Day 2 recap: Mason thrills, Illinois thrives, Vols stink

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Game of the Day: George Mason 61, Villanova 57

Villanova looked to be in control of this game. Corey Fisher was playing well, Corey Stokes was shooting well, and Mouph Yarou was a monster in the paint. On the other hand, George Mason was getting nothing out of their stars, as Cam Long and Ryan Pearson were both struggling to score. The Patriots were able to chip into Nova’s lead, getting it to within one point on a couple of different occasions, but each run that George Mason made was answered by the Wildcats.

But down six with two minutes left, the Patriots made a run. Isaiah Tate hit a long three from the corner followed by a and-one in the paint from Pearson. After another stop, Mike Morrison threw down a huge tip-dunk with 55 seconds left. Fisher was fouled shooting a three and hit all three free throws, but Luke Hancock drilled a step-back three with 30 seconds left for a 59-57 lead. Villanova missed two shots at the other end, and Mike Morrison had a dunk at the buzzer to give us the final margin. Gus Johnson was perfect for this one.

Player of the Day: Derrick Williams, Arizona

In a game full of storylines, the outcome probably exceeded the hype. Williams originally committed to USC, but with the drama surrounding the O.J. Mayo scandal, Williams re-opened his recruitment. He nearly went to Memphis, but opted on staying closer to his Southern California home and head to Arizona. That choice would haunt Memphis and Josh Pastner, a former Arizona assistant.

Williams scored 22 points and added 10 rebounds for the Wildcats, including a late 3-pointer that gave Arizona a 68-65 lead late in the second half. Memphis would scrap their way back into the game, getting the lead down to 75-74 on a layup after a steal on an in-bounds pass. After two Momo Jones free throws put Arizona up by three, Arizona fouled Joe Jackson with 4.6 seconds left. Jackson missed first and hit the second. The rebound came to Wesley Witherspoon who looked to have an open layup until Williams came out of no where to block the shot and seal the win.

Team of the Day: Illinois Fighting Illini

UNLV was the overwhelming favorite to win this game. It was a combination of reasons, but the biggest was that the Illini had struggled down the stretch of the season. It wasn’t for a lack of talent — quite the opposite, actually, as the Illini have the talent to be a top 15 team. The issue was execution. Illinois, and specifically star Demetri McCamey, was playing selfish basketball. There was no aggressiveness, they were settling for tough threes, and it looked like, for the most part this team had lost their confidence.

Well, the Illini apparently solved that problem. Illinois jumped out to a 39-16 lead, took a 46-24 at half, and cruised to a 73-62 win. McCamey finished with 17 points and seven assists, making seemingly every play early in the game, while Mike Davis added 22 points, nine boards, and five assists. It sets up and intriguing situation on Sunday. The Illini will face Kansas, and if they are once again playing this well, they have a shot at knocking off the Jayhawks.

Anti-Team of the Day: Tennessee Volunteers

Well, the Vols quit on their season. Down 33-29 at the half, Michigan absolutely dominated the second half, outscoring Tennessee 42-16 and winning 75-45 despite not making a single free throw. And as much credit as the Wolverines deserve for the win, the blame has to fall square at the feet of the Vols, who rolled over and died with about 18 minutes left in the game. It’s tough to rip the kids, who have been through a tough, drama-filled season rife with scandal and rumor-mongering. The question now becomes whether Bruce Pearl will still be Tennessee’s coach next season.

Texas 85, Oakland 81: Tristan Thompson won the battle of the bigs, finishing with 17 points, 10 boards, and seven blocks while holding Keith Benson to 15 points, 11 boards, and 6-15 shooting. More importantly, however, the Longhorns rolled past the Golden Grizzlies. Don’t let the final score fool you, Texas was in control for most of this game, opening up a lead as big as 17 in the second half. Reggie Hamilton led a surge at the end to make the score respectable, but the 40 points that Texas got from Jordan Hamilton and J’Covan Brown was just too much.

Marquette 66, Xavier 55: The Golden Eagles made a statement against Xavier. The Musketeers, who were considered the best team in the Atlantic 10, lost to the only bubble team in the Big East conference. And that 11 point final margin doesn’t do this game justice. The Golden Eagles were up by as much as 18 points in the second half, and Xavier never was closer than eight. Tu Holloway finished with five points on 1-9 shooting. Darius Johnson-Odom had 19 points to lead Marquette, while Jimmy Butler and Jae Crowder combined for 25 points on 9-14 shooting.

