Bullets from Friday

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I will be headed out to Fairfax, VA,
today to check out George Mason and Harvard, but I wanted to be sure
to catch you up on the action from the First Friday (trademark pending)
of the season.

The Biggest Winner: Georgetown

Four
the fourth straight time in their series with Old Dominion, the road
team won, with the Hoyas taking a 62-59 win last night. But the
Monarchs didn’t go down without an impressive fight. ODU used their
typical scrappy defense to frustrate the Hoyas offensively, opening up
a 49-41 lead midway through the second half. But then Georgetown caught
fire. Austin Freeman drilled threes on back-to-back possessions (one of
them a four point play) before Chris Wright hit consecutive threes. A
few possessions later, Jason Clark buried one to open up a 59-55 Hoya
lead, which ODU was unable to recover from. Of note — Georgetown got
54 of their 62 points from Freeman, Wright, and Clark.

Other Notable Winners:

  • Temple 62, Seton Hall 56:
    The Owls are a terrific basketball team, and nothing that they did last
    night changed our opinion of them. They were tough defensively and
    balanced offensively. The best sign for the Owls? They beat a good
    Seton Hall team (and don’t let this loss fool you, Seton Hall will be
    good) when Juan Fernandez and Lavoy Allen didn’t play their best.
    Ramone Brown and Rahlir Jefferson will both be names you hear quite a
    bit this season. Seton Hall is still a work in progess. They are
    learning to be more patient offensively and waiting for Herb Pope to be
    back to 100%, and while that’s a disappointing loss, there is reason to
    be optimistic.
  • Morgan State 81, Loyola Marymount 79:
    Perhaps the most underrated great matchup of the day, MEAC favorite
    Morgan State got 31 points and seven triples from DeWayne Jackson and
    17 points and 11 boards from Kevin Thompson as they overcame a 15 point
    deficit on the road in the second half. LMU had high expectations this
    season, but this kind of loss — even in MSU makes the tournament — is
    killer considering the weak non-conference schedule the Lions have.
    Drew Viney went for 27 points to lead LMU.
  • Virginia 76, William & Mary 52:
    An ACC team beating a CAA team at home by 24 shouldn’t be cause for
    celebration, but Virginia is a very young team that whipped up on a
    good William & Mary team in the second half last night. Freshmen
    Billy Baron and KT Harrell combined for 32 points, Mike Scott had 18
    and 9 boards, and Jontel Evans aded seven assists and one turnover in
    place of Sammy Zeglinski.
  • BYU 83, Fresno State 56:
    The big win isn’t what’s important. Neither is Jimmer Fredette’s stat
    line. What I care about? Noah Hartsock out played Greg Smith, Fresno’s
    sophomore center and a NBA prospect at center. Hartsock had 21 points
    and 5 boards. Smith had more turnovers (three) than FGA’s (two).
  • Minnesota 69, Wofford 55:
    Don’t be fooled, Wofford is a good basketball team and potentially a
    tournament team, but Minnesota was in control much of this game. The
    best sign for the Gophers? Their front line of Ralph Sampson, Colton
    Iverson, and Trevor Mbakwe looks like it could be one of the best in
    the Big Ten. Those three combined for 42 points and 32 boards.
  • Southern Miss 60, South Florida 53:
    The Golden Eagles, who don’t exactly have a loaded non-conference
    schedule, picked up an important win in Tampa. Gary Flowers had 15
    points and USM closed the game on a 16-1 run. Southern Miss is likelt
    the second best team in Conference USA.
  • Western Kentucky 98, St. Joseph’s 70:
    Look, Western Kentucky is a good basketball team, and a 28 point win at
    St. Joe’s is always impressive, but this likely says more about the
    state of the Hawks than the Hilltoppers (who are a favorite to win the
    Sun Belt).

The Biggest Loser: Wake Forest

The
Demon Deacons lost to Stetson. I’m sorry, let me rephrase that. The
Demon Deacons got smacked by Stetson at home, 89-79. And the second
half wasn’t even that close. Stetson, at one point, was up 75-56. Its
gets worse. Point guard Tony Chennault will shelved for two months
after breaking his foot.

