Middle Tennessee State 65, Belmont 62: For the second time this season, the Blue Raiders and the Bruins played a thriller in Murfreesboro, but this time MTSU got revenge on Belmont for a 87-84 double overtime loss. MTSU blew a 43-30 second half lead, allowing Belmont to use a 29-11 surge to take a 59-54 lead. But MTSU rallied, taking a 63-62 lead with just 1:34 left on the clock and locking up defensively down the stretch. The Blue Raiders would go just 2-6 from the foul line down the stretch (they were 11-24 on the game), but they blocked a three-point attempt on consecutive possessions to hold on to the lead.
The loss may have ended any hope that Belmont has of earning themselves an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Atlantic Sun is always a solid conference, but there isn’t anyone in this league that can really be considered a quality win. In fact, the only “good” wins that Belmont has left on their schedule is a home-and-home with Marshall. Convincing the NCAA Tournament committee that two wins over Marshall and a close loss to Duke in the first game of the season is worthy of an at-large bid will be a tough task. Personally, I still think that if they win out and make the final of the A-Sun Tournament, they will have a shot.
MTSU may actually have a better shot at earning an at-large bid if they can put together a couple more wins. In addition to the wins they already have at LMU, UCLA and now Belmont, the Blue Raiders still have to travel to Ole Miss, Denver and Vanderbilt. Win those three games and who knows, it just might be enough.
No. 15 Wiscosin 60, Milwaukee 54: Jordan Taylor still isn’t right offensively, but the all-american came through in the clutch again. He finished just 5-14 from the field for 14 points, but with the Badgers up by three with under a minute left and the Panthers surging back into the game, Taylor buried a deep three from the top of the key to all-but lock up the win. Ben Brust — who was 7-7 from three against Wisconsin — finished just 1-9 from the floor, but Jared Berggren and Ryan Evans went for 17 and 16 points, respectively.
No. 18 Mississippi State 75, Florida Atlantic 68: A depleted Bulldogs almost got beaten by Florida Atlantic for the second straight season. Playing without Arnett Moultrie (knee tendonitis) and Brian Bryant (suspension), MSU blew a ten point halftime lead, allowing the Owls to take the lead for a stretch in the second half. But Dee Bost and Rodney Hood took over. Bost had 22 points while Hood added 19 and 10 boards.
Wyoming 58, UC-Irvine 48: I think its safe to say that Larry Shyatt’s tenure at Wyoming has started off well. After riding a career-high 18 points from JayDee Luster to a win over UC-Irvine, the Cowboys have improved to 10-1, matching their win total from a season ago. While the competition has been, frankly, uninspiring, Wyoming does own a win at Colorado. And at this point, a win is a win for this program.
Oregon State 95, UIC 53: UIC was in trouble from the get-go. Roberto Nelson scored 21 points and Jared Cunningham bounced back from an 0-9 performance in a loss to Idaho with 16 points and five steals as the Beavers rolled.
No. 18 Michigan 63, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 50: Michigan used a 19-0 run in the first half to open up a 32-8 lead and head into the break up 37-17. They pushed that lead to 25 during the second half, but with 13 of their 19 turnovers coming after the break, the Wolverines allowed UAPB to make the final respectable.
Other notable games:
– Drexel 71, Niagara 58
– Minnesota 76, Central Michigan 56
– Texas 93, Nicholls State 40
– South Carolina 66, Presbyterian 58
– UCF 77, NC A&T 65
– Villanova 68, Boston U. 43
Jaylen Bond, Texas: The freshman big man with fro 18 points and 12 boards (eight offensive) as the Longhorns blew out Nicholls State by 53 points.
Chris Fouch, Drexel: Fouch had 24 points and knocked down six threes as the Dragons knocked off Niagara.
Marcus Jordan, UCF: Jordan went for 28 points on 8-17 shooting as the Golden Knights knocked off NC A&T.
Laval Lucas-Perry and Drew Valentine, Oakland: Lucas-Perry went for 23 points, eight boards and five assists and Valentine added 20 points and 15 boards as the Grizzlies knocked off Rochester.