Washington 68, Georgia 65: This was an impressive win for the Huskies. They had no answer for Trey Thompkins inside — he finished with 26 points and 11 boards — and they shot just 4-18 from three, but they still managed to hold a pretty solid lead for much of the second half. Washington used a 17-7 push at the start of the second half and was bouyed by 19 points and seven assists from Isaiah Thomas.

Florida State 57, Texas A&M 50: In one of the uglier defensive battles we’ve seen in this tournament, the Seminoles pulled away down the stretch on the strength of Derwin Kitchen (15 points, seven boards, three assists), Bernard James (10 points, three blocks), and a big jumper from Michael Snaer. More importantly, however, Chris Singleton was back in action. He played just 16 minutes, and had nearly as many fouls (four) as points (five). He’s definitely not 100 percent yet.

VCU 74, Georgetown 56: VCU jumped all over the Hoyas, taking a 35-24 into halftime and pushing the lead to as much as 25 in the second half. VCU hit 12 threes and got 26 points out of Brandon Rozzell in the win. Joey Rodriguez added 17 points and seven assists. Surprisingly, it wasn’t Jamie Skeen that made the difference tonight. Georgetown never seemed comfortable against the Ram’s press and Chris Wright was clearly not at 100 percent. How about this — Wright and Austin Freeman combined for 16 points, no assists, five turnovers, and 6-27 shooting, including 0-14 on threes.

Syracuse 77, Indiana State 60: The Sycamores hung around for about 30 minutes, but the Syracuse frontline ended up being too much. Rick Jackson had 23 points and seven boards, CJ Fair added 14 points and seven boards, and Kris Joseph had 10 points and 10 boards in the win.

UNC 102, Long Island 87: The Blackbirds never seriously threatened the Tar Heels, but this was still one of the day’s most entertaining games. Both teams like to get up and down the floor, and the result was 189 combined points. John Henson was the star, finishing with 28 points, 11 boards, and six blocks, but Tyler Zeller (32 points, nine boards, three blocks) and Harrison Barnes (24 points, 16 boards) also played great. I think it is safe to say that UNC’s front line was too much for LIU.

Notre Dame 69, Akron 56: The Zips gave the Irish a fight, trailing by just four points at the half and remaining within striking distance for much of the second half. Carleton Scott was too much inside — 14 boards, three blocks, three steals — while all six of the Irish rotational players finished with between eight and 15 points.

Purdue 65, St. Peter’s 43: The Peacocks proved to be tough defensively, but they just didn’t have enough firepower offensively to knock off the Boilermakers. JaJuan Johnson finished with 16 points (on 6-16 shooting) and 16 boards while E’Twaun Moore scored 19 points in the win.

Duke 87, Hampton 45: There usually isn’t much to report for a game like this. But since Kyrie Irving played for the first time in three months, there is. Irving led the team with 14 points, but most of them came in garbage time. He looked rusty and out of shape, but that is sure to wear off in the next week. Watch out.

Ohio State 75, Texas-San Antonio 46: This was a game for all of about seven minutes. Then Ohio State took over. William Buford led four scorers in double figures with 18 points, and the Buckeyes assists on 26 of their 29 field goals.

Kansas 72, Boston 53: Kansas won by 19 points, but it was a dog fight in the first half. BU’s John Holland, playing on a bum ankle, scored 19 points and kept the Terriers within four points at the half. In the end, however, the Jayhawks were just too talented. The five Jayhawks starters finished with between eight and 16 points.

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

No. 9 Kansas blows lead, then holds off No. 5 Texas, 88-80

Evert Nelson/The Capital-Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK
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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Dajuan Harris Jr. was willing to acknowledge that Kansas was facing something rare when fifth-ranked and Big 12-leading Texas arrived at Allen Fieldhouse.

The defending national champs played like it.

Gradey Dick scored 21 points, Harris had 17 points, six rebounds and five assists, and the ninth-ranked Jayhawks held on after blowing a 14-point first-half lead to beat the Longhorns 88-80 and tighten the league race.

Kevin McCullar Jr. added 16 points, Joseph Yesufu scored 14 off the bench and KJ Adams finished with 10, helping the Jayhawks (19-5, 7-4) overcome an off night from Jalen Wilson. The league’s leading scorer at 21.5 points per game battled foul trouble and was held to just two, ending his streak of 25 straight double-figure games.

“We knew we had to come in here and get a win,” said Dick, who had the Jayhawks’ only two 3-pointers. “The big thing, just in preparation for the week, was coming out with energy. When we do that, we’re a scary team.”

The Jayhawks needed everyone’s help holding off the Longhorns’ Marcus Carr.

