OMAHA, NE - JANUARY 11: Justin Patton #23 of the Creighton Bluejays challenges the shot of Kamar Baldwin #3 of the Butler Bulldogs during their game at CenturyLink Center on January 11, 2017 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
(Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)

Five Takeaways from No. 8 Creighton’s win over No. 12 Butler

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Creighton had a strong overall performance on Wednesday night as the No. 8 Bluejays ran past No. 12 Butler for a 75-64 home Big East win.

Here are five takeaways from Creighton’s impressive win.

1. Creighton’s defense is getting better — Creighton’s top-10 offense has been praised repeatedly this season but its defense also appears to be improving.

The Bluejay defense has never been bad this season — they ranked a respectable 69th in KenPom defensive efficiency entering Wednesday — but this team appears to be more focused on that end of the floor from the start of the season.

Butler was held to 41 percent shooting on Wednesday night as they were 32 percent from three-point range and only shot seven free throws. Creighton defended without fouling and made perimeter looks very tough. The Bluejays also clearly had the right gameplan for Bulldogs star Kelan Martin as they held him scoreless in the first half and made things frustrating for him all night.

Creighton doesn’t need to be a defensive juggernaut to win its games, but they do need to show that they can get late stops in a tight game like they couldn’t during the Villanova loss. This game obviously didn’t give the Bluejays a test in that department but their defense was so good early that they didn’t need to get stops to win.

2. Butler needs Kelan Martin to show up in Big East play — Junior forward Kelan Martin is Butler’s leading scorer and best player. The 6-foot-7 forward is averaging north of 17 points per game this season. But he’s had a slow start in Big East play.

Wednesday saw more of the same. Martin missed his first eight shots and was held scoreless in the first half as the Bulldogs fell behind big and never recovered. To start the second half, Martin found himself on the bench as he finally started to make some shots once he re-entered the game.

So far in five Big East games, Martin is only shooting 30 percent (20-for-66) from the field. At 6-for-27 from three-point range during that same span, Martin has also struggled to find his perimeter shooting stroke during conference play. Clearly, Martin needs to make some adjustments because the Big East seems to be more familiar with his game and is having an easier time of slowing him down.

Much like Wisconsin senior forward Nigel Hayes, Martin could stand to tone down the number of perimeter looks he is taking at the moment. Martin has always hovered around 37 percent from three, and that’s a respectable number, but he’s now attempting over six attempts a game from three even though he’s been off the last five games.

3. With Justin Patton rolling, Creighton’s offense becomes a juggernaut¬†— Watching Creighton has been fun for a number of reasons this season but the continued development of freshman center Justin Patton continues to be thrilling to witness. The 7-footer has really stepped up his overall game lately as he’s been more productive while getting the lion’s share of the minutes at center.

When Creighton’s guards like Mo Watson and Marcus Foster can get to the rim, Patton becomes a valuable dump-off option. With the amount of shooting that Creighton has on the roster it also gives Patton plenty of room to operate on the interior. If Cole Huff is knocking down shots, it makes the Bluejays such a matchup nightmare on the offensive end because they have so many unique weapons and ways to score.

Patton only finished with 10 points on 5-for-6 shooting but that all came in the first half as Butler’s bigs had no answer for him. Since Creighton’s guards could get in the paint whenever they wanted, Patton’s post touches weren’t as necessary in this one, but Patton’s confidence is growing immensely as the season goes on.

4. Butler can have struggles containing dribble penetration against good guards — One of Butler’s major issues during Wednesday night’s loss was the ability to slow down guards like Watson, Foster and Khyri Thomas from doing what they wanted off the bounce.

In the first half, the Bluejays built their commanding lead by attacking the rack and sharing the scoring balance and the second half saw a strong takeover performance from Watson. The senior was simply unguardable for Creighton in the second frame as he was able to touch the paint whenever he wanted on his way to 21 points and seven assists.

Butler has some strong defensive players and strong defensive principles, but senior Tyler Lewis isn’t a good on-the-ball defender and his size makes him susceptible to being beat. It’s going to be interesting to see how Butler adjusts its perimeter defense after this game to prepare for elite guards. The good news is that Butler isn’t going to have to face many top-10 offenses with killer backcourts, but it was still concerning to see how much they were getting beat.

