Thursday’s Shootaround: Two undefeateds lose, Creighton upset

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No. 12 Georgetown 71, No. 4 Louisville 68: See here

No. 17 Michigan State 80, No. 15 Indiana 65: See here

Missouri State 77, No. 19 Creighton 65: See here

No. 7 Baylor 54, No. 14 Mississippi State 52: I’m torn about how I should interpret this game. The talent level on both teams was evident. Baylor is certainly good enough to make it all the way to New Orleans, especially if Scott Drew can ever figure out how to bring out the mean side of Perry Jones III. The amount of size and athleticism Drew has at his disposal is simply staggering. But Mississippi State has quite a bit of talent themselves, enough that I think they can end up being the second best team in the SEC.

But this game also highlighted why there is so much to be concerned about on each team. I’ll start with Baylor. PJ3 is infuriating to watch at times. He has such an immense amount of talent — I think his worst-case scenario as an NBA player is some cross between Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani — but he is such a passive basketball player. He doesn’t demand the ball the way he should on that team, and when he finally does get it, he’s taking deep jumpers or fading away from contact in the post. If I’m Scott Drew, I pay someone to punch him in the face before every game just to get him pissed off. With PJ3 struggling with his assertiveness on the offensive end of the floor, Pierre Jackson is the guy that has become to go-to player in the Bear’s offense. That’s not a terrible thing — Jackson can create and he’s hit some big, big shots down the stretch of the past few games, including the game-winner Wednesday — but Jackson has a tendency to play a bit out of control. Once he learns to control his absurd athleticism, he’ll be better. But right now, when he is forced to score early, he becomes a gunner. That’s not what Baylor needs.

For Mississippi State, the question isn’t simply their late-game execution. I’m not even going to touch the disaster of a final possession in this space (see here and here for explanation). What I will talk about is Renardo Sidney. With Mississippi State up 52-50 in the final minutes, Sidney was called for his fifth foul when he failed to block out against Quincy Acy. He argued with the official and ended up getting called for a technical foul as well. While the tech didn’t directly cost Mississippi State the game — Baylor ended up missing two of the four free throws they shot — that may not be true next time. And its a shame because Sidney actually played well. We’ve been over this: he is never going to be the superstar he has the potential to be. But he doesn’t need to be for Mississippi State to be a good basketball team. All they need from Sidney is to be a low-post presence, block a shot or two, grab a couple of rebounds and avoid to immature blow-ups. For most of the season, he’s done well. The technical was a slip-up, but its up to Sidney to determine whether this was simply a misstep or a full-blown relapse.

No. 1 Syracuse 75, Seton Hall 49: The Pirates just never had a chance against the Orange. They struggled all game long trying to figure out the 2-3 zone, turning the ball over 23 times (Syracuse had 17 steals) and shooting just 31.4% from the floor. Fab Melo turned in his best performance of his career, finishing with 12 points, seven boards and 10 blocks. So much for that 11-1 start for the Pirates.

No. 2 Ohio State 87, Northwestern 54: Since we’re on the subject, remember how people were saying this could be Northwestern’s year? Not if they continue to put up duds like they did against the Buckeyes. Ohio State used a 14-0 run midway through the first half to take a commanding lead, and the Wildcats were never able to make it interesting. William Buford had 28 points while John Shurna and Drew Crawford combined to go 9-30 from the floor.

No. 9 UConn 60, South Florida 57: The Huskies always seem to struggle with South Florida. On Wednesday, UConn never got into a rhythm offensively. Jeremy Lamb had 23 points, but he was the only Husky in double figures. While Lamb shot 8-11 from the field, the rest of the UConn team was 13-37. As much as Husky fans would like to blame this on not having Jim Calhoun (they got a technical foul before tipoff for not turning their lineup card in on time), UConn’s struggles against inferior competition is starting to get a bit worrisome.

West Virginia 83, Villanova 69: Truck Bryant had a career-high 34 points and combined with freshman Gary Browne to score all 20 points in a game-ending, 20-6 run. Kevin Jones had 13 points and seven boards, but he took a solid elbow from a teammate that opened up a cut over his right eye that required stitches. Jones was a non-factor in the second half, but Bryant put on a show. The duo of Bryant and Jones is as good as any 1-2 punch in the Big East.

Maryland 83, Albany 72: Keep in mind that it came against Maryland, but in his collegiate debut, Alex Len — who missed the first 10 games of the season due to a suspension — had 14 points, eight boards and three blocks. Throw in the 11 points, eight assists and six boards Pe’Shon Howard added, and just maybe the Terps have a shot at sneaking up on some people in the ACC this season.