The Minnesota transfer, who had a game-high 29 points, kept answering Kansas baskets down the stretch. His 3-pointer got the Longhorns within 77-68 with 2:25 left, three free throws made it 78-71 with 1:31 to go, and his three-point play got the Longhorns (19-5, 8-3) within 86-80 with 23.5 seconds remaining.

Texas quickly fouled Dick at the other end, and his free throw with 18 seconds left helped to put the game away.

“It was as close to a must-win as you could have this early in the season to win the league,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “You go down three games with seven left, you’d have to win out and get a lot of help from others. Now, we still have as hard a schedule as everybody, but we can kind of control our own destiny where if we play well, we have a shot.”

Timmy Allen finished with 18 points for the Longhorns. Sir’Jabari Rice had 12 before fouling out.

“It was their night tonight in terms of what they got done,” Texas interim coach Rodney Terry said.

The Longhorns have made a habit of overcoming double-digit deficits: 18 down to beat TCU, 12 down to beat Texas Tech and 14 down to beat No. 12 Kansas State last Saturday in a game played just down the road.

So it wasn’t that surprising when Texas dug another 14-point hole Monday night.

Just like the Longhorns did in Manhattan, though, they began to rally. Texas shook off 10 first-half turnovers to get within 42-35 by the break, then kept coming in the second half. Hunter hit a 3-pointer, Carr added a couple of buckets and it was 43-all when Self called a timeout to slow Texas’ momentum.

Unlike the Horned Frogs, Red Raiders and Wildcats, the Jayhawks rose to the challenge.

McCullar’s three-point play while they were clinging to a 49-48 lead gave them a boost, and Dick added a couple of free throws. But it was back-to-back buckets by Harris, who is known more as a distributor than as a scorer, that pushed the lead to 58-50 with about 12 minutes to go.

Texas closed within 66-60 but, after the Jayhawks pulled down two offensive boards, Dick hit another 3-pointer. And when Yesufu bookended a couple of free throws by Harris, the lead had stretched to 75-62 with 3 minutes to go.

The Jayhawks were able to fend off Carr and the Longhorns from there.

“Give those guys credit. They came in and played at a very high level,” Terry said, “and we knew that would be the case.”

BANGED-UP BIRDS

The Jayhawks were missing several backups. Zack Clemence has a hurt knee, Bobby Pettiford Jr. is dealing with a hamstring injury and Zuby Ejiofor a foot injury. Kyle Cuffe Jr. (knee) and Cam Martin (shoulder) also were out.

“I thought the bench was great. As good as they’ve been all year,” Self said. “We had nine guys we could put in the game.”

BIG PICTURE

Texas has struggled to get off to good starts this season, and it seemed the energy the Longhorns expended climbing back into Monday night’s game was missing by the end. Carr tried to carry them but he needed more help.

Kansas got the production it needed from the bench. Yesufu provided the scoring pop but big man Ernest Udeh Jr. and guard MJ Rice, both seldom-used freshmen, also provided important minutes for the Jayhawks.

UP NEXT

Texas heads home after its Sunflower State swing to play West Virginia.

Kansas has a two-game trip next with Oklahoma on Saturday and Oklahoma State.

No. 19 Miami rolls past Duke 81-59, moves to 13-0 at home

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
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CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Miami guard Isaiah Wong pointed to the crowd, waving his arms, asking for noise, asking for the celebration to start.

The lead, at that point, was 3-0.

Didn’t matter. From start to finish, the Hurricanes were in total control — and got a rare rout over Duke.

Norchad Omier had 17 points and 10 rebounds, Jordan Miller added 16 points and No. 19 Miami never trailed on the way to a 81-59 win over Duke on Monday night.

Wooga Poplar scored 14 and Wong scored 11 for Miami (19-5, 10-4 Atlantic Coast Conference). The Hurricanes led by as many as 26 and improved to 13-0 at home.

“That was a great performance, from start to finish,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “There was a lot of energy. And all I can tell you is, everybody who came tonight’s game is invited back – because that’s the kind of environment that we’d love to have every night.”

Ryan Young and Dereck Lively II each scored 11 points for Duke (17-7, 8-5), which saw its three-game winning streak snapped. Jeremy Roach added 10 points for the Blue Devils, who were outrebounded 38-31 and committed 21 turnovers.

It was the second game this season where Duke never led, and the 22-point loss was its second-worst this season. The Blue Devils lost to N.C. State by 24 on Jan. 4.

“Congratulations to Miami. There’s a reason they haven’t lost here at home,” Duke coach Jon Scheyer said. “They’re really good. They obviously had it clicking on all cylinders right away.”

It was the second-biggest Miami victory margin in the series between the schools, topped only by the Hurricanes’ 90-63 win over then-No. 1 Duke on Jan. 23, 2013. Miami also enjoyed huge edges in points off turnovers (23-9), second-chance points (24-9) and fast-break points (17-7).

And Miami got payback for a 68-66 loss at Duke earlier this season.

“We had something to prove,” Miller said. “They beat us last time. We were revved up for this game and we got it done.”

Duke fans started leaving with 4:24 left and Miami up by 26, the Hurricanes’ student section serenading them as they departed.

Miami ran out to a 13-1 lead and stretched it to 34-17 later in the first half, putting Duke in unfamiliar territory quickly. The Blue Devils had trailed by more than 15 in just two other games – by 29 to N.C. State, and by 19 to Purdue.

“When you have 21 turnovers, you can’t expect yourself to have a good game,” Lively said.

It was 40-26 at the half. When Miami opened the second half on a 9-0 run to build a 23-point lead, the outcome quickly became academic.

“The crowd fueled us to keep it going,” Larranaga said.

BIG PICTURE

Duke: Maybe it’s too difficult to quickly reset after a rivalry game. This is the third consecutive year the Blue Devils have lost the game immediately following their first matchup of the season with North Carolina. “It’s tough. It’s not easy. But it’s what you have to do. … It’s part of playing in the ACC,” Scheyer said.

Miami: The Hurricanes remained one of six teams from major conferences to be unbeaten at home – the others being Alabama, UCLA, Providence, Iowa State and Duke. Across Division I, 20 teams entered Monday with perfect home marks.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Miami has been in the poll for nine straight weeks, the program’s longest such run since being ranked in each of the first 11 polls of the 2017-18 season – and figures to stay there if it tops Louisville on Saturday. Duke has been out of the AP Top 25 for the last four weeks; the Blue Devils were two slots away in the poll released Monday, behind only Florida Atlantic on the “also receiving votes” list.

BARRY HONORED

Basketball Hall of Famer Rick Barry, Miami’s all-time leading scorer, was presented with a customized basketball during a first-half stoppage of play.

UP NEXT

Duke: Visits No. 8 Virginia on Saturday.

Miami: Hosts Louisville on Saturday.

Minnesota-Illinois postponed for COVID-19 in Gophers program

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS – Minnesota’s game at Illinois that was scheduled for Tuesday has been postponed because of COVID-19 health and safety protocols within the Gophers’ program.

The announcement was made Monday by Minnesota, which didn’t specify how many players would have been unable to play.

The Gophers (7-15, 1-11) had only eight available scholarship players for their last game, an 81-46 loss to Maryland on Saturday. Dawson Garcia (ankle) has missed the last four games, and Braeden Carrington (leg) has missed the last six. Parker Fox and Isaiah Ihnen will not play this season while recovering from knee injuries.

The game will be rescheduled by the Big Ten, with input from both schools.

Minnesota is next scheduled to host Iowa on Sunday. Illinois (16-7, 7-5) will host No. 24 Rutgers on Saturday.

Purdue stays No. 1 in AP Top 25; NC State in at No. 22

Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times/USA TODAY NETWORK
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Purdue’s unquestioned grip on No. 1 in The Associated Press poll is gone after a weekend loss. That didn’t stop the Boilermakers from remaining at the top anyway.

The Boilermakers earned 38 of 62 first-place votes in the poll to remain at No. 1 for a third straight week and seventh time this season. Purdue was the unanimous choice last week, the first for any team this season, before falling at Indiana over the weekend for only its second loss.

The Boilermakers (22-2, 11-2) have a leading candidate for national player of the year in Zach Edey and KenPom’s No. 1-ranked offense (121.1 points scored per 100 possessions) to go with a top-25 defense. But they got down big, committed 16 turnovers and allowed the Hoosiers — up to No. 18 this week — to shoot nearly 53% in a 79-74 loss Saturday.

“When we go to Zach and we make some perimeter shots, the defense gets better sometimes when the offense flows,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said at his postgame news conference. “And you can’t do that. You can always rebound, you can always take care of the ball, you can always make your free throws, those things there.”

The loss meant Houston collected 22 first-place votes as it rose one spot to No. 2, followed by No. 3 Alabama and No. 4 Arizona in each claiming one.

THE TOP TIER

Texas jumped five spots to No. 5, shooting past Tennessee, which fell four spots to No. 6 after losing last week at Florida.

