GAME OF THE DAY: No. 1 Kentucky 68, Florida 61
John Calipari’s Wildcats didn’t play their best game, but they were able to do enough to move to 23-0 on the season. The differences in Gainesville: foul shooting and the front court tandem of Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein. While Kentucky shot 21-for-22 from the charity stripe, Florida made just seven of its 14 attempts. As for Towns and Cauley-Stein, they combined to score 32 points and grab 13 rebounds against a Gator front line that outside of Dorian Finney-Smith was overmatched. Add in 23 points from Aaron Harrison, and Kentucky was able to take care of business on the road.
For the first time in ACC history there are two matchups of Top 10 teams on the same day, and the first of those games wasn’t close at all. The Blue Devils, who lost in South Bend just over two weeks ago, rolled in Durham in the rematch. Duke shot 60.8% from the field, and both Jahlil Okafor (20 points, ten rebounds) and Justise Winslow (19 points, 11 rebounds) posted double-doubles.
Taking on one of the tougher pressure defenses in the country, Virginia committed just two turnovers in their five-point win in Charlottesville. Malcolm Brogdon scored 15 points and senior forward Darion Atkins gave the Cavaliers, who are now two games up in the loss column on second place in the ACC, some really good minutes in the front court. Terry Rozier scored 16 points and dished out six assists for the Cardinals, who got all their scoring from four players. The one issue for Virginia: a broken finger on his shooting hand means that Justin Anderson will miss anywhere from four to six weeks.
On a day that the 1995 Final Four team was being honored, Travis Ford’s Cowboys picked up a valuable win for their NCAA tournament resume. After struggling defensively and on the glass in the first half Oklahoma State turned things around in the second, limiting the Jayhawks to 26.7% shooting and an offensive rebounding rate of 26.1%. Kansas shot 56.5% and rebounded more than half of its misses in the first half, building a 41-30 lead as a result. Le’Bryan Nash scored 18 and Anthony Hickey 15 for the Cowboys, who also received solid minutes from reserve Mitchell Solomon (four points, four rebounds).
Bo Barnes led four Sun Devils in double figures with 18 points as Arizona State beat the Wildcats in Tempe for the second consecutive season. Arizona State shot 50 percent from the field and 7-for-15 from beyond the arc, numbers that few teams can get away with allowing and Arizona paid the price. T.J. McConnell scored 25 points on 11-for-19 shooting to lead the way for Arizona.
1. Lawrence Alexander, North Dakota State
Alexander scored 31 points on 11-for-14 shooting (8-for-11 3PT) in the Bison’s 71-47 win over South Dakota.
2. Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow, Duke
Okafor accounted for 20 points and ten rebounds, and Winslow added 19 and 11 as the Blue Devils beat No. 10 Notre Dame 90-60.
3. Kyle Collinsworth, BYU
Collinsworth posted his fifth triple-double of the season in BYU’s 87-68 win at Loyola Marymount, finishing with 23 points, 12 rebounds and ten assists.
4. Brett Comer, FGCU
21 points, 12 assists, eight rebounds and no turnovers in the Eagles’ 67-51 win at Stetson.
1. Isaiah Whitehead, Seton Hall
Whitehead shot 1-for-11 from the field in the Pirates’ 57-54 home loss to Marquette.
2. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Georgetown
Two points on 1-for-7 shooting in the Hoyas’ 69-53 loss at No. 7 Villanova.
3. Kaleb Tarczewski, Arizona
Tarczewski did grab nine rebounds in the Wildcats’ 81-78 loss at Arizona State, but they’re going to need more from him than two points on 1-for-6 shooting if they’re to get to the Final Four.
4. Austin Ruder, Missouri State
With Marcus Marshall no longer with the team, Ruder is their leading scorer at 8.1 points per game. In the Bears’ 78-35 loss at No. 16 Wichita State, Ruder scored four points on 1-for-9 shooting.
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
- No. 19 Baylor rolled past No. 15 West Virginia, 75-57 in Morgantown. Despite committing 20 turnovers the Bears won big, shooting nearly 55 percent from the field and limiting WVU to 34.6% shooting.
- No. 18 VCU fell 73-71 at St. Bonaventure, with Marcus Posley’s layup as time expired being the difference. That was Posley’s second buzzer-beater of the week, as he beat Davidson on Wednesday.
