Game of the Day: Wake Forest 86, No. 18 NC State 84
There haven’t been many things to get truly excited about at Wake Forest in the two-plus seasons coach Jeff Bzdelik has been at the school, but Tuesday’s win over a ranked team gave Demon Deacon fans a reason to storm the floor.
Devin Thomas was the catalyst of it all, posting a career night of 25 points and 14 rebounds. Three other players were in double figures and helped Wake Forest erase a 12-point halftime deficit.
For NC State, it has been an eventful 10-day stretch. On Jan. 12, the Wolfpack stormed the floor to celebrate its win over No. 1 Duke. After losing to Maryland on Jan. 16, Terrapin fans stormed the floor. Now on Tuesday, Wake Forest fans rushed the court. Ten days, one court storm in celebration, two by opposing fan bases.
1. Villanova 73, No. 5 Louisville 64
Louisville was sloppy in its loss to Villanova Tuesday. It turned the ball over 17 times and shot 12-of-24 (50 percent) from the free throw line. The Wildcats are, mind you, a team that lost to Columbia by 18 points back in November. JayVaughn Pinkston and Ryan Arcidiacono led the way for Villanova, two of five players in double figures.
Louisville has now lost two in a row and face a road matchup with Georgetown on Saturday.
2. No. 22 Missouri 71, South Carolina 65
South Carolina did a good job of using a zone defense to force Missouri into half-court sets in the first half. This all but eliminated the Phil Pressey-driven transition offense and had the Gamecocks in control going into the second half. At one point, though, it clicked. Missouri ripped off an 18-2 run to take the lead and fought off a tough South Carolina comeback to hold on for the win. Credit also goes to Earnest Ross, who had 21 points in his effort to compensate for the absence of Laurence Bowers and Keion Bell.
3. No. 3 Kansas 59, No. 11 Kansas State 55
Travis Releford had 12 points on an efficient 5-of-6 shooting performance to lead Kansas to a tough road win over the Wildcats. The Jayhawks have now won 16 straight games.
1. Devin Thomas, Wake Forest (25 points, 10-of-13 FG, 14 rebounds, 4 blocks, 4 assists, 3 steals)
A lot of things had to be working in Wake Forest’s favor to get an upset win over NC State on Tuesday night. One of those variables had to be a dominant performer, and Devin Thomas delivered. He made an impact in nearly every part of the box score, going for an impressive double-double and adding four blocks.
2. Earnest Ross, Missouri (21 points, 10 rebounds)
Without Laurence Bowers and Keion Bell, Missouri needed someone to step up to avoid an upset loss to South Carolina at home. Earnest Ross was that man for Missouri on Tuesday. Something that doesn’t show up in the box score: Ross made a great pass to Jabari Brown with seconds remaining that set him up for the three-pointer that put Missouri ahead for good.
3. D.J. Richardson, Illinois (30 points, 9-of-14 FG, 6-of-9 3pt FG)
Illinois needed a bounce-back win after losing three straight. Richardson was the offensive engine behind the Illini attack Tuesday. His 30 points accounted for 42 percent of Illinois’ scoring in a win over Nebraska.
1. Russ Smith, Louisville (8 points, 2-of-13 FG, 4 TO)
Smith and backcourt mate Peyton Siva both underperformed in Louisville’s upset loss to Villanova, but Smith’s likely hurt more. The Cardinals depend on Smith for just over 19 points per game but did not get that kind of production Tuesday.
2. Will Spradling, Kansas State (0 points, 0-of-5 FG)
Spradling is an offensive piece that Kansas State could have enjoyed against Kansas on Tuesday. He struggled to find his shooting touch, though, going 0-of-5 from the floor.
3. Damien Leonard (2 points, 1-of-11 FG, 3 TOs)
Le0nard struggled to find his stroke against Missouri on Tuesday, including going 0-of-5 from three-point range.
Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_