Thursday’s Shootaround: UNLV survives in 2OT in an exciting night of hoops

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No. 20 UNLV 94, UC-Santa Barbara 88 2OT: This game had about as wild of a finish as you’ll see in a basketball game. After Mike Moser hit his sixth and final three of the game, UNLV took a ten point lead with just two minutes left in the game. But thanks to a series of turnovers and missed free throws from UNLV and a little bit of luck for the Gauchos down the stretch, UCSB was able to force overtime. Down three with just two seconds left on the clock, Orlando Johnson — who finished with 36 points — was fouled by UNLV. He made the first and missed the second, but 7’3″ Greg Somogyi got the loose ball and scored on the putback (see the 30 second mark).

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUGqpKQp_Fw%5D

There was a bit of controversy that the game even got to that point. Joe Nunnally was called for a charge on a dunk that would have given the Gauchos a one point lead with a free throw coming. In the first overtime, UCSB hit back-to-back threes to take a three point lead. After Bellfield tied the game with 40 seconds on the clock with a three of his own, Nunnally was fouled shooting a three with 13 seconds left. At the other end of the floor, however, Chace Stanback hit a fadeaway three-pointer — that was described by Moser as “a beauty. I almost cried watching that ball go in” — that sent the game into a second overtime, where UNLV pulled away down the stretch to win it.

Mike Moser was unbelievable. He finished with 34 points (25 of which came after halftime), 10 boards and three assists, carrying the Rebels in the second half. It was Moser’s sixth double-double of the season and easily his most impressive scoring output. But the most important part of Moser’s game tonight was the six threes he hit. He came into the game shooting just 2-17 from beyond the arc, which was the only weakness in his game.

Also of note: both of the up-three, late-game strategies failed here. UNLV fouled, and UCSB got an offensive rebound. UCSB opted to play straight up, and UNLV hit a tough three.

ACC/Big Ten Challenge Day 2: After going 6-0 on Day 1 and winning the first two games of the night, I missed on three of the last four games. 9-3 ain’t bad, though.

No. 5 North Carolina 60, No. 7 Wisconsin 57: See here.

Indiana 86, North Carolina State 75: This was an important win for the Hoosiers. They went on the road and knocked off a good-if-not-great Wolfpack team in front of a national audience, and did so while getting impressive performances out of Jordy Hulls, Cody Zeller and Christian Watford. But if you are a Hoosier fan, don’t take this win to mean that Indiana is going to compete for the Big Ten title. They can score, that’s for sure. And Indiana has a shot to make the NCAA Tournament. But right now they aren’t good enough defensively or physical enough in the paint to be anything more than in the same hodge-podge that Michigan State, Purdue and Illinois currently find themselves in.

Michigan State 65, Florida State 49: Tom Izzo finally got some scoring from their perimeter, as Keith Appling went for 24 points and Brandon Wood added 16, 10 boards and five assists. That’s a good sign. For Florida State, there aren’t many good signs. This team still cannot score.

Minnesota 58, Virginia Tech 55: Ugly loss for Virginia Tech, who lost to a Minnesota team that was missing Ralph Sampson and Trevor Mbakwe. If the Hokies have any hopes of making the NCAA Tournament, losing games like this aren’t going to help. The game was lost when, down one with 8.5 seconds left, Virginia Tech threw an inbounds pass that bounced off of Robert Brown’s hands and into the back court for a turnover.

Wake Forest 55, Nebraska 53: The Demon Deacons picked up a road win against Nebraska, and while Nebraska is still Nebraska, a road win for Wake Forest is not easy to come by these days. CJ Harris won it with a wide-open layup that came off some atrocious pick-and-roll defense.

Penn State 62, Boston College 54: Tim Frazier had 22 points and five assists. He was on my FanDuel fantasy team. That’s all I got from this mess.

The rest of the top 25:

No. 14 Kansas 77, Florida Atlantic 54: This is the same Kansas team, just on the mainland now. Thomas Robinson had 19 points, 17 boards and four blocks, but shot 4-13 from the floor. Tyshawn Taylor had 18 points and four assists, but Elijah Johnson? He went scoreless and had seven of the Jayhawk’s 17 turnovers.

