'Canes impress, Jayhawks' troubles continue; Saturday wrap
Dare we say it? A Saturday without much mayhem? Without massive madness? With some semblence of order? Well, except for
Here's what happened on Saturday in games without 40-footers that forced overtime:
It's hard for a 26-point margin not to fully reflect the lopsided nature of a game, but this game was never in doubt after Miami jumped out to a 9-0 lead. The Hurricanes banged 15 three-pointers. Shane Larkin, Kenny Kadji and Durand Scott combined for 52 points in an efficient, balanced attack. Larkin also had a career-high nine assists. Reggie Bullock was UNC's lone bright spot with 14 points and seven boards.
The Jayhawks lose their third straight game for the first time since the game was invented. OK, not quite that long ago, but this is a shocking development for a team that was 19-1 a week ago. Romero Osby posted 17 points and six rebounds for the Sooners, who gained the marquee win their profile had been lacking.
Kansas' loss opens the door for Kansas State to take over the league lead, which seemed almost unfathomable a week ago. If the Wildcats handle Iowa State Saturday night, they'll be the first-place team in the Sunflower State showdown in Lawrence Monday night. If they lose, it's a four-way tie.
Any road win in the A-10 seems pretty decent these days, and the Bulldogs escaped from D.C. with a W despite almost blