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Late Night Snacks: San Diego State holds off Colorado State on the road

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 21 San Diego State 71, Colorado State 61

Xavier Thames continued his terrific play, going for 23 points, and Winston Shepard added 17 points as the Aztecs went into the always-difficult Moby Arena and knocked off a rebuilding Colorado State team, 71-61. It was a big win for a San Diego State team off to their second-best start in school history, as they locked up a league win in their first game of the season and did it in one of the toughest road environs in the conference. It could have been easy for the Aztecs to overlook this game as well. SDSU heads to Lawrence on Sunday to take on Kansas in a game with massive implications not only for the Aztecs but for the Mountain West as well. The league didn’t do all that well in the non-conference portion of the schedule, and picking of a team like Kansas — a Big 12 favorite that’s only going to get better as the season goes — would be a huge boost for their computer numbers.

STARRED

1) Willis Hall went for 26 points and 21 boards as Charleston picked up a huge road win at Davidson. Those 21 rebounds tied Hall for the second-highest total in a game this season. Roscoe Smith of UNLV and Brandon West of Jackson State both snatched 22 boards in a game this season. The last time someone had that many boards and that many points in a game came on November 24th when Stony Brook’s Jameel Warney finished with 32 points and 21 boards in an overtime win against Detroit. The last time it happened in a game in regulation was when Yale’s Greg Mangano went for 35 points and 21 boards in a win over St. Joseph’s (NY) in January of 2012. The last time it happened in a game against a Division I program was when Thomas Robinson had 30 points and 21 boards on New Year’s Eve in 2011 against North Dakota.

2) Justin Jackson was a fantasy dream on Wednesday night. In Cincinnati’s 65-57 win over SMU, Jackson finished with 17 points, six boards, five blocks, five steals and three assists.

3) Bryce Dejean-Jones had 24 points and six boards and Khem Birch went from 14 points, 17 boards and four blocks in a 75-62 win for UNLV against Fresno State.

STRUGGLED

1) Olivier Hanlan went 3-for-12 from the floor and committed three turnovers as Boston College got smacked around by Harvard on Wednesday night.

2) Langston Hall was 1-for-8 from the floor and had just four points as Atlantic Sun favorite Mercer lost at North Florida, 89-83.

3) Playing their first game without Daniel Dingle, Anthony Lee was just 3-for-15 from the floor as Temple lost to Rutgers 71-66 in their American opener.

NOTABLES

  • Utah State, playing without Jarred Shaw, lost to Air Force, 73-72. That’s a bad loss in what is supposed to be the easy road trip leg in the MWC.
  • Dayton put five players in double-figures as they beat Winthrop by 34.
  • Brett Comer scored 24 points as FGCU moved to 2-0 in Atlantic Sun play and took a one game lead over Mercer.

VIDEO: Winthrop’s Keon Johnson goes coast-to-coast for buzzer-beater

Winthrop's Keon Johnson (5) shoots a layup while defended by Coastal Carolina's Warren Gillis during the first half of the Big South Conference Championship college basketball game Sunday, March 8, 2015, in Conway, S.C. Coastal Carolina won 81-70. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
(AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
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Winthop earned a Big South road win at Radford on Saturday afternoon as junior guard Keon Johnson raced coast-to-coast and buried the game-winner at the buzzer.

The 5-foot-7 Johnson erupted for 32 points in the win and he’s been one of the most potent mid-major scorers in the country this season. The win moves Winthrop to 18-7 on the season and their 10-4 mark in the Big South ties them with UNC Asheville atop the conference standings.

(H/T: LiveonASN)

After blowout of South Carolina, is No. 22 Kentucky a Final Four contender?

Kentucky guard Tyler Ulis (3) guards the ball after a rebound during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Auburn, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Auburn, Ala. Auburn won 75-70. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
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It only took 2:26 for official Doug Sirmons to plant two technical fouls on Kentucky head coach John Calipari, and that may have been the worst thing that could have happened to South Carolina.

He poked the bear, and the result was that a ticked off No. 22 Wildcat team proceeded to run the Gamecocks out of their own gym, 89-62.

The star of the show was interim head coach Tyler Ulis, who put together as dominating of a performance as you’ll ever see out of a player that stands 5-foot-9. Ulis finished with 27 points and 12 assists, hitting 4-for-8 from three and turning the ball over just once.

Marcus Lee added 11 points and 13 boards, including six on the offensive end, and Jamal Murray had his customary 26 points on 9-for-21 shooting, but the story of this game was Ulis.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seed a player under 6-foot capable of dominating a game the way that Ulis can dominate. Murray can take over with the best of them — we saw it against Florida and Ohio State — but when it comes to the NCAA tournament, this Kentucky team will go as far as Ulis carries them.

And based on the way that he’s played in the last six weeks, that could end up being pretty far. In SEC play, Ulis is averaging 19.4 points and 7.6 assists. He’s scored at least 17 points in 12 of the last 14 games and has notched as least five assists in all 14. He just orchestrated a total mollywhopping of a Frank Martin-coached team that was tied for first place in the SEC while playing without his head coach and on the road.

The issue with Kentucky is the same today as it was a month ago. They’re a two-man team with an inconsistent supporting cast. When their two studs play like this, they can beat anyone in the country. When they don’t, they can struggle against anyone.

But here’s the thing: When Ulis is playing the way that he’s played of late, they don’t really need all that much from their supporting cast. Derek Willis needs to be able to space the floor. Lee and Skal Labissiere need to be able to hold their own against opposing big men.

And when that happens?

Kentucky is clearly the best team in the SEC and good enough to be able to win four straight in the Big Dance and get to a Final Four.