With so much action tonight, I'm trying out something a little different. Let me know how you like it through the comments or through twitter. @BearcatsBlog.
The Gators looked like the best team in the country during the second half of their 69-59 win at Kentucky. The Gators scored 1.5 points per possession in the second half against a very game Kentucky team. The margin made this one look more lopsided than it really was, but it does display how impressive the Gators were. UF won the second half 41-28. Casey Prather (pictured) was unstoppable with 24 points on 8 of 9 shooting, 8 of 12 from the line, with 4 boards and 4 steals. Scottie Wilbekin scored 23 with the help of two 3s and 11 of 12 at the stripe. I know Syracuse is undefeated, but I think I would rather take my chances with them right now instead of the Gators. These are some bad boys.
Duke 69 Maryland 67
This was a hell of a game between the kind of rivals to end their series. Duke shot the ball horribly at 33%, 5 of 24 from 3, but hit 28-34 from the foul line. Maryland shot 41.9%. If they shot 43%, they would have won. Charles Mitchell had a shot come off the rim with time running out. Even though he had a good look, I was surprised Dez Wells, who had all 17 in the second half, wasn't the one shooting.
Jabari Parker's Deciding Basket
The Billikens were up 9 with 5 minutes left before turning the ball over 3 times and missing multiple free throws in a 9-0 VCU run to tie the game. St Louis responded with a 7-0 run that was capped by a Rob Loe 3 with 37 seconds left. Dwayne Evans had 21-14 and Jordair Jett 14-6-5-2 blocks. This was the first big win of the year for the Billikens. To be fair, the St Louis schedule is back loaded. They get George Washington, VCU, Dayton and UMass in their final six games. This was a nice start.
Behind 24-12 from James Michael McAdoo, UNC was able to top Pittsburgh by 4, 75-71. UNC was 15-25 from the line and Pitt missed maybe 75 shots within two feet in the closing minutes, but the Tar Heels pulled off win 6 in a row anyway. This team has played really well lately and are up to 4th place in the ACC after their horrendous start.
Kansas' Offensive Efficiency
The Jayhawks smoked TCU by 30, 95-65, by shooting 61.5%. Perry Ellis had 32-8-5 assists on 13-15, 2-2 from 3, 4-4 at the line. Andrew Wiggins popped 17 on 7 of 11 shooting. Wayne Seldon Jr. added 15 on 7 of 13. Nothing gets the taste of a tough loss at Kansas State out of your mouth quite like the TCU palate cleanser.
The Huskies pulled off the season sweep of Memphis thanks to a career high 34 points from Shabazz Napier. Napier was 5 of 12 from 3 and 9 of 12 from the foul line with 5 boards, 4 assists and 4 steals. Napier and Ryan Boatright combined for 55 of the 86 UConn points. The Huskies forced Memphis in 18 turnovers. UConn kept Memphis off the foul line, holding them to 9 attempts. The Huskies couldn't stop Joe Jackson (24-7 assists) or Geron Johnson (15 on 7/10) but UConn got Johnson to turn the ball over 4 times and gave up nothing really inside. The win clearly separates UConn and Memphis in the league pecking order.
The Hoos went to Clemson and grounded out another tough win 63-58. Winning on the road when your top two players go a combined 9 of 24 from the field is very tough, but they did it with sub par games, at least shooting wise, from Malcolm Brogdon and Joe Harris. Mike Tobey stepped up with 14 on 7 of 9 shooting.
The Clemson star had a national breakout with 24 points on 6 of 13, 11 of 13 at the line, 4 boards, 3 blocks, 2 assists and 2 steals. McDaniels threw down a monster dunk that you can see here.
The Cincinnati star looks to be the AAC player of the year front runner but could he be an All American? Not first team, but a second or third teamer? I think so. Kilpatrick scored 28 with 6 assists as Cincinnati beat Houston 73-62. Kilpatrick is playing the best ball of his career. With Cincinnati 23-3 and in the driver's seat for a regular season title, it looks like major accolades are possible.
The Hawkeyes played for the first time in a week, beating Penn State by 12. I really like this team and think they still have a decent shot at getting a share of the Big 10 title. A lot of that depends on what happens with Michigan the next two Sundays, but the Hawkeyes are one of my teams to keep an eye on. This could be jinxing them so I'm sorry Iowa. If they win the national title, remember I said this in the middle of February.
The Longhorns put it on West Virginia 88-71 tonight. They had a huge week at home, which makes the Kansas State loss look like a plain old off night. The Longhorns go back on the road this week against Iowa State and Kansas. The good news is that they beat both. The bad news is that last week Texas barely beat TCU on the road and got a biblical beatdown from K-State. For now though, Texas can rest easy with their chances of taking the Big 12 title still in the air.
