Rob Dauster

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Saturday’s College Basketball Recap: Virginia wins, Kentucky comes back, UNC and Duke lost at home



Kevin Knox finally looked like the guy that everyone has been talking about as a potential top ten pick.

He went for 34 points on Saturday night, leading Kentucky back from a 17-point deficit with 17 minutes left in the game as the Wildcats knocked off No. 7 West Virginia in Morgantown.

The big question for Kentucky now is whether or not this is something that the program is going to be able to build off of this season. They finally — finally — look like they’re on the right track.


  • KEENAN EVANS, Texas Tech: He finished with 31 points as the No. 14 Red Raiders landed a come-from-behind win at South Carolina.
  • MARVIN BAGLEY III, Duke: It was in a losing effort, but Bagley still finished with 30 points and 14 boards. His season has been overshadowed by Trae Young, but he’s been fantastic.
  • HERB JONES, Alabama: Jones had 14 points, five boards, three assists, two steals and a block off the bench for the Crimson Tide, but he’s listed here because of the work he did defending Trae Young down the stretch of a win over the No. 12 Oklahoma Sooners.
  • AL FREEMAN, N.C. State: A career-high 29 points on 7-for-7 shooting from three in a game where you win in the Dean Dome? Not bad at all.


No. 2 Virginia is in total control of the ACC title race, as they went into Cameron Indoor Stadium and knocked off No. 4 Duke despite the fact that Bagley went off for 30 points and 14 boards. Sophomores Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome both his massive shots for the Wahoos down the stretch of this one.

Who would have thought five years ago that Virginia would be on the verge of their third ACC title in five years.


The N.C. State Wolfpack landed their third elite win of the season on Saturday as they went into the Dean Dome and upset No. 10 North Carolina in an overtime thriller.

Allerik Freeman led the way with 29 points and made all seven of his threes. N.C. State looks like they are going to be on the verge of getting into the NCAA tournament.


This is what Texas forward Dylan Osetkowski looks like now:

That’s … interesting.

And apparently he has more coming.


Alabama landed a critical win over No. 12 Oklahoma and Collin Sexton outplayed Trae Young. Much more on that game can be found here.

Svi Mykhailiuk scored 24 points and No. 5 Kansas shot 12-for-26 from three as they smacked around Texas A&M in Phog Allen Fieldhouse. The Aggies have now lost seven of nine.

No. 11 Arizona tried their damnedest to give a game away against Utah in the McKale Center, but they couldn’t do it, hanging on to win 74-73 despite blowing a 13-point second half lead.

Mustapha Heron had 21 points, nine boards, two assists and two steals as No. 19 Auburn continued their winning ways, beating LSU 95-70.

No. 24 Rhode Island is still undefeated in the Atlantic 10 because Stanford Robinson did this:

Kentucky’s come-from-behind win at No. 7 West Virginia a turning point in their season?

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Kentucky is 21 games and 78 days into the 2017-18 season, and for the first time we can definitely say that we’ve seen why this group can get to a Final Four.

Down by 17 points with 17 minutes left, playing against No. 7 West Virginia on the road, having turned the ball over 10 times in the first 10 minutes of the game, the Wildcats looked dead in the water.

And then proceeded to reel off a 21-2 run, pulling away down the stretch on the back of 34 points from Kevin Knox in an 83-76 win over the Mountaineers.

It was one of the most surprising and unexpected come-from-behind wins that I can remember seeing, and the question now becomes whether or not this was a fleeting moment of greatness in an otherwise underwhelming season for the Wildcats, or if this was ‘the moment,’ the turning point for a young-but-talented, flawed-but-still-learning roster.

And that is a question that I don’t think we’ll have an answer to anytime soon, which is part of the intrigue here.

For the first time since John Calipari showed up in Lexington, Kentucky feels like a team of underdogs. Yes, this is a roster that is full of five-star recruits and has a handful of players that will likely end up playing in the NBA. I understand that. They are never going to be a Cinderella. This is not the plot of Hoosiers.

But not all five-star prospects are created equal. Some are Marvin Bagley III or Deandre Ayton or Trae Young, and some are guys that need some seasoning before their find their footing at this level, guys like Nick Richards, or Wenyen Gabriel, or Hamidou Diallo or, hell, everyone on this Kentucky roster, save for maybe Knox.

In hindsight, it was silly to think that this group would dominate this season. An uninspiring start to the year led to an unimpressive non-conference slate which led to SEC play, where Kentucky lost three of their first seven games, and we should have seen it coming. Many did, but not to this extent. As the weeks passed, it looked more and more like this was just who Kentucky was.

Which led us to Saturday’s second half, where the youngest team in the country, a team that hasn’t handled pressure well, a team that turns the ball over on more than 20 percent of their possessions was down by 17 on the road in one of college basketball’s best environments against Press Virginia.

And they won.

If Kentucky’s season was the plot of a movie, this would be the turning point.

