12/20 – College Hoops Week in Review: Upsets galore


Game of the Week: Texas 78, UNC 76

We’ll get to Josh Selby and the exciting finish to the Kansas-USC game in a bit. And as terrific as that game was, the Longhorn’s win over UNC had an even better finish. Texas used an 18-8 surge in the first half to open up a 28-18 lead over the Heels, punishing them inside despite the fact that Tristan Thompson was out with two fouls. But the Heels didn’t fold, attacking the Longhorns off the bounce and using a 15-4 run over the final 7:30 of the half to take a 33-32 lead at the break.

In the second half, both teams came out on fire, but UNC, led by a career-high 18 points from Dexter Strickland, finally found their transition game. On three different occasions, Strickland was able go coast to coast for a layup — two of which came off of made baskets — and UNC was able to hold a two possession lead for much of the second half, pushing it to seven three times.

But, as UNC’s offense is wont to do, the Heels offense got bogged down for a string of three or four possessions late in the second half, and three straight Texas baskets gave the Horns a 70-69 lead with less than three minutes left. The teams would trade baskets before Thompson — who was an animal inside over the last four minutes of the game — got his second dunk in heavy traffic with 45 seconds left for a 74-73 lead. After two free throws from J’Covan Brown, UNC had the ball with 24 second left and down three points. Roy Williams called a time out, drew up a play for Harrison Barnes, and the freshman came off of a screen and drilled a three with 11.7 seconds left to tie the game. It set up this:


With the loss, UNC drops to 7-4 on the season, although the team that took the floor Saturday afternoon looked much improved over the UNC we have seen earlier this season. The win for Texas was important for two reasons. First of all, the Longhorns are entering the most difficult part of their schedule. Their next two games are at Michigan State and at home against UConn before they start Big XII play. But, more importantly, it was a breakout game for freshman point guard Cory Joseph. Joseph had 21 points, and in contrast to the potential game-winner he threw over the back board against Pitt in MSG a month ago, the freshman buried UNC with a tough, turnaround against very good defense. When Joseph, Jordan Hamilton, Tristan Thompson, and J’Covan Brown are all clicking, Texas has a team with a lot of offensive weapons.

This needs mentioning: St. Bonaventure 112, Ohio 107 4OT

Ohio fought back from 10 down with 9:42 left in regulation to force the first overtime on a three from DJ Cooper with 22 seconds left. In the first overtime, the lead changed hands four times before Cooper once again tied the game on a driving layup with 17 seconds on the clock before the Bonnies missed two free throws. The second overtime saw Ohio grab a three point lead, but Michael Davenport once again tied the game with a three pointer. Only four points were scored in the third overtime before St. Bonaventure opened up a five point lead in the fourth OT, making 7-8 free throws (after going 6-18 from the charity stripe in the first three overtimes) to hold on to the win.

The box score read something like a game of NBA 2K11. Cooper had 43 points, 13 assists, 8 steals, and 8 rebounds while shooting 17-41 from the floor. Andrew Nicholson of St. Bonaventure had 44 points, 12 boards, and 5 assists. Five other players reached double figures. Ohio took 101 shots, 40 from three. St. Bonaventure shot 56.7% from the floor. Five players fouled out. Six played more than 50 minutes. Four of them were on St. Bonaventure, with Nicholson logging all 60 minutes of game time. But, perhaps the most incredible stat, the Bonnies only got six points from their bench in 60 minutes of basketball.

Player of the Week: Josh Selby, Kansas

I’m not giving this to him just because he had an impressive performance against USC. Sure, he had 21 points and hit two clutch threes — including the game-winner with 24 seconds left on the clock — as the Jayhawks knocked off a scrappy USC team. But if we were rating a player based on their performance alone, Selby probably did not live up to his potential on this night. He was hot from three, there is no question, but Selby’s not going to be going 5-8 from three every night. In fact, for a kid known for his slashing ability, Selby did strikingly little inside the arc. Fifteen of this 21 points came on threes, and he hit all three free throws when he was fouled shooting a three. He scored three points and took only three shots doing something other than spotting up while turning the ball over four times. Granted, that was a result of Selby being a good teammate and playing within the Kansas offense, but my point is that the Selby that is playing in the NCAA Tournament will be a different player than the one we saw on Saturday.

