PLAYERS OF THE DAY: Chris Clemons, Campbell
Dropping 39 points in a Campbell win (for the second time this week), Clemons continued his torrid hot streak against Longwood. Going 10-for-18 from three-point range, Clemons had it going from the perimeter on Saturday.
But most importantly, Clemons is continuing to climb the college basketball all-time scoring board at a rapid rate. Thanks to the back-to-back 39-point performances this week the 5-foot-9 senior guard passed Larry Bird and Tyler Hansbrough on Saturday. He’s up to 2,875 career points. Elvin Hayes is in striking distance now — as are a number of high-profile college legends.
Clemons doesn’t play for a high-major program on a lot of nationally-televised games. But the nation’s leading scorer is having a special senior season. He’s now given himself a legitimate chance to chase more legends as the Fighting Camels attempt to make the NCAA tournament out of the Big South.
TEAM OF THE DAY: Indiana Hoosiers
Indiana might have saved its season following an overtime road win over No. 6 Michigan State. With senior forward Juwan Morgan going down with a shoulder injury midway through the first half, things weren’t looking very good for the Hoosiers to end their seven-game losing streak.
But a balanced offense, 20 offensive rebounds, and some incredible toughness, helped lead Indiana to a huge win. While the Hoosiers still have work to do to get themselves off of the bubble and into the NCAA tournament’s Field of 68, they now own top-notch wins over Louisville, Marquette and on the road at Michigan State.
The Big Ten is brutally deep and Indiana has plenty of teams to beat before they can feel comfortable. But this is the type of win that could completely change everything as Indiana had the look of a team that continued to fight despite everything going wrong.
ONIONS OF THE DAY: Antonio Williams, Kent State
Desperation heaves rarely end up working out but it ended up going well for Kent State junior guard Antonio Williams. On a blown play with time winding down, trailing Ball State on the road in overtime, Williams worked his pivot foot so he faced the basket and chucked a ball off the backboard. Then Williams worked his way through traffic to catch the ball himself and finish for the game-winning bucket.
Kent State ended up with the 83-80 MAC road win as Williams will be remembered for his unique go-ahead score.
SATURDAY WAS A GOOD DAY FOR …
North Carolina: Earning the day’s second biggest win was No. 9 North Carolina in a tough and solid revenge road win at No. 15 Louisville. After falling to the Cardinals earlier this season in Chapel Hill, the Tar Heels turned things around in the second game thanks to its defensive intensity and offensive rebounding.
North Carolina didn’t shoot the ball well from three-point range (just like the first loss) but overcame the perimeter woes thanks to pounding the offensive glass, hard-nosed defense and balanced scoring from four spots. If North Carolina can continue to defend at that level over 40 minutes while getting normal offense then they’ll be a fascinating team to follow in the ACC race.
Kansas: After a two-game losing streak and a week full of questions about the Big 12 race, the Jayhawks responded on Saturday with a convincing blowout home win over No. 16 Texas Tech. The No. 11 Jayhawks received another stellar performance from All-American candidate and forward Dedric Lawson (25 points, 10 rebounds) while Devon Dotson (20 points) made plays on both ends of the floor. Saturday’s win was a reminder of why Kansas is still the Big 12 front runner until another gaffe.
Duke’s Zion Williamson: Continuing a recent hot streak, the freshman and Player of the Year frontrunner had some more highlight-reel plays to go along with 29 points, six rebounds, five steals and two blocks as No. 2 Duke cruised past St. John’s for a non-conference win. Williamson continued a six-game streak of at least 22 points as he’s been looking more dominant as the ACC schedule has gone along.
UTSA’s Keaton Wallace: Remember the name of this sophomore guard. Dropping 45 points in an overtime win over Marshall, Wallace became the second straight UTSA player to score at least 45 points in a game. Teammate Jhivvan Jackson dropped 46 points in a loss to Western Kentucky. As for Wallace, he’s compiled some impressive performances in recent games as the Roadrunners have one of the best one-two scoring punches in all of college hoops.
SATURDAY WAS A BAD DAY FOR …
Big East bubble teams: It was a tough day for bubble teams in general, but especially in the Big East, as multiple teams went down with a loss. In a battle of bubble teams between Butler and Seton Hall, the Bulldogs came out on top with a two-point win — while also being the only Big East bubble team to have a positive day. The Pirates certainly didn’t benefit from the loss to Butler while St. John’s lost to No. 1 Duke on the road and Providence fell at DePaul. Overall, not the kind of day the Big East was looking for, as many of their bubble teams are starting to lose momentum.
N.C. State’s offense: The Wolfpack had a day to forget on Saturday afternoon as they only mustered 24 points (!!!) in a blowout loss to No. 12 Virginia Tech. It wasn’t the lowest point total for a top-25 team in the shot-clock era. Shooting only 9-for-54 from the floor (16 percent) and 2-for-28 (seven percent) from three-point range, N.C. State started an abysmal 1-for-17 to set the tone from the start. A week after knocking down the game-winning buzzer-beater against Clemson, sophomore guard Braxton Beverly was 0-for-12 from the floor and 0-for-9 from the three-point line. Certainly one to forget for the Wolfpack.
Michigan State free throws: Credit certainly goes to Indiana for the huge win in East Lansing. But Michigan State did the Hoosiers plenty of favors by only going 8-for-22 from the free-throw line. Nick Ward was particularly brutal from the line, going 1-for-9 in the game, as the Spartans could have closed this game out with a few more makes at the charity stripe.
Nebraska: Losing for the fifth consecutive time, Nebraska fell to Illinois for an ugly Big Ten road loss. The Huskers are in a freefall after a promising start to the season as they’re not faring well following the loss of Isaac Copeland for the season. Things don’t get much easier for Nebraska as they have to face Maryland and Nebraska over the next two games.