Monday’s college hoops had the start of the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge while No. 1 Gonzaga played without one of its rotation players for the first time. An SEC team also lost at home to a regular giant killer.
ACC/BIG TEN CHALLENGE GETS STARTED
The ACC/Big Ten Challenge started with two matchups between unranked opponents. The two games earned splits among the two leagues with each of the winners getting solid non-conference wins in the process.
Nebraska (6-1) earned its biggest non-conference road win in two seasons as the Huskers held off Clemson for a 68-66 win. Getting 20 points and nine rebounds from senior James Palmer Jr., Nebraska might have just picked up a win they desperately needed for postseason implications.
The Huskers still have more opportunities to earn solid non-conference wins against Creighton and Oklahoma State, but the road win against a Sweet 16 team on the road is a huge confidence booster.
Boston College (5-1) pulled out a 68-56 win over previously-unbeaten Minnesota at home in the second game. Nik Popovic went for 18 points as the Eagles won even though Ky Bowman (13 points) didn’t have his best game from the field.
The Eagles have that loss to IUPUI. They’ve also earned back-to-back wins over Loyola and Minnesota to help themselves build some momentum for Providence and Texas A&M.
NO. 1 GONZAGA CRUISES TO WIN WHILE ALSO LOSING CRANDALL
New No. 1 Gonzaga earned a 102-60 non-conference home win over North Dakota State on Monday night as six players finished in double-figures. Brandon Clarke and Rui Hachimura both finished with 18 points while Corey Kispert had 17 points.
But perhaps the bigger news of the day for the Zags is the loss of senior backup guard Geno Crandall with a fractured right hand. Gonzaga has a tough stretch of non-conference games beginning on Dec. 1 that includes two matchups with top-15 teams.
We’ll have to see if Gonzaga can sustain like this with the loss of Crandall, and how it alters Perkins playing heavy minutes at lead guard.
TEXAS SOUTHERN STUNS NO. 18 OREGON
The last game of the evening saw the night’s biggest upset as Texas Southern shocked No. 18 Oregon with a non-conference road win. The Tigers scored 57 points in the second half as big man Trayvon Reed was a perfect 9-for-9 from the field to finish with 23 points and seven rebounds. Five Texas Southern players finished in double-figures as John Jones also added 20 points.
This is a stunning loss for Oregon, who had 32 points and 11 rebounds from freshman big man Bol Bol, as they couldn’t protect the rim following the loss of big man Kenny Wooten to a left knee injury. Reed scored all of his buckets on dunks as his interior physicality was an issue for the Ducks.
Oregon doesn’t have the most difficult schedule coming up, but this is a concerning loss to a team from a one-bid league. They need to fix the interior defense while also a consistent third scoring option behind Bol and Payton Pritchard. Freshman Louis King would at least help in the third scorer department for the Ducks, but they’ll have to hope the injury to Wooten isn’t anything serious.
WOFFORD CLIPS SOUTH CAROLINA
For the second straight season, Wofford earned a big road win over a high-major opponent. Although this season wasn’t quite as big as last season’s win at the Dean Dome over North Carolina, the Terriers knocked off South Carolina for another big road win.
The SoCon had 30 points and nine three-pointers from junior guard Nathan Hoover while senior Fletcher Magee only had eight points on 3-for-15 shooting. Wofford still has two more major opportunities to win at Kansas and at Mississippi State before conference season begins.
South Carolina (3-3) meanwhile dropped another one to a one-bid league at home as they’ve really struggled to win against lesser competition. The Gamecocks still have two games against top-ten teams (No. 7 Michigan and No. 4 Virginia) and an in-state game against Clemson before SEC play even gets started. Considering this team also lost to a Division II opponent, and this season could get ugly for South Carolina.