A few thoughts on Saturday's crop of college hoops:
Iowa State 72, No. 5 Kansas 64: Royce White is one of the most complete players in the country, and he showed it Saturday afternoon. White finished with 18 points, nine boards and five assists, outplaying National Player of the Year candidate Thomas Robinson, who finished with 13 points and seven boards, none of which came of the offensive end of the floor.
That ended up being a theme for the Jayhawks, who managed just five offensive rebounds and a single second-chance basket. Keeping Robinson and his seven-foot counterpart, Jeff Withey, from cleaning up misses in the paint is one of the reasons that the Cyclones were able to win despite turning the ball over 19 times and shooting just 7-17 from three.
This is the second time this season that ISU has played Kansas tough. It lost 82-73 in Lawrence earlier this year after holding a double-digit lead in the first half. The difference? Hilton Coliseum. It was rocking on Saturday, and every time Kansas looked primed to pull away, Fred Hoiberg's team had an answer.
Winning on the road is never an easy thing to do and Iowa State is as good as it has been since Marcus Fizer, Jamaal Tinsley and Larry Eustachy left town. This isn't necessarily a bad loss for KU, especially when you consider that Tyshawn Taylor continued playing well, finishing with 16 points, 10 assists and just two turnovers. What you need to take out of this game is that the Cyclones, who were sitting squarely on the bubble, just landed themselves a marquee win. (RECAP/BOX SCORE)
No. 3 Syracuse 63, West Virginia 61: Brandon Triche hit a pair of free throws with 1:28 left on the clock to give Syracuse the final margin, but this game is going to be remembered less for what actually happened than what wasn't called. With less than 10 seconds left in the game, Truck Bryant airballed a three that landed in the hands of Deniz Kilicli, but his putback try was quite clearly goaltended by backup Syracuse big man Baye Keita and no call was made. The ball did go out of bounds off Syracuse, however, but Kevin Jones missed a three at the buzzer that would have won the game.
The no-call set Twitter aflame, with some folks calling for college basketball to institute instant replay on goaltending calls. And as you might imagine, Bob Huggins was less than pleased about the lack of a whistle. "It's inexcusable. My kids played their hearts out ... I've done this a long time and I've never won a game when they didn't call a goaltend on us," he said on his postgame radio show.
Huggins probably shouldn't be too upset. Just last Saturday, the Mountaineers benefitted from the referees at Cincinnati. With the score tied and time running out, Jones tried to call a timeout that wasn't granted. WVU had no timeouts. If the refs had blown their whistles, WVU should have been called for a technical foul. The call was bad, but it all evens out in the long run. Right?
Also of note was the fact that Fab Melo, Syracuse's seven-foot sophomore and defensive anchor, was once again on the sideline in street clothes. News came down last Friday that Melo would be missing time as he worked on some academic issues, and the thought was that we would know his standing by this weekend. Well, we don't. What we do know is that Melo's absence creates a massive hole in the middle of the Syracuse zone. Here is all you need to know coming out of this game: West Virginia had 19 offensive rebounds while Melo's replacements -- Keita and Rakeem Christmas -- totaled as many fouls as rebounds and blocks combined. And one of those blocks was the game-saving goaltend. (RECAP/BOX SCORE)
No. 14 Florida 69, No. 18 Mississippi State 57: The Gators came out of the gate slowly, but used an 11-0 run in the second half to take control of the game, building a lead as big as 15. Brad Beal, who finished with 19 points, hit a three to spark the run and Patric Young, who had 12 points off the bench as he continues to deal with an ankle injury, punctuated the surge with two dunks. The importance of this win shouldn't be understated: Florida may be a top 15 team in the rankings, but this is its first win of substance, unless you include Florida State when it was still losing to Ivy League teams. (Recap/Box)
Pitt 72, No. 9 Georgetown 60: The Panthers are back, baby! Tray Woodall, playing in his third game back, shot just 1 of 7 from the floor, but finished with 10 assists and controlled the pace of the game. Perhaps even more promising is the fact that Pitt didn't need to rely on Ashton Gibbs for their scoring; Gibbs took just eight shots, finishing with 13 points. It was the duo of Lamar Patterson and Nasir Robinson, who combined for 41 points on 15-of-17 shooting from the floor (and 10 of 11 from the line) with 12 boards and nine assists. Robinson was 9 of 9 from the field while Patterson had seven assists and no turnovers. (RECAP/BOX SCORE)
No. 1 Kentucky 74, LSU 50: Terrence Jones has been as enigmatic as anyone in the country this season, at times looking dominant and other times completely apathetic. Against the Tigers, he went for 27 points, nine boards, three blocks and two steals while attempting eight free throws and no threes. That's good, but he has the ability to do that on a nightly basis. And if he does start doing that on a nightly basis, the Wildcats have the potential to be scary good. Think about it like this. UK is just starting to hit its stride, but right now the Cats are the No. 1 team in the country and currently sitting one Christian Watford three-pointer away from being undefeated. (RECAP/BOX SCORE)
