Wednesday saw the first night of 2019 where college basketball had a full slate of games as conference play started for a number of leagues. While the Big Ten picked up its conference play from early December, the Big 12 opened league play with some close finishes.
1. Maryland earns crucial home Big Ten win over No. 24 Nebraska
To begin the evening, Maryland picked up its biggest win of the season with a 74-72 win over No. 24 Nebraska. While the Terps have a solid record, this was the first time all season that they’ve knocked off a legitimate NCAA tournament team.
For a young Maryland team that is still trying to figure itself out, this is the kind of game they needed. Bruno Fernando dominated on the interior with 18 points and 17 rebounds while point guard Anthony Cowan added 19 points.
Perhaps most importantly for Maryland, freshman Jalen Smith lived up to his five-star billing by taking over the game down the stretch. Smith finished with 15 points, including Maryland’s final seven points, as his runner with under five seconds left was the difference. As long as Maryland gets interior play like that from Fernando and Smith, they’re going to be a tough out for any team in the Big Ten.
2. Big 12 favorites No. 5 Kansas and No. 11 Texas Tech earn tight wins
The Big 12 opened conference play for a few teams on Wednesday night as some of the league’s heavyweights won in close games.
In the undercard, No. 11 Texas Tech earned an ugly win over West Virginia on the road in a game that featured more fouls than anyone would ever care to see. Jarrett Culver performed like a Player of the Year candidate by scoring all 18 of his points in the second half as he battled foul trouble to come through in the clutch.
The Big 12 main event for Wednesday night featured No. 5 Kansas winning over No. 23 Oklahoma. Although the Jayhawks held the Sooners at arm’s length for the majority of the contest, a feisty Oklahoma bunch wouldn’t give up until the final minute. Freshman Devon Dotson paced a balanced Jayhawks offense with 16 points as Kansas had four double-figure scorers.
3. A half-court buzzer-beater and a scary chasedown block
Wednesday didn’t feature many upsets. It did have some memorable plays however.
Valparaiso earned a two-point win over Missouri Valley Conference rival Illinois State as Markus Golder buried a half-court buzzer-beater as time expired to earn the win.
In the Division III ranks, a chasedown block nearly turned into a scary moment as North Central’s Blaise Meredith hit his head and went horizontal before crashing to the ground. Meredith was thankfully okay, but it made for a surreal moment.