Game of the Day: No. 9 Kansas 68, No. 14 Oklahoma State 67
It was not one of the double-overtime games we’ve seen this season, but Naadir Tharpe’s late heroics made for an exciting ending. His runner in the lane put KU ahead by one and Oklahoma State could not convert on its final possession, giving the Jayhawks the win.
Kansas freshman Ben McLemore had one of his roughest games of the season with seven points on 3-of-12 shooting from the floor, but Tharpe’s confidence helped Kansas in overtime. Marcus Smart did not shoot well from the floor for Oklahoma State, but he still managed 16 points by getting to the free throw line and converting.
UNLV was fearless on the interior and got a much-needed win in the Mountain West. The key for the Rebels is to take smarter shots and becoming a more efficient offensive unit. As Rob Dauster writes in the link above, this is a step in the right direction, but UNLV must prove its ability to win on the road, too.
Ohio State needed to stop its recent skid before moving into the final stretch of its Big Ten regular season schedule. A big night from Deshaun Thomas and a good overall defensive game made that happen. The loss raises legitimate concerns for Minnesota, too, a team that is turning the ball over far too often to have success right now.
Kentucky could not lose this game if it wanted to keep its NCAA tournament hopes alive. Thanks to Willie Cauley-Stein, improved backcourt play, and maybe even an intrasquad dodgeball game, the Wildcats pulled it out. Click the link above for the back-story on the dodgeball game.
1. Gonzaga’s Team Effort (85 points, 58% FG, +21 rebounding margin)
The nation’s No. 3 team simply dominated Santa Clara on Wednesday night. The Bulldogs remain undefeated in WCC play and a legitimate force out West. Elias Harris and Kelly Olynyk led the way with 17 and 15 points respectively.
2. Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky (20 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks)
Without Nerlens Noel in the lineup, Kentucky got crushed by Tennessee over the weekend. Cauley-Stein wasn’t the only reason the Wildcats bounced back with a win over Vanderbilt, but his defense around the rim on the game’s final two possessions helped to seal the victory.
3. Nate Wolters, South Dakota State (32 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists)
Wolters already dropped 53 points earlier this season, but this performance was pretty impressive, too, coming just one assist away from a triple double. Oh, not to mention he also dropped 32 points.
Also of Note: Eric Mosley, St. Bonaventure (39 points, 12-of-18 FG)
McLemore did not look confident for much of Wednesday’s game against Oklahoma State, especially contrasted with guard Naadir Tharpe, who took control down the stretch. This was the first game of his college career that he had truly struggled, so we will learn a good deal about McLemore when we see how he bounces back.
2. Minnesota Offense (29% FG, 2-of-15 3pt FG, 21 turnovers)
Granted, Ohio State is one of the nation’s better defensive teams. That being said, though, Minnesota’s offensive output was abysmal. The Gophers turn the ball over too much and it will be one of the biggest threats to its NCAA tournament hopes.
3. Greg Smith, Colorado State (4 points, 1-of-7 FG)
Smith averages close to 12 points per game for the Rams, but managed just four on Wednesday vs. UNLV. In Colorado State’s two-point loss, they could have used him.