Other notable losers:

  • Princeton 78, Rutgers 73 OT:
    Mike Rice’s debut as Rutgers new head coach did not go as well as time
    on the recruiting circuit has. The Scarlet Knights went into Jadwin Gym
    last night and got “punched in the mouth”, as Rice put it, finding
    themselves in a 14 point hole early. They fought back and forced
    overtime, but the Ivy favorites — led by 26 points from Dan Mavraides
    — were able to pull out the win in OT.
  • UNC-Asheville 70, Auburn 69 OT:
    No one expected Tony Barbee’s first season to be easy, not with the
    injuries, ineligible freshmen, and overall lack of talent in his
    program. But could anyone have expected the Tigers to blow a 16 point
    half time lead in the first game in their new arena? Allowing 10
    offensive rebounds in the second half is an easy way to do that.
    Asheville chipped away, eventually forcing overtime, before taking
    control in the extra frame.
  • Pacific 66, UTEP 61:
    People picked UTEP to win Conference USA this season. Those people must
    feel silly after seeing the Miners blow a 36-25 halftime lead and lose
    to Pacific at home in their debut this season. The Tigers made 8-13
    second half threes while UTEP took quick shots and broke down
    defensively. Randy Culpepper was 6-9 with 13 points at the half, but
    went scoreless and missed all six of his field goals in the second half.
  • Appalachian State 89, Tulsa 86:
    There is some good basketball being played in the Southern Conference.
    Wofford and College of Charleston are known entities, but Appalachian
    State proved to a threat as they went into Tulsa and beat the Golden
    Hurricane. Led by 35 points from Omar Carter, a Charleston Southern
    transfer, the Mountaineers got Tulsa into foul trouble and used a late
    11-0 run to take control of the game.
  • Gardner-Webb 78, Charlotte 70:
    In Alan Major’s debut as head coach, the 49ers began the game without
    starters An’Juan Wilderness and Shamari Spears (suspension) and
    finished it with just six players (including two walk-ons) due to
    players fouling out and injuries. Jon Moore went for 24 points and 9
    boards as the Runnin’ Bulldogs gave Chris Holtmann a nice road win in
    his own coaching debut. Finally, someone won in a coaching debut!

Debutante’s Ball:

  • Harrison Barnes, Reggie Bullock, and Kendell Marshall – UNC:
    All three played well, as Barnes had 14 points and 4 boards, Bullock
    had 12 points and 4 boards off the bench, and Marshall looked like the
    team’s best back court player, contributing 10 points and 4 assists in
    11 minutes.
  • Jared Sullinger, DeShaun Thomas, and Aaron Craft – Ohio State:
    OSU won in a blowout against NC A&T, but Sully went for 19 and 14
    and Thomas dropped 24 and 8 boards in 20 minutes. Craft was the most
    important, however, finishing the game with 9 assists and 0 turnovers.
  • Terrence Jones, Brandon Knight, and Doron Lamb – Kentucky: Knight and Lamb combined for 37, but Jones went for 25 and 12 in an 88-65 win over ETSU.
  • Scottie Wilbekin – Florida: He impressed much more than Patric Young and Casey Prather.
  • Fab Melo – Syracuse:
    Melo played just 18 minutes, finishing with more fouls (five) than
    points (four) or rebounds (three) in a win over Northern Iowa.
  • Perry Jones – Baylor: Jones had 11 points and 8 boards against Grambling State, but also 7 turnovers.
  • Tobias Harris – Tennessee: Harris led the Vols with 18 points in a blowout win over Chattanooga.
  • Memphis Freshmen: The score doesn’t count. They beat a team transitioning to D-III next season by 64.


Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.

No. 22 Tennessee beats No. 3 Kansas 64-50 for Atlantis title

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
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PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas – Tennessee’s players proved to be determined defenders and relentless rebounders, along with having the kind of toughness to ensure the reigning national champions would have little chance to get comfortable.

It was all enough to give the 22nd-ranked Volunteers a title of their own, along with the blueprint that coach Rick Barnes hopes they follow the rest of the year.

