Late Night Snacks: Villanova, Illinois, Seton Hall win overtime games on New Year’s Eve

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 11 Villanova 76, Butler 73 OT

Where to begin with this one?

Kellen Dunham forced overtime when he connected on a shot with 25 seconds to go in regulation. The Wildcats took a five-point overtime led with 35 second remaining, but free throw woes allowed Butler to make a run. And in Hinkle Fieldhouse, anything can happen, right Gonzaga?

The Bulldogs comeback came up short however. Dunham, who had 22 points scored four points, including a layup with 15 seconds to go to cut the lead to 74-73. Villanova turned the ball over in the back court on the ensuing possession. Butler missed on an attempt, but had another shot to come away with the win, but Villanova forced a turnover on an inbounds pass.

OTHER GAME OF THE DAY: Illinois 83, Indiana 80 OT

The Fighting Illini ended 2013 with a win to begin Big Ten play at home against Indiana. Yogi Ferrell went for a career-high 30 points while the Hoosiers grabbed 12 more rebounds than the Illini and connected on 10-of-22 shots from three. But it was the Illinois defense and the IU turnovers that gave John Groce’s team an 83-80 overtime win. Indiana committed 23 turnovers on the evening. Despite its hot shooting from deep, Indiana went more than 11 minutes without a field goal. The drought began with 6:44 left in regulation and didn’t end until 3.1 seconds left in overtime.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES 

No. 3 Ohio State 78, Purdue 69

Purdue big man A.J. Hammons controlled the inside, something that will give the undersized Buckeyes some trouble as the season progresses, but LaQuinton Ross was too much offensively. The junior wing scored 25 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as No. 3 Ohio State remained unbeaten.

No. 14 Louisville 90, UCF 65

The Cardinals got back on track with its first win in the American Athletic Conference. Russ Smith had 24 points off 6-of-10 3-point shooting and nine assists. Luke Hancock had his best shooting performance of the season, 4-of-9 from deep for 16 points off the bench. As a team, Louisville went 14-of-27 from three.

Houston 75, No. 17 UConn 71

The Huskies let the Cougars get out to a 21-point first half lead. UConn would battle back and erase that deficit in the second half, only to see the comeback win slip away.

Xavier 70, St. John’s 60

The Musketeers won their first game in the Big East over the Johnnies. Semaj Christon went for 10 points, eight assists and five rebounds. Since losing three straight games in three straight games, in as many days, at the Battle 4 Atlantis, Xavier has won six in a row.

STARRED

Rayvonte Rice, Illinois: The transfer guard scored 29 points, recorded eight rebounds and came away with three steals in Illinois’ win over Indiana.

Yogi Ferrell went for 30 points, five assists and four rebounds in a loss

DeAndre Kane, Iowa State: The Cyclones lead guard was two rebounds shy of a triple-double with 16 points, 12 assists and eight boards.

LaQuinton Ross, Ohio State: Ross is averaging 18.0 points per game over his last nine games, including the 25 points he dropped on the Boilermakers.

A.J. Hammons regcorded 18 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks

TaShawn Thomas: Shorthanded Houston got a huge effort from its big man. He scored 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds, connecting on two free throws to give the Cougars the lead and blocked Shabazz Napier’s potential game-tying layup on the other end.

STRUGGLED

Tim Frazier, Penn State: One of the more underrated players in the Big Ten shot 3-of-12 for seven points in Penn State’s loss to No. 5 Michigan State. The Nittany Lions led 47-40 at half, but Frazier only scored two points.

Nebraska offense: The Cornhuskers shot 30 percent for the game (27 in the first half when they trailed on seven) and 5-of-18 from three.

UCF defense: The Golden Knights allowed the Cardinals to jump out to a 23-4 lead in the first eight minutes off the game. Louisville shot 54 percent from the field and 52 percent from behind the arc on the night.