No, I’m giving Selby the player of the week in large part because its so damn hard not to feel great for this kid after the performance he had. Kansas was undefeated, but they weren’t undefeated in impressive fashion, struggling to beat mediocre teams like Arizona and Memphis. The Jayhawk faithful, after seeing guys like Brandon Knight and Kyrie Irving play great basketball, had sky-high, almost unfair, expectations for the freshman. And, after sitting out nine games, Selby was debuting in a noon tip on a Saturday two hours before the college football bowl games were to start. There were a lot of eyes on this kid.

And not everyone was rooting for him to win. According to the NCAA, Selby is a cheater. He accepted $6,000 worth of illegal benefits and had a personnel relationship with Carmelo Anthony’s business manager that the NCAA determined bordered too closely on professional.

Me? I wanted to see this happen. I wanted Selby to succeed. Here’s a kid who grew up without the luxuries that many of us grow up with. He spent some time homeless as a kid when his single-mother lost her job. He lived in an area of Baltimore where violence was common. He saw his best-friend get pistol-whipped and had a cousin murdered when he was 15. I fail to see the sense in rooting against a kid that accepted what every recruit accepts and received advisement from a family friend that was illegal because of the job that friend holds.

I may in the minority here, but I want to see Selby succeed. And Hollywood couldn’t have scripted a better debut.

The All-they-were-good-too team

  • G: Marcus Jordan, Central Florida: Jordan scored 23 points on Saturday in a win over Miami. The win may have been costly, however, as Jordan looked like he injured his ankle at the end of the game.
  • G: Jon Diebler, Ohio State: Diebler put on one of the most impressive shooting performances of the season, knocking down nine straight threes en route to 29 points in a win over Florida Gulf Coast.
  • F: Khris Middleton, Texas A&M: Middleton scored a career high 31 points as the Aggies came from behind to knock off Arkansas on Saturday.
  • F: Kris Joseph, Syracuse: Joseph had 21 points, 7 boards, and 4 assists to lead the Orange as they held off a scrappy Iona team.
  • C: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State: The Buckeyes big man has to be considered the favorite to win the Big Ten player of the year award. He had 30 points and 19 rebounds on Saturday as OSU knocked off South Carolina 79-57.

Co-Teams of the Week: Florida Gators, UCLA Bruins, Gonzaga Bulldogs

We’ll get into it more in a bit, but this week was the week of the upset as seven ranked teams were knocked off by unranked opponents. Florida, UCLA, and Gonzaga were three of the unranked teams to do the knocking off, and while it is still too early in the season to say that anyone needs to “desperately” win a game, it is safe to say that the Gators, the Bruins, and the Zags all really, really, really needed their wins.

  • Florida put together one of the most impressive defensive performances of the season in their 57-44 win over Kansas State. The Gators didn’t score for the first seven minutes of the game and, with nine minutes left in the half, they found themselves down 20-8. From that point on, K-State managed to score just 24 points, and that included a stretch when the Wildcats missed 23 of 24 field goals, 17 of those misses coming in a row. Perhaps more important, however, was that Kenny Boynton hit three straight threes at the end of the game to put it out of reach. Boynton had been ice cold for about four straight games. The top four in the SEC East are clearly defined, but their order will change on a daily basis.
  • Talking about a tournament resume for UCLA at this point is a bit silly. Barring a miraculous turnaround, this team is not making the NCAA Tournament. That said, if they are going to make that turnaround, the Bruins, more than anything, seemed like they needed a boost of confidence. After beating BYU 86-79 in Southern California, the Bruins got it. I’ve said all along, there is talent on this UCLA roster, the issue is figuring out how to use that talent and being able to defend. Their defense was still relatively subpar on Saturday, but Reeves Nelson and Josh Smith dominated the Cougars in the paint offensively, and with Tyler Honeycutt and Zeke Jones hitting jumpers, UCLA was clicking. Can this win be a jumping off point for the Bruins?
  • Gonzaga does not have a bad loss of their resume, but regardless of the stretch of your schedule, there’s a point where you need to win something. Otherwise, teams like Oakland and Arkansas-Pine Bluff would be getting at-large bids every year. Gonzaga did just that on Saturday, knocking off Baylor 68-64. More impressive, however, was that the Zags did it with Steven Gray missing the entire second half with back spasms and Elias Harris in foul trouble throughout. He fouled out with more than six minutes left and the game tied. On Saturday, it was Robert Sacre (17 points), Marquise Carter (13 points and two big threes), Kelly Olynyk (the go-ahed three with a minute left), and Sam Dower that made the difference. Gonzaga still has Xavier, Oklahoma State, and Memphis in the non-conference. This team can still earn an at-large bid.