Santiago Vescovi scored 20 points while Tennessee locked down on third-ranked Kansas in a 64-50 win Friday night in the championship game at the Battle 4 Atlantis, snapping the Jayhawks’ 17-game winning streak.

Vescovi hit five 3-pointers as the tournament’s most valuable player for the Volunteers (5-1), who dominated the glass, overcame their own turnover troubles and made the Jayhawks work for clean looks. And for the third time in as many days, Tennessee won without leading scorer Josiah-Jordan James (knee soreness).

Perhaps that’s why reserve guard Zakai Zeigler, who had 14 points and four steals, showed up wearing sunglasses to the postgame news conference after the Volunteers had danced and hollered through the on-court trophy ceremony.

“We know if you can’t stop the man in front of you, then you’ll have no shot at winning the game,” Zeigler said, adding: “We just like to play defense, and we just happen to be good at it.”

The Vols held the Jayhawks to 32.1% shooting, bothering them with size and length around the rim. They also took the ball right at the Jayhawks with 5-foot-9 Zeigler leading the way, down to him refusing to let go of a jump ball and trading words with 6-8 forward Jalen Wilson.

Zeigler’s night included a 3-pointer to beat the shot clock at the 7-minute mark to push Tennessee’s lead to 56-38. He followed with another big one from the right wing with 4:42 left after Kansas had closed within 11.

Wilson and Joseph Yesefu each scored 14 points to lead the Jayhawks (6-1), who shot 28.6% in the first half and never warmed up. They made 5 of 21 3-pointers in what was an all-around rough night, from losing starting guard Dajuan Harris to fouls with 9 minutes left to failing to keep the Vols off the glass (45-27).

“We played a team tonight that was older and more mature and obviously played stronger and tougher,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “We didn’t handle the situation near as well as what I would hope a poised team would.”

BIG PICTURE

Tennessee: The Volunteers opened the tournament with a win over Butler, then grinded through an overtime win against Southern California in Thursday’s semifinals. This time, Tennessee played in front the entire way en route to its first title in three tries at the Atlantis resort.

“I think the main thing from the whole week was stay together through tough times, that’s what you’ve got to do,” Vescovi said.

Kansas: The Jayhawks didn’t have an easy first two days in the Bahamas. First came a battle to the final minutes with North Carolina State. Then came Thursday’s overtime win against Wisconsin on Bobby Pettiford Jr.’s last-second putback. But they never looked in any type of offensive flow this time with their smaller lineup.

“I feel like if we were able to get them out of place and not just have them standing there, waiting to contest a layup, that could’ve gave us some better chances at finishing at the rim,” Wilson said.

STRONG RUN

Tennessee held its three Atlantis opponents to 36.9% shooting and 15 of 59 (25.4%) from 3-point range. The Volunteers also averaged a +9 rebounding margin, ending with having Jonas Aidoo (nine) leading five players snagging at least six rebounds against Kansas.

“You can be a good defensive team but if you can’t be a great one if you give them second and third shots,” Barnes said.

SIDELINED

Beyond Harris’ foul trouble, the Jayhawks played most of the way without Pettiford, who exited midway through the first half grabbing at his right leg.

Afterward, Self said he would be out “for a while” with a hamstring strain.

UP NEXT

Tennessee: The Volunteers return home to host McNeese State on Wednesday.

Kansas: The Jayhawks host Texas Southern on Monday.

BYU erases 23-point deficit, beats Dayton in overtime 79-75

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
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NASSAU, Bahamas – Gideon George scored 21 points and combined with Jaxson Robinson and Rudi Williams for BYU’s 15 overtime points as the Cougars came back from a 23-point deficit to beat Dayton 79-75 in overtime Friday.

BYU’s victory came in the seventh-place game in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.

George’s 3-pointer with 2:19 left in regulation gave BYU (4-3) its first lead after Dayton scored the first 10 points of the game and led 32-9 with six minutes left in the first half.

Mike Sharavjamts’ basket gave the lead back to Dayton but George’s free throw with a minute left sent the game into overtime.

Dayton got the first points in overtime but Robinson’s 3-pointer gave BYU the lead for good halfway through the extra period.

Robinson had 14 points, Dallin Hall 12 and Williams 11 to join George in double figures for BYU.

DaRon Holmes II scored 21 points and Sharavjamts 15 for Dayton (3-4). The Flyers lost starting guards Kobe Elvis and Malachi Smith to lower-body injuries in the second half, Smith with with just seconds left in regulation.

Portland beats Villanova 83-71 in Phil Knight Invitational

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
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PORTLAND, Ore. – Moses Wood scored 16 points and Portland beat Villanova 83-71 on Friday in the Phil Knight Invitational.

Villanova (2-4) has lost three straight games, including an overtime loss to Iowa State on Thursday to drop below .500 for the first time since March 7, 2012.

Vasilije Vucinic’s layup with 4:16 remaining in the first half gave Portland the lead for good. The Pilots had an eight-point lead at halftime and scored the first 10 points of the second half.

Wood added six rebounds and three blocks for the Pilots (5-3). Tyler Robertson scored 15 points while shooting 6 for 12 (1 for 5 from 3-point range) and added seven rebounds and eight assists. Kristian Sjolund recorded 14 points and shot 5 for 7 (2 for 3 from 3-point range).

Caleb Daniels finished with 18 points and seven rebounds for the Wildcats. Villanova also got 14 points from Jordan Longino. Brandon Slater had 11 points.

Caleb Grill, Iowa State topples No. 1 North Carolina 70-65

Syndication: The Des Moines Register
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PORTLAND, Ore. – Caleb Grill has followed T.J. Otzelberger from South Dakota State to UNLV and now back to Iowa State hoping the pair could share a moment like they did Friday.

Taking down the No. 1 team in the country was another bookmark moment in a long journey for the pair.

“I’m actually really enjoying sitting next to him from this moment right now just thinking about how long we’ve known each other and how cool this really was,” Otzelberger said.

Grill hit seven 3-pointers and scored a career-high 31 points and Iowa State rallied in the final five minutes to stun No. 1 North Carolina 70-65 in the semifinals of the Phil Knight Invitational.

Iowa State (5-0) picked up just its third win over a team ranked No. 1 in the AP Top 25. The Cyclones are 3-22 against No. 1 teams, with the other wins coming against Kansas in 1957 and Oklahoma in 2016.

The Cyclones can now add North Carolina (5-1) to the list.

“I was just staying the course of the game. I never really thought about it and the game just kind of came to me,” Grill said.

Grill was averaging 7.3 points and had made just 4 of 24 3-point attempts for the season entering Friday. But he couldn’t be stopped from beyond the arc, hitting a pair of big 3s to spark Iowa State’s late rally. His deep fadeaway jumper just inside the 3-point line with 1:40 left gave Iowa State a 63-61 lead and the Cyclones did just enough at the free throw line in the final minute to close out the upset victory.

Grill’s previous career high was 27 points while playing for UNLV in the 2020-21 season against Alabama. He also hit seven 3-pointers in that game.

Grill originally signed with South Dakota State when Otzelberger was the coach there. He was released from his commitment when Otzelberger took the head job at UNLV and started his career at Iowa State before deciding to join his coach in Las Vegas.

When Otzelberger returned to Ames, Grill followed again.

“Just having him be the first person that really had belief in me, it’s just really special what he’s done for me and my family and everything we’ve done,” Grill said.

Jaren Holmes added 22 points and the Cyclones withstood off shooting games from Aljaz Kunc and Gabe Kalscheur, who combined for three points and missed all eight of their shot attempts. Both were averaging double figures scoring for Iowa State.

RJ Davis led North Carolina with 15 points, Armando Bacot added 14 and Caleb Love scored 12. But the Tar Heels will lament a series of mistakes in the closing minutes that allowed Iowa State to rally.

“We had wide open threes. We were able to get to the basket. We were able to get whatever we wanted, we just didn’t make those shots,” North Carolina coach Hubert Davis said.

North Carolina led 57-49 after Leaky Black’s layup with 5:43 left, but missed four of its final six shots and had four turnovers during that span.

“We turned the ball over a couple of times and you just can’t do that in late-game situations,” Davis said. “You have to be sound and discipline and you have to do that on both ends of the floor and we just didn’t do it.”

