Austin Hollins

Late Night Snacks: Minnesota holds off Nebraska-Omaha, Princeton proves legitimacy

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Minnesota 92, Nebraska-Omaha 79 — Friday nights in college hoops tend to be quiet, but Minnesota and Omaha put on a show at The Barn tonight with the Gophers holding on for the win. Deandre Mathieu led all scorers with 27 points for Minnesota.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) SMU went on the road and beat Wyoming to improve to 10-2 on the season. This all but concludes the Mustang’s non-conference schedule — they still have a date with Hofstra in mid-January — and now things really begin to ramp up. Their next three: at Cincinnati,vs. Connecticut, at Louisville. SMU is a solid team, but we’ll find out just how good they are during this stretch.

2) Princeton went out west and dismantled a solid Pacific team, 83-58, in the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic. The win pushes the Tigers to 9-1 on the season.

3) For the second time this season, Utah State and UC Santa Barbara did battle, and for the second time the Aggies came out on top. The Gauchos figured to have a better chance this time around as their star player Alan Williams, who missed the first meeting, was back for tonight, but Utah State won 77-71 in overtime. Spencer Butterfield at 31 and 10 in the win.

STARRED

1) Stephen Croone, a 6-foot-0 guard from Furman, had some kind of night going off for 40 points and 11 rebounds in an 86-83 victory against Liberty. Scoring 40 points on just 16 shots is downright efficient. Croone could have had even more if he hit his free throws as he was 13-21.

2) SMU’s bench was the reason for coming away victorious at Wyoming as they combined to score 32 of the Mustangs’ 62 points. Markus Kennedy led the way with 15 point.

3) Marist entered tonight’s game against Bucknell at 1-9, but their record may not be the best indicator of what kind of team the Red Foxes are as six of their losses have come against teams ranked in the Top 100, according to Ken Pomeroy. Marist has won two straight games after thrashing Bucknell, 69-51. Chavaughn Lewis had 19 points, seven rebounds, and five assists in the win.

STRUGGLED

1) Not having played in close to two weeks, Bucknell may have felt the lingering effects of the exam break tonight at Marist. The Red Foxes, who were 1-9 entering the game, jumped out to a 21-3 lead. The closest the Bison would get the rest of the way was 14 points — just a thorough beating.

2) Sacred Heart’s trip out west got more difficult tonight as they lost 82-50 to UNLV. The Pioneers shot just 3-17 3PT and 1-6 FT. They are now 2-10 in Anthony Latina’s first season at the helm.

3) Yale (minus Javier Duren) lost tonight to Albany, 70-62. The loss isn’t necessarily a bad one, but the performance of everyone with the exception of Javier Duren was poor. Duren was 8-15 FG for 26 points, while the rest of the team was 10-42 for 36 points.

Struggles offensively, defensively cost No. 1 Oklahoma at Kansas State

Kansa State forward Wesley Iwundu (25) pulls down a rebound against Mississippi during an NCAA college basketball game in Manhattan, Kansas, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016. (Bo Rader /The Wichita Eagle via AP) LOCAL TELEVISION OUT; MAGS OUT; LOCAL RADIO OUT; LOCAL INTERNET OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT
Bo Rader /The Wichita Eagle via AP
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One of the big questions regarding No. 1 Oklahoma was how they’d handle an off shooting night. On multiple occasions this season the Sooners have managed to win in spite of a subpar effort from one of their guards, thanks in large part to national Player of the Year frontrunner Buddy Hield. But what would they do against a team that managed to limit Hield (by his standards)?

That’s what happened at Kansas State Saturday night, and the Sooners did not have the right answers for the Wildcats on either end of the floor. Wesley Iwundu scored 22 points, dished out seven assists and played excellent defense on Hield throughout the game to lead the way. And freshman forward Dean Wade chipped in with 17 points and seven rebounds off the bench as the Wildcats won by the final score of 80-69.

Hield scored 23 points but did so on 7-for-16 shooting, and a lot of that damage was done during the second half as he scored 17 points during the game’s final 20 minutes. But it wasn’t enough as the Sooners didn’t get much from anyone other than Ryan Spangler (nine points) as they looked to mount a comeback. Jordan Woodard, who’s been a consistent supplementary scoring option this season, went scoreless Saturday and that essentially left Oklahoma with three scorers (Hield, Ryan Spangler and Isaiah Cousins).

It’s highly unlikely that anyone’s going to completely take away Hield; the key there is to make him work for everything he gets and the long, athletic Iwundu managed to do that. But if you can take away one (or more) of Oklahoma’s supplementary scorers you’ve got a shot at knocking them off.

