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Tuesday’s Things to Know: Michigan outlasts Minnesota on buzzer-beater; upsets in Big 12, MAC, SEC

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Following a slow Monday, college basketball saw plenty of ranked teams playing intriguing games on Tuesday night as multiple conferences had surprising results. A top-five team needed a buzzer-beater to outlast an unranked opponent at home while ranked teams in the Big 12, MAC and SEC lost on the road.

Charles Matthews buzzer-beater lifts No. 5 Michigan over Minnesota

After a Big Ten road loss to Wisconsin over the weekend, No. 5 Michigan escaped with a win over Minnesota thanks to a buzzer-beater from junior guard Charles Matthews.

Even though the Wolverines struggled to a 3-for-22 night from three-point range, they were able to claw back in the second half thanks to their defense.

It’s still concerning that Michigan is playing a bit sluggish at this point in the season, but a conference win is something you’ll take in any way possible.

South Carolina, Alabama knock off No. 16 Auburn, No. 20 Ole Miss for SEC upsets

Things got crazy in the SEC as two ranked teams lost on the road to unranked opponents. Starting off the evening with a win in the early game was suddenly hot South Carolina taking down No. 16 Auburn. The Gamecocks didn’t show many signs of life during the non-conference portion of the season. Chris Silva had a monster outing with 32 points and 14 rebounds to pace the South Carolina offense.

The Gamecocks likely need a giant winning streak to get back in the NCAA tournament conversation, but the start in the SEC is something to keep track of. Suddenly, they’re 5-1 in the league and looking like a very dangerous team.

In the other SEC upset, Alabama made it look relatively easy at home against No. 20 Ole Miss. John Petty led a balanced Crimson Tide effort with 15 points while Donta Hall had 11 points and 10 rebounds. As a team that needs quality wins to get in the NCAA tournament, this win definitely doesn’t hurt for Alabama.

After the Big 12/SEC Challenge, the Crimson Tide get back-to-back games against tough teams with Mississippi State and Auburn. If Alabama can get one or two wins during that stretch, they’ll maintain a decent profile heading into a far easier stretch over the next several weeks.

Kansas State shuts down No. 14 Texas Tech for Big 12 win

The always tough Big 12 stayed that way with Kansas State winning an ugly game over the Red Raiders. Balanced scoring from Barry Brown Jr. and Dean Wade helped the Wildcat offense, while their defense shut down everyone besides Jarrett Culver.

This is the type of win that could help Kansas State get back in the top 25 as their defense looked like last year’s postseason form. The Wildcat winning streak is up to five games now — with three of those coming against teams who were ranked at the time.

With back-to-back winnable games on the road against Texas A&M and Oklahoma State coming next, suddenly Kansas State is an intriguing Big 12 contender.

Northern Illinois upsets No. 14 Buffalo in the MAC

For only the second time this season, Buffalo lost a game as the Bulls dropped one to Northern Illinois, 77-75.

Struggling to knock down perimeter jumpers (9-for-30 three-pointers) and turning the ball over (17 times) the Bulls couldn’t overcome a second-half deficit. This loss probably shouldn’t hurt Buffalo’s NCAA tournament credibility too much, but they won’t have much room for error from here on out.

The toughest game Buffalo has left on the schedule will be Toledo on Saturday, Feb. 16, as the Bulls will be expected to win most of their games for the rest of this season.

K-State’s defense stifles No. 14 Texas Tech in 58-45 win

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MANHATTAN, Kansas — Kansas State and Texas Tech have two of the four highest-rated defenses in the country. They didn’t disappoint Tuesday night.

In a preview of the tough test that awaits Big 12 opponents, the Wildcats ground down the 14th-ranked Red Raiders 58-45 on Tuesday night. Kansas State held Tech to a season low in points and hasn’t allowed a team to score more than 71 this season.

“First of all, it is about K-State’s defense,” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said. “One team has broken 70 on them this year, and we knew it was going to be a difficult game to score so we set up a game plan.”

That game plan didn’t work. Barry Brown Jr. had 15 points, Dean Wade scored 13 and Mike McGuirl added nine as K-State hit big shot after big shot.

“Everyone is coming to win and play their best game,” Brown said. “Especially knowing you’ve won five straight, everyone is trying to stop your momentum.”

The Big 12’s top-ranked defenses combined to force 30 turnovers. The Wildcats (15-4, 5-2) held Texas Tech to 33-percent shooting and never let the Red Raiders get their offense rolling.

Jarrett Culver led Texas Tech (15-4, 4-3) with 17 points. Tariq Owens had 12.

The Wildcats outrebounded Texas Tech 33-25 overall and 27-18 on the defensive side, limiting second-chance points.

The Red Raiders struggled to contain Brown in the first half. He had two step-back 3-pointers and 11 points. Wade was a mismatch as well, with Red Raider big man Norense Odiase called for three fouls in the first half. He only played five minutes.

Owens scored seven points off the bench in Odiase’s absence, keeping Texas Tech in it, but Kansas State led 32-24 at the half.

“They made shots,” Beard said. “They were aggressive, they got to the free-throw line and late in the game when we were trying to come back from a deficit they got good looks.”

The Wildcats led 46-38 midway through the second half before Wade made two free throws and Xavier Sneed hit a 3. The Red Raiders got back within eight but couldn’t get any closer.

“I think the biggest improvement we’ve made from the start of the season is passing the ball and slowly I think we are becoming a better offensive team,” coach Bruce Weber said.

After Tuesday night, the teams seem to be going in different directions. K-State has won five straight while the Red Raiders have lost their last three games after starting 4-0 in Big 12 play. Beard thinks the Wildcats are built for a title run this year and was quick to give them credit after the loss.

“This is one of the best teams in the country,” he said. “Now they have won five straight, which is a direct reflection of the character of the guys they have on their team.”

K-State is in a tie for first in the conference with Kansas, which has won 14 straight regular-season titles. The Wildcats will clash with the Jayhawks for the first of two meetings on Feb. 5th at home.

“Well we dug out of the hole and not only were we 0-2, but we were down 21 points to West Virginia,” Weber said. “There’s a lot more coming up and as I said, these next two road games are very, very important.”

BIG PICTURE

Texas Tech has lost three straight games after starting 4-0 in conference play. They will need to get the ship going back in the right direction soon.

Kansas State has won five straight and looks to be one of the best teams in the Big 12.

UP NEXT

Texas Tech will be home Saturday against Arkansas in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge.

K-State plays at Texas A&M on Saturday.

No. 9 Kansas outlasts No. 24 Iowa State for critical Big 12 win

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Kansas earned a huge Big 12 home win on Monday night as the Jayhawks outlasted Iowa State for an 80-76 win. Following a Saturday road loss at West Virginia, there were questions about the Jayhawks’ ability to close tight games following some recent late-game mishaps. But thanks to a key defensive adjustment and a strong performance from a Player of the Year candidate, the Jayhawks stayed right in the mix in a crowded Big 12 race.

Here are three takeaways from the Kansas win on Monday night.

Defense was a huge part of the Kansas comeback and eventual win

By switching in the second half, and adjusting to Iowa State’s movement-heavy offense, Kansas was able to go on a 14-0 second-half run and take a solid lead in the second half before eventually going on to win.

The first half, Kansas looked sluggish on the defensive end, as they couldn’t seem to stay with the Cyclone offense. When head coach Bill Self adjusted in the second half by switching at all positions in some smaller lineups, it changed the game for the Jayhawks.

Gaining confidence by getting stops in the second half, Kansas translated that into offense. That run eventually helped them gain control of the game. Making plays on the defensive ended also started to get slow-starting guys like Marcus Garrett (16 points) and LaGerald Vick (14 points) when they didn’t have a lot fall for them early.

Kansas didn’t have the start they wanted. They looked hungover from the road loss two days before. But the halftime adjustments and renewed commitment to the defensive end ignited the Jayhawks on both ends of the floor. A team that has struggled to close some games got some key stops when they needed them.