Knox, the guy that entered the program with all the hype in the world, finally played like a superstar. Gabriel proved to the college basketball world just how important he is to this team, with his energy and leadership. Jarred Vanderbilt showed off the dynamic he can bring to this team. Richards, who has spent the last two and a half months looking somewhere between lost and clueless, powered home the tip-dunk that sealed the win.

In that movie, the next five minutes would be a montage of powerful dunks and swished threes as the Wildcats won game after game before a dramatic victory at the end of the movie sending them to the Final Four with a win over their nemesis, those Big Bad Duke Blue Devils.

Saturday in Morgantown was the “left side, strong side” scene in Remember The Titans. It was the moment when Billy Hoyle and Sidney Dean realized they could win $5,000 if the played in that 2-on-2 tournament together in White Men Can’t Jump.

Whether or not that is how this narrative plays out remains to be seen.

West Virginia has now lost four of their last five games, and in three of those losses they led by double-figures in the second half.

Maybe Kentucky just got West Virginia at the right time.

Only time will tell us the truth.

But I will say this: I’m entirely more intrigued in how Kentucky’s season will play out than I was 12 hours ago.

And hopefully, Big Blue Nation didn’t abandon ship when I did.

Clark, Evans lead No. 9 Cincinnati past Memphis 62-48

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Gary Clark had 18 points and nine rebounds, Jacob Evans added 14 points — including a pair of 3-pointers to break Cincinnati out of a second-half shooting slump — as the No. 9 Bearcats defeated Memphis 62-48 on Saturday for their 12th straight victory.

The Bearcats (19-2, 8-0 American Athletic Conference) used a stingy defense to hold Memphis to 31.1 percent shooting for the game, including converting only three of 17 shots from outside the arc.

Jeremiah Martin led the Tigers (13-8, 4-4) with 20 points, while Kareem Brewton Jr. finished with 10 for Memphis.

Memphis, which struggled offensively in the first half and trailed 34-21 at intermission, managed to put a dent in the Bearcats’ advantage in the early stages of the second half. Cincy missed its first five shots, leading to a timeout from Bearcats coach Mick Cronin, when the Tigers crept back to within 34-28.

Eventually, the Bearcats would miss 10 of their first 11, allowing Memphis to creep back in. The Tigers would get as close as 36-32.

At that point, the Bearcats converted four 3-pointers, including two by Evans, part of crafting a 15-2 rally to put the game away.


Cincinnati: The Bearcats have held opponents under 70 points in their last eight games and made shots difficult for Memphis most of the night. During their winning streak, the Bearcats have defeated all but one opponent by double-digits.

Memphis: The Tigers really struggled offensively in the first half. The Tigers couldn’t get anything going early because of a pressing Bearcats defense that caused four quick turnovers. The Bearcats continually took Memphis out of any flow in the first half, leaving the Tigers stuck under 30 percent shooting at the latter stages of the first half. Those shooting woes contributed to a stretch of more than 5 minutes without Memphis scoring as Cincinnati had 12 straight points.

Heron scores 21 points, No. 19 Auburn routs LSU 95-70

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AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — After coming out flat in its previous two home games, Auburn gave the crowd plenty to cheer about right from the start Saturday.

Mustapha Heron had 21 points on 8-for-10 shooting as No. 19 Auburn cruised to a 95-70 win over LSU, maintaining sole possession of first place in the Southeastern Conference.

Bryce Brown scored 15 points and DeSean Murray had 18 points and eight rebounds for Auburn (19-2, 7-1 SEC). Heron also grabbed eight boards.

Auburn held LSU point guard Tremont Waters to four points on 1-of-7 shooting. Waters entered averaging 15.7 points and an SEC-high six assists per game. But he committed six turnovers and didn’t make his first field goal until midway through the second half.

“(Waters) didn’t know what to do,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “We paid a lot of attention to him and made sure that we covered him on both sides of the ball screen.”

Duop Reath was a force inside for LSU (12-8, 3-5) and finished with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Randy Onwuasor added 14 points.

“We got whipped every way you can get whipped. Absolutely bludgeoned,” LSU coach Will Wade said. “Auburn played fantastic. Coach Pearl had them ready to play. The crowd and the environment was tremendous. We didn’t respond like we needed to.”

Auburn put a quick end to its recent trend of slow starts with an 18-2 run early in the first half as Heron scored 16 points in five minutes to begin the game. Auburn hit 11 3-pointers in the opening half and led by 19 after 20 minutes.

Auburn shot 55 percent and led by as many as 32. The Tigers outrebounded LSU 38-24.

“I thought we did a good job,” Pearl said. “LSU was 11-1 when they outrebound their opponent. So we knew we had to fly around a little bit.”


LSU: Lost for the third time in the last four games. LSU hasn’t been able to build on its upset of then-No. 11 Texas A&M on Jan. 6.

Auburn: Another impressive victory in a dream season so far. Auburn Arena has become one of the toughest places to play in the SEC, and the Tigers have yet to lose at home this season. Saturday marked the third straight game in which Auburn reached 50 points by halftime. The Tigers are on pace to be the SEC’s highest-scoring team since Kentucky in 1996.

