PLAYER OF THE DAY: Blake Hinson, Ole Miss
Freshman guard Blake Hinson picked a terrific day to put together the best basketball game that he has ever played.
Playing on the road against a top 15 team in a rivalry game, Hinson scored a career-high 26 points on 8-for-16 shooting while hitting five threes as the Rebels improved to 13-2 on the season and 3-0 in the SEC with an 81-77 win at No. 14 Mississippi State.
Not bad for a player in just his third career conference game.
“I was super fun,” Hinson said, and I do not doubt that it was.
The bigger story here, however, is that suddenly, out of nowhere, the Rebels look like a team that is going to be very relevant at the top of the SEC this season. This is now their second straight win over a top 15 team — on Wednesday, they beat No. 11 Auburn by 15 points at home — and currently sit in first place in the league, tied with Tennessee. Weird things happen in conference play, and it is probably too early to jump to too many conclusions, but I do think it’s fair to say that there has not been a more pleasant surprise in the SEC this year and there may not be a single coach in the country that is outperforming expectations more than Davis is in his first season in Oxford.
TEAM OF THE DAY: Louisville Cardinals
Louisville entered Saturday just 72 hours removed from losing at Pittsburgh, and with a trip to North Carolina and the Dean Dome coming up, I’m not sure how many people expected much of anything from the Cardinals.
Those people, apparently, were foolish.
Because Louisville went out and absolutely smacked the Tar Heels around. They held Luke Maye to 3-for-14 shooting. They kept Coby White from having any kind of impact, and he didn’t hit a single field goal and finished with as many turnovers as he did points. They limited the Tar Heels to 34.5 percent shooting form the floor and a 3-for-22 mark from deep, and the reward for all of that hard work was an 83-62 win.
It was, believe it or not, the worst home loss that North Carolina has suffered under head coach Roy Williams, and frankly, seeing that happen at the hands of this iteration of the Louisville Cardinals is not something I ever expected to see happen.
So good for Louisville and good for Chris Mack. This win more or less cements a trip to the NCAA tournament so long as the Cardinals find a way to remain above .500 in league play.
ONIONS OF THE DAY: Cam Reddish, Duke
Reddish scored 23 points, carrying Duke after Zion Williamson went out with an eye injury and hitting the game-winning three to beat no. 13 Florida State in Tallahassee, 80-78.
More on the Blue Devils below.
There were plenty of helpings of onions on Saturday.
Let’s start with D’Marcus Simonds, who traveled while making this game-winning shot and then hopped on twitter to let the world know that, yes, he did travel, and he also committed an offensive foul, too:
Then there was this shot from Texas A&M’s T.J. Starks to beat Alabama on the road:
And this miracle from UTEP:
What a day, folks.
What a day.
TOP TEN TEAMS ON THE ROAD: I would have bet any amount of money that, at some point today, one of the seven top ten teams that were playing on the road would lose.
Someone, somewhere, playing a road game in league play would have an off shooting night, get a couple of bad whistles and head home with a loss.
And I would have been very, very wrong.
- No. 1 Duke beat No. 13 Florida State, and once that three from Cam Reddish went down, I should have known that there was no chance a top ten team was losing.
- No. 3 Tennessee pulled away from Florida down the stretch before Grant Williams and the rest of the Volunteers went full Marshall Henderson, gator chomping the entire student section:
- No. 4 Virginia was barely challenged at Clemson, leaving South Carolina with a 20-point win despite barely breaking 60 themselves.
- No. 5 Gonzaga was tied with San Francisco with less than three minutes left, but a pair of threes created separated and, eventually, the Zags would win 96-83, covering the spread by the time it was all said and done.
- No. 7 Kansas got 18 points from Lagerald Vick as they went into Waco and picked off Baylor.
- No. 8 Texas Tech got 22 points from Matt Mooney in a 68-62 win over Texas.
