Getty Images

Tuesday’s Things to Know: Texas Tech wins; Iowa State, Mississippi State upset; Villanova takes Big East reigns

Leave a comment

Tuesday’s night of college basketball had some really good conference games as ACC, Big 12 and SEC contests all came down to the wire. We saw some upsets go down in the Big 12 and the SEC, while the Big East saw a familiar team win a critical home game against a recent upstart. 

1. Jarrett Culver lifts No. 8 Texas Tech past No. 23 Oklahoma in Big 12 play

Now that Kansas has lost Udoka Azubuike for the season and fallen at Iowa State, they look susceptible to potentially losing control of the Big 12. Texas Tech has taken advantage with a 3-0 start in league play after another close win over the Sooners, 66-59.

Player of the Year candidate Jarrett Culver took over the game down the stretch for the Red Raiders as he scored eight consecutive points during one stretch to finish with 23 points and 13 rebounds on an efficient 8-for-13 shooting and 7-for-7 performance from the line.

With the league’s best player in Culver, along with a defense that looks stifling, Texas Tech could have enough to be the leaders in the Big 12 race at this current moment. Although counting out Kansas would be really stupid, the Jayhawks still have to regroup from losing a huge piece for them while Texas Tech looks like they know how to win close games with a closer in Culver.

The Big 12 schedule won’t get much easier for the Red Raiders, as they travel to Texas before hosting Iowa State after that.

2. No. 12 North Carolina earns a road win at No. 15 North Carolina State

Perhaps the biggest game of the night was the ranked clash between ACC rivals North Carolina and North Carolina State. The Tar Heels earned a road win with a 90-82 final over the Wolfpack.

Jumping out to an early 12-0 lead, North Carolina never trailed in this contest as they put together an impressive start-to-finish effort. Luke Maye led the Tar Heels with 21 points while Coby White added 19 points as North Carolina won this with Cameron Johnson out and battling leg cramps for the final 12 minutes.

N.C. State deserves credit for battling back and tying this game twice in the second half, but they could never get over the hump to take a lead. Braxton Beverly led the Pack with 21 points as this loss snapped a seven-game winning streak.

2. Baylor takes down No. 20 Iowa State to add to the Big 12’s crazy night

While Texas Tech is unbeaten in the Big 12, Iowa State looked like a major threat coming off of a weekend in which they knocked off Kansas in convincing fashion. Baylor had other ideas when they led most of the game in a 73-70 win over Iowa State.

Makai Mason had 25 points to pace the Bears, who earned one of their most important wins of the season as a likely bubble team. Coming off of a close loss at TCU, this is the type of solid win that Baylor needed to stay in the NCAA tournament mix. They get another huge opportunity when they host Kansas on Jan. 12.

Iowa State only led by two points and just didn’t look like a Big 12 contender during a flat performance. While the Cyclones didn’t play poorly, their young players didn’t step up as they have at previous times this season as Marial Shayok paced them with 19 points.

The Cyclones are still going to be a dangerous Big 12 team, but Texas Tech is the top dog at the moment after Tuesday night’s results. The young Cyclones still have the talent to potentially win the league, but it is road games like this against fringe tournament teams like Baylor that they need to win to stay in that race.

4. Villanova maintains unbeaten Big East mark with win over No. 24 St. John’s

One of Tuesday’s most important games featured two top teams in the Big East. While some have written off Villanova after some early losses to Furman and Penn, the Wildcats remained unblemished in the league with a big 76-71 win over No. 24 St. John’s.

Eric Paschall finished with 25 points while Phil Booth had 23 points and six three-pointers — including the go-ahead look in the second half. The Wildcats are the sole undefeated team in the Big East as they’re off to a solid start in league play. Winning over St. John’s — a team many believe to be a major contender — is proof that Villanova should be taken seriously once again in the Big East race.

The Red Storm were paced by Shamorie Ponds’ 23 points, but Mustapha Heron struggled to a 3-for-11 night from the field to finish with eight points.

There is still a long way to go in the Big East race, and these two teams will play again on Feb. 17, as St. John’s will try to bounce back after a 2-2 start in league play.