No. 17 Pitt 80, Duquesne 69: Dante Taylor returned to the Panther lineup to score 15 points and 11 boards as Pitt pulled away from Duquesne in the second half.

No. 18 Gonzaga 73, Notre Dame 53: It is going to be a long, long season in South Bend without Tim Abromaitis. The Irish simply don’t have anyone that can score. David Stockton had 15 points and three assists off the bench while Elias Harris went for 11 points, 15 boards and four assists.

No. 22 Creighton 85, San Diego State 83: See here.

George Mason 61, Bucknell 57: The Patriots, believe it or not, actually out-executed the Bison down the stretch. Ryan Pearson led the way with 16 points as George Mason picked up a much needed win against Patriot favorite Bucknell.

Denver 67, Utah State 54: Can we call the Pioneers for real yet? I know that the Aggies were without Brady Jardine, but behind 15 points each from Chris Udofia and Rob Lewis, Denver became the first team since Feb. 21st, 2009, to win at the Spectrum in Logan.

Elizabeth City State 69, Norfolk State 57: Yes, that’s the same Norfolk State that almost beat Marquette.

St. Joe’s 62, Drexel 49: The Hawks knocked off Drexel, dropping the Dragons to 2-3 on the season. More impressive? They did it with Carl Jones and Langston Galloway both having off nights. CJ Aiken, however, went for 13 points and nine blocks.

Brown 65, URI 56: Jim Baron benched his starters trying to light a spark under this team, but nothing. Rhody dropped to 1-6 on the year as they lost to an Ivy also-ran.

Northern Iowa 69, Iowa State 62: Anthony James had 17 points and five boards to lead the Panthers to an impressive win over the Cyclones in Ames. UNI also has a win over Old Dominion on the road.

Other notable games:

– Ohio 70, Marshall 68
– Colorado State 65, Colorado 64
– Oral Roberts 68, Missouri State 63
– South Alabama 55, UAB 47
– Washington State 69, Grambling 37
– Boise State 108, Drake 64
– New Mexico 65, Idaho State 41
– BYU 87, Northern Arizona 52
– USC 56, UC Riverside 35

Top performers:

Keith Appling, Michigan State: Appling had 24 points and seven boards, providing a perimeter punch for the Spartans as they knocked off Florida State.

Orlando Johnson, UC-Santa Barbara: As impressive as Mike Moser’s 34 points and 10 boards were, Orlando Johnson may have been better, finishing with 36 points and 10 boards as the Gauchos forced UNLV to double-overtime.

Alfonzo McKinnie, Eastern Illinois: McKinnie had 24 points and 14 boards as EIU knocked off Maine in overtime.

Doug McDermott, Creighton: McDermott played like an all-american, going for 25 points and 12 boards as the Bluejays came from behind twice to knock off San Diego State.

LeBryan Nash, Oklahoma State: The talented freshman had 21 points after playing just 11 minutes the day after Thanksgiving, leading the Cowboys to a win over a talented-but-underperforming Tulsa team.

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

“I trust the SEC office will do the right thing,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes says after bump from official

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Tennessee 63-58 loss to Texas A&M wasn’t without some controversy.

In the final seconds of the game, official Mike Nance appeared to bump into Vols coach Rick Barnes, who was standing stationary on the sideline, and the two exchanged words.

“I really have a lot of confidence in the SEC office that they are going to look at that,” Barnes said after the game about the incident, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel. “I believe they will look at this game and take it apart. I just think they will do that. That shouldn’t happen in any way shape or form. I would like to say what I want to say, but I won’t because I trust the SEC office will do the right thing.”

Nance was headed to the monitor to review a call when the bump occurred, and Nance appeared to ask Barnes if the coach initiated the contact.

“Coach (Bob) Knight told me a long time ago that in a game officials are going to miss seven to nine or 10, 11, 12 calls,” Barnes said. “He kept going up every year. He said, ‘You just hope things aren’t egregious at any point in time.'”