5. Nobody else is going to beat Creighton at home — Sorry, Big East. No disrespect, Xavier. But I’d be stunned if Creighton lost another home game this season.

Creighton’s dismantling of Butler was an impressive effort on both ends of the floor as the Bluejays made a good, disciplined team look average for most of the game. With Villanova already having won at Creighton this season, I don’t see another Big East team going into CenturyLink Center and picking up a win.

The Bluejays have always been a tough out at home over the years as it is, but with how talented this team is and how they’re playing right now, it would take a huge effort to earn a win there.

Butler lands commitment from four-star 2017 forward Kyle Young

Atlanta, GA - SUNDAY, MAY 29: Nike EYBL. Kyle Young #34 of King James Session 4. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
(Photo by Jon Lopez)
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Butler picked up an important commitment on Monday as four-star forward Kyle Young committed to the Bulldogs.

A Class of 2017 stretch forward who can hit jumpers and has an improving skill set, the 6-foot-7 Young comes from Massillon, Ohio and he’s regarded as the No. 109 overall prospect.

Young was impressive in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer with King James as he averaged 15.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game as he shot 48 percent from the field and 36 percent from 3-point range.

This is a nice grab for Butler as Young is the type of versatile perimeter shooter that they like to utilize and he should be able to help a bit on the glass as well.

Young joins a class that includes guards Cooper Neese and Jerald Butler.

No. 5 Xavier finds shooting touch in 74-57 blowout at Butler

Xavier head coach Chris Mack talks with James Farr (2) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Butler, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Indianapolis. Xavier won 74-57. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
AP Photo/Darron Cummings
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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) No. 5 Xavier learned its lesson.

To keep winning, it must continue do the dirty work.

Four days after stumbling at Creighton, the Musketeers got back to basics and used a balanced offense and a smothering defense to run away from Butler 74-57 on Saturday.

“We played much better today and after about the first four or five minutes, we defended,” coach Chris Mack said. “Our shots were, in my opinion, really good ones because we got in the lane, we made the extra pass and I thought that was the difference.”

Whatever the explanation, the Musketeers (22-3, 10-3 Big East) certainly looked worthy of the highest ranking in school history.

After making a season-low 30 percent from the field and just 1 of 21 3-point attempts in Tuesday’s loss, Xavier rebounded by shooting 56.9 percent and going 9 of 18 beyond the arc. J.P. Macura led the way with 13 points while Edmond Sumner and Remy Abell each had 12.

But the biggest improvements showed up in other areas – defense, rebounding and effort. They allowed 36 points over the final 31 1/2 minutes.

“Everybody was boxing out and rebounding, and on the offensive end we have so much talent we could get whatever we wanted,” said Abell, who started his college career playing for the Indiana Hoosiers.

The difference was obvious.

Butler (17-8, 6-7) was held almost 25 points below its season average.

Kelan Martin, with 15 points, and Andrew Chrabascz, with 12, were the only players to score more than 10. And the top three scorers – Martin, Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones – were a combined 11 of 39 from the field as the Bulldogs’ three-game winning streak came to an end.

Xavier crushed the Bulldogs so thoroughly that chants of “Let’s Go X” resounded throughout sold out Hinkle Fieldhouse over the final minutes.

“We didn’t have near the effort, the juice, the purpose defensively and we didn’t move the ball offensively and that was actually the case from the opening minute,” Butler coach Chris Holtmann said. “We mentioned that in the four-minute media and said that had to improve and when it doesn’t these things happen.”

Butler used a 9-0 first-half run to take a 21-13 lead midway through the first half.

Xavier answered with a 27-6 run that included four 3s and a three-point play in a 27-6 run to make it 40-27. The Bulldogs got as close as 47-39 early in the second half, which later became a seven-point deficit after a replay review gave Dunham a 3.

But the Bulldogs couldn’t get closer.