UCLA, Virginia, Kansas and Marquette rounded out the top 10, with Shaka Smart’s Golden Eagles cracking the top 10 for the first time since 2019.

RISING

The Longhorns’ jump marked the biggest of the week, followed by Marquette and Miami each rising four spots. No. 13 Xavier, No. 15 Saint Mary’s and No. 21 UConn joined Indiana in each moving up three positions.

In all, 12 teams rose from last week’s rankings.

SLIDING

Kansas State took the week’s biggest tumble, falling five spots to No. 12 after losing at Kansas and at home to Texas last week. No. 16 Gonzaga joined Tennessee in falling four spots after its overtime loss at Saint Mary’s.

In all, nine teams fell from last week’s rankings.

STATUS QUO

Purdue was the only team to remain in the same position this week.

WELCOME

North Carolina State earned its first AP Top 25 ranking in four years, checking in at No. 22.

The Wolfpack (19-5, 9-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) spent six weeks in the poll during the 2018-19 season. N.C. State already has surpassed the win total for each of the last two seasons and is in contention for the program’s first NCAA Tournament berth since 2018.

Creighton and Rutgers joined N.C. State as this week’s new additions to the poll, though both were ranked earlier this season. The Bluejays were No. 9 in the preseason poll and peaked at No. 7 before falling out by mid-December, while the Scarlet Knights spent a week at No. 23 in mid-January.

FAREWELL (FOR NOW)

Florida Atlantic (No. 19), Clemson (No. 20) and Auburn (No. 25) fell out of this week’s poll.

CONFERENCE WATCH

The Big 12 leads all leagues with six ranked teams, including No. 11 Iowa State, No. 14 Baylor and No. 17 TCU. The Big East is next with five ranked teams, followed by the Big Ten and ACC with three each.

The Pac-12, Southeastern and West Coast conferences each have two ranked teams, while the American Athletic and Mountain West each have one.

Indiana reaches No. 2 in women’s AP Top 25; South Carolina still No. 1

Noe Padilla/Journal & Courier/USA TODAY NETWORK
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South Carolina beat a top opponent to remain No. 1 in the women’s poll and now has a showdown with another one looming this weekend.

The Gamecocks (23-0) topped then- No. 5 UConn 81-77 to remain unbeaten and stay the unanimous choice atop the poll from the 28-member national media panel. After facing Auburn, South Carolina will play No. 3 LSU in a matchup of the last two unbeatens in Division I women’s college basketball.

Dawn Staley’s team has won 29 consecutive games and has been No. 1 in the poll for 33 consecutive weeks. That’s one week short of tying the Huskies for the third-longest streak atop the poll. Only UConn (51 weeks) and Louisiana Tech (36) have had longer runs at No. 1.

While South Carolina has had a stranglehold on No. 1 for more than a year, Indiana is making its first appearance ever at No. 2 after Stanford lost to Washington.

“I’m going to relish this for a minute, knowing where the program was to where it is,” Indiana coach Teri Moren said. “We’ve made a lot of history since we’ve been here in our nine seasons and it’s one of the more historical things we’ve been able to accomplish. Give our players credit, I don’t want to discount what a big achievement this is. We’re more than humbled to be No. 2.”

Indiana has won 10 straight since suffering its lone loss of the season to Michigan State. The Hoosiers have a tough stretch coming up, starting with a home game against No. 5 Iowa. Indiana, which hadn’t been ranked higher than fourth, then plays No. 13 Ohio State and 12th-ranked Michigan.

“That’s why we take it one game at a time, but you understand the magnitude of what’s ahead of us. I tell the kids all the time we’re in control of our own destiny,” Moren said.

LSU remained at No. 3 after close wins over Tennessee, Georgia and Texas A&M. The Tigers have a week to prepare for the Gamecocks.

UConn moved up one spot to fourth after its close loss to the Gamecocks and Iowa was fifth.

The Cardinal fell to sixth with Utah, Maryland, Duke and Notre Dame rounding out the top 10. The Blue Devils beat the Irish to take over sole possession of first in the ACC and vault up six spots in the poll. It’s Duke’s best ranking since the team finished the 2017 season ranked ninth.

FALLING CYCLONES

It was a rough week for Iowa State, which lost to Kansas by one point and Baylor by six. The Cyclones fell nine spots in the poll from 12th to 21st.

RE-ENTRY

Colorado came back into the poll at No. 25 after beating Oregon and Oregon State over the weekend. The Buffaloes were ranked for four weeks before falling out last week. Middle Tennessee dropped out of the poll after losing both its games last week.