Coach K screams at Duke fans, defending Jeff Capel

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In one of the stranger things that we’ve seen in college basketball this season, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski went off on the Cameron Crazies for what he believed was a shot they were taking at former Duke player Jeff Capel.

The crazies were chanting, “Jeff Capel sit with us.” Coach K thought he heard something else.

Check out the video:

After the game, Coach K acknowledged that he misheard what the fans said, adding that he will apologize for the mishap.

“I made a mistake,” he said. “But I’d rather make a mistake for the protection of my guy.

“I love Jeff. I erred on that side. I just hope the ACC doesn’t fine me like they did [Mike] Brey.”

He ended the back and forth with this: “Jeff can sit with me anytime.”

 

Tuesday’s Things to Know: Villanova gears up for big stretch, Auburn wins ugly in 2OT and Rutgers keeps rolling

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The headliner of Tuesday night was Virginia regaining an NCAA tournament pulse with a win over No. 5 Florida State, but there were plenty of other developments on the bubble across the country.  Here’s what else you need to know:

1. Villanova runs streak to seven ahead of grueling stretch

Jay Wright’s team had little trouble winning its seventh-straight Tuesday with a 79-59 victory at Madison Square Garden over St. John’s. Saddiq Bey was brilliant, scoring 23 points on 8 of 14 shooting, including 5 of 9 from deep. Collin Gillespie was equally great, going for 17 points, 13 boards and six assists while Jeremiah Robinson-Early had 13 points and 14 rebounds. Cole Swider and Justin Moore both had 11 to put all five Wildcat starters in double-figures to help offset the absence of the injured Jermaine Samuels.

The victory, while unremarkable given St. John’s mediocrity, keeps momentum for Villanova heading into a huge stretch that very well could decide the Big East. They’ve got Creighton at home Saturday before a trip to No. 16 Butler and then back-to-back home games against No. 10 Seton Hall and Marquette, which handed the ‘Cats their lone conference loss this season.

How Villanova emerges from this four-game stretch – and subsequently what the Big East landscape looks like – will likely be determined by a couple of things. If the ‘Cats are going to make it through in the conference driver’s seat, it’ll probably because Villanova’s defense proves for real. The Cats’ defense this season on the whole has been fine, ranking 60th nationally on KenPom, but it’s been the best in the Big East during conference play. They’ve been stingier both inside and outside the arc while improving on the glass. They’ve kept opponents from launching a lot of 3s and have mostly kept them off the line.

Wright’s team is going to be fine offensively, even if they haven’t been elite in Big East play yet. If the defense holds up, the ‘Cats are going to be sitting pretty come March.

2. No. 17 Auburn comes from behind to win in 2OT

Things were looking pretty dire for Auburn. The Tigers narrowly avoided a third loss in four games over the weekend when they blew a big lead to a sub-.500 Iowa State team, and then they fell behind by 19 in the second half Tuesday at Ole Miss.

It turned out to be nothing to be worried about, unless you were on your couch hoping to watch good overtime basketball.

The Tigers narrowly escaped, 83-82, against the Rebels, overcoming a huge deficit and mistakes of their own making that could have negated their comeback but instead will be footnotes.

Auburn shot 56 percent from the field and 46.2 percent from 3-point range in the second half to mount its comeback while Ole Miss shot just 33 percent. They nearly gave the game away, though, after taking a two-point lead in the final seconds of overtime. The Tigers missed a jumper that would have put them up four with 25 seconds left, but the shot missed and they inexplicably fouled on the rebound to allow Ole Miss to tie the game with 22 seconds left on free throws. After a missed 3 in a tie game by Danjel Purifoy, Ole Miss gave Auburn a gift it just wouldn’t accept. Devontae Shuler’s inbounds pass under the basket with 2 seconds left went astray and was headed out of bounds, which would have resulted in no time coming off the clock and Auburn getting the ball on the baseline, but Isaac Okoro, for some reason, grabbed the ball, waited a second and called timeout. Samir Doughty’s forthcoming 3 out of the huddle as time expired miss to send things to 2OT.

Ole Miss led by as many as four in overtime, but Auburn took the lead with 1:41 left. The two teams traded missed opportunities for the remainder of the game, leaving the Tigers with a win.