The Week of the Upset: As I mentioned before, seven ranked teams lost to unranked opponents last week. Considering the limited number of games that took place this week, the percentage of ranked teams that lost to their unranked opponents was incredibly high:

  • Tennessee: The Volunteers, coming off of a huge win over Pitt in Pitt, proceeded to blow a 13 point lead and lose to Oakland 89-82 before struggling to find any semblence of an offense in a 49-48 loss at Charlotte. With Bruce Pearl’s looming suspension, now is not a good time for Tennessee to be lacking leadership and an identity.
  • Louisville: The Cardinals dropped a 52-46 decision to a Drexel team that absolutely dominated them inside. If you can force Louisville to play a half court game, they simply don’t have the talent or size on the interior to score or rebound.
  • UNLV: The Rebels lost 68-62 to UC Santa Barbara in a game that the Gauchos ran a zone the majority of the time. UNLV shot 29% on the game and just 6-29 from three. That will do it.
  • BYU: The Bruins lost to UCLA 86-79 in LA. Am I the only one that think Jimmer Fredette is a bit overrated? I know the kid can blow up for 40 on any given night, but he plays no defense and turns the ball over too much. I’m not saying he isn’t an all-american, but putting him in the conversation with guys like Kemba Walker, Jared Sullinger, or (healthy) Kyrie Irving is a stretch to me.
  • Kansas State: So when is it time to panic for Kansas State fans? Scoring is a serious issue for this team, as is point guard play and low post play. In fact, about the only thing that this team is going well right now is rebounding and defending.
  • Baylor: After losing to Gonzaga, the Bears still haven’t won a game outside of Waco. This is also the first game that Baylor has played outside of Waco, and it was still in the state of Texas. I like this team, but there are still questions to be answered.
  • Illinois: The Illini dropped a 57-54 decision to Illinois-Chicago — a 4-7 team in the Horizon League — on Saturday afternoon. Apparently, Illinois is just as inconsistent as they were last season. The Illini better be careful, as this kind of performance against Missouri on Tuesday will result in an embarrassing loss. Isn’t it ironic, however, that the kid that was the hero for UIC on Saturday was named Darrin Williams?

Matchups of the Week:

  • 12/21 – 7:00 pm: USC @ Tennessee
  • 12/21 – 9:00 pm: UNLV vs. Kansas State
  • 12/22 – 3:00 pm: Washington State vs. Mississippi State
  • 12/22 – 7:00 pm: Dayton @ Seton Hall
  • 12/22 – 7:00 pm: Texas @ Michigan State
  • 12/22 – 9:00 pm: Missouri vs. Illinois
  • 12/22 – 11:00 pm: Kansas @ Cal
  • 12/22 – 11:00 pm: Xavier @ Gonzaga
  • 12/23 – 8:00 pm: Georgetown @ Memphis

Edey scores 21 as No. 24 Purdue beats No. 8 Duke 75-56

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
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PORTLAND, Ore. – Zach Edey and No. 24 Purdue shook off a slow start. When No. 8 Duke tried to rally in the second half, the Boilermakers finished strong.

Edey had 21 points and 12 rebounds, and Purdue beat Duke 75-56 on Sunday in the championship game of the Phil Knight Legacy men’s tournament.

