Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Saturday Recap: Duke, Kentucky, Trae Young all go down

2 Comments

PLAYER OF THE DAY

This was a game that No. 10 Kansas was supposed to lose. With Billy Preston still ineligible and Silvio De Sousa still awaiting clearance from the NCAA, a night where Udoka Azubuike picked up five fouls in just 13 minutes of action was supposed to be a night where the Jayhawks simply did not have enough size or enough depth to beat a good basketball team, let alone a good basketball team on the road.

But that’s exactly what the Jayhawks did.

Kansas knocked off No. 16 TCU in Fort Worth, 88-84, and they did so because Mitch Lightfoot played the game of his life. I’ve been hard on Mitch, questioning whether or not Kansas was actually a good team when one half of their front court rotation was the former three-star prospect. I’ll eat those words with a size of queso after he went for nine points, seven boards (six offensive) and six blocks on Saturday.

Lightfoot was terrific. Not only did he provide energy on the glass and some rim protection, he also knocked down a three and a 15-footer. If and when De Sousa (and/or Preston) get eligible, this provides Kansas with even more lineup versatility.

Mitch, consider this my humble apology.

THE REST OF SATURDAY’S STARS

  • JEVON CARTER, DARIUS MILES and JAMES BOLDEN, West Virginia: Those three did the heavy lifting against Trae Young as the No. 7 Mountaineers knocked off No. 6 Oklahoma.
  • VINCE EDWARDS, Purdue: Edwards doesn’t get anywhere near enough attention nationally. He finished with 21 points, 10 boards and six assists on Saturday as the No. 13 Boilermakers beat Nebraska 74-62.
  • DEVONTE’ GRAHAM, Kansas: Lightfoot made the plays defensively, Graham did offensively. He finished with 28 points and six assists.
  • TREMONT WATERS, LSU: Waters finished with 21 points, five boards and four assists in a win at No. 11 Texas A&M, but that’s not the full story: He also hit two threes in the final 12 seconds, including the buzzer-beater you see below, for the win.

TEAM OF THE DAY

No. 23 Tennessee’s season was getting ready to go off the rails. The Vols had were coming off of a loss at home to Auburn which came just days after they blew a lead at Arkansas, losing in overtime. That came a couple of weeks after they choked away a home win over North Carolina, and in the second week of the season, Tennessee blew a 14-point lead against Villanova.

That seemed like it was going to be the story of the season for the Vols, particularly if they lost at home to No. 17 Kentucky on Saturday evening. That would have dropped Tennessee to 0-3 in the SEC and 10-5 overall.

Then Saturday happened. Admiral Schofield went for 20 points, nine boards, four assists and four steals while Grant Williams chipped in with 18 points, eight boards and four assists as Tennessee landed a much-needed win. With a trip to Vanderbilt and a home game against a presumably healthy Texas A&M team coming up next week, this was a must-win.

And instead of blowing a lead down the stretch, Tennessee ran away with a 76-65 win.

 

GAME OF THE DAY

No. 21 Seton Hall won a thriller at Butler on Saturday, coming from 11 points down to knock off the Bulldogs in Hinkle behind 28 points, 15 boards and six assists from Angel Delgado and 29 points from Khadeen Carrington. All the details are here.

WTF???? OF THE DAY

Colorado completed a sweep of the Arizona schools on Saturday, jumping out to a massive lead on No. 14 Arizona and holding on to beat the Wildcats down the stretch.

We told you everything you need to know about the actual game itself here.

Let’s talk about what happened after.

First, Colorado head coach Tad Boyle was asked if there was any extra satisfaction in beating a team like Arizona, which was caught up in the FBI investigation in September.

“Absolutely,” he told reporters, adding he had great respect for Sean Miller. “They recruit very, very well. USC has recruit very, very well. The two most talented teams in our league from top to bottom are USC and Arizona. So, hell, yes, there’s extra satisfaction.”

Miller’s quote, while having nothing to do with Boyle’s, were equally as interesting.

“I can’t get them to play hard,” Miller said. “I really can’t. We do it for a while. I know we’ve had a win streak and we also have a good team. We have a lot of talent. A lot of times our offense can get us to the finish line, but you have to be able to play both offense and defense. And any really good team or good program, you’re going to have those days (when) the ball doesn’t go in, but you rely on your effort and your togetherness and maybe your defense to maybe keep you in the game.

“With our team, man, it’s really hard to get our guys to run as fast as they can. And that’s not them. That’s me. I have a hard time reaching our guys.”

WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?

Mustapha Heron finished with 17 points and six boards while Jared Harper chipped in with 14 points and eight assists as Auburn landed their second-straight win over a ranked team on Saturday, knocking off No. 22 Arkansas, 88-77. The Tigers were up by as many as 23 points, taking a 17-point lead into the half and cruising in the second half. This win comes just three days after Auburn beat No. 23 Tennessee in Knoxville. Suddenly, Auburn is sitting at 14-1 overall and 2-0 in the SEC while playing as well as any team in the SEC. It begs the question: Can this Auburn actually win the conference?

The easiest bet in sports is any team that is hosting a team coached by Mike Anderson. The second easiest bet is Virginia against North Carolina. The No. 8 Cavaliers beat the No. 12 Tar Heels, 61-49, today.

Florida‘s Chris Chiozza had the play of the day.

Jalen Brunson had 27 points and eight assists as No. 3 Villanova knocked off Marquette. Markus Howard, one game after going for 52 points, had 37 points and eight assists.

Providence got 19 points and nine assists from Kyron Cartwright as they landed a critical win over No. 5 Xavier. The Friars entered the night 10-6 overall, having lost two in a row without anything close to a marquee win on their résumé. The Musketeers had been flirting with a loss like this for a few weeks.