“You can go 1 for 21 one game, and then the next game it’s – I’m sure it was better,” Macura said. “That’s basketball.”

POINTERS

Xavier’s dominance showed up in two key stats on the box score. The Musketeers outscored Butler 36-14 in points off the bench and 36-18 in the paint despite having only two offensive rebounds. Xavier has won six of its last seven.

ON THE ROAD

Even the road has been kind to the Musketeers this season. They have won seven times in true road games, their highest season total since 2010-11. They have also won five Big East games on the road – more than they won in either of their first two seasons in the league and they have won 10 of the last 13 at Hinkle.

MOVING UP

Dunham continues his ascent on the Bulldogs’ career scoring list. After moving from 14th to sixth on the list in the first 23 games this season, Dunham moved passed Lynn Mitchem (1,798) for fifth and within one point of A.J. Graves (1,807) for fourth. Matt Howard is third (1,939) and the only 2,000-point scorers in school history are Chad Tucker (2,321) and Darrin Fitzgerald (2,019).

TIP-INS

Xavier: Former Indiana prep star Trevon Bluiett had 11 points and four rebounds and James Farr had 12 rebounds. … Each of Xavier’s 22 wins has come by at least seven points. … The Musketeers were the highest-ranked team to play at Hinkle Fieldhouse since No. 3 DePaul visited Feb. 23, 1981.

Butler: Shot 33.3 percent overall and was 8 of 22 on 3s. …. The Bulldogs only have three wins at home against Top 10 teams – No. 8 Gonzaga in January 2013, No. 3 Michigan in 1965-66 and No. 5 Tennessee in 1958-59. … Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence attended the game.

UP NEXT

Xavier hosts No. 20 Providence on Wednesday.

Butler hosts Creighton on Tuesday.

LATE NIGHT SNACKS: No. 11 Providence, No. 20 Kentucky fall

Tennessee forward Armani Moore (4) drives against Kentucky guard Jamal Murray (23) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016, in Knoxville, Tenn. Tennessee won 84-77. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
AP Photo/Wade Payne
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: DePaul 77, No. 11 Providence 70

Ben Bentil left the game with an ankle injury, Kris Dunn struggled and no one else could get going for the Friars. When that happens the Friars are in trouble, as Rob Dauster notes here. Myke Henry was the standout for the Blue Demons, scoring 27 points and grabbing 11 rebounds with Billy Garrett Jr. adding 16 points, six rebounds and four assists. Dunn led Providence with 14 points and eight assists, but he shot 5-for-20 from the field, and as a team the Friars shot 39.3 percent from the field.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

Tennessee 84, No. 20 Kentucky 77: The Volunteers came back from 21 points down late in the first half to beat the Wildcats in Lexington, with Kevin Punter leading the way with 27 points. Armani Moore also played well for the Vols, adding 18 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Jamal Murray scored 21 points and Tyler Ulis 20 for the Wildcats, who lost to an unranked opponent for the fifth time this season. And for the young Wildcats, some familiar issues got them in trouble Tuesday night.

No. 14 West Virginia 82, No. 13 Iowa State 77: Jaysean Paige scored 23 points off the bench and Devin¬†Williams added 17 points and 18 boards as the Mountaineers erased a 15-point deficit to win in Ames. Georges Niang scored 20 points for the Cyclones but he also turned the ball over eight times, with fellow front court starter Jameel McKay having four turnovers himself. As for WVU, after getting blown out at Florida Saturday Bob Huggins’ team showed the toughness we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from them.

Butler 87, Georgetown 76:¬†Kelan Martin put forth an outstanding showing in Butler’s win over Georgetown, scoring 35 points and grabbing eight rebounds in a key matchup for both teams. This is Butler’s first Big East win over a team other than DePaul or St. John’s, and even with their non-conference slate the Bulldogs were trending in the wrong direction prior to Tuesday night. This win helps, and on the other side of the equation the Hoyas find themselves in even greater trouble¬†when it comes to the NCAA tournament.

MORE: Tuesday’s Bubble Banter

STARRED

Ray Lee, Eastern Michigan: Lee played just 24 minutes in the Eagles’ 94-69 win over Miami (Ohio). He scored 46 points, shooting 9-for-11 from three (11-for-16 from the field), so took full advantage of his time on the court.