- Like Duke No. 7 Villanova avenged an earlier defeat in impressive fashion, beating No. 24 Georgetown 69-53 in Philadelphia.
- No. 11 Iowa State joined in on the “payback” fun, beating Texas Tech 75-38. The Red Raiders beat the Cyclones in Lubbock last month.
- Ryan Spangler scored 21 points and blocked four shots at No. 21 Oklahoma won 68-56 at TCU.
- No. 12 North Carolina shot nearly 57 percent from the field in its 79-68 win at Boston College. Olivier Hanlan scored a game-high 30 for the Eagles.
- Kellen Dunham scored 24 points and Roosevelt Jones added 20 as No. 22 Butler beat DePaul 83-73 in Indianapolis. Chris Holtmann should be the favorite (at this point in the season) for Big East Coach of the Year.
- Isaiah Taylor scored 23 points as No. 25 Texas ended its four-game losing streak with a 61-57 win at Kansas State.
- No. 5 Wisconsin took care of business, beating Northwestern 65-50 in Madison. Sam Dekker led the way with 16 points.
- No. 23 SMU handed Tulsa its first conference loss, winning 68-57 with Nic Moore leading the way. The Mustangs trail the Golden Hurricane by a game in the American Athletic Conference standings.
- Fred Van Vleet (ten points, ten rebounds, 11 assists and four steals) posted his first triple-double in No. 16 Wichita State’s 78-35 win over Missouri State.
- No. 14 Northern Iowa took care of Drake, 69-53, with Seth Tuttle scoring 16 and Matt Bohannon adding 14 for the Panthers.
- Brandon Taylor shot 6-for-9 from three, scoring 18 points, to help lead No. 13 Utah to a 79-51 win at Colorado.
- No. 2 Gonzaga moved to 24-1 with an 81-70 win at San Francisco. Kyle Wiltjer tallied 29 points and 11 rebounds, and Kevin Pangos added 17 and four assists.
- Josh Brown’s 12-footer with two seconds remaining gave Temple a 61-60 win over Memphis. Also of note for the Tigers is that starting big man Austin Nichols left the game in the second half with what was declared to be a sprained ankle by head coach Josh Pastner.
- Playing without Larry Nance Jr. and Alan Herndon, Wyoming lost 73-50 at Air Force. Both players are dealing with cases of mononucleosis.
- Seton Hall suffered a loss that won’t look good on its resume, losing 57-54 to Marquette in Newark. The Golden Eagles were without leading scorer Matt Carlino (concussion) but found a way to win anyway.
- Xavier took control of things in the second half of their 78-69 win over Providence. Providence head coach Ed Cooley left the game in the second half and is being evaluated at a Cincinnati hospital.
- Malcolm Hill scored 19 points as Illinois won 59-54 at Michigan State. The Fighting Illini were once again without the suspended Rayvonte Rice and Aaron Cosby.
- Harvard pulled into a tie for first in the Ivy League with a 52-50 win at Yale. The score at halftime: 16-11, Harvard.
- Central Arkansas picked up its first win of the season, 70-67 over New Orleans. UCA was 0-19 on the season prior to Saturday.
- Colorado State moved to 7-4 in the Mountain West with an 83-82 win over UNLV, surviving a 30-point effort from UNLV’s Rashad Vaughn.
- Once again playing without the injured Tyler Harvey, Eastern Washington moved to 9-1 in the Big Sky with a 61-51 win at Montana State. They remain a half-game behind Sacramento State (10-1) in the race for first place.
- LSU rebounded from a bad loss to Auburn to beat Alabama, 71-60. Next up for the Tigers: top-ranked Kentucky Tuesday night in Baton Rouge.
- North Carolina Central limited North Carolina A&T to 18 second half points in their 58-44 win. LeVelle Moton’s Eagles are 10-0 in the MEAC, with Norfolk State a game back at 9-1.
- A Jaron Martin layup with 1.4 seconds remaining gave UC Irvine a 56-55 win at Long Beach State, keeping the Anteaters within a game of first-place UC Davis in the Big West.
- Stephen F. Austin is now 9-0 in the Southland after beating Houston Baptist 95-59. Thomas Walkup went off for 34 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals.
- Murray State has now won 19 straight, as they beat Austin Peay 82-72.