Marcquise Reed finished with 24 points, five steals and three assists as No. 25 Clemson knocked off Louisville in overtime, 74-69. The Tigers are now 14-1 on the season with their only loss coming to Temple on a neutral court.

Keenan Evans had 27 points as No. 18 Texas Tech blew out Kansas State. The Red Raiders look like they might be the best team in the Big 12 right now.

The Burn Offense is back! Notre Dame executed it to perfection in Mike Brey’s first win at Syracuse since 2007.

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

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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

Screengrab via @BigSkyMBB
Leave a comment

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

Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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

Screengrab via CBS
Leave a comment

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.

Saturday College Basketball Recap: No. 7 Wichita State, No. 8 Texas Tech lose

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
2 Comments

PLAYER OF THE DAY

It’s hard to argue with the performance that J.P. Macura had on Saturday. No. 11 Xavier went into Newark and knocked off No. 19 Seton Hall, 73-64, behind 27 points, five boards and three assists from Macura.

This win was particularly important for Xavier, who remain just a game out of first place in the Big East and in great position to make a run at getting a top three seed, which would mean they likely won’t have to play Villanova until the Big East title game. The loss is the second in a row for Seton Hall and the their third loss in four games.

THE REST OF SATURDAY’S STARS

  • CARSEN EDWARDS, Purdue: Edwards finished with 22 points, eight assists, two steals and no turnovers as the No. 3 Boilermakers blew out Iowa on the road.
  • MALIK NEWMAN, Kansas: Newman finished with 24 points and seven boards, including a personal 7-0 run with three minutes left to help No. 10 Kansas remain in sole possession of first place in the Big 12 with a 70-67 win over Baylor.
  • BRYCE BROWN, Auburn: Brown finished with 28 points as Auburn erased a 14-point halftime deficit to knock off Georgia 79-65 and remain within a game of first-place in the SEC.
  • DEAN WADE, Kansas State: In a win over No. 24 Kansas State, TCU’s second-straight win over a ranked team, Wade went for 20 pints, six boards, six assists, two blocks and two steals.

TEAM OF THE DAY

Houston landed themselves their first marquee win of the season as they pounded No. 7 Wichita State in Houston, 73-59. Rob Gray led the way with 24 points and four assists, putting the Cougars in a position where earning an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament is feasible. There is still plenty of work left to do, but this is the start they needed.

The bigger question mark, however, is Wichita State, who also lost at home to SMU this week. The Shockers are nowhere near as good as many expected them to be. Their offense isn’t good enough to make up for the fact that they aren’t guarding anyone.

GAME OF THE DAY

Trae Young went for 48 points, 34 of which came after halftime as the Sooners erased a 19-point deficit, but thanks to a Kendall Smith three at the end of regulation, this game went into overtime. Young had shots at the buzzer in regulation and in overtime to win the game and missed both, as the Pokes escaped with an 83-81 win.

Young needed 39 shots to get those 48 points. We went through whether or not that is too many shots for him here.

WTF???? OF THE DAY

Iowa State, who can’t guard anyone and is probably the worst team in the Big 12 this season, knocked off No. 8 Texas Tech, 70-52. The Red Raiders have now lost three of their last four games – all of which came on the road – after winning at Kansas. Texas Tech is also now just 1-3 in the four games since Zach Smith broke his foot, but they also beat Baylor by 24 points and won at Kansas when Smith played 10 total minutes.

So you explain Texas Tech to me. Because I don’t get it.

WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?

The Florida Gators moved into sole possession of first place in the SEC thanks to a 66-64 win at No. 18 Kentucky on Saturday. It was hardly a pretty game – Florida shot 33 percent from the floor and 6-for-30 from three – but the Gators were able to hang on thanks to a questionable no-call in the final seconds.

No. 20 Clemson held on to beat Notre Dame at home on Saturday, 67-58, but missing out on a commitment from Zion Williamson wasn’t the only bad news of the day. Star forward Donte Grantham went down with a knee injury midway through the second half. He averages 14.3 points and 7.1 boards. Losing him would be disastrous for the Tigers.

No. 14 Arizona had to rally down the stretch, but the Wildcats did. Trailing by as many as 11 points late in the second half at Stanford, the Wildcats survived as Dorian Pickens missed a three at the buzzer. The win puts Arizona all alone in first place in the Pac-12.

Jalen Brunson scored 23 points and Donte DiVincenzo added 17 points off the bench as No. 1 Villanova blew out UConn in Hartford, 81-61.

No. 13 Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s both won, meaning that the Gaels still hold a one game lead over the Zags in the WCC. Nevada knocked off Boise State, giving the Wolf Pack a two-game lead in the Mountain West.

At this point, Pitt barely counts as ACC competition. But they are and No. 5 Duke beat them 81-54 tonight.

Jevon Carter went for 22 points and eight assists as No. 6 West Virginia knocked off Texas, 86-51. The game was closer than the final score indicates, as the Mountaineers pulled away late.

The star of the day for No. 12 Cincinnati was Gary Clark, who finished with 14 points, 14 boards, two assists, two steals and two blocks, in an 86-60 win over East Carolina.

Luke Maye went for 17 points and 11 boards to lead four players in double figures as No. 15 North Carolina held on to beat Josh Pastner and Georgia Tech, 80-66.

It ended up not being much of a game when the Big Ten invaded Madison Square Garden as No. 22 Ohio State put a beating on Minnesota, 67-49. Minnesota lost Jordan Murphy to an ankle injury in the game as well.