Oklahoma also had issues defensively, as the Wildcats shot 52.9 percent from the field. Iwundu was very good at finding scoring opportunities not only for himself but for his teammates as well, and in the post players such as Wade and B.J. Johnson were effective against Spangler, Khadeem Lattin and Akolda Manyang. Kansas State outplayed Oklahoma in the post, and their execution offensively helped the Wildcats pull off the upset despite committing 15 turnovers.

If not for those turnovers the margin likely would have been worse for Oklahoma, which scored 26 points off of Kansas State turnovers and many of its 15 fast break points came via K-State mistakes. The Sooners are lethal in transition, something we’ve seen on many occasions this season. Kansas State, when they didn’t turn the ball over, kept Oklahoma from running out and finding the quality looks that have made them so successful.

As a result, Bruce Weber’s Wildcats made sure that Hield and his fellow Oklahoma seniors will graduate without a win in Manhattan.

Ryan Anderson, Gabe York pace No. 23 Arizona at Washington

Arizona's Ryan Anderson (12) dunks against Washington State's Conor Clifford (42) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, in Pullman, Wash. Arizona won 79-64. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
College basketball is better when the Arizona-Washington rivalry is relevant, and we got a perfect example of that on Saturday, as No. 23 Arizona landed an important, 77-72 win at Washington in a ugly-but-thrilling game. Washington has one of the nation's most high-octane, uptempo offenses, as Lorenzo Romar does what he can to maximize the pieces that he has on his roster. Andrew Andrews and DeJounte Murray make up one of the nation's most talented backcourts, and when combined with the myriad of athletes of populate the rest of the roster, what you get is a team that is top five in pace, according to KenPom.com. What they don't have is much strength in the paint, and Ryan Anderson took complete advantage of that. The fifth-year senior had arguably his best game as a Wildcats, finishing with 22 points and 15 boards -- eight offensive -- to pace Arizona. Gabe York added 18 points as well, which is a great sign for the Wildcats. The knock on this team has been that they don't have a star or a go-to guy, and two of them stepped up in a tough road game on Saturday. Perhaps more importantly, it was Kadeem Allen that his the biggest shot of the game, hitting a three to break a 70-all tie with a minute left in the game. And should we mention that Allonzo Trier, who was Arizona's leading scorer when he broke his hand a month ago, returned to the lineup? Yeah, we probably should, because Trier is the best one-on-one player that Sean Miller has on his roster. All-in-all, this was a promising road trip for Arizona, who got swept at home by the Oregon schools last weekend. I'm not sure that Arizona, who is still two games back of Oregon in the Pac-12 standings, has a real shot of winning the league's regular season title. But I am sure that, when they're at full-strength and playing well, the Wildcats are good enough to win the Pac-12 tournament and get to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.
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College basketball is better when the Arizona-Washington rivalry is relevant, and we got a perfect example of that on Saturday, as No. 23 Arizona landed an important, 77-72 win at Washington in a ugly-but-thrilling game.

Washington has one of the nation’s most high-octane, uptempo offenses, as Lorenzo Romar does what he can to maximize the pieces that he has on his roster. Andrew Andrews and DeJounte Murray make up one of the nation’s most talented backcourts, and when combined with the myriad of athletes of populate the rest of the roster, what you get is a team that is top five in pace, according to KenPom.com.

What they don’t have is much strength in the paint, and Ryan Anderson took complete advantage of that.

The fifth-year senior had arguably his best game as a Wildcats, finishing with 22 points and 15 boards — eight offensive — to pace Arizona. Gabe York added 18 points as well, which is a great sign for the Wildcats. The knock on this team has been that they don’t have a star or a go-to guy, and two of them stepped up in a tough road game on Saturday.

Perhaps more importantly, it was Kadeem Allen that his the biggest shot of the game, hitting a three to break a 70-all tie with a minute left in the game.

And should we mention that Allonzo Trier, who was Arizona’s leading scorer when he broke his hand a month ago, returned to the lineup? Yeah, we probably should, because Trier is the best one-on-one player that Sean Miller has on his roster.

All-in-all, this was a promising road trip for Arizona, who got swept at home by the Oregon schools last weekend.

I’m not sure that Arizona, who is still two games back of Oregon in the Pac-12 standings, has a real shot of winning the league’s regular season title.

But I am sure that, when they’re at full-strength and playing well, the Wildcats are good enough to win the Pac-12 tournament and get to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.