The Golden Bears finished up a season sweep of the Washington schools with a win at Washington. Shit gets real the next 4 games with the southern California teams coming to Berkley and a trip to the Arizona schools after that. Packing wins like this is necessary. Cal is in a third place tie in the Pac 12 with Arizona State.
The Cardinal salvaged a Washington split by beating Wazzou by 13. I'm not totally sure how good they are. They play the same slate as Cal the next two weeks. We should find out.
The Sooners have been up and down lately losing 3 of 5, but they fought hard to come back and win this one. Frank Booker hit a 3 followed by Buddy Hield hitting back to back triples in an 11-1 run from the 3:01 mark to the 31 second mark. The Sooners get a week off before a monster 3 game stretch of Kansas State, at Kansas, home against Texas picks up.
The Tigers had a big week at home, beating Arkansas and Tennessee. Jabari Brown made this one official with a huge steal late in the game. Brown scored 24 on 8 of 12, 2 of 2, 6 of 7 at the foul line. Jordan Clarkson was held to just 7 points on 3 of 11 shooting, making this win all the more impressive. One of the things teams on the fence can't do is lose at home. The Tigers not only won at home, they beat potential tournament selection foes.
The Runnin' Rebels completed the season swept of Utah State. They now sit at 17-8, 8-4 with home games against New Mexico on Wednesday and against San Diego State later in the season.
Just like Missouri and UNLV, Marquette packed away a big win by beating Xavier. The Golden Eagles have won 3 straight for the first time this season. They are 15-10, 7-5 and this was their second best win, but they've got Creighton, Georgetown, Villanova, Providence and St John's left on the table with a sure thing win at DePaul. 4-2 in that stretch is enough to make them look very interesting.
The Minutemen picked up their 20th win of the season at George Washington. This was the first win UMass had against anyone considered good in over a month. By the numbers, this is the best win of the season for UMass. They get to add to with VCU coming into town on Friday night.
The Bruins hit 53.4% in their big win over Utah. That's 3 in a row for the Bruins, all by double figures. At 9-3 in the Pac 12, they have a chance for a shared, or outright, league title if they can finish on the road. Something they haven't done all year
San Diego State's Defense
The Aztecs bounced back from the Wyoming loss by holding Air Force to 37.5% form the field, 5 of 20 from 3.
With their win over Ole Miss, Georgia is all alone in third place in the SEC. Georgia.
The Cougars topped St Mary's 60-57 with 18 from Tyler Haws. This completes a season sweep of the Gaels, who are probably done from NCAA tournament consideration. Now they get Gonzaga, who smashed Loyola Marymount, on Thursday night. That should be fun.
The Bears outlasted Kansas State in double overtime 87-73. Brady Heslip hit one three pointer. It happened to be with time expiring in regulation. The Bears have a chance of getting out of the basement of the Big 12 and into the lower middle of the pack. They have Oklahoma St on Monday then West Virginia, Texas and Texas Tech. 3 of 4 puts them at 7-9 and makes them an interesting team.
The Broncos took care of East leader Akron earlier in the week. With a win today, they are now in a first place tie in the West. They have won 5 in a row and 7 of 8. I think it's safe to say the Broncos are playing the best ball in the MAC right now.
The Blue Raiders beat the hell out of Southern Miss 81-64 behind 26 from Kerry Hammonds II and 20 from Neiko Hunter. Middle Tennessee has won 7 in a row. They are 9-2 in Conference USA with a great shot to win it if they can beat bad teams on the road. They have a huge date with Louisiana Tech later in the month. Speaking of..
Louisiana Tech and UTEP
These teams also deserve props for being 9-2 in C-USA. Despite 21-5 and 19-7 records respectively, they have two top 50 wins between them. Winning this league is going to be really huge because avoiding a semi-final matchup with another great team is going to help your tournament odds. I'm going to make Louisiana Tech the favorite since they play 4 league minnows on the road and host Middle Tennessee.
Stephen F. Austin
The Lumberjacks ran their record to 24-2, 13-0 with a 7 point win at second place Sam Houston St, completing a sweep. 3 of the final 5 are at home for SFA, which should make it easier to go through the conference slate unscathed.
Vermont, Coastal Carolina, UC Irvine, North Carolina Central, Green Bay, Robert Morris, North Dakota St, Murray St, Utah Valley
All of those teams are winners of the day because they are all small conference first place teams that packed away wins.
Harvard and Yale
The Ivy co-leaders, well Yale beat Harvard so I guess Yale is 1 and Harvard is 1-A, handled their business. Harvard cruised while Yale beat Princeton in OT.
