PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Boston College sophomore guard Ky Bowman played completely out of his mind on Saturday. The catalyst for the Eagles in a stunning home win over No. 1 Duke, Bowman finished with 30 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, coming just short of a triple-double against a roster full of future NBA players.
Bowman is a North Carolina native. He was passed over by the Tobacco Road juggernauts – and every ACC member south of Massachusetts – so games like this give him the proverbial chip-on-the-shoulder. But this game isn’t simply explained by a kid being mad that a one-and-done factory didn’t want him. Bowman, and his backcourt partner Jerome Robinson, can outplay any pair of guards on a given night, and Saturday was another example of that.
As good as Bowman was, dare I say Arizona’s Deandre Ayton was better? The big fellas went for 29 points and 18 boards on 12-for-18 shooting on Saturday night as the Wildcats held off a scrappy Alabama team that got 30 points out of Collin Sexton. Ayton was playing a different level of basketball in this one, but perhaps the most impressive part of this performance was that he sealed the game with a pair of mid-range jumpers in the final two minutes.
Ayton is a physical freak. He stature on the floor and in the paint is eerily reminiscent of Greg Oden, the former Ohio State star.
The difference, however, is on the offensive end of the floor. While Ayton has the physical tools to one day figure out how to be the defensive presence that Oden, his skill set offensively is on a much higher level.
THE REST OF SATURDAY’S STARS
- Landry Shamet, Wichita State: Shamet had a career-high 30 points while adding five assists as the No. 6 Shockers overcame a slow-start to beat Oklahoma State in Stillwater, 78-66.
- Luwane Pipkins, UMass: Pipkins popped off for 30 points to lead the Minutemen to a 72-63 win over Providence in Amherst.
- Tayler Persons, Ball State: After knocking off Notre Dame earlier this week with a huge three-pointer, Persons hit another game-winning three-pointer to knock off Valparaiso. He finished with 23 points, five rebounds and five assists.
TEAM OF THE DAY
Arkansas bounced back from an embarrassing loss at Houston last weekend in emphatic fashion. Beating Colorado State was one thing, but Saturday’s performance against No. 14 Minnesota is another. The Razorbacks jumped all over the Gophers early and never allowed Minnesota to truly get back into the game, running away late to win 95-79. Jaylen Barford led the way with 22 points, four boards and four assists, while Daniel Gafford chipped in with 16 points (on 8-for-8 shooting) to go along with seven boards and six blocks. This was the last chance that the Razorbacks had at landing a quality non-conference win, and they did not miss.
GAME OF THE DAY
No. 5 Florida dispatched No. 17 Cincinnati, 66-60, in a physical, entertaining game in the nightcap of the Never Forget Classic in Newark, New Jersey, on Saturday night. Florida has been must-see TV all season long, but this performance was different than the way that they’ve played much of the year. Florida averaged 24 threes per game entering Saturday. They only took one in the first ten minutes. Florida has struggled on the defensive end of the floor for much of the first month of the season. They held a good Cincinnati team to just 60 points on Saturday. But most importantly, at least in the mind of Mike White and Chris Chiozza, Florida got back to sharing the ball.
So while this wasn’t a double-overtime game that reached the triple-digits, this was a tense, hard-fought game between two really good, well-coached teams. Florida won.
WTF???? OF THE DAY
Boston College beating Duke doesn’t count?
Then how about this: Middle Tennessee State picked off Ole Miss at home on Saturday. It was their second-straight win over an SEC opponent and their fifth straight win over teams from the league in the last three seasons. Both of those years, the Blue Raiders won a game in the NCAA tournament, beating No. 2 seed Michigan State in 2016 and No. 5 seed Minnesota in 2017.
MTSU gets Auburn next. At some point, you’d think SEC schools would want to stop scheduling Kermit Davis’ team and just hire him instead.
WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?
Michigan rallied in the second half to pick up an overtime home win over UCLA as Moritz Wagner paced the Wolverines with 23 points. Charles Matthews also broke out of a recent mini slump to finished with 20 points for Michigan despite only going 2-for-10 from the free-throw line.
No. 3 Michigan State struggled but used a late run to put away Southern Utah.
No. 8 Kentucky cruised past Monmouth in Madison Square Garden as the Wildcats had five players finish in double-figures. Freshman guard Hamidou Diallo paced Kentucky’s offense with 23 points while freshman forward P.J. Washington added 20 points.
Jevon Carter finished with 19 points, nine assists and six boards, for No. 18 West Virginia, but the Mountaineers never really put away a struggling Pitt team, winning just 69-60 despite holding an 18-point first half lead.
We don’t typically see beatdowns like this in this rivalry but Marquette cruised to an 82-63 road win over in-state rival Wisconsin. With the Badgers dinged up in the backcourt, the Golden Eagles took advantage with big games from Andrew Rousey (24 points) and Markus Howard (23 points). Marquette has now won four of its last six games in the Kohl Center.
Speaking on in-state rivalries, Creighton outlasted Nebraska for a home win as five players finished in double-figures. Marcus Foster led the Bluejays with 19 points, scoring 17 in the second half. .
In a game that was close until the end, Louisville was able to hold off Indiana for a home win. Deng Adel led a balanced effort with 16 points for the Cardinals as they held the Hoosiers to 21 percent three-point shooting.