (13) and Toby Hegner, left, guard Xavier's Jalen Reynolds (1) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Omaha, Neb., Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
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Mo Watson went for a career-high 32 points, seven boards and five assists as Creighton jumped out to an early 21-4 lead and never looked back, beating No. 5 Xavier, 70-54, in Omaha on Tuesday night.

 

It was a massive win for the Bluejays, who still have an outside shot at earning an at-large bid this season. (We wrote all about that here.)

As well as Creighton played, the bigger story here may actually be Xavier, who lost for just the third time this season; they had been the only top ten team with just two losses to their name.

The issue for the Musketeers tonight was two-fold, but they both are a symptom of what could be an issue down the road for this team: Xavier doesn’t really have a true point guard.

They certainly didn’t have anyone to stop Watson. By the second half, they had essentially asked Reynolds, who was playing the middle of their 1-3-1 zone to matchup with Watson. It was weird but was actually somewhat effective.

The Musketeers also started out ice cold from the floor, missing 11 of their first 13 shots, and those misses led to leak outs from Bluejays, who got layups and open threes in transition to build that 17 point lead. Once Xavier got behind, it turned into scramble mode for Xavier. They forced shots early in the clock and didn’t start pounding the ball into the paint until it was too late. What they needed was someone to be able to settle things, to ensure that offensive would get initiated and sets would get executed when they were able to get the lead down to single digits.

That 1-for-19 shooting performance from beyond the arc certainly didn’t help matters, and neither did the fact that they got just nine field goals all game from players not named James Farr or Jalen Reynolds. The most frustrating part for head coach Chris Mack? They had good shots. It wasn’t like Creighton took away everything that Xavier wanted to do.

The kids just had one of those nights where nothing went down.

Those happen.

And when you combine them with a total inability to contain the opposing team’s point guard, what you get is a 16 point loss on the road against a team that was desperate to get a good win.

Gill’s 16, ‘D’ lead No. 7 Virginia past Virginia Tech, 67-49

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AP Photo/Andrew Shurtleff
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) Anthony Gill scored 16 points and No. 7 Virginia turned the tables on state rival Virginia Tech with a 67-49 victory Tuesday night, the Cavaliers’ seventh straight.

Isaiah Wilkins added a career-best 14 points and Malcolm Brogdon had 12 for the Cavaliers (20-4, 9-3 Atlantic Coast Conference). Virginia avenged a 70-68 loss to the Hokies in Blacksburg on Jan. 4 in what rates as their worst performance of the season, and extended their winning streak at John Paul Jones Arena to 17 games.

Freshman Justin Robinson scored 16 points and classmate Chris Clarke had 11 in his first action for the Hokies (13-12, 5-7) since breaking his right foot in late December. Virginia Tech’s top two scorers, Zach LeDay (16.0 ppg) and Seth Allen (14.5), were limited to seven and six points, respectively, in part because of foul trouble.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett said his team wasn’t ready to play when it lost to the Hokies earlier, but they have been surging of late and were focused from the outset. They were credited with assists and 14 of their first 15 baskets and forced 10 turnovers in the first half; they forced just eight in the last meeting of the teams.

For most of the game, the Hokies had more turnovers than field goals.

The Cavaliers led 32-20 at halftime and extended their advantage to 47-29 on a three-point play by Mike Tobey with 12:11 remaining. It capped an 11-4 run for Virginia, during which LeDay was whistled for his fourth foul. On Virginia’s next trip down court, it got the ball to Gill inside and LeDay basically backed off and let him score, quickly earning a spot on the bench.

The Cavaliers’ lead never dipped into single digits again.

The Hokies had just eight turnovers and outscored Virginia 26-6 off turnovers in their first meeting. This time, Virginia Tech had 10 turnovers by halftime and the Cavaliers had already turned them into 15 points. Virginia Tech finished with 16 field goals and 15 turnovers.

Already leading 9-6, Virginia got scoring from eight players in a 23-8 run that spanned about 8 1/2 minutes.

Gill started it with a dunk, Brogdon hit a 3-pointer, London Perrantes had a four-point play and Wilkins finished it with two free throws, giving the Cavaliers a 32-14 lead with 2:06 left in the half. They didn’t score again, and the Hokies closed within 32-20 by halftime.

TIP-INS

Virginia Tech: The Hokies shot 57.1 percent (15 of 26) from the field in the second half of their 70-68 victory against Virginia on Jan. 4. … Virginia Tech’s starting five totaled four points in the first half.

Virginia: The Cavaliers have held four consecutive opponents to 50 points or fewer.

UP NEXT

Virginia Tech plays at No. 12 Miami next Wednesday.

Virginia plays at Duke on Saturday.

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The AP’s college basketball page: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org