The Terriers took over the Patriot League lead for the first time this season with a win and an American loss. We get to find out real quick who the top dog in the Patriot is because those teams hook up Wednesday night.
Kevin Stallings is a winner of the day for seeing his team pull out a 57-54 overtime win against Texas A&M on a day when Vanderbilt shot 30.9% and 3 of 26 from 3. Vandy is 14-10, 6-6 in the SEC. Hats off to Damian Jones, Rod Odom and Kyle Fuller, who all played more than 40 minutes today. Fuller played 44. This is basically a 5 man team, the bench played a combined 20 minutes, and they have no business being .500 in this league. Stallings has done a hell of a job.
The Orange followed the dramatic win over Pittsburgh with a total dud against NC State. The Orange shot horribly at 35% / 16.7% from 3 and trailed most of the second half. They held NC State to 5 points the last 6:25 while going on a 11-5 run to win. Syracuse was down 55-54 with 14 seconds left after CJ Fair hit 1 of 2 at the line. Rakeem Christmas got a huge steal and Tyler Ennis assisted Fair on the game winning layup. The Orange got big games from Christmas, 14-12-7 blocks, and Jerami Grant, 13-14, but Fair was 5 of 16 and Ennis and Trevor Cooney were each 3 of 10.
The Panthers really can't catch a break. They had another tough luck loss in a game they didn't shoot well, 40.6% / 4 of 15 from 3 / 15 of 23 FTs, and had some shots fall against them. They got very inefficient games from Lamar Patterson, 5 of 15 for 16 points, Talib Zanna, 2 of 11 for 5 points, and James Robinson 4 of 11 for 10 points. The good news for them is that they don't play another team with a winning conference record, as of right now, the rest of the way. The bad news is that they have gone through a whole regular season with their best win being a loss to Syracuse.
At least the Tigers can point to the Louisville game and say "We did that on the road." That's nice for them because that's the only time this year that they've impressed on the road. They've lost their last two and not looked impressive against UCF or Temple. Memphis plays 3 more times on the road, but 2 are Rutgers and Houston. Memphis' next three games are Rutgers, Temple and Houston. In other words, see you in March.
Kentucky's Free Throw Shooting
Andrew Harrison was 8-8 at the line. That was great. The rest of the team was 6 of 14. That was pretty bad. Leaving points at the line against teams like Florida is how you lose.
San Diego St's Offense
The Aztecs won 64-56 today but shot just 42.2% / 5 for 13 / 65.6% FTs. This one didn't do anything to convince people they have the offense for a deep run in a month.
Anyone Who Watched Ohio State 48 Illinois 39
Ohio State slashed 38.3% / 23.1% / 60%. Illinois was 28.3% / 31.3% / 4 FT attempts. Illinois had no one shoot 50%. That includes someone going 1 of 2. Aaron Craft was 5 of 6. The rest of the Buckeyes were 13 of 41.
Kansas State on the Road
The Wildcats have dropped their last 5 Big 12 road games. 3 of them have been by double figures. They have trips to the Oklahoma schools and Texas Tech remaining.
SEC Bubble Teams
Down went Ole Miss, Tennessee and LSU.
The Musketeers are starting to fade something bad. The win last week against Providence was nice and so was winning at Butler, but another road loss with 3 more tough road games coming up is not a good look. Xavier has lost 4 of 6. Their last 5 games make their tournament and seed case. They should be getting a win on Wednesday against DePaul, so that's some good news.
The Hoosiers were drilled 82-64 at Purdue. IU shot 32% while Purdue hit 48% and 10 of 18 from 3. Forget a miracle run in their last 6 games, will IU even finish above .500?
The Rockets were humiliated by Eastern Michigan 65-44. It drops Toledo to 21-4, 9-3 in the MAC. It makes any potential at large case look a lot shakier since this loss dropped them to 2-3 against the RPI top 100. The only potentially nice win, outside of revenge in the MAC finale against EMU, is a home against against Western Michigan. Toledo went from maybe a second glance to a tournament afterthought who could also not win their division.
San Jose State
The Spartans scored 9 points in the second half against Wyoming in a 46-38 loss. They made 4 of 20 from the field, 1 of 10 from 3 and didn't attempt a free throw in the second half. Ouch.
The Monarchs one downed San Jose State by scoring 37 points in a 39 point loss to Tulsa. ODU was 13-47, 27.7%. On top of that, they turned it over 22 times. Any time you have 9 more turnovers than field goals made is a bad day. Any time you have double the amount of turnovers than free throws attempted, that's a bad day.
The Panthers lost their chance at running through the Sun Belt undefeated by dropping one at 4-8 Troy.