Saturday’s Things To Know: The Big East is drunk, SDSU is undefeated, LSU’s awesome?

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It was another wild Saturday in college basketball, and since we know that you couldn’t sit in front of a TV and watch every game like we did, we have you covered.

Here are the ten things that you need to know after Saturday’s action.

1. XAVIER LANDED A CRITICAL WIN AT SETON HALL

Xavier jumped out to a 30-6 lead on No. 10 Seton Hall within the first 12 minutes on Saturday. What does this mean for Xavier’s bubble chances? Should we be overly concerned about Seton Hall now? I have all the answers, and they’re in this column.

2. CREIGHTON MADE A STATEMENT AT VILLANOVA

Denzel Mahoney scored 21 points off the bench while Ty-shon Alexander and Mitchell Ballock combined to shoot 9-for-13 from three as Creighton went into the Wells Fargo Center and jumped all over No. 10 Villanova, 76-61. They were up 31-14 before Villanova woke up and the Wildcats never got closer than three the rest of the way.

There’s a lot to digest from this game, the most important point being that Villanova missed on a golden opportunity to draw even with Seton Hall atop the Big East regular season standings. That is going to sting.

But the bigger story here is that Creighton proved just how dangerous they can be. Creighton has, historically, had quite a bit of success against Villanova because of the way that they want to play. The Bluejays can spread the floor and they can matchup with Villanova’s positionless style of play, and when their “bigs” — in this case, Mahoney — can win their matchup, the Bluejays become tough to beat.

This is proof of how dangerous they can be.

3. OH, AND BUTLER LOST, TOO

As if all of that wasn’t enough, No. 16 Butler — the third of three Big East ranked teams to play at home on Saturday — lost to Providence, 65-61. The Bulldogs have now lost four of their last six games and are now sitting three games out of first place in the Big East standings. Providence, on the other hand, is doing everything they can to try and play their way back onto the bubble. They still have quite a bit of work to do, but landing a road win against the best team in the conference is certainly a good place to start.

4. SAN DIEGO STATE IS STILL UNDEFEATED

In what was perhaps the toughest test that they are going to face the rest of the season, the No. 4 Aztecs erased a 10-point second half deficit thanks to a 24 point second half explosion from Matt Mitchell in an 80-68 win over Utah State at home.

There’s still a chance that SDSU can take an odd loss on the road to someone in the league, but there really is no one in the conference that should be able to do that. What that means is that we are staring at an undefeated SDSU team heading into the NCAA tournament, and I am so here for that storyline. This season is bereft of the kind of stories that will get a casual fan locked into college hoops, and the chance for someone to go undefeated certainly would qualify.

They’re barely halfway there, so it’s too early to take any of this too seriously, but if you’re asking me if 40-0 is possible, I absolutely think it’s less than a pipe dream. The Aztecs can really, really guard and they have two guys — Mitchell and Malachi Flynn — that can completely take a game over and win it on their own.

This is a fun, and very good, team.

5. WISCONSIN BEAT MICHIGAN STATE DESPITE MISSING TWO STARTING GUARDS

The Badgers had quite an eventful week. On Monday night, they blew a 12 point lead in the final seven minutes in a loss at Iowa. During that loss, starting guard Brad Davison was given a game-changing flagrant foul for hitting an Iowa player below the belt. Davison was eventually suspended for his conduct, and that suspension was announced by the Big Ten just hours after another starting guard, Kobe King, announced that he would be transferring out of the program.

Oh, and then on Saturday Wisconsin went out and beat up on No. 14 Michigan State in the Kohl Center.

That is quite the roller coaster ride.

Wisconsin needed this win for team morale if nothing else, but I’ll contend that Michigan State blew this game. Xavier Tillman finished 2-for-8 around the rim, and four of those misses were shots that he makes 90 percent of the time. And that doesn’t count the number of times that he dropped passes that would have been layups. The Spartans had Wisconsin’s lead down to three points twice during the second half. There was a three-minute stretch where the lead sat at 61-57 in the final minutes. As well as Wisconsin played early on, as impressive as it was that they built an 18-point lead, I left that game thinking Michigan State should have won.

6. AUBURN KNOCKED OFF KENTUCKY

Entering Saturday, this felt like it was going to be the battle to determine who the favorite to win the SEC would be, and while the Tigers left as the winner, it did not feel like much was settled.

Ashton Hagans and Nick Richards struggled. Auburn grabbed 17 offensive rebounds and got to the line 44 times. Auburn didn’t pull away until the final five minutes of the game. I’m not sure how anyone can walk away thinking either of those teams is definitively better than the other.

But you might be justified in thinking that neither of them are the best team in the SEC, because …

7. … LSU HAS NOW WON 10 STRAIGHT GAMES

You may not have noticed since they have been flying under the radar, but No. 22 LSU improved to 17-4 on Saturday by knocking off Ole Miss, 73-63. The Tigers improved to 8-0 in the SEC and have now won 10 straight games overall, and they are doing all of this as the reigning SEC regular season champions. All told, Will Wade’s club is 45-11 in the last two seasons combined with a 24-2 mark in the SEC, which is incredibly impressive. As much has been written about John Calipari, Bruce Pearl and Rick Barnes, it’s inarguable that Will Wade has been the best coach in that conference during this stretch.

And the reason I say that is because of everything else that he has had to deal with. LSU has been right in the middle of the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college athletics. There are reports that Wade was caught on a wire-tap discussing a “strong-ass offer” to land Javonte Smart, a player currently on LSU’s roster. He lost Naz Reid and Tremont Waters this summer. He had a player murdered before the start of last season.

The people in that program have been through more than they should have to deal with, and through it all they haven’t stopped winning.

It’s time we gave them their due for it.

8. TULSA TAKES CONTROL OF THE AAC TITLE RACE

In one of the most powerful and unforgettable moments of the college basketball season to date, Tulsa’s Elijah Joiner hit a buzzer-beating, game-winning three to cap off a 22-point, five-assist performance as the Golden Hurricane knocked off No. 23 Wichita State, 54-51. What made the moment so special was that it was the first time Joiner’s father had seen him play in person, and he broke down in tears after the game because of it.

That was the most important part of what happened in Tulsa on Saturday.

But strictly from a basketball perspective, the best part of the day for Tulsa came when Cincinnati erased a 12 point second half deficit to knock off No. 21 Houston, because it meant that the Golden Hurricane moved into sole possession of first place in the American. Frank Haith is working miracles.

9. COLE ANTHONY IS BACK, BUT UNC IS NOT

The North Carolina Tar Heels got their super star freshman point guard back from injury on Saturday.

He had a huge second half and scored 26 points at home against Boston College. The only problem? North Carolina happened to lose, 71-70, on a questionable foul call in the final minutes.

Looks like their hopes of getting onto the right side of the bubble have gone up in smoke.

10. STANFORD LANDS CRITICAL WON OVER No. 11 OREGON

The Cardinal were arguably the single biggest bubble winner on Saturday. We talk all about them, their resume and the resume of every other team in danger of missing the NCAA tournament right here.

Boum, Jones lead No. 13 Xavier over No. 19 UConn, 82-79

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STORRS, Conn. – Souley Boum scored 21 points, Colby Jones added 20 and No. 13 Xavier went on the road and held off No. 19 Connecticut 82-79 Wednesday night.

The win was the 13th in 14 games for the Musketeers (17-4, 9-1 Big East) and it gave them a season sweep over the struggling Huskies (16-6, 5-6).

Jack Nunge had 12 points and Jerome Hunter added 11 for Xavier, which led by 17 in the first half and 39-24 at halftime.

Jordan Hawkins scored 26 of his 28 points in the second half for UConn, leading a comeback that fell just short.

Tristen Newton added 23 points for the Huskies, who won their first 14 games this season but have dropped six of eight since.

The Musketeers never trailed but had to withstand UConn runs that cut the lead to a single point four times in the second half.

A three-point play from Hawkins made it 78-77 with 2:40 left. But a second-chance layup from Nunge put the lead at 80-77 just over a minute later.

Newton was fouled with two seconds left by Desmond Claude, but his apparent attempt to miss his second free throw went into the basket.

Boum then hit two free throws at the other end, and Newton’s final attempt from just beyond halfcourt was well short.

Xavier jumped out to a 9-0 lead as UConn missed its first nine shots.

A 3-pointer from Zach Freemantle gave the Musketeers their first double-digit lead at 20-9, and another from Jones pushed it to 35-18.

BIG PICTURE

Xavier: The Musketeers lead the Big East, and the win over UConn was their ninth conference victory this season, eclipsing their total from last season.

UConn: The Huskies came in with a 17-game winning streak at Gampel Pavilion dating to February 2021. They fell to 1-4 against the four teams in front of them in the Big East standings. The lone win came at Gampel against Creighton.

UP NEXT

Xavier: The Musketeers continue their road trip with a visit to Creighton on Saturday.

UConn: Doesn’t play again until next Tuesday, when the Huskies visit DePaul.

No. 12 Iowa State holds on to beat No. 5 Kansas State 80-76

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AMES, Iowa – Jaren Holmes matched his season high with 23 points as No. 12 Iowa State held on to beat No. 5 Kansas State 80-76 on Tuesday night.

