Wednesday’s Morning Shootaround: Xavier’s big win, wild night in the MVC

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Kentucky 73, Tennessee 61: See here.

Princeton 62, Penn 59 OT: See here.

Xavier 65, Georgia 57: The Musketeers picked up a huge win on Tuesday night in Athens, knocking off a fellow bubble dweller on the road and in turn taking another step towards locking up a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Tu Holloway was once again impressive, although on this night he only showed up for the final 14 minutes. Held scoreless to that point, Holloway took over, closing out an 11-2 run that turned a 37-32 deficit into a 43-39 lead the Muskies wouldn’t relinquish. All told, Holloway dominated play down the stretch, scoring 18 points and keeping the ball in his hands seemingly every possession. He also happened to draw Trey Thompkins fifth foul on a drive to the rim late in the second half.

The Musketeers still have some work to do — they can’t pull a Charlotte and lose out in the regular season — but with only two tough games left down the stretch (at Duquesne on Saturday, at Dayton later this month), its reasonable to assume that Xavier will be dancing come Selection Sunday.

The loss is tougher for Georgia to swallow. The Bulldogs are 36th in the RPI, but they have lost four of their last seven games, all of which came by eight points or less or in overtime, and three of the four came at home. they have a nice win over Kentucky, but without much else on their resume — wins over Colorado and Georgia Tech don’t carry much weight — they will need to land a marquee win or two down the stretch. The problem? They get Vanderbilt at home, but they have to travel to Tennessee, Florida, and Alabama.

Cincinnati 71, DePaul 68: This was less of a must-win game for Cincy than it was a can’t-lose-if-you-want-to-dance game. With Yancy Gates back from his one game suspension, the Bearcats jumped out to a 41-26 halftime lead, but they couldn’t execute offensively or hit free throws down the stretch, allowing DePaul to get back into it. The Blue Demons had a three at the buzzer rim out that would have tied the game.

The MVC: Southern Illinois had lost five straight games and were playing without four member of their rotation, but they still went to Wichita State and knocked off the MVC-leading Shockers 56-53. The loss opens the door for Missouri State, who plays Bradley tonight with a chance to tie WSU atop the league standings.

It gets worse for Shocker fans. Not only did this loss end any up of a possible at-large bid, Wichita State now has to run a gauntlet to close out the season. They have road trips to the three teams directly behind them in the standings and host VCU and Creighton.

Northern Iowa would have had a chance to get back within a game of first place with a home date against the Shockers on Saturday, but UNI lost their second straight game on Tuesday night 70-62 at Evansville. They are now in third place in the league and are two games behind both the Bears and the Shockers in the loss column with four games left. Throw in Creighton’s loss to Drake, and its the first time since February of 2008 that all three lost on the same day.

Clemson 77, Boston College 69: The Tigers did exactly what they needed to do is they are going to earn an NCAA Tournament bid — they took care of similar competition at home in league play. The Tigers, who are 17-7 and 6-4 in the ACC, are making a nice case as the fourth best team in that league. They defend, they have a talented guard in Demontez Stitt, and they have a couple of athletic big guys. But with a resume that is supported by a win over Florida State at home and non-conference victories against SoCon opponents Charleston and Wofford, the Tigers would do themselves a favor by handling either UNC or Duke down the stretch.

No. 12 Purdue 67, Indiana 53: E’Twaun Moore looked like E’Twaun Moore again, scoring 25 points on 7-15 shooting, sparking all of Purdue’s key runs, and leading the Boilermakers to a tougher-than-expected win over Indiana.

Other Notable Games:

  • No. 6 SDSU 85, Utah 53
  • George Mason 78, UNC-Wilmington 63
  • Jacksonville 71, North Florida 69

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