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Saturday’s College Basketball Recap: Michigan’s win, West Virginia’s loss, Trae Young

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PLAYER OF THE DAY

No. 4 Michigan State has one of, if not the best front line in all of college basketball this season. They are deep, they are talented, they are huge and they are the reason that the Spartans have been one of the best defensive teams in the country this year.

And on Saturday afternoon, Michigan’s Mo Wagner was the best big man on the floor. He finished with 27 points and four boards, shooting 8-for-13 from the floor and 3-for-4 from three, before fouling out. Those stats weren’t without highlights, either. There was this Dirk fadeaway …

… and this move that left Nick Ward on his backside:

The result was an 82-72 win in the Breslin Center, a win that will go down as one of the best wins that anyone lands this season, a win that essentially locks Michigan into an NCAA tournament berth as long as they do what they’re supposed to do the rest of the season.

We went more in-depth on this game here, including some words about Michigan’s defensive improvement and what is wrong with Michigan State.

THE REST OF SATURDAY’S STARS

  • TRAE YOUNG, Oklahoma: Young tied a career-high with 43 points and set career-highs in rebounds (11) and made threes (10) as the No. 16 Sooners beat No. 9 TCU in overtime, 102-97. Oklahoma moved into a four-way tie for first-place in the Big 12 with the win, but the story of this game may actually be TCU. Why? We break it down here.
  • MARVIN BAGLEY III, Duke: It shouldn’t surprise anyone that, in a win over Wake Forest, Bagley went for 30 points, 11 boards and three assists. What is a great sign is that Bagley also added four steals and three blocks. The knock on him is defense. It’s getting better.
  • SHANNON EVANS II, Arizona State: Evans went for 22 points and seven assists, making big play after big play down the stretch, as Arizona State landed themselves a come-from-behind win over Oregon State.
  • DONTE DIVINCENZO, Villanova: DiVincenzo loves playing St. John’s. After torching the Red Storm three times as a freshman, he went for 25 points and a career-high six threes on Saturday night in the Garden as No. 1 Villanova won.
  • SHAI GILGEOUS-ALEXANDER, Kentucky: Gilgeous-Alexander continues to be Kentucky’s best player. He had 22 points and six assists in Saturday’s win at Vanderbilt, including this beautiful assists to Hamidou Diallo for a three with less than two minutes left.

TEAM OF THE DAY

No. 8 Texas Tech did what they needed to do if they want to win the Big 12 regular season title this season: They defended their home court, erasing an 11-point second half deficit to knock off No. 2 West Virginia, 72-71, in Lubbock.

The win is the first that anyone has landed against the Mountaineers since the opening night of the season, when Texas A&M beat them in Germany. It’s the second win that Texas Tech has landed against one of the other top four teams in the Big 12 – they also won at Kansas – and it moved the Red Raiders into a first place tie with West Virginia, No. 9 Oklahoma and No. 12 Kansas.

It’s hard to believe that Chris Beard, in just his second season as head coach at Texas Tech, is doing this despite being just six years removed from getting fired by Texas Tech and being forced to take a job as the head coach of an ABA expansion team.

GAME OF THE DAY

No. 12 Kansas has now beaten Kansas State for the sixth straight game – and the 12th straight game at Allen Fieldhouse – but it didn’t come without a fight. Kansas State had a chance to win the back-and-forth affair at the buzzer, but Barry Brown missed a tough three at the buzzer.

The final score was 73-72. Devonte’ Graham led the way with 23 points and five assists.

The Jayhawks got Silvio De Sousa eligible for the first time this season, but the freshman had a limited impact in his debut.

WTF???? OF THE DAY

Mike Krzyzewski wasn’t the only one that was sick on Saturday.

No. 7 Duke played without their Hall Of Fame head coach when Wake Forest came to town on Saturday, winning 89-71 behind 30 points, 11 boards, four steals, three blocks and three assists from Marvin Bagley III. But Krzyzewski wasn’t the only one that was sick on Saturday. Apparently freshman Gary Trent Jr. was as well, because he spent one TV timeout puking into a bucket while the team managers held up towels around him.

He still finished with 19 points on 6-for-7 shooting from three.

That’s not bad.

WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?

Texas A&M was back to full strength for the first time in ages, and it didn’t matter. The Aggies lost their fifth straight game to open SEC play, falling at No. 24 Tennessee, 75-62.

Allonzo Trier went for 25 points and Deandre Ayton added 24 as No. 17 Arizona survived Oregon, 90-83, in the McKale Center. The Ducks were coming off of a win at No. 11 Arizona State, who erased a 12-point second half deficit to beat Oregon State, 77-75, on Saturday.

Trevon Bluiett and No. 10 Xavier took their frustrations out on No. 25 Creighton, whipping the Bluejays 92-70 in the Cintas Center to snap a two-game losing streak. As Bluiett goes, so goes Xavier, and Bluiett snapped himself out of a dreadful slump with a 24-point performance, hitting 9-for-16 from the floor and 5-for-7 from three.

It looks like Minnesota may have given up on the season. The Golden Gophers suffered their second-worst home loss in the history of their home on Saturday, falling to No. 5 Purdue, 81-47. The only time Minnesota lost by more in their own building came when John Wooden and Lew Alcindor were at UCLA.

T.J. Gibbs had 19 points and six assists as Notre Dame came agonizingly close to beating
No. 20 North Carolina at home on Saturday. They lost 69-68 because this shot rolled out:

Donte Grantham went for 18 points and Marcquise Reed added 16 points as No. 19 Clemson hit 12-for-21 from three in a 72-63 win over No. 18 Miami. The Hurricanes have now lost two of their last three and three of their last six.

No. 22 Auburn improved to 16-1 on the season after landing a come-from-behind win at Mississippi State, 76-68.

Braian Angola went for 24 points and eight assists and Christ Koumadje added 23 points, eight boards and four blocks off the bench for No. 23 Florida State, who overcame 37 Tyus Battle points to beat Syracuse in double-overtime, 101-90.

A 31-10 run midway through the first half turned a 21-10 deficit into a 42-31 lead as No. 13 Seton Hall knocked off Georgetown, 74-61.

No. 5 Wichita State and No. 14 Cincinnati both avoided a road loss in league play, picking up wins at Tulsa and South Florida, respectively.

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.

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

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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.