The rest of the top 25:

No. 3 Kentucky 86, Lamar 64: Terrence Jones returned to the Kentucky lineup for what seems like the first time in a month. He had seven points and six boards in 27 minutes off the bench.

No. 20 UNLV 124, Central Arkansas 75: Two insane stats from this game: the last time UNLV scored this many points, their head coach Dave Rice was wearing a Rebels uniform (1990-91), and UNLV finished with more assists (40) than rebounds (36).

Other notable scores:

– Temple 87, Buffalo 85 OT
– Loyola MD 72, Bucknell 67
– St. Joe’s 81, Morgan State 50
– Drexel 77, Fairfield 69
– Wichita State 90, Bradley 51
– Arkansas 80, Charlotte 67
– North Dakota State 96, Oakland 69
– Gonzaga 90, Portland 51
– New Mexico 89, New Mexico State 69

Top performers:

Cameron Moore, UAB: What’s more impressive than the 19 points and 24 rebounds that Moore had against GW? The fact that GW had 22 rebounds as a team. Moore outrebounds an entire team!

Drew Gordon, New Mexico: The Lobos are a different team now than they were back in November when they lost to New Mexico State at home. Gordon was a perfect example, finishing with 23 points and 19 boards in the 89-69 win

Wendell McKines, New Mexico State: The 25 points and 15 boards he had against Gordon was noteworthy as well.

Mike James, Lamar: Give James credit — he’s fearless. How else would you be able to score 29 points on Kentucky in Rupp?

BJ Monteiro, Duquesne: Monteiro had 28 points and eight boards as the Dukes knocked off a solid Bowling Green team.

Keiton Page, Oklahoma State: The diminutive Paige had 27 points as the Pokes won a much-needed game in double-overtime against SMU in Dallas.

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

Miles Kelly leads Ga. Tech to 79-77 win over rival Georgia

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 02 Northeastern at Georgia Tech
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ATLANTA – Georgia Tech’s Miles Kelly hit another winning shot against a state rival.

Terry Roberts endured a nightmarish final minute for Georgia.

Kelly hit a long 3-pointer and then a drove for the game-winning floater with 23 seconds remaining as the Yellow Jackets rallied to beat Georgia 79-77 on Tuesday night.

Kelly hit the winning shot in similar fashion against Georgia State on Nov. 12. He did it again to beat the Bulldogs, finishing with a team-high 17 points after failing to score in the first half.

“I’m going to continue to keep shooting, no matter how many times I miss,” Kelly said.

Roberts missed a 3-pointer, turned the ball over twice with bad passes, and was called for an offensive foul as he was trying to drive for the basket that would’ve sent the game to overtime.

“A tough finish for us,” Georgia first-year coach Mike White said. “We were in position to steal one on the road.”

A pair of second-chance buckets seemingly put Georgia (7-3) in control with a 77-73 lead.

The Bulldogs wouldn’t score again as Kelly led the comeback for the Yellow Jackets (6-3) – with a big assist from Roberts.

He had a chance to essentially seal it for the Bulldogs, but his jumper beyond the arc clanked off the rim.

Georgia Tech grabbed the rebound and raced down the court, where Kelly swished a 3 from well behind the stripe that brought Georgia Tech within a point with about a minute left.

Trying to work the ball inside, Roberts made an ill-advised entry pass that was deflected and stolen by Deivon Smith, setting up Kelly’s drive for the basket that put the Yellow Jackets back ahead,

Roberts tried a drive of his own, only to have it blocked by Jalon Moore. Georgia retained possession, but Roberts’ inbounds pass was stolen by Moore, who was fouled and made one of two free throws.

Roberts took the ball again and hurriedly dribbled toward the basket, only to be called for an offensive foul when he sent Smith flying.

“Just sacrificing my body for the team,” Smith said.

Georgia stole an inbounds pass around midcourt, giving Karlo Oquendo one last shot to launch a 3 that still would’ve won it for the Bulldogs. It bounced off the rim.

The game was tight throughout. Neither team led by more than eight, and a sequence in the second half showed just how tightly these rivals were matched.

With both squads playing at a frenetic pace and showing little regard for defense, the lead changed hands on eight straight possessions as the teams traded baskets.

Stunningly, they combined to score on 19 straight possessions before Georgia’s Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe missed a pair of free throws with 5:17 remaining.