Fletcher Loyer scored 18 points for Purdue (6-0), and reserve Caleb Furst finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

“I feel like we weren’t getting the looks we wanted early. As we settled into the game, we kept our poise and kept getting the shots that we wanted,” Edey said. “They were making some tough twos at the beginning of the game, shots we’re OK with all season.”

The 7-foot-4 Edey was 7 for 13 from the field and 7 for 8 at the line. He was named tournament MVP.

“They have the most unique player in the country,” Duke coach Jon Scheyer said of Edey. “He’s a hard guy to prepare for because there’s nobody else like him.”

Duke (6-2) shot 36.2% (21 for 58) from the field. Tyres Proctor scored 16 points for the Blue Devils. Kyle Filipowski and Jeremy Roach each had 14.

Ethan Morton had a steal and a dunk to help Purdue open a 58-41 lead with 15:37 left in the second half.

Duke countered with an 8-0 run, capped by two foul shots by Dariq Whitehead. But Furst made a layup and a jumper to help hold off the Blue Devils.

A hook by Edey and a 3-pointer by Loyer made it 68-56 with 5:03 remaining.

Duke got off to a 14-7 start before Purdue worked its way back into the game.

“I don’t feel like we came out bad today, but they matched our energy,” Edey said.

A 3-pointer by Brandon Newman pushed the Purdue lead to 46-28. A late run by Duke cut the Boilermakers’ lead to 46-35 at halftime.


Duke: It looked as if Roach had an issue with his left foot at one point, but he went back into the game. Scheyer said Roach had hurt his toe.

Purdue: Although neither team had great offensive games, Purdue was the better team from range. Purdue made seven 3-pointers to just two for Duke.


Duke: Hosts Ohio State on Wednesday.

Purdue: Visits Florida State on Wednesday.

No. 18 Alabama beats No. 1 North Carolina 103-101 in 4 OTs

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

PORTLAND, Ore. – Mark Sears had 24 points, five rebounds and five assists, and No. 18 Alabama sent top-ranked North Carolina to a second straight loss with a 103-101 victory in a quadruple-overtime thriller on Sunday in the third-place game of the Phil Knight Invitational tournament.

Jahvon Quinerly added 21 points off the bench for the Crimson Tide (6-1), who knocked off the top-ranked team for the first time since upsetting Stanford in the 2004 NCAA Tournament.

“I was losing track of how many overtimes we were in there at the end,” Crimson Tide coach Nate Oats said. “A lot of credit to our guys. I thought they showed a lot of character when we could have folded.”

Charles Bediako had 14 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks, while Brandon Miller also scored 14 points.

Caleb Love led the Tar Heels (5-2) with 34 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals. Armando Bacot contributed 20 points and 10 rebounds, and R.J. Davis had 19 points and nine rebounds in the second four-overtime game in North Carolina history. The other was a victory over Tulane in 1976.

“At the end of the day, Alabama made one more play than we did,” North Carolina coach Hubert Davis said. “I walked in the locker room and a number of the guys had their head down and I told them to pick their head up. I’m just as disappointed (as the players) in terms of the final outcome, but I couldn’t be any more proud about the way they competed.”

Bediako gave the Crimson Tide the lead for good on a layup with 26 seconds remaining in the fourth overtime.

The Tar Heels, who lost to Iowa State in the semifinals, led by as much as eight in the second half before Alabama came back to tie it. The Crimson Tide retook the lead on a pair of free throws from Gurley with 2 minutes remaining, and later tied with another free throw from Sears with 51 seconds remaining in regulation.

Alabama starting forward Noah Clowney took a hard fall on a dunk attempt four minutes into the first half and had to be helped off the court. He did not return.

The Crimson Tide were 16 for 38 (42.1%) from 3-point range, with Sears making seven.


North Carolina: The Tar Heels figure to take a deep drop in the Top 25 poll.

Alabama: The Crimson Tide bounced back nicely following their loss to No. 20 UConn in the semifinals, beating a top-ranked team in the regular season for the first time since a 66-64 victory over eventual national champion Arkansas on Jan. 8, 1994.