NO. 1 LOSSES

North Carolina lost as the No. 1 team in the country for the first time since Nov. 21, 2015 when it lost 71-67 at Northern Iowa. The Tar Heels also lost as No. 1 to UNLV in 2011 at a Thanksgiving tournament.

BIG PICTURE

North Carolina: Pete Nance wasn’t able to contribute in the same way he did in Thursday’s opening round. Nance, who tied his career high with 28 points against Portland, didn’t score for the first 27 minutes and finished with seven points.

Iowa State: The Cyclones were playing a No. 1 team from outside their conference for the first time since 1999 when they faced Cincinnati in the championship game of the Big Island Invitational.

UP NEXT

Iowa State will face either No. 18 Alabama or No. 20 UConn in the championship game while the Tar Heels will face the loser for third place.

No. 8 Duke locks down late, holds off Xavier 71-64

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
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PORTLAND, Ore. – After a shaky offensive performance in the opening round of the Phil Knight Legacy tournament, Duke coach Jon Scheyer wanted to see Jeremy Roach get back to playing more instinctively, especially at the offensive end of the floor.

Roach responded with a season-high 21 points, Mark Mitchell added 16 and No. 8 Duke withstood Xavier’s second-half comeback for a 71-64 win on Friday.

The Blue Devils (6-1) advanced to the championship game thanks to the play of their standout guard and another strong defensive effort. Roach came one point shy of matching his career high, and the Blue Devils rebounded after an unexpectedly tight victory over Oregon State in the opening round of the event.

Roach was 3 of 14 shooting against Oregon State as the Blue Devils scored a season-low 54 points. He made 9 of 15 shots and had five assists against Xavier.

“There’s a lot that falls on your shoulders so you can end up overthinking it a little bit,” Scheyer said. “The thing that I love for him today is he just was him. And when he’s that way, he is to me the best guard in the country.”

The Musketeers (4-2) were held to two points over the final five minutes and missed their last four shot attempts. Souley Boum scored 23 points and Adam Kunkel had 13. Kunkel didn’t play the last 11 minutes after taking a hard fall committing a foul.

Xavier leading scorer Jack Nudge was 1 of 13 shooting and finished with five points.

“Jack played a great effort. He really did. He was ready for the game. He just had one of those nights where the ball didn’t go in the basket,” Xavier coach Sean Miller said.

At the same time, Miller was disappointed in what he called the “fracturing” he saw from his team.

“There were spurts and segments of the game where I thought we reflected our style, how we’re trying to play, whether it be defense and offense. But there were way too many segments of the game, if not most of the game, where we were at times in our own way,” Miller said.

Mitchell scored seven points in the opening minutes of the second half, including a pair of layups, and he hit a 3-pointer from the wing that gave Duke a 49-36 lead, its largest of the game.

That’s when Xavier’s comeback started. The Musketeers pulled within three points on several occasions, but Duke answered each time. Desmond Claude’s driving layup pulled Xavier within 63-60 with 5:51 left, but Ryan Young scored for Duke and Xavier didn’t make another basket.

Roach’s jumper with 2:40 left pushed Duke’s lead to 69-62.

“We like to play inside out but I mean, when guys are hitting shots it just opens up for everybody else,” Roach said. “Just try to continue to be consistent hitting shots and I think we’ll be fine.”

Kyle Filipowski had 12 points and was not Duke’s leading scorer for the first time in five games.

BIG PICTURE

Duke: The Blue Devils’ dominance on the backboards finally came to an end. Duke had outrebounded each of its first six opponents by double figures, the longest such stretch in school history. But Xavier’s interior size limited Duke to a 33-32 advantage on the glass. The Blue Devils had 12 second-chance points.

Xavier: The Musketeers played an Atlantic Coast Conference team for the first time since beating Virginia Tech in last year’s NIT Season Tip-Off. Xavier dropped to 0-2 against ranked opponents this season, having lost to Indiana last week. The Musketeers will play another ranked foe in Sunday’s third-place game.

UP NEXT

Duke will face the Gonzaga-Purdue winner in the championship game on Sunday, while Xavier will play the loser.