Kelan Martin, Butler: Martin scored 35 points and grabbed eight rebounds off the bench in the Bulldogs’ win over Georgetown.

Shawn Long, Louisiana-Lafayette: 28 points and 17 rebounds in the Ragin’ Cajuns’ overtime win over UL-Monroe.

Devin Williams, West Virginia: Williams scored 17 points and grabbed a career-high 18 boards in the Mountaineers’ win at No. 13 Iowa State.

STRUGGLED

Reed Timmer, Drake: Timmer finished the Bulldogs’ loss at Indiana State with 15 points, ten rebounds and four assists. But he scored those points on 5-for-20 shooting from the field.

Kris Dunn, Providence: Losing Ben Bentil after 14 minutes didn’t help matters for Dunn, who shot 5-for-20 from the field in the Friars’ loss at DePaul.

Four McGlynn, Rhode Island: With the Rams playing without Jarvis Garrett (jaw) and Kuran Iverson (concussion), McGlynn had a lot of responsibility on his shoulders Tuesday night. He finished the Rams’ overtime loss at UMass with 13 points and four assists, but he shot 3-for-16 from the field and committed six turnovers.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • Buddy Hield led six Sooners in double figures with 17 points as No. 1 Oklahoma blew out TCU, 95-72. Hield’s failed to reach 20 points in a game just three times in Big 12 play this season, but the Sooners have won all three of those games (West Virginia and Baylor being the others).
  • After getting off to a slow start¬†Indiana flipped the switch in a big way, outscoring the Wolverines 41-9 over the final 14:31 of the first half and going on to win comfortably 80-67. Yogi Ferrell scored 17 points and dished out nine assists to lead the way for Indiana, which continues to make strides defensively.
  • Yante Maten accounted for 18 points, eight rebounds and four blocks at Georgia beat No. 25 South Carolina 69-56. The Gamecocks are now 19-3 on the season, but given their non-conference slate Frank Martin’s team doesn’t have a large margin for error down the stretch.

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES

  • Josh Williams scored 20 points, shooting 7-for-8 from the field, as Akron went on the road and¬†beat Ohio, 80-68. Keith Dambrot’s Zips are now alone¬†atop the MAC East standings at 7-2, one game ahead of Kent State (which lost at Central Michigan).
  • Ben Simmons tallied 21 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists to lead LSU to an 80-68 win at Auburn.
  • Clemson outscored Wake Forest 56-34 in the second half of their 76-62 win in Winston-Salem. Jaron Blossomgame posted a double-double, finishing with 22 points and 13 rebounds.
  • Michael Gbinije scored 17 points and Tyler Roberson added 12 points and 15 rebounds as Syracuse beat Virginia Tech 68-60 in overtime. The Orange have now won five of their last six games.
  • Louisiana-Lafayette won its seventh straight game, moving to 8-3 in the Sun Belt with a 72-65 overtime win over UL-Monroe. Shawn Long finished with 28 points and 17 rebounds.
  • Grayson Allen scored 27 points and grabbed seven rebounds, and Brandon Ingram chipped in 15 points, ten boards and four blocks despite an off shooting night to win at Georgia Tech 80-71. The Blue Devils were without head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who remained in Durham due to illness.
  • James Webb III scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds as Boise State held off Utah State, 70-67. The Broncos held the Aggies without a point over the final 2:49.
  • San Diego State moved to 10-0 in Mountain West play with a 69-67 win over Colorado State. Trey Kell scored 19 points and Jeremy Hemsley added 16 and five assists for the Aztecs, who host second place New Mexico (7-2) on Saturday.

VIDEO: Butler’s Roosevelt Jones makes first career 3-pointer on 70-foot heave to end half

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Butler senior guard Roosevelt Jones is one of the Big East’s finest players, but he’s never been known for his shooting stroke. In fact, the 6-foot-4 Jones¬†had only attempted three shots from 3-point range in his entire college career (missing all of them) until Saturday’s game against Marquette.