5. South Carolina drops No. 14 Mississippi State for upset win

The SEC gave us one of the night’s notable upsets as the Gamecocks took down the Bulldogs with an 87-82 overtime win.

People weren’t sure what to make of Mississippi State’s season as they entered this game with a bloated record thanks to a pretty easy schedule. The Bulldogs deserve credit for some solid wins (Cincinnati, Clemson) and no terrible losses.

But a loss to a South Carolina team ranked in the 115s on KenPom likely isn’t going to be a realistic SEC contender against the likes of Auburn, Kentucky and Tennessee.

To South Carolina’s credit, they’re now 2-0 in league play as they hit the offensive glass and defend hard. Maik Kotsar played the best game of his Gamecock career with 25 points and nine rebounds as led five double-figure scorers for South Carolina.

Mississippi State will likely still find itself in fine position to make the NCAA tournament, but this is the type of loss that makes you question their ceiling for this season.

Careers of all-time great scorers Mike Daum and Chris Clemons come to a close

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
6 Comments

The spots for Mike Daum and Chris Clemons in the NCAA record book are now in place.

Both players’ teams lost in NIT openers on Tuesday, with Clemons and Campbell falling to UNC Greensboro, 84-69, while Daum’s Jackrabbits lost at Texas, 79-73.

Clemons finishes third all-time in scoring with 3,225 career points while Daum slots in at sixth with 3,067. Doug McDermott (3,150) and Alphonso Ford (3,165) separate them in fifth and fourth, respectively. LSU great Pete Maravich is first with 3,667.

Daum came to the Jackrabbits as a no-name recruit out of Kimball, Neb. that would ultimately redshirt his first year on campus. He went on to score 518 points as a freshman in the only season he failed top 800. He played in three NCAA tournaments with the Jackrabbits, who lost in the first round of the Summit League tournament as a one-seed, a fate Daum knew was a possibility when he opted not to graduate transfer out of Brookings this past spring. Daum scored 25 in his final game.

Clemons, a North Carolina native, scored at least 1,200 as both a sophomore and a senior, averaging 30 per game during his final collegiate season and nearly 25 for his career, which never featured an NCAA tournament appearance. In his last game, Clemons went out scoring, putting 32 on Greensboro.

Both players spent their careers in relative anonymity at mid-majors, but their legacies will loom large for years to come as two of the most prolific scorers the college game has seen.

Belmont pulls away in second half to beat Temple

Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images
1 Comment

Rick Byrd is on the board.

The Belmont coach, in his 33rd years with the Bruins, has his first NCAA tournament win.

Belmont is moving on after defeating Temple, 81-70, on Tuesday in the First Four, notching that first tournament victory against another coaching fixture, Fran Dunphy, in the latter’s final game with the Owls.

Temple led by as many as five in the second half after erasing an 11-point deficit, but Belmont ripped off a 16-3 run to take an eight-point advantage with under 7 minutes to play that would prove more than enough to move on to the Round of 64.

Temple shot 39.4 percent from the floor and 31.8 percent on 22 attempts from 3-point range while committing 11 turnovers as Dunphy’s accomplished career came to a close in Dayton.

Dunphy is a Big 5 lifer. He played at La Salle, coached at Penn for 17 years and then took over the Temple program in 2006. He finished with 580 career wins in 30 years as a head coach. Assistant Aaron McKie is set to take over the Owls job in Dunphy’s stead in a move that was announced last offseason.

Shizz Alson, Jr. scored a team-high 21 points for the Owls, who finish the season 23-10.

Belmont shot at a blistering 52.8 percent from the floor and got 29 points from Kevin McClain on 8 of 14 shooting that included four triples.  Nick Muszynski, returning from injury, had 16 points (making 8 of 12 shots) along with four rebounds, three assists and two blocks.

The Bruins will now fly south to Jacksonville, where Maryland, a six seed, awaits them for a Thursday tip in the first round of the South region. The Terps went 22-10 and finished fifth in the Big Ten with a 13-7 conference mark. Belmont went 1-1 this season against Power 5 opponents with a win at UCLA and a loss in West Lafayette against Purdue in December.