College basketball: Not always pretty, but rarely boring.

3. Rutgers continues to build its case

It’s been 29 years since Rutgers last made the NCAA tournament. It’s been 13 since the Scarlet Knights even finished above .500 in a season. Both those streaks seem incredibly likely to fall in just a handful of weeks.

Rutgers ran its overall record to 16-5 and its Big Ten mark to 7-3 with a 70-63 victory Tuesday at home against Purdue.

Steve Pikiell’s team is building a bulletproof resume after losses to St. Bonaventure and Pittsburgh in the first month of the season made it seem as the status quo would be very much in place in Piscataway this winter. Since then, the only three losses Rutgers have taken have all been on the road to high-quality opponents, with Michigan State, Illinois and Iowa the only teams able to get the best of them.

Rutgers is doing it o the strength of a top-10 defense that overcomes an offense that can be clunky at times, especially at the 3-point line. Defense as stout as the Scarlet Knights are playing, though, makes up for a lot of deficiencies on the other end.

Bubble Banter: Virginia, Mississippi State the biggest winners of the night

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It was a wild night on the bubble on Tuesday night, as 12 teams with their NCAA tournament hopes still up in the air were in action.

A full bubble watch breakdown can be found here. Here are tonight’s winners and losers:

WINNERS

VIRGINIA (NET: 58, NBC: Off the bubble): It is impossible to overstate just how big a win over Florida State (15) for a Virginia team that entered the night without a top 50 win to their name. They had one Quad 1 win on their resume — at Syracuse (64) — to go along with wins over Virginia Tech (50) at home and Arizona State (56) on a neutral floor. That’s it. When combined with a pair of Quad 3 losses — South Carolina (89) at home and at Boston College (153) — there’s a reason that the Wahoos were completely out of the NCAA tournament picture entering the day.

And to be honest, I’m not sure that a win over a top 20 team at home is really going to change all that much. But with just three more games against the top of the ACC left on their schedule, this was an opportunity that could not slip through their fingers.

MISSISSIPPI STATE (NET: 48, NBC: Off the bubble): The Bulldogs added a critical road win on Tuesday night, going into Gainesville and knocking off Florida (37). It’s the second Quad 1 win in six days for Mississippi State, who needs to add some pop to the top of a resume that includes a pair of Quad 3 losses. This will help.

MICHIGAN (NET: 35, NBC: 10): Michigan entered Tuesday night having lost four games in a row and five of their last six and were playing without Isaiah Livers and Zavier Simpson at Nebraska (158). They could not lost this game. They did not.

RHODE ISLAND (NET: 47, NBC: First four out): Rhode Island is in a spot where they probably cannot afford to take a loss to anyone other than Dayton (5), who they play twice, the rest of the season. On Tuesday night, the Rams beat George Mason. Next up: VCU (39) on Friday night.

UTAH STATE (NET: 62, NBC: Off the bubble): Utah State absolutely could not lose at Wyoming (299) on Tuesday, and they didn’t. The Aggies have neutral site wins over LSU (25) and Florida (37), which is enough to keep them in this discussion despite road losses at Boise State (102), UNLV (130) and Air Force (184). They make the trip to Viejas Arena to take on San Diego State (2) on Saturday, and that feels like a must-win for Utah State at this point.

LOSERS

TENNESSEE (NET: 55, NBC: Next four out): The Vols took a loss that they just could not afford to take on Tuesday, falling to a bad Texas A&M (149) at home. It’s their first Quad 3 loss, meaning that now half of their eight losses are outside the Quad 1 level. With just two Quad 1 wins, neither of which came against a top 35 opponent, Tennessee is backing themselves into a corner. The good news? They still play eight Quad 1 games, and that doesn’t include Florida at home. The Vols can survive this if they get hot.

SYRACUSE (NET: 64, NBC: Off the bubble): The Orange saw their five game winning streak come to an end on Tuesday as they fell at Clemson (81). This is not a terrible loss, but for a team that is already trying to make up ground on the field, these are the kind of losses that really hurt.

RICHMOND (NET: 54, NBC: First four out): Tuesday’s visit to the Siegel Center was Richmond’s last shot at getting a Quad 1 win dueing the regular season. They lost to VCU (39) by 17 points. For my money, the Spiders’ at-large hopes are more or less dead.

ST. JOHN’S (NET: 67, NBC: 10): The Johnnies lost for the seventh time in their last nine games when Villanova (14) waltzed into MSG and beat the Red Storm by 20. That’s not ideal. St. John’s is still in the mix because of wins over West Virginia (7) and Arizona (10), the latter of which came on a neutral court. But with road games left against Villanova, Seton Hall (12) and Butler (9), Mike Anderson’s club has backed themselves into a corner.

PURDUE (NET: 36, NBC: Next four out): The Boilermakers dropped to 11-10 on the season with a 70-63 loss at Rutgers (23) on Tuesday night. That means Purdue has dropped five of their last seven games. They’re 2-7 against Quad 1 opponents with a 29 point win over Michigan State (8), but there are a lot of losses on their resume already and the Big Ten is a bear.

VIRGINIA TECH (NET: 50, NBC: First four out): The Hokies did themselves no favors by losing at Miami (106) on Tuesday night. In the last three days, they’ve suffered their two worst losses of the season. The Hokies also have a non-conference SOS that ranks 341st, which eliminates much of their margin for error. The good news? They still have pair of Quad 1 wins — including Michigan State (10) on a neutral — and four of their five Quad 1 and 2 wins came away from home. It’s not all bad.

GEORGETOWN (NET: 52, NBC: Next four out): The Hoyas lost their third straight game on Tuesday night and have now dropped six of their last eight. Making things worse is that they were up by 13 points on Butler (9) late in the first half. This was their best chance to land an elite win this season. They still get Villanova (14) and Seton Hall (12) at home, but the biggest issue with Georgetown’s tournament chances is that they are trending in the wrong direction with just seven scholarship players.

Virginia upends No. 5 Florida State, 61-56

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Remember back to the season’s opening night? Nearly three months ago? That was when Virginia embarrassed Syracuse in a 48-34 win. That game foretold a lot of the season up to this point for the Cavaliers. Their title-defending team would have the defense that’s defined Tony Bennett’s program while the offense, well, that would be a bit of a struggle. What it did not predict was more Quad 1 wins, as the Cavaliers, despite a dominating defense, failed to rack up another such victory after that season-opener.

Until Tuesday.

Virginia injected some life into its NCAA tournament hopes with a 61-56 win over fifth-ranked Florida State in Charlottesville to pick up a critical victory in an ACC that offers far fewer marquee opportunities than in years past.

The victory was exactly what Bennett’s team needed to help buoy that resume before the start of February. January was extremely rough on them with a 3-4 mark before the win over the Seminoles put them at .500 for the month. With only four chances left against the ACC’s best of FSU, Duke and Louisville, beating the Seminoles at home may not have been an absolute-must for the Cavs, but it sure makes it a lot easier to chart a path to the tournament now, even if it’s still a rocky road, than if they had dropped the game.

Point guard Kihei Clark scored 11 of his 15 points after halftime, changing the game offensively for the Cavaliers with his dribble penetration into the middle of the Florida State defense. He wasn’t wildly efficient, but his ability to get into the teeth of the defense – creating some buckets and free throws for himself and chances for his teammates – provided just enough lift for the offensively-challenged team. His beautiful reverse layup with a minute left gave Virginia a lead it would not relinquish as it closed the game on an 8-0 run.

Mamadi Diakite had 19 points and nine boards for Virginia while Braxton Key had 13 points and nine rebounds.

The loss stops a 10-game winning streak for the ‘Noles, who led for most of the game but could not ever find any meaningful separation. Devin Vassell had 17 points to lead Florida State, which had two shots to tie the game in the final seconds but missed both 3-point attempts horribly. If Virginia can surge a little in the season’s final month, this win won’t be much more than a missed opportunity for the Seminoles, but if it proves to just be a blip on the radar for Virginia, Florida State may have done some damage to its seed line Tuesday.