GAME OF THE NIGHT: Idaho 92, Montana 87 (2OT)
While Idaho is playing to lock up a spot in the eight-team Big Sky tournament, Montana entered Thursday’s game locked in a three-way tie for first place. The two teams staged a thriller in Moscow, with Don Verlin’s Vandals managing to hang on in double overtime despite the efforts of Montana senior guard Jordan Gregory. Gregory scored a career-high 36 points, and his three-pointer in the final seconds of the first overtime forced a second extra session. Idaho was more balanced offensively, with Connor Hill leading five Vandals in double figures with 23 points. As a result of their loss, Montana (12-4 Big Sky) drops a game behind Eastern Washington and Sacramento State (both 12-3) in the loss column.
1. Minnesota 96, Michigan State 90 (OT)
The “foul or defend” debate has been a popular one in recent years, with East Lansing (Michigan) HS head coach Steve Finamore having nearly three years of data on the debate. Michigan State prefers to defend when up three, but on two separate cases in regulation the Spartans committed the cardinal sin of fouling a three-point shooter. The second of those situations was on a Carlos Morris three-pointer that tied the game with 1.9 seconds remaining. Morris missed the free throw, but the Golden Gophers remained focused in the extra session and ended Michigan State’s four-game win streak. Morris scored 20 points off the bench and Joey King and Andre Hollins added 17 apiece for Minnesota, which finished the game with five players in double figures.
2. No. 3 Gonzaga 59, San Diego 39
The Bulldogs didn’t shoot as well as they’re capable of in Spokane, but they were able to buckle down defensively against the Toreros. Gonzaga ended the game on a 19-4 run, producing a somewhat deceptive final margin, and they limited USD to 29.6% shooting from the field and 1-for-11 from beyond the arc. Przemek Karnowski led four Bulldogs in double figures with 14 points, with Gary Bell Jr. adding 12 points, Byron Wesley 12 and Domantas Sabonis 11. Kevin Pangos scored three points on 1-for-7 shooting, but he contributed five rebounds and four assists. With the win Gonzaga remains in the conversation for a one-seed in the NCAA tournament.
3. No. 7 Arizona 82, Colorado 54
This one wasn’t close at all, but the takeaway is the performance put forth by Kaleb Tarczewski. On his 22nd birthday Tarczewski scored 14 points, one of five Wildcats to reach double figures (Stanley Johnson scored a team-high 15), and for a player who’s had confidence issues this season this recent stretch has been a good one. Arizona’s starting center has scored at least 14 points in three of the last four games, averaging 12.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. If Arizona is to make a run at the Final Four (and more), they need a confident Tarczewski in the middle. For their sake, the hope is that this recent run helps in that regard.
1. Green Bay’s Keifer Sykes
Sykes surpassed the 2,000-point mark in the Phoenix’s win over UIC, scoring 36 points on 13-for-23 shooting from the field while also accounting for six rebounds, four steals and three assists.
2. Oral Roberts’ Obi Egemano
Egemano shot 12-for-17 from the field, scoring 34 points and grabbing eight rebounds in the Golden Eagles’ 74-58 win over North Dakota State.
3. Montana’s Jordan Gregory
It came in a losing effort, but Gregory scored a career-high 36 points and dished out five assists in Montana’s 92-87 double overtime loss at Idaho.
1. Western Carolina’s James Sinclair and Rhett Harrelson
Both players struggled in the Catamounts’ 53-49 loss at Furman, with Sinclair scoring 13 points on 4-for-23 shooting and Harrelson three points on 1-for-11 shooting.
2. Colorado’s Xavier Johnson
Johnson scored just three points in the Buffaloes’ 82-54 loss at No. 7 Arizona, shooting 1-for-3 from the field and 1-for-5 from the foul line.
3. San Diego’s Johnny Dee and Christopher Anderson
The Toreros’ starting backcourt combined to score 12 points on 5-for-17 shooting in their 59-39 loss at No. 3 Gonzaga.
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
- Nic Moore scored 16 points and dished out five assists as No. 21 SMU moved back into first place in the American with a 66-54 win at Memphis. The Mustangs have won 14 of their last 15 games.
- No. 13 Utah closed the first half of their game on an 18-0 run, taking a 41-9 lead into the locker room. The Runnin’ Utes would go on to win 83-41, setting up their showdown with No. 7 Arizona Saturday night in Salt Lake City.
- High Point won 75-71 at UNC Asheville, and thanks to some other upsets the Panthers are in sole possession of first place in the Big South with one game remaining. The only team that can catch Scott Cherry’s squad is Charleston Southern, and the two teams meet Saturday in Charleston.
- Wofford clinched the top seed in the SoCon tournament with a 76-72 win at Mercer. Mike Young’s Terriers can wrap up the outright regular season title with a win at Furman on Saturday.
- Temple erased a five-point halftime deficit in beating Houston 66-54, avoiding what would have been a bad loss as the Owls look to earn an NCAA tournament bid.
- Dan Garvin scored 17 points and grabbed 14 rebounds as Bryant won 77-69 at Central Connecticut State, clinching the right to host at least one game in next week’s NEC tournament. The Bulldogs can grab the two-seed with a win Saturday combined with a Robert Morris loss.
- Jae’Sean Tate scored 22 points and grabbed seven rebounds in Ohio State’s 81-57 win over Nebraska.
- Rider locked up the two-seed in the MAAC tournament with a 60-53 win at Monmouth. Kevin Baggett’s Broncs were picked to finish seventh in the preseason coaches poll.
- Louisiana Tech moved into sole possession of first place in Conference USA with a 77-60 win over UTEP, with Raheem Appleby and Kenneth Smith scoring 17 points apiece to lead the way.
- Murray State won its 23rd consecutive game, moving to 15-0 in the OVC with a 65-57 win over Eastern Illinois.
- With Georgia State’s loss at UALR, there’s a two-way tie atop the Sun Belt between Georgia Southern and ULM. The Eagles moved to 13-4 with a win at Appalachian State, with the Warhawks matching that record with a win at South Alabama.
- Saint Mary’s moved to 13-4 in WCC play with an 84-53 win at San Francisco. The Gaels are in a position where they can ill-afford a “bad loss” ahead of the WCC tournament.
- Stanford finds itself in a similar spot, and Thursday night the Cardinal outscored Oregon State 47-18 in the second half to turn a two-point halftime deficit into a 75-48 win.
- UC Davis’ lead in the Big West is down to a game, as they lost 74-60 at UCSB. Michael Bryson led the Gauchos with 20 points, and Alan Williams added 15 points, 16 rebounds, four assists and four blocks.
- BYU came back from an eight-point halftime deficit to win 82-69 at Portland. Also of note in the win is the fact that Tyler Haws (21 points, 2,614 for his career) is now the program’s all-time leading scorer, passing Jimmer Fredette.