FIRING UP THE CROWD

Perhaps the biggest cheer of the night came when Georgia Tech football coach Brent Key addressed the crowd at halftime.

Key, who served as interim coach for the last eight games of the season, was introduced Monday as the full-time choice for job.

He fired up the fans by getting them to chant “To hell with Georgia” over and over again. When a smattering of Bulldogs fans responded with barks, Key smiled and egged on the Yellow Jackets crowd to drown them out.

He also declared Georgia Tech to be the “greatest school in the entire state, the entire country,” following up his vow the previous day to not back down from the defending national champion and top-ranked Bulldogs.

BIG PICTURE

Georgia: This will be a tough one to swallow for Roberts, who led his team with 16 points and seven assists. The Bulldogs lost despite shooting 53.4% from the field.

Georgia Tech: Four players scored in double figures, and two others players finished with eight points. But it was Kelly, as usual, who had the ball in his hands at the end of a tight game.

UP NEXT

Georgia: After a nearly two-week break, the Bulldogs return to Atlanta on Dec. 18 to face Notre Dame at State Farm Arena in the Holiday Hoopsgiving event.

Georgia Tech: Head to North Carolina on Saturday for the Atlantic Coast Conference opener against the struggling Tar Heels.

No. 17 Illinois rallies late, beats No. 2 Texas 85-78 in OT

Illinois v Maryland
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NEW YORK – Terrence Shannon Jr. scored 12 of his 16 points in overtime, including the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 3:34 remaining, and No. 17 Illinois rallied to hand second-ranked Texas its first loss of the season, 85-78 on Tuesday night in the Jimmy V Classic.

Jayden Epps added 11 points, including the final five points of regulation – a 3-pointer with 35 seconds left and two tying free throws with 8 seconds remaining. Epps then blocked Marcus Carr’s jumper in the lane just before the buzzer to force overtime in an entertaining showdown at Madison Square Garden.

Matthew Mayer, who faced Texas several times at Baylor, tied a career high with 21 points as he made his first seven shots and finished 8 of 10.

Shannon, who missed eight of nine shots in regulation, took over in the extra period to help Illinois (7-2) beat a ranked foe for the second time this season. He opened overtime with a jumper after Marcus Carr was called for traveling and then hit an open 3 from the right wing over Brock Cunningham for a 73-70 lead.

Shannon then converted a reverse layup and finished off a three-point play to make it 77-70 with 2:16 left. Carr hit two free throws to get Texas within one with 1:28 remaining. Jayden Epps hit a layup, RJ Melendez sank two free throws to put Illinois ahead by five, and Shannon made two free throws with 27.7 seconds left.

Timmy Allen scored a season-high 21 points for Texas (6-1), which failed to open 7-0 for the first time since 2014-15. Tyrese Hunter added 10 points but Carr was held to nine points on 3-of-14 shooting as Texas had 12 shots blocked and shot 42%.

Texas took its only double-digit lead when Dillon Mitchell hit a layup with 8:28 left. Illinois cut the lead to 58-56 on a 3 by Melendez nearly four minutes later. After Cunningham hit an open 3 with 4:15 remaining, Si’Jabari Rice made a 3 for a 64-58 lead.

Allen found Cunningham for an open jumper that counted when officials called goaltending on Illinois’ Coleman Hawkins. That gave Texas a 65-61 lead with with 1:51 remaining.

Carr’s rainbow jumper in the lane made it 68-63 with a minute left and Illinois had a 3-pointer by Melendez waved off because it called timeout with 45.3 seconds left. After the timeout, Epps made an open corner 3 with 33 seconds remaining.

Hunter missed the front end of a 1-and-1 to set up Epps’ tying free throws.

BIG PICTURE

Illinois: The Illini continued to struggle with turnovers, committing 17. But only two of them came in the final 10-plus minutes of regulation or overtime. Illinois’ 15th turnover was an offensive foul by Mayer, which sent him to the bench with four fouls with 10:42 remaining.

Texas: The Longhorns had little offense beyond Allen and Hunter. While the duo was a combined 13 of 29, the rest of the team missed 24 of 40 shots.

UP NEXT

Illinois hosts Penn State in its second Big Ten game on Saturday. The Illini lost their conference opener to No. 13 Maryland.

Texas hosts Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the Jimmy Blacklock Classic on Saturday.