Fairleigh Dickinson comes from behind for First Four victory

Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The first game of the NCAA tournament provided the event’s customary drama.

Fairleigh Dickinson came from 13 down to defeat Prairie View, 82-76, on Tuesday night at the First Four in Dayton to join the rest of the field later this week with a matchup against the West regional’s No. 1 seed Gonzaga on Thursday.

Prairie View built an early double-digit lead thanks to a monster first-half effort from 3-point range in which they connected on eight of 12 shots from distance while also collecting six offensive rebounds. Fairleigh Dickinson, though was able to halve the deficit in time for half to go into the locker room down just seven.

The Panthers once again pushed their lead to 13 in the second half’s opening minutes, but Knights tied the game with 7:33 left and subsequently took the lead only to give it back to Prairie View. The Knights, though, wrestled the lead back on a 3-pointer from Jahlil Jenkins that kickstarted an 8-0 run that put Fairleigh Dickson up six. Prairie View cut the lead to two in the final minute but couldn’t close the gap.

Darnell Edge scored 33 to lead the lights while Jenkins had 22. Gary Blackston had 26 for the Panthers.

Fairleigh Dickinson shot 54.5 percent from the field for the game after converting at a 68 percent clip after halftime to win the program’s first-ever NCAA tournament game.

The Knights will now have to jet west to take on Gonzaga (30-3) in Salt Lake City on Thursday. The Zags figure to be huge favorites but just a year removed from UMBC upending Virginia, 16 seeds will likely be imbued with an extra dose of confidence this March.

2019 NCAA Tournament: Kansas State’s Dean Wade doubtful for tourney

Photo by David Becker/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kansas State is going to have difficult replicating its NCAA tournament success from a year ago. Unless it can once again survive the loss of its marquee forward.

Dean Wade, the Wildcats’ top player and Big 12 preseason player of the year, is unlikely to play in the tournament due to a lingering foot injury, coach Bruce Weber said Tuesday evening, per Kellis Robinett of the Kansas City Star.

The Wildcats, a four seed, are slated to meet UC Irvine on Friday in San Jose.

Injuries have cost Wade, who played minimally in K-State Elite Eight run last year because of injury, much of his senior season as it sidelined him for six games starting in December and carrying on into Big 12 play. He then aggravated the injury Feb. 16 in a home loss to Iowa State, but returned to beat Baylor. He did not miss any additional time during the regular season as the Wildcats tied for the Big 12 championship with Texas Tech as Kansas was shutout from a league title for the first time in 14 years.

The injury, though, forced Wade out of both Kansas State’s Big 12 tournament games, including a semifinal loss to eventual champion Iowa State.

“We’ve grown. We went through it, been through it without Dean, which is always tough,” Weber said after the loss to the Cyclones last weekend. “But we survived and advanced last year and we were able to get some experience under our belt. Obviously, it’s not last year. It’s going to be different teams. The ball is going to bounce different. The shots are going to fall different, but it gives us the self-confidence that it’s able to be done.”

The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 12.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game this season while shooting 49.8 percent from the floor.

2019 NCAA Tournament: Which high seeds are on upset watch?

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
1 Comment

The best part about the NCAA tournaments are the upsets.

It’s the thrill of seeing the team that you — and nobody else — picked to win knock off one of the big boys, especially when it comes courtesy of a buzzer-beater.

Here at College Basketball Talk, we like to inform you of the upsets before they happen.

So we guarantee that these six lower-seeded teams will win these games.

No. 14 YALE over No. 3 LSU, Thu. 12:40 p.m.

I am all in on the Elis taking down the Tigers on Thursday afternoon.

The biggest reason for this is that LSU is playing without their head coach. Will Wade has been held out by LSU after he refused to speak with the administration following the reports that he was caught on a wiretap by the FBI discussing a payment for a player. That’s big, because Wade is a terrific coach that is terrific when it comes to make in-game adjustments, and I do think there is something to the idea of substitute teacher syndrome setting in.

