UNLV 71, Nevada 67: A disturbing trend is starting to emerge with UNLV. After building up leads against teams they are more talented than, the Rebels struggled late and allowed their opponent to keep things closer than they should be. It happened when they played Grand Canyon during the weekend, and it happened on Monday night when they hosted Nevada. UNLV built a lead that grew to as big as 16, but they couldn’t close out. Nevada went on a 19-4 run that turned a 64-48 advantage into a 68-67 lead. But Anthony Marshall hit three of four free throws down the stretch to ice the game.
The balance and the depth of this UNLV roster is impressive. They have a number of guys on their bench that probably deserve to start at this point in their career — Justin Hawkins, Quintrell Thomas, Carlos Lopez. They also have a number of play-making defenders with Anthony Marshall and Mike Moser on the roster. The issue that I see is on the offensive end of the floor, as UNLV doesn’t really have a go-to scorer. They don’t have that guy that you can isolate and trust to get someone an open look. On the other hand, a very talented Nevada team is still struggling to find an identity and learn how to play together. If they continue to play like they did on Monday night, there is no chance they can win the WAC.
Notre Dame 59, Detroit 53: Ray McCallum started off the game playing like a guy that deserved to be mentioned amongst the top 15 point guards in the country. He hit four threes in the first seven minutes off the game, adding a pair of assists during that stretch as the Titans controlled the game early. A McCallum layup with 14 minutes left in the game gave Detroit a 41-33 lead, but that would end up being the last point that the Titans scored for nearly eight minutes. By the time that Detroit was able to get another bucket, Notre Dame had gone on a 14-0 run and opened up a 47-41 lead. Detroit never got closer than four the rest of the way.
This was an impressive win for Notre Dame. The Titans are a good team even with Eli Holman suspended, they have some talented pieces on their roster. The Irish, who are a team usually known for their offensive prowess, dug deep defensively and managed to get some stops. This took Detroit out of their rhythm and allowed the Irish to make that big run. An even better sign? Notre Dame won a tough game despite not having Tim Abromaitis in the lineup. Pat Cannaughton and Jerian Grant both made some big shots down the stretch.
Providence 80, Fairfield 72: Its not often that a Big East team knocking off a MAAC opponent is surprising, but in this case it was. Providence is a team everyone expects to compete for the bottom of the Big East, while Fairfield is one of the best mid-major programs in the country. The x-factor here? Ed Cooley. The new Providence coach can also be tabbed the old Fairfield coach, meaning that he knows the players, their tendencies and their strengths and weaknesses. And while a scrappy Stag team was able to make a couple of comebacks from double-digit deficits, Providence proved to be too much. Vincent Council had 26 points and seven assists to lead the way while Bryce Cotton added 24 points.
This is a big loss for Fairfield’s NCAA Tournament hopes. Providence is going to finish near the bottom of the Big East, and they went to Fairfield and earned a pretty solid victory. Fairfield still has games left against Old Dominion, Drexel, UConn and the Old Spice Classic, but they aren’t going to win all of those. Fairfield was a long shot to earn an at-large bid as it was, and this won’t make their road any easier.
No. 23 Gonzaga 89, Washington State 81: Kevin Pangos was a star in his first appearance on national television, going for 33 points, hitting nine threes and dishing out six assists. But for the second straight game, the Zags allowed a team they had beaten (they were up by 20 at one point) to crawl back into the game. Wazzu’s back court got hot late, but the run started too late, as Wazzu ran out of time.
Florida International 79, George Mason 76 OT: George Mason fans better get used to results like this with Paul Hewitt now heading up their program. FIU jumped on GMU early and managed to hold on to control of the game thoughout much of the first 40 minutes. But Mason went on a late run to tie the game with seven seconds left. But the play Paul Hewitt drew up earned the Patriots a contested, fadeaway 15 footer from Ryan Pearson. GMU dug themselves another hole in the overtime, but a couple threes and a turnover form FIU earned them the ball back with 11 seconds on the clock but, again, the Patriots couldn’t muster anything better than a challenged three by Pearson. Sounds like a Paul Hewitt team. The loss is a big hit for George Mason’s at-large profile, and no, its not too early to start thinking about that.
Nebraska 64, USC 61 2OT: Nebraska picked up a pretty big road win at the Galen Center on Monday night, taking down the Trojans in one of the ugliest games you will ever see. It was sloppy, the offensive execution was atrocious and neither team able to throw the ball in the ocean. When things were all said and done, the Huskers pulled out a double-overtime win with 64 points. Think about that. Bo Spencer led all scorers with 22 points and, during a couple short stretches, looked like he might be capable of carrying Nebraska at times this season. Maurice Jones had 18 points for USC, but the guy that everyone wanted to see — Dewayne Dedmon — finished with just four points and nine boards while battling through foul trouble much of the game.