If Kansas can defend like that, and get some timely stops, then they can stay at the top of the Big 12 race.

Iowa State’s remains a dangerous team despite the loss

The Cyclones might have fallen on Monday night. Looking at things long-term, Iowa State held a halftime lead in this game, rallied to tie the game in the second half once they fell behind, and still ended up with a 1-1 season-series matchup with Kansas after a blowout win at Hilton.

The Cyclones haven’t shown nearly enough reliability to be considered a major top-10 team. They also haven’t been fully healthy enough to figure things out for this season. All of that being said, the Cyclones still remain one of the nation’s most dangerous teams because of their offense. Iowa State’s ability to have four or five guys in every lineup who can score is a huge help.

Marial Shayok (26 points), Talen Horton-Tucker (16 points) and Michael Jacobson (12 points) all made some key shots in this one. And Lindell Wigginton (three points) and the rest of the rotation outside the starting five provided next to nothing.

If the Cyclones get a night where more than a few guys are clicking, then they could be a terrifying team to face in a tournament-style scenario.

Kansas forward Dedric Lawson closed this game like a Player of the Year candidate

On a night where many of their key players struggled, the Jayhawks got a huge, potentially signature, performance from junior forward Dedric Lawson. Coming up with 29 points and 15 rebounds on 13-for-17 shooting, the forward looked simply unstoppable while displaying ruthless efficiency.

But most importantly: Lawson came up with clutch plays on both ends of the floor for a Kansas team that desperately needs help closing.

Making a huge block on a Wigginton dunk attempt with under a minute left, Lawson stopped Iowa State from closing the game to within one point as the play also ignited the home crowd. Following that, on the offensive end, Lawson’s three-pointer with a little under 30 seconds left made it a five-point game and proved to be a major difference in a tight game.

Kansas needed this type of performance from Lawson on a sluggish night and he delivered in a huge way. While others like Zion Williamson and Grant Williams are ahead of Lawson in the Player of the Year race, if he keeps playing like this, he’ll quickly re-join the top conversation.

Iowa State earns critical Big 12 road win at No. 8 Texas Tech

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Iowa State earned a critical Big 12 road win on Wednesday night as the Cyclones held off a late charge to beat No. 8 Texas Tech 68-64. Coming off of a two-game losing streak, both coming in close games, Iowa State’s road win solidified that they’ll remain a threat in a complicated Big 12.

Here are three takeaways from Iowa State’s win over Texas Tech.

Iowa State is getting more comfortable in tight games

One of the fascinating things to watch with this Iowa State team over the next several months will be how the young Cyclones continue to play at the end of close games.

Most of Iowa State’s wins have come in double-digit fashion this season. Single-digit wins have generally been tough to come by. Recently, that has hurt the Cyclones with two close losses in which Iowa State could have earned wins against Baylor and Kansas State.

Losing late leads and falling in close games wasn’t the case on Wednesday night. In a critical conference road game against the league’s only unbeaten team, Iowa State played a balanced, impressive first half, then held off the Red Raiders’ best, late charge to earn this win.

With so many capable weapons and great ball movement, the Cyclone offense is able to generate good looks and points against even the No. 1 defense in the country like Texas Tech. And although Iowa State can still have lapses at times defensively, they took Jarrett Culver’s best punch (more on him in a minute) and sustained to get right back in the Big 12 race.

Marial Shayok (20 points) and Michael Jacobson (14 points, 10 rebounds) both had strong efforts while Lindell Wigginton (11 points) and Nick Weiler-Babb (11 points) also contributed. Even with slow nights from offensively-capable players like Talen Horton-Tucker and Tyrese Haliburton, and Cameron Lard out with an ankle injury, the Cyclones still had plenty of firepower to hang 40 first-half points on the No. 1 defense in the country.

Iowa State might not be consistently great, but they have glimpses of strong play. Once Wigginton is more acclimated since his return, and Lard is also back in the rotation, the Cyclones will also have more depth and potential explosiveness.

Texas Tech needs consistent offensive help for Jarrett Culver

For as good as Texas Tech has been this season — No. 8 in the country, No. 1 KenPom defense, only unbeaten in the Big 12 entering tonight — there is still the glaring wart of their completely average offense.

With only sophomore Jarrett Culver as a gifted scorer, the Red Raiders struggle to generate offense for others during long stretches of time. Matt Mooney (eight points) and Davide Moretti (10 points) can both attain double-figures if they knock down catch-and-shoot opportunities and convert on swing drives, but they aren’t creating very much on their own against this level of athleticism like Iowa State has.

Culver (20 points, 16 rebounds) didn’t have his finest day from the floor at 7-for-21, but his ability to get to spots and take the looks he generally wants is nearly unparalleled in college hoops this season. Iowa State was successful defensively because they didn’t allow others to get loose while containing Culver to just a solid night with a variety of options.

Although Texas Tech needs to hit some three-pointers, or build a cushion, to be at its best, there is still a comforting feeling for the Red Raiders after this. Knowing that the No. 1 defense is still there as a backbone helps. Even with Culver having just a solid night, Texas Tech almost beat one of the Big 12’s more talented teams with its second-half defense and Culver’s will.

If the Red Raiders get more consistent offensive help from others then they’ll remain an elite team.

The Big 12 is wide open

With tonight’s results of Kansas State beating No. 20 Oklahoma on the road and Iowa State taking down previously-unbeaten Texas Tech, the Big 12 race is as wide-open just a few weeks in.

The Red Raiders at 4-1 have moved into a tie with Kansas atop the Big 12 standings while Kansas State, Iowa State, TCU and Baylor all only have two conference losses each. Oklahoma and Texas also loom as intriguing three-loss teams.

The Cyclones are the darkhorse since they’re the only team to beat Texas Tech and Kansas. Showing that they can hang with the top teams, Iowa State just has to stay consistent to stay in the race as they could be a team to watch.

Kansas has lost Udoka Azubuike and has to regroup a bit to win the league once again while Texas Tech remains a major threat thanks to their defense and Culver. Texas Tech and Kansas both also have two games remaining against each other, so we have a long way to go before anything is decided.

Wednesday’s Things to Know: Bizarre double ejection in UConn/Tulsa; Iowa State, Kansas State earn huge Big 12 wins

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After Tuesday night’s craziness in college hoops, things were bound to slow down on a Wednesday that only featured a few intriguing conference games. Of course, things got weird with a double head-coach ejection in the American while the Big 12 had some enticing contests.

UCONN’S DAN HURLEY AND TULSA’S FRANK HAITH HIT WITH DOUBLE DOUBLE-TECHNICALS. YOU READ THAT RIGHT. 

Strange ejections went down in the American on Wednesday night when UConn head Dan Hurley and Tulsa’s Frank Haith were both kicked out — as they were trying to shake hands to make amends for an argument. The bizarre incident occured one day after Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin was ejected, as the American has a lot of incidents like this being talked about lately.

Tulsa ended up holding on for the close 89-83 win as Jeriah Horne dropped 27 points.

Both head coaches released statements after the game, as well as the officials, as this will surely be talked about among sports talking heads for all of Thursday.

IOWA STATE WIN AT No. 8 TEXAS TECH AFTER LOSING TWO STRAIGHT

After dropping two straight games in which they had a chance to win late, a young Iowa State team showed rapid maturation in an important 68-64 win over No. 8 Texas Tech.

Falling to Baylor and Kansas State, the Cyclones avenged those losses and even held everything together once Texas Tech made a late rally. Getting multiple important stops and doing just enough offensively to finish the job, this is a great job by Iowa State to win an important Big 12 road game while staying right in the mix of a very crowded Big 12 race.

Now that unbeaten Texas Tech has fallen, every team in the Big 12 has lost at least one game in conference play as a deep conference looks like it’s going to be a bloodbath once again.