The Cyclones (15-4, 6-2 Big 12) moved into a three-way tie atop the conference standings with the Wildcats and Texas.

Gabe Kalscheur added 19 points for Iowa State. Osun Osunniyi finished with 16.

Markquis Nowell led Kansas State (17-3, 6-2) with 23 points.

A 3-pointer from Holmes gave Iowa State a 59-49 advantage with 8:12 remaining. Kansas State responded with a 10-1 run to trim the margin to 60-59.

Caleb Grill’s 3-pointer steadied the Cyclones and pushed the lead back to 63-59 with five minutes left.

Free throws by Osunniyi, Grill and Holmes sealed the victory in the final 24 seconds.

The first half featured eight lead changes and ended with Kansas State up 33-31.

A 3-pointer by Kalscheur ignited an early 9-0 run for the Cyclones and helped them build a 19-14 lead. Iowa State made just one of nine 3-point tries in the first 20 minutes.

BIG PICTURE

Kansas State was trying to extend its best start to a season since 1961-62.

Iowa State improved to 11-0 at home. The Cyclones have not lost back-to-back games this season.

UP NEXT

Kansas State hosts Florida on Saturday as part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

Iowa State travels to Missouri on Saturday.

Georgetown snaps 29-game conference losing streak

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WASHINGTON – Primo Spears scored 21 points and Georgetown snapped a 29-game conference losing streak with an 81-76 victory over DePaul on Tuesday night.

Georgetown (6-15, 1-9) won its first Big East game since March 13, 2021, ending the longest skid in the history of the conference. The Hoyas also ended a 10-game losing streak this season.

Spears also contributed six assists for the Hoyas. Akok Akok scored 12 points and added six rebounds and four blocks and Brandon Murray recorded 12 points.

Umoja Gibson led the Blue Demons (9-12, 3-7) in scoring, finishing with 24 points, four assists and three steals. Javan Johnson added 13 points.

Spears scored nine points in the first half and Georgetown went into the break trailing 37-36. Georgetown used a 10-0 run in the second half to build a 12-point lead at 75-63 with 1:39 remaining.

Nance scores 21 as North Carolina survives Syracuse, 72-68

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Pete Nance scored 21 points, capped by a dunk with 19 seconds left that put North Carolina in front for good as the Tar Heels pulled out a hard-fought, 72-68 battle with Syracuse on Tuesday night.

Joe Girard hit from beyond the arc to put Syracuse up, 68-66 with 1:28 left, but after Nance hit the first of two free throws to get North Carolina within one, he missed the second free throw and in the scramble to gather in the rebound, the ball caromed toward the end line and Girard dove to save it. Instead, he flicked the ball right to Nance, who dunked for the lead.

Judah Mintz tried to drive the lane for a go-ahead layup but was called for an offensive foul that was upgraded to a flagrant foul. North Carolina took possession and Caleb Love converted three straight free throws to put the game away.

Armando Bacot scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds with four assists for North Carolina (15-6, 7-3 Atlantic Coast Conference). Love finished with 15 points and five assists.

Girard hit 4 of 9 from beyond the arc and finished with 18 points to lead Syracuse (13-8, 6-4). Mintz scored 17 points and had three steals and Chris Bell hit 3 of 5 from deep and finished with 15 points.

North Carolina has a week off before playing host to Pitt on Feb. 1. Syracuse plays at Virginia Tech on Saturday.

Green Bay fires Will Ryan after 11th straight loss

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GREEN BAY, Wis. — Green Bay fired Will Ryan three days after the Phoenix suffered their 11th consecutive loss.

Ryan, the son of former Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan, posted a 15-61 record in 2 1/2 seasons. Freddie Owens, who had been an assistant coach on Ryan’s staff, will be interim head coach for the rest of the season.

“UW-Green Bay is committed to continuing its legacy as an outstanding Division I athletics program in the future, and Phoenix men’s basketball needs to help lead the way as we work to elevate all of our programs and be a shining light for this region and beyond,” athletic director Josh Moon said in a news release announcing the move.

Moon thanked Ryan and his family for their contributions to the program and said that “we wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Stadium first reported Ryan’s firing.

Green Bay dropped to 2-19 overall and 1-9 in the Horizon League with a 72-38 home loss to Robert Morris.

Ryan was hired by Green Bay after going 14-13 in his lone season as the head coach at Division II program Wheeling (West Virginia). Green Bay went 8-17 in Ryan’s debut season and finished 5-25 last year.

Ryan had taken over for Linc Darner, who went 92-80 and posted a winning record in four of his five seasons.