North Carolina: The Tar Heels travel to Bloomington to face No. 11 Indiana on Wednesday.

Alabama: The Crimson Tide return home to face South Dakota State on Saturday.

Clingan lifts UConn past Iowa State for Phil Knight title

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

PORTLAND, Ore. – Donovan Clingan had 15 points and 10 rebounds to power No. 20 UConn to a 71-53 win over Iowa State in the championship game of the Phil Knight Invitational on Sunday night.

Tristen Newton scored 13 points for the Huskies (8-0), who went 20 for 25 at the free-throw line. Alex Karaban and Andre Jackson, Jr. each had 10 points.

Osun Osunniyi led Iowa State (5-1) with 14 points. Tamin Lipsey had 12 points and Jaren Holmes finished with 11.

“They were the more aggressive team,” Iowa State coach T.J. Otzelberger said. “We wanted a physical game. We didn’t want a physical game with them getting the rebounds and then also us putting them on the foul line. Lesson that we’ve got to learn is we need to embrace being the aggressor at both ends of the floor at all times.”

The Huskies had more offensive rebounds (20) than the Cyclones had total rebounds (19), and capitalized on that disparity with 20 second-chance points.

“Those guys are tough,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said. “T.J.`s an excellent coach. They grind people up. To outrebound them, it just speaks to how tough we were.”

Clingan, who was named tournament MVP, scored eight points to help UConn to a 38-28 lead at the break.

Iowa State closed to 53-48 on Holmes’ 3-pointer midway through the second half. But Karaban made a 3 and a dunk, and Newton’s jumper made it 60-48 with 7:13 remaining.


UConn: The Huskies couldn’t have asked for a better showing in Portland, winning all three of their games.

Iowa State: The Cyclones picked up nice wins over Villanova and top-ranked North Carolina in the earlier rounds but ended with their first loss of the season.


UConn: The Huskies return home to face Oklahoma State on Thursday.

Iowa State: The Cyclones return home to face North Dakota on Tuesday.

No. 3 UConn rallies past No. 9 Iowa to win Phil Knight title

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

PORTLAND, Ore. – Azzi Fudd scored 24 points to rally No. 3 UConn past No. 9 Iowa 86-79 Sunday in the championship game of the first Phil Knight Legacy women’s tournament.

“It really was difficult to play against these guys,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “I don’t think we felt really good about ourselves at halftime. I thought we came out in the third quarter and really took control of the game.”

Fudd had plenty of help, with Aaliyah Edwards (20 points, 13 rebounds) and three other Huskies (5-0) scoring in double-figures. Edwards was named MVP of the tournament.

Iowa (5-2) star Caitlin Clark had 25 points, and Kate Martin added 20.

Edwards got UConn off to a strong start, scoring 10 points while the Huskies built a 20-14 edge.

Clark and the Hawkeyes then surged with a 13-2 run to begin the second quarter and led 41-35 at halftime. Clark scored 17 points in the first half.

Martin hit a 3-pointer in the third quarter for a 52-41 lead, but UConn countered with 11 straight points and led 61-57 entering the fourth.

Iowa opened the final quarter with nine straight points for a 66-61 lead, but the Huskies countered and pulled away in the middle of the period, leading 79-70 after Carolina Ducharme’s 3-pointer with 3:42 left.

“Azzi Fudd really came to life in that third quarter,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “I was really pleased with our first half. If it wasn’t for that third quarter, but yes, we play four. And we missed some shots in the fourth quarter that we usually make.”


Iowa: Iowa dominated the battle of the 3-point line for much of the game. The Hawkeyes made 13 3-pointers to only eight for UConn.

UConn: Sunday was a tale of two halves for Fudd. Fudd started the game 1 for 8 from the field but was red-hot in the second half, going 9 for 11.


Iowa: The Hawkeyes will host N.C. State on Thursday.

UConn: The Huskies will host Providence on Friday.

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

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

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.”


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.


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.


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.


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

Kansas: The Jayhawks host Texas Southern on Monday.