It only took 126 games at Butler but Jones finally knocked down his first career 3-pointer on a 70-foot heave to end the first half in Milwaukee.

Butler eventually fell to Marquette in the Big East contest.

Jones wasn’t the only player on Saturday to make a three quarters-court buzzer-beater to end the first half. UMass forward Antwan Space also knocked down a shot from similar distance against Fordham.

LATE NIGHT SNACKS: Another ranked team, No. 5 Texas A&M, falls

Arkansas fans celebrate following the upset win over Texas A&M in an NCAA college basketball game in Fayetteville, Ark., Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016. Arkansas won 74-71. (AP Photo/Sarah Bentham)
AP Photo/Sarah Bentham
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Maine 105, Hartford 100 (OT)

The Black Bears surpassed their conference win total from a season ago Wednesday night, moving to 3-4 in America East play with a five-point overtime win at Hartford (they went 2-14 in league play last season). Aaron Calixte scored 23 points and Till Gloger 22 to lead the way for Bob Walsh’s team, with Hartford’s Pancake Thomas leading all scorers with 29 points. Trailing by seven with 2:10 remaining in overtime, Maine went on a 12-0 run to grab control of the game.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

Arkansas 74, No. 5 Texas A&M 71: The Razorbacks picked up a nice win at home, holding off the Aggies who suffered their first loss in SEC play. Anthlon Bell and Dusty Hannahs scored 17 apiece and Moses Kingsley posted a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds on the night for the winners. As for the Aggies, despite Danuel House scoring 24 they were out of character for most of the game and that cost them in the end.

Clemson 73, Pittsburgh 60: The Tigers finished off what at first glance appeared to be an arduous five-game stretch with a 13-point win over the Panthers, going 4-1 with the lone defeat coming at Virginia. Jaron Blossomgame scored 22 points to lead four Clemson players in double figures, and defensively they limited Pitt to 38.2 percent shooting.

But here’s the question to be asked in the aftermath of this game: should there be concern over Pittsburgh’s¬†r√©sum√©? Their best non-conference win came over Davidson, and their best ACC wins came against¬†Syracuse (sans Jim Boeheim) and Notre Dame.¬†That three-game stretch of Virginia (2/6), at Miami (2/9) and at North Carolina (2/14) looms large for Jamie Dixon’s team as a result.

No. 20 Kentucky 88, Missouri 54: Beating a bad Mizzou team like they stole something isn’t all that noteworthy. But the performances of Derek Willis and Skal Labissiere are noteworthy for Kentucky, especially when considering their chances of winning the SEC and playing deep into march. Labissiere didn’t grab a rebound, but in 18 minutes he accounted for 12 points and five blocks. As for Willis, he continued his run of good play by scoring 18 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Over the last four games the junior’s averaging 12.3 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. If he can continue on that path, and Labissiere become a more consistent contributor, the Wildcats will be¬†a far more dangerous team.

STARRED

Josh Adeyeye, Jacksonville: 35 points, shooting 13-for-21 from the field, and eight rebounds in the Dolphins’ 78-69 win at FGCU.

Keon Johnson, Winthrop: Johnson shot 10-for-13 from three, scoring 36 points, in the Eagles’ 97-72 win over Charleston Southern.

Patrick McCaw, UNLV: 25 points, shooting 8-for-11 from the field, four rebounds, four assists and five steals in the Runnin’ Rebels’ 87-77 win over Boise State.

STRUGGLED

Mike Crawford and Jermaine Bishop, Saint Louis: Crawford and Bishop combined to shoot 3-for-20 from the field in the Billikens’ blowout loss at Dayton. As a team SLU shot 3-for-24 from three and 27.3 percent from the field.

Kareem Canty, Auburn: Canty struggled in a loss at Ole Miss, scoring eight points on 3-for-14 shooting from the field.