OTHER TOP 25 SCORES

  • No. 2 Syracuse 70, Eastern Michigan 48
  • No. 5 Michigan State 79, Penn State 63
  • No. 7 Duke 86, Elon 48
  • No. 13 Iowa State 99, Northern Illinois 63
  • No. 18 Memphis 88, South Florida 73
  • No. 19 North Carolina 84, UNC-Wilmington 51
  • No. 22 Iowa 67, Nebraska 57

NOTABLE:

  • Creighton 67, Marquette 49
  • Seton Hall 81, Providence 80 2OT
  • Princeton 73, Kent State 68
  • Kansas State 72, George Washington 55
  • Georgetown 62, DePaul 54
  • North Texas 61, Texas A&M 41
  • Pittsburgh 58, Albany 46
  • Richmond 70, Northeastern 66

Player Of The Week: Jock Landale, Saint Mary’s

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Prior to this week, Saint Mary’s season had been defined by a slump at the most inopportune time.

The Gaels lost to both Washington State and Georgia in the Wooden Legacy, the only two non-conference games they played against relevant opponents, and it put the program behind the eight-ball when it came to trying to earn  bid to the NCAA tournament.

What Saint Mary’s needed to do was win at least won – and quite likely two – games against Gonzaga during the WCC regular season. Consider the first step complete. Landale finished with 24 points, 12 boards, three assists and two blocks on Thursday night as Randy Bennett took his team into Spokane and picked off the No. 13 Zags. Saint Mary’s followed that up with a tougher-than-expected win over Pacific where Landale finished with 32 points and seven boards.

All told, Saint Mary’s is now in sole possession of first place in the league and in the midst of a 14 game winning streak, the final four of which all came on the road.

And Landale, who has quietly been one of the most productive and efficient big men in college basketball, led the way once again. He’s now averaging 22.4 points and 10.2 boards for a team that should get ranked in the top 25 this week. He’s very much in consideration for an All-American team now, and I’m not sure that would have been the case without that win on Thursday night.

THE ALL-‘THEY WERE GOOD, TOO’ TEAM

  • SHAKE MILTON, SMU: Milton played the best game of his career in the most important game of the season for the Mustangs, putting 33 points on 11-for-14 shooting and five assists on No. 7 Wichita State and Landry Shamet in a road win. He followed that up with 20 points, five boards and five assists in a win against Tulane.
  • JAMES PALMER, Nebraska: Palmer scored 24 points and hit a game-winning, buzzer-beating three against Illinois, following that up with 19 points, four boards and a pair of assists in a blowout win over No. 23 Michigan.
  • DEAN WADE, Kansas State: The Wildcats put themselves firmly in the NCAA tournament picture with a pair of wins over ranked teams this week, beating No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 24 TCU. Wade, in those two games, averaged 20.5 points, 6.5 boards and 6.5 assists with four steals and two blocks.
  • J.P. MACURA, Xavier: Macura scored 16 points on Wednesday night to help Xavier put away St. John’s before leading the Musketeers with 27 points and five boards in a 73-64 win at No. 19 Seton Hall. The Musketeers had lost their previous two games on the road.
  • PARKER JACKSON-CARTWRIGHT, Arizona: Jackson-Cartwright has gotten plenty of stick this season for his issues on the defensive end of the floor, and it’s not necessarily unfair. But in a game at Stanford with first place in the Pac-12 on the line, Jackson-Cartwright made two massive defensive plays down the stretch to help seal the win.

College Basketball Power Rankings: Kentucky drops out of the Top 25

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I’m not sure that this Kentucky season can be considered a worst-case scenario.

Kentucky fans have seen a worst-case scenario.

That came during the 2012-13 season, when a Wildcat team that was trending towards the back end of the top 25 lost their star center Nerlens Noel to a torn ACL in February, dooming them to the NIT, where they lost in the first round to Robert Morris.

That is a worst-case scenario, and barring something totally unforeseen, this Kentucky team is not going to turn into that Kentucky team.