Colorado State 77, No. 13 San Diego State 60: Want to know an easy way to lose to a good team on the road? Shoot 31.3 percent from the floor and 3 of 21 from three. That usually does the trick, and that's exactly what the Aztecs did on Saturday afternoon in Fort Collins. You want those numbers to get even uglier? Factor out Jamall Franklin's 24 points and SDSU shot 25 percent from the field and 1 of 14 from three. To its credit, CSU jumped all over the Aztecs early, taking a double-digit lead midway through the first half and never looking back. The Rams have had a strong computer profile for a while. Now they have a marquee win to add to it. If CSU builds on this win, they could be looking at an at-large bid. (RECAP/BOX SCORE)
No. 21 St. Mary's 80, BYU 66: The knock on St. Mary's heading into this weekend was that it had yet to do much of anything on the road, particularly in league play. Yes, it was undefeated and yes, it had big wins over both BYU and Gonzaga, the two teams that are their biggest competition in the WCC. But both of those wins came at home ... until now. The Gaels beat the Cougars by 14 in the Marriott Center despite turning the ball over 25 times, eight of which came from Matthew Dellavedova. St. Mary's star point guard finished the night just 1 of 5 from the floor. The fact that the Gaels can put on this kind of performance on the road with their star playing so poorly is quite impressive. (RECAP/BOX SCORE)
No. 17 Marquette 82, Villanova 78: Yeah, I know. The Wildcats have struggled this season. The product on the court does not equal the Villanova brand. But that doesn't mean this isn't a telling win for the Golden Eagles. Marquette found itself in a 28-10 hole 10 minutes into the game (they really need to figure out how to start better; big deficits are becoming a worrisome trend) and managed to grind its way back in a physical game that was foul plagued and took more than two and a half hours to complete. It was also on the road. That's meaningful. Darius Johnson-Odom was the star, finishing with 26 points, six assists and five boards. He has to be at the start of the conversation for best guard in the Big East. (RECAP/BOX SCORE)
No. 8 Duke 83, St. John's 76: Duke got 15 points and 17 boards out of Mason Plumlee as well as 16 and 14 from Ryan Kelly and Andre Dawkins, respectively, as the Blue Devils spent much of this game in complete control. But thanks to 30 points and 13 boards from Moe Harkless, the Johnnies were able to scrap all the way back and cut the lead to four in the final minutes. Duke's inability to defend on the perimeter and its lack of a pure playmaker against St. John's pressure is what is going to be remembered from this game. (RECAP/BOX SCORE)
Vanderbilt 84, Middle Tennessee State 77: This is a much better win than Vandy is going to get credit for. MTSU is a talented, veteran team that is well-coached and balanced. And they played well, leading for much of the first half and turning this into a one-possession game going into the final minutes. In the end, John Jenkins was too much, giving the 'Dores the lead three times in the final minute, the last being for good on a backdoor layup that broke a 76-all tie with 1:45 left. The Blue Raiders may have missed on their last chance to earn the marquee win needed to earn an at-large bid. (RECAP/BOX SCORE)
No. 6 Baylor 76, Texas 71: Perry Jones III finally showed up, finishing with 22 points and 14 boards after his no-show performance against Missouri last weekend, and Pierre Jackson hit another big shot for the Bears. After J'Covan Brown, who seems to have gotten over a slump to finish with 32 points and five assists, led the Longhorns back from a double-digit deficit, Jackson hit a three with 2:36 left on the clock to break a 54-all tie. A string of late turnovers and missed free throws by Baylor gave Brown a chance to tie the game with a three late, but he missed. (RECAP/BOX SCORE)
• No. 11 Murray State remained undefeated with a 73-58 win over Eastern Illinois. They are now 21-0.
• No. 15 Creighton knocked off Bradley 73-59 and took sole possession of first place in the MVC thanks to Wichita State's 93-86 triple overtime loss to Drake.
• No. 19 Virginia moved into sole possession of fourth place in the ACC with a 61-60 win at NC State.
• Rodney McGruder missed a three to tie at the buzzer as Oklahoma knocked off No. 22 Kansas State on the strength of 30 points from Steven Pledger
• No. 2 Missouri got 19 first-half points from Kim English in a 63-50 win at Texas Tech.
• No. 15 UNLV moved into a first-place tie in the Mountain West with No. 13 San Diego State thanks to a 65-63 overtime win over Air Force. Mike Moser had 27 points and 12 boards.
• Washington went into the McKale Center and knocked off Arizona 79-77, giving it sole possession of first place in the Pac-12.
• Memphis and Southern Miss took control of the Conference USA race Saturday night as Memphis knocked off Marshall 83-76 and Southern Miss beat UCF 78-65.
• Temple now has center Michael Eric back in the lineup and look like they may be the cream of the A-10 crop after a 78-60 win over St. Joseph's.