KANSAS STATE BLOWS OUT No. 20 OKLAHOMA IN NORMAN

Perhaps more than any other team going on Wednesday night, Kansas State needed a win to help its cause. With the Wildcats right on the bubble for a handful of NCAA tournament projections, an opportunity for a road win against another ranked team would be huge.

After knocking off Iowa State on the road the last game, Kansas State earned its second straight Big 12 road win over a ranked team with a convincing 74-61 win over the Sooners. The back-to-back road wins are the first true road wins of the season for the Wildcats — who appear to be gaining confidence.

Senior guard Barry Brown Jr. poured in 25 points — his third straight outing of at least 23 points — to pace the Kansas State offense as he’s looked like a consistent go-to scorer in recent wins.

Brown and Wade lead Kansas State past No. 20 Oklahoma, 74-61

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NORMAN, Okla. — Kansas State guard Barry Brown didn’t need any last-minute heroics this time.

After hitting game-winners in the final minute of the Wildcats’ previous two games, he helped Kansas State control Oklahoma from start to finish. Brown scored 25 points as Kansas State beat the 20th-ranked Sooners 74-61 on Wednesday night.

Brown, coming off his first Big 12 player of the week honor, is averaging 25.7 points during the Wildcats’ three-game win streak.

“Obviously, Barry’s playing at a really high level,” Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said. “But I love that he had five assists. That means at least he’s seeing some other things.”

Dean Wade added 20 points in his second game back since missing six in a row with a torn tendon in his right foot. It was Kansas State’s second straight road win over a ranked team — the Wildcats won at Iowa State last Saturday.

Kansas State (13-4, 3-2 Big 12) shot 50 percent from the field against an Oklahoma squad that was holding opponents to 37.7 percent, good for ninth nationally.

“Sometimes you line up and just get whipped,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “We did that tonight. Kansas State whipped us. They kind of got us down a little bit and they kept working. We just couldn’t overcome that. We have to figure out a way to keep that from happening. But they whipped us tonight for sure.”

Christian James scored 20 points and Rashard Odomes added a season-high 17 for Oklahoma (13-4, 2-3). It was the Sooners’ first home defeat and their first loss to an unranked team this season.

Kansas State ran out to an 8-0 lead as Oklahoma went scoreless for more than three minutes to start the game. The Wildcats stretched their advantage to 20-7 before the Sooners found their footing. James hit a 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the first half to cut Kansas State’s lead to 30-24.

The Wildcats kept the Sooners at bay, and an emphatic two-handed dunk by Wade with just over two minutes to play put the Wildcats up 71-56.

Kansas State forced Oklahoma into 16 turnovers and one of its lowest-scoring outputs of the season.

“I think our main priority as a team is defense,” Wade said. “It’s where we hang our hat. We’re a great defensive team.”

Oklahoma’s giveaways sabotaged a 47 percent shooting effort.

“I thought we were careless with the ball in the first half, especially,” Kruger said. “Drove into some gaps that were crowded and didn’t make very good decisions.”

BIG PICTURE

Kansas State: The Wildcats are starting to look like the team that was ranked No. 12 in the preseason. With Brown and Wade clicking, they are gaining momentum. The two road wins early in Big 12 play put them in an ideal position to challenge for a spot near the top of the league standings.

Oklahoma: The Sooners got just 14 minutes from starting center Jamuni McNeace, who is still struggling after coming back from an ankle injury. He did not score and had only two rebounds. The Sooners could benefit from more production from him heading into games at Texas and Oklahoma State.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Kansas State, which was 33rd in votes in the AP Top 25 this week, positioned itself for a potential spot in the rankings pending Saturday’s game against TCU, which dropped out of the poll this week after losing to Oklahoma last Saturday. Oklahoma might lose its spot in the Top 25 after this home loss to an unranked opponent.

HE SAID IT

Weber, on Brown and Wade: “They’re seniors. They’ve been through it. They make you good coaches. They know what to look for.”

MILESTONE

James surpassed 1,000 points in his Oklahoma career.

UP NEXT

Kansas State hosts TCU on Saturday.

Oklahoma plays at Texas on Saturday.