Wes Clark, Missouri: Clark scored 11 points in the Tigers’ loss at No. 20 Kentucky, but he did so on 3-for-16 shooting.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • Damion Lee (29) and Trey Lewis (22) combined to score 51 points as No. 16 Louisville won 91-83 at Virginia Tech. As a team the Cardinals shot 12-for-18 from three and 52.9 percent from the field. Jalen Hudson (27) and Seth Allen (26) combined to score 53 for the Hokies, but their efforts were not enough.
  • No. 17 Baylor trailed by as much as 12 in the first half before coming back to beat Oklahoma State 69-65 in Stillwater. Taurean Prince scored 17 points and Rico Gathers Sr. added 16 points and nine boards for the Bears, who racked up 13 steals thanks in large part to increased activity in their 1-1-3 zone defense.
  • No. 21 Purdue, playing without injured forward Caleb Swanigan (ankle), held off Minnesota to win 68-64 at The Barn. Vince Edwards scored 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the way, with A.J. Hammons adding 16 points and eight boards.
  • No. 22 Wichita State has now won ten straight games, as they beat Loyola (Chicago) 80-54. Six Shockers scored at least eight points, with Shaquille Morris’ 12 leading the way, and Gregg Marshall’s team shot 53.8 percent from the field. By comparison, the Ramblers made just 39.2 percent of their field goals.

OTHER NOTABLE RESULTS

  • Coastal Carolina beat UNC Asheville 68-66 in overtime, dropping the Bulldogs into a three-way tie atop the Big South. UNC Asheville is now tied with High Point and Winthrop at 7-3, with those two picking up wins Wednesday night.
  • Three days after handing No. 13 SMU its first defeat, Temple did some harm to its r√©sum√© with a 64-61 loss at East Carolina. Prince Williams led three Pirates in double figures with 18 points.
  • Keep an eye on Saint Joseph’s in the A-10. The Hawks have now won six straight and 13 of their last 14 after beating UMass 78-70 in Philadelphia. Isaiah Miles, one of the nation’s most improved players, went for 27 and 12 in the win.
  • Also a game behind 7-0 VCU in the loss column is Dayton, which moved to 7-1 in the A-10 with a 73-37 win over Saint Louis. Kendall Pollard and Dyshawn Pierre combined for 30 points and 16 boards.
  • Navy’s six-game win streak came to an end, as the Midshipmen fell 63-58 at American to fall to 6-2 in Patriot League play. Bucknell, which was off Wednesday night, remains in first with an 8-1 record.
  • Josh Adeyeye went off for 35 points to lead Jacksonville to a 78-69 win at FGCU. Those two teams are now tied for second in the A-Sun with 4-2 record, with reigning champion North Florida (6-0) now having a two-game lead.
  • Seton Hall took care of business against St. John’s beating the Red Storm 79-60. That result won’t make waves, but that’s better than suffering a loss that can do some serious damage to a team’s tournament credentials.
  • Also in that category in the Big East is Butler, which beat DePaul 67-53. All three of the Bulldogs’ conference wins have come against the Blue Demons (twice) and St. John’s.
  • Duncan Robinson led four in double figures with 18 points as Michigan beat Rutgers 68-57 in Ann Arbor.
  • Georgia Tech went on the road and beat NC State 90-83, despite Cat Barber scoring a game-high 36 points. Three Yellow Jackets scored at least 20 points, with Marcus Georges-Hunt tallying 26.
  • Colorado moved to 5-3 in the Pac-12 with a 91-75 win over Stanford in Boulder. George King scored 23 points off the bench and Josh Fortune added 21 for the Buffaloes.
  • UC Irvine remained undefeated in Big West play with a 73-63 win at CSUN. The Anteaters are now 17-5 overall, which represents their best start to a season since 2000-01.
  • Jakob Poeltl scored 21 points and grabbed nine boards and Brandon Taylor and Kyle Kuzma added 15 apiece as Utah beat California 73-64. The Golden Bears are now 1-7 away from Haas Pavilion this season.
  • When Patrick McCaw plays well, so does UNLV. The sophomore dropped 25 on Boise State as the Runnin’ Rebels won 87-77. Stephen Zimmerman Jr. added 18 and eight boards and Derrick Jones Jr. 17 for UNLV, which is now 4-1 under interim head coach Todd Simon.