St. Mary’s 57, Northern Iowa 41: Northern Iowa looked flat out terrible offensively, but its tough to blame them. The Panthers played in Virginia on Saturday, flew across the country and then at a tip that was at 1:00 am central time. Their defense showed up, however, giving St. Mary’s fits for the first 25 or so minutes, until Matthew Dellavedova sparked a spurt that pushed the lead up to 20. Dellavedova finished with 11 points and seven assists (along with seven turnovers).
Temple 73, Penn 67 OT: Temple is supposed to be a team that will compete with Xavier for the A-10 title, so on the surface, being taken to overtime by Penn is a bit worrisome. But dig a bit deeper, and its not a surprise this happened. Not only is this a Big 5 game — rivalries are always closer than you expect — but Penn matches up fairly well with the Owls. The Quakers have a quality back court, and it showed with Zack Rosen going for 27 points, six boards and six assists. In the end, however, Temple was the better team and got the benefit of a late technical foul on the Penn head coach that allowed them to put the game out of reach.
Purdue 67, High Point 65: Purdue got 26 points from Ryne Smith, who tied the Purdue record by hitting eight three pointers, but the Boilermakers allowed High Point to keep things close by shooting 6-19 from the foul line and jacking up 32 three pointers. Robbie Hummel added 18 points in the win. High Point at a shot to win in the closing seconds, but Nick Barbour missed a good look at a three.
No. 24 Florida State 73, Central Florida 50: Bernard James had 18 points, 11 boards and three blocks to lead a balanced attack for the Seminoles, who, at times, looked dominating defensively. Its worth noting that Michael Snaer is averaged 15.5 ppg through two games for the Seminoles.
The rest of the top 25:
– No. 4 UConn 78, Wagner 66: Jeremy Lamb had 20 points and Shabazz Napier went for 21, but the Huskies struggled against Wagner’s pressure — 19 turnovers, six from Napier — which allowed the Seahawks to hang around.
– No. 5 Syracuse 92, Manhattan 56: Dion Waiters has been the best guard for the Cuse early in the season. He had 17 points and five assists against the Jaspers. Fab Melo added 11 points, nine boards (eight offensive) and four blocks as well.
– No. 15 Alabama 74, Oakland 57: JaMychal Green had 18 points and Tony Mitchell added 12 points and nine boards as the Crimson Tide rolled past an Oakland team many expected to provide a tough, early test.
– No. 17 Michigan 64, Towson 47: Tim Hardaway Jr. had 15 points and Trey Burke and Evan Smotrycz added 13 apiece as Michigan put it in cruise control early. The Wolverines were up 21-0 midway through the first half.
– No. 23 Marquette 99, Norfolk State 68: Jae Crowder went for 25 points, 10 boards, four assists and three steals while Darius Johnson-Odom had 24 points and six assists in another Marquette rout. Kyle O’Quinn finished with just four points in a foul-plagued 20 minutes.
– No. 25 Missouri 81, Mercer 63: Phil Pressey led four Tigers in double figures with 22 points, five steals and four assists as Mizzou rolled.
Other notable scores:
– Georgetown 86, UNC Greensboro 45
– Boston College 67, New Hampshire 64
– Georgia Tech 70, Delaware State 52
– Virginia Tech 91, Monmouth 46
– Old Dominion 77, Long Island 69
– Ole Miss 69, Grambling 39
– Minnesota 71, South Dakota State 55
– Kansas State 74, Loyola (IL) 61
– Iowa 95, North Carolina A&T 79
– Davidson 74, Richmond 61
– Illinois 66, SIU-Edwardsville 46
– Washington 93, Portland 63
Kyle Vinales, Central Connecticut State: The freshman went for 39 points in an overtime loss to Niagara. More impressive? Vinales fouled out with eight minutes left in regulation.
Jae Crowder, Marquette: Crowder showcased his versatility, going for 25 points, 10 boards, four assists and three steals in Marquette’s 99-68 win over Norfolk State.
Gerardo Suero, Albany: Suero had 29 points, nine boards, three assists and three steals in a 77-68 win over Brown.
Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga: The freshman had quite a national debut. He went for 33 points and six assists, putting on a show as he knocked down nine threes for the Zags. More impressive? At one point in the second half, Pangos was trending nationally on twitter.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.