No. 11 Arizona holds on to beat Utah 74-73

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TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona watched all of its 13-point lead over Utah disappear. Someone needed to step up and make a shot.

Of course it was Dusan Ristic, the Wildcats’ 7-foot big man, on a contested 3-pointer.

Ristic, 0 for 5 on the season from the arc, hit a 3-pointer in the final two minutes and made all three of his attempts while scoring 23 points, helping No. 11 Arizona hold off Utah 74-73 on Saturday.

“I made two before and I was confident enough to take it,” said Ristic, who eclipsed 1,000 career points with his final 3. “I usually don’t take those, even in practice.”

Despite playing without sophomore guard Rawle Alkins (foot) for the third time in four games, Arizona (18-4, 8-1 Pac-12) appeared to be in control after Ristic’s 3-pointer and two free throws put the Wildcats up four.

Utah rallied from a 13-point, second-half deficit and made it interesting at the end, pulling within 74-73 on Justin Bibbins’ 3-pointer with 4.3 seconds left, then got the ball back after Arizona’s Allonzo Trier was called for an offensive foul before the ball was inbounded.

The Utes (12-9, 4-5) passed the ball inside to Donnie Tillman, but he was unable to hit a contested shot. Arizona’s Keanu Pinder then missed a free throw with 0.3 seconds left and David Collette was well short on a desperation shot from the opposite free throw line.

Sedrick Barefield led Utah with 26 points and keyed a 12-0 second-half run that pushed the Utes into the lead.

“We made enough shots to make it interesting in the end,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “It was a heck of a game and it’s unfortunate anybody has to lose.

Utah avenged an earlier loss on Thursday by knocking off No. 21 Arizona State. Barefield hit a 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds left and the Utes didn’t miss a shot in overtime in the 80-77 victory.

Arizona won the first meeting with Utah 94-82 in Salt Lake City on Jan. 4. Alkins had 22 points in that one, but was in street clothes for the rematch.

The Wildcats didn’t seem to miss their emotional leader, jumping out with a 14-4 run while hitting their first six shots.

The Utes gathered themselves after the early Arizona onslaught and quieted the rowdy McKale Center crowd — at least a little — with a 9-0 run to pull within 31-27 late in the first half.

Arizona kept hitting shots, though, and held Utah scoreless over the final 4:35 to lead 43-33 at halftime. The Wildcats went 16 for 23 from the floor, including 7 of 9 from the 3-point arc.

“We moved the ball well,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said. “We had an unselfish team.”

The Utes started making shots again in the second half. So did Arizona, keeping the lead to at least 7.

Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Trier each picked up fouls, giving Utah an opportunity.

The Utes took advantage even as Miller rotated both players back in, scoring 12 straight points to take a 66-65 lead with 5 ½ minutes left.

“We have a nice resilience to us and I think our guys are realizing that if you play hard and bring the fight, we have a chance,” Krystkowiak said.


Utah got only a desert split, but beating one ranked team and losing to another in one of the nation’s toughest road environments is a solid trip.

Arizona keeps finding ways to win, is firmly in control of the Pac-12 lead and could move up in Monday’s AP Top 25.


Alkins had surgery before the season for a stress fracture in his right foot, causing him to miss Arizona’s first nine games. When the soreness issue started to arise two weeks ago, Arizona decided to take a cautious route, hoping to have him pain free for March.

Miller said Alkins has been through a string of medical tests to see if there’s damage to his foot and nothing has shown up.

“He doesn’t have a fracture of any kind,” he said. “His bone is healing; in some parts it’s completely healed, other parts it’s good healing. But when a player that has a foot like that his that’s been surgically repaired and runs into discomfort all of a sudden, you really just have to shut him down.”

Division I’s only winless team snaps 21-game skid

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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Kylan Phillips scored 23 points and Mississippi Valley State, the only winless Division I team entering Saturday, snapped a 21-game losing streak with a 72-67 victory over Jackson State.

Mississippi Valley State (1-20, 1-7 Southwestern Athletic Conference) hadn’t won since March 4, 2017 when it beat Arkansas-Pine Bluff 88-87. The Delta Devils lost their final game of 2017-18 against Alcorn State and started this season with 20-consecutive losses and owned the longest active losing streak in Division I.

Dante Scott scored 11 on just 2-of-9 shooting from the field and 7 of 10 from the foul line. He broke a 67-all tie with 42 seconds left at the line after Phillips came up with a steal at the other end.

Darius Austin missed a 3-pointer on Jackson State’s next possession and, forced to foul with 20 seconds, sent Scott to the line where he made another pair.

Chalice Frank missed a 3 with 12 seconds left and Jeremiah Jefferson missed a jumper after gathering the rebound off Frank’s miss.

Maurice Rivers led Jackson State (9-12, 6-2) with 15 points and Austin scored 12.