But beyond that, I just believe in this Yale team. They got dudes. Miye Oni is going to be an NBA draft pick, potentially a first rounder, as a 6-foot-6 combo-guard. Jordan Bruner is a do-it-all, 6-foot-9 forward that should be playing in the SEC, not the Ivy League. Alex Copeland proved that he can take a game over at the point. I also think it’s important to note that LSU does a lot of their damage on the offensive glass, and while Yale is going to be physically outmatched against LSU, they are top 25 nationally in defensive rebounding percentage.

There’s talent on Yale, they matchup well with LSU and the Tigers will be missing their coach. I like it when the dots connect.

No. 12 OREGON vs. No. 5 WISCONSIN, Fri. 4:30 p.m.

There may not be a hotter team in the country right now than Oregon, who rolled through the end of the Pac-12 season before winning the Pac-12 tournament, beating Washington in impressive fashion twice in the process. The question is going to be how Wisconsin goes about breaking down Oregon’s zone, and while I do think that Ethan Happ can really pick it apart, it is important to note that the Ducks will be running out Kenny Wooten. He is as good of a defender as there is in the paint, and I would not be surprised to see him slow Happ down. Also worth noting: The line is this game has moved from Wisconsin (-4) to Wisconsin (-1).

No. 13 UC IRVINE vs. No. 4 KANSAS STATE, Fri. 2:00 p.m.

This changes if Dean Wade plays, but without Dean Wade on the floor, Kansas State is a team that is going to rely on penetration and the ability of their guards to get into the paint. The problem with that is that UC Irvine is a really good defensive team that is built around the concept of forcing teams to drive and finish around the rim, where they do have some size and talented shot-blockers. The Anteaters are really, really good and might be underseeded as a No. 13, and with the Wildcats banged up, this is a matchup that Russell Turner can get the best of.

No. 13 NORTHEASTERN vs. No. 4 KANSAS, Fri. 4:00 p.m.

Kansas is not the Kansas we are used to seeing. They start four freshmen this year, and while two of them are five-star — one of whom has not exactly played like a five-star this year — the other two are the Jayhawks third-string center and a guy that was supposed to redshirt this season. I also think Kansas is overseeded relative to the team they have now based on some non-conference wins they earned with Udoka Azubuike and Lagerald Vick healthy.

Northeastern is a really, really well-coached team that doesn’t beat themselves. They don’t turn the ball over, they shoot it well from three, they control tempo, they don’t give up second chance points and they have a couple of high-level shot-makers, namely Vasa Pusica. The Huskies are dangerous.

No. 6 VILLANOVA vs. No. 3 PURDUE, Sun. TBD

Villanova has to get past St. Mary’s in the first round for this to happen — and that will be no easy feat — but if they do I think that Purdue is about the best possible matchup they could have asked for. Purdue is a team that runs a lot of really great offense to create looks for the shooters they have, but Villanova switches everything. The Wildcats are going to make Purdue beat them one-on-one to get good shots, and I don’t know if the Boilermakers have the guys to be able to do that in this game.

No. 4 FLORIDA STATE vs. No. 1 GONZAGA, Sweet 16

If there is one thing that Gonzaga point guard Josh Perkins struggles with, it is defenders with length and athleticism pressuring him all over the floor. That is what Florida State is going to do in this matchup. It worked the last time these two played — in the 2018 Sweet 16 with No. 9 seed Florida State picked off No. 4 seed Gonzaga.

And I also guarantee that these upsets will not happen.

No. 12 MURRAY STATE over No. 5 MARQUETTE, Thu. 4:30 p.m.

I just cannot seed the Racers getting this done against Marquette. For starters, I think that they will be able to hide Markus Howard defensively on some random wing. Then, I think that Sacar Anim will be able to go a good enough job on Ja Morant to keep him from having one of his 40 point nights. And finally, I think Theo John’s presence at the rim will help prevent Morant from having an absolute blow-up game. I didn’t necessarily envision myself going all-in on Marquette in the first round, but here we are.

No. 12 NEW MEXICO STATE vs. No. 5 AUBURN, Fri. 4:30 p.m.

I just think that the Tigers have enough talent — they got dudes! — to beat a good New Mexico State team that has a lot of success because they just play harder than people. I also fully expect the Tigers, who have beaten Tennessee twice in the last 10 days, to continue to run hot. Bruce Pearl will have those guys motivated.