This group looks much more like the team we saw the following year, the one that featured Julius Randle, James Young, the Harrison twins and Willie Cauley-Stein and entered the NCAA tournament as a No. 8 seed with a 24-10 record before making a run to the national title game. That team had plenty of talent, but they never quite gelled until March.

This year’s team does not have that same level of talent, but they are running into some of the same problems.

The question is whether or not this group actually has the potential to come together and make a run like that 2014 team.

RELATED: Kentucky just is not that good

And frankly, I still think they do. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has emerged as a go-to guy while Kevin Knox had seemingly regained his confidence before a poor performance in the home loss to Florida. Quade Green has returned to the lineup, as has Jarred Vanderbilt, who might be the key to unlock the potential on this roster.

In an ideal world, Kentucky’s length and athleticism allows them to be one of the nation’s best defensive teams while the playmaking of Vanderbilt and Green makes their offense fluid enough that they overcome some of their shooting issues. I can still tell myself a story where Kentucky finds a way to put it all together for six straight games in March.

But that’s not who they are right now.

And with each passing game, I grow less and less confident that the elite will ever come out of this group.

Kentucky is not a top 25 basketball team right now. They are nowhere near one of the favorites to win a national title right now. And, at this point, Kentucky fans would do well to adjust their expectations, as a trip out of the Sweet 16 should be considered a success.

Here is the full top 25.

1. Villanova, 18-1 (Last Week: No. 1)
2. Purdue, 19-2 (2)
3. Virginia, 18-1 (5)
4. Kansas, 16-3 (13)
5. Michigan State, 17-3 (7)
6. Duke, 17-2 (10)
7. West Virginia, 16-3 (4)
8. Arizona, 16-4 (8)
9. Xavier, 18-3 (11)
10. Oklahoma, 14-4 (6)
11. North Carolina, 16-4 (17)
12. Texas Tech, 15-4 (3)
13. Cincinnati, 17-2 (19)
14. Ohio State, 17-4 (22)
15. Auburn, 17-2 (18)
16. Tennessee, 13-5 (23)
17. Wichita State, 15-4 (9)
18. Clemson, 16-3 (20)
19. Saint Mary’s, 19-2 (NR)
20. Gonzaga, 17-4 (16)
21. Nevada, 18-3 (NR)
22. Florida, 14-5 (NR)
23. Rhode Island, 15-3 (NR)
24. Arizona State, 15-4 (14)
25. TCU, 14-5 (25)

DROPPED OUT: No. 12 Seton Hall, No. 15 Kentucky, No. 21 Michigan, No. 24 Miami

NEW ADDITIONS: No. 19 Saint Mary’s, No. 21 Nevada, No. 22 Florida, No. 23 Rhode Island

VIDEO: Northern Colorado wins game with halfcourt buzzer beater

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Northern Colorado knocked off North Dakota on Saturday night thanks to a half court buzzer-beating three from Andre Spight.

Spight is averaging 20.3 points on the season and finished with 34 points and six assists in the 94-91 win.

Clemson’s Grantham tears ACL

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The news on Donte Grantham’s knee was not good.

No. 20 Clemson announced on Sunday morning that Grantham, the team’s second-leading scorer and rebounder, would miss the rest of the season after tearing his ACL in a win over Notre Dame on Saturday.

“I’m disappointed that Donte’s career at Clemson had to end this way,” head coach Brad Brownell said. “He was putting together a terrific season statistically, but he really helps this team is so many ways. He’s been a pleasure to coach and it has been fun to watch him mature and grow into the leader of our program.”

Grantham was averaging 14.2 points and 7.1 boards this year.

The Tigers are 16-3 on the season and in line to make a run at an NCAA tournament bid.

VIDEO: West Virginia honored Andrew Jones before game vs. Texas

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The West Virginia basketball team donned burnt orange ‘Big 12 Strong’ warmup shirts with the No. 1 on the back in honor of Texas point guard Andrew Jones.

Jones was diagnosed with leukemia earlier this month.

Texas Tech also honored Jones before a game this week, and Texas has raised more than $100,000 for his medical expenses.