- And No. 10 Nevada was able to take care of Fresno State on the road despite the fact that Fresno State looks like the second-best team in that league.
It was the rare day where an upset of a top ten team was nowhere to be found. This will not be the norm.
KANSAS STATE: At 8:16 p.m. ET on Wednesday I texted a prominent college basketball writer and asked if this was going to be the year where Bruce Weber would get fired. At that exact moment in time, the Wildcats were trailing West Virginia 42-21 at home in the second half.
Things looked bad.
Since I sent that text, Kansas State proceeded to outscore West Virginia 50-27 to win that game by two points, and then they went into Ames and knocked off No. 20 Iowa State, 58-57, in the gym that Kansas couldn’t find a way to beat the Cyclones. That’s one way to stick it to the idiots that are questioning job security.
KRISTIAN DOOLITTLE: Doolitte finished with 24 points and 10 boards to lead No. 23 Oklahoma as they knocked off No. 25 TCU, 76-74, in Norman. The Sooners trailed at the half, but with this win they keep pace with the rest of the league as they make a run at Kansas and a Big 12 regular season title.
OHIO STATE: The Buckeyes lost their third straight game on Saturday, falling at Iowa after losing at Rutgers and at home against Michigan State the last two games. Chris Holtmann can work magic as a head coach, but eventually the youth on their roster was going to catch up with it.
IOWA STATE: The Dauster Curse strikes again! Every time I get on board with a team, they immediately fall off of a cliff. This is proven. It’s a scientific fact. Last week, I called Iowa State a top ten team. This week, they lost at Baylor and they lost at home to Kansas State, who look like two of the bottom four teams in the Big 12.
I guess I’d like to walk that one back.
ST. JOHN’S: I know that the Johnnies were playing without Shamorie Ponds, but that doesn’t make a home loss to DePaul any more palatable. It’s not going to have all that much of an effect on their NCAA tournament standing — St. John’s is going to be dancing, and Ponds’ absence will be factored in by the committee — but this drops them two games behind Villanova atop the Big East standings.
But no one cares about regular season titles these days anyway.
SYRACUSE: The Orange lost by 14 points on Saturday. At home. To Georgia Tech. That’s not good, not when they have already lost to Buffalo, Old Dominion, Oregon and UConn. And guess what? They play at Duke on Monday. Good luck!
Saturday was all the evidence that you needed that Duke is the best team in college basketball this season.
The Blue Devils were on the road playing against a top 15 team in a gym that has been their bugaboo for the last decade or so, and they played the entire second half without the player that just about everyone with a pulse believes will be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and the National Player of the Year this year.
And it didn’t really matter.
Florida State looked pretty good, but R.J. Barrett (32 points) and Cam Reddish (23 points and the game-winning three) looked even better. It’s an embarrassment of riches, really. Lose the No. 1 overall pick and suddenly the third consensus top five pick, the one that has struggled for the last month of the season, figures things out and drops 23.
I’m sure that is a nice security blanket to have.
Reddish is actually the most interesting part of the Duke season. He is immensely talented — there are still people out there that think he has the highest ceiling of the three Duke freshmen — but he’s been in a funk for the last five weeks. He played just 16 minutes against Clemson and 20 minutes against Texas Tech and at Wake Forest. He entered Saturday shooting 25.4 percent from the floor and 18.4 percent from three over his last six games. It has not been pretty.
Saturday, however, was different. Without Zion Williamson on the floor, space and touches opened up, and Reddish pounced.
The question now is how he responds. Does this get him more involved in the offense? Does this mean that he’ll start knocking down the shots that he gets? Does this get Coach K to run more stuff for him?
Because the truth is that the issue here isn’t talent, it’s role. With Williamson, Barrett and Tre Jones on the roster, there are three players that play with the ball in their hands, and that’s actually what Reddish does best. It’s been an adjustment, one he has yet to truly figure out.
Was this the moment he woke up?
Because if it is, Duke just became scary.