Clark, Gardner lift No. 3 Virginia past James Madison, 55-50

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Kihei Clark scored 18 points, Jayden Gardner had 14 points and eight rebounds, and No. 3 Virginia beat feisty in-state rival James Madison 55-50 on Tuesday night.

The Cavaliers (8-0), who lost starting guard Reece Beekman to a right leg injury early in the first half, prevented the Dukes (7-3) from winning a second straight December game in Charlottesville. James Madison beat Virginia 52-49 last Dec. 7.

Clark had seven assists while playing nearly 39 minutes with Beekman sidelined.

“Kihei gave everything he had and I had to, you know, ride him,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “Sure, he missed some free throws. And I know he made some mistakes, but you could just see him, you know, how tough-minded he was.”

Dukes coach Mark Byington said he told Clark – who’s playing his fifth season for Virginia – after last year’s game that he loved watching him play.

“He’s seen everything and nothing you’re going to do is going to surprise him,” Byington said. “There’s nothing Kihei Clark hasn’t seen out there, and he’s poised. I mean, you can’t rattle him. … So I told him this time I was like, `Look, I better never see you in college basketball again.’ But he’s one of my favorite players to watch just because he’s tough, talented, and he’s a winner.”

Takal Molson scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half for James Madison, including a 3-pointer that tied the game at 42-all with 7:47 to play. Gardner responded for Virginia by scoring five straight points in a 9-1 run.

The Cavaliers kept the Dukes in the game by missing eight of 13 free throws over the last six minutes.

Molson made an acrobatic layup while being fouled with 1:51 left, but he missed the free throw. He scored again with 1:01 left, pulling the Dukes within 52-50, but freshman Ryan Dunn answered with a strong move on the baseline for Virginia with 35 seconds to play.

James Madison threw the ball away on its ensuing possession.

BIG PICTURE

James Madison: The Dukes came into the game leading the nation in scoring (93.3 points per game) and having scored as many as 95 points five times. They were shooting 52.7% for the year, but made just four of their first 19 shots and finished 15 of 55 (26.9%). Vado Morse scored 11 points, the only other JMU player in double figures.

“Yeah, we knew how good they were and they showed it in spots tonight,” Gardner said. “But I think you saw a lot of resiliency tonight on the defensive end getting crucial stops.”

Virginia: The Cavaliers played the final 36 minutes without Beekman and gave extensive minutes to freshman Isaac McKneely. Virginia will hope Beekman, its third-leading scorer and a primary ballhandler and defender, recovers in time for its showdown with No. 1 Houston on Dec. 17.

UP NEXT

The Dukes return home to play Gallaudet on Saturday night.

Virginia has a 10-day break before hosting the top-ranked Cougars.

No. 25 Villanova women beat American University 83-42

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
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VILLANOVA, Pa. – Maddy Siegrist had 24 points and seven rebounds, Lucy Olsen added 14 points and No. 25 Villanova beat American University 83-42 on Tuesday night.

Siegrist scored 15 points in the opening 13 minutes as Villanova led 34-15. The Wildcats extended it to 46-23 by halftime before starting the second half on a 9-0 run for a 32-point lead.

Villanova added an 8-0 run in the fourth quarter for its largest lead of the game at 79-36. The Wildcats held American to 15-of-50 shooting (30%) and scored 21 points off 19 turnovers.

Christina Dalce scored 13 points for Villanova (8-2), which plays Saint Joseph’s on Saturday before taking a week off for final exams. Siegrist, who was coming off a 29-point performance on Sunday, made 10 of 17 shots as Villanova shot 56%.

Emily Johns scored 12 points for American (0-8), which hosts Marist (3-5) on Saturday.

No. 6 UConn star Azzi Fudd out 3-6 weeks with knee injury

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STORRS, Conn. — Sixth-ranked UConn’s top scorer, Azzi Fudd, is expected to be out three to six weeks because of a right knee injury she suffered during her team’s weekend loss to No. 5 Notre Dame, a university athletic spokesperson said.

The sophomore guard was injured in the first half of the game when a teammate collided into her. She returned midway through the second period to play four hobbled minutes, but sat the rest of the way.

“I think she’ll be all right,” coach Geno Auriemma said afterward.

Fudd entered the game averaging 24.0 points but finished scoreless on two shots over 13 minutes in the team’s first loss of the season.

The athletic spokesperson didn’t specify the type of knee injury Fudd sustained.

She underwent evaluation and an MRI confirmed the injury, the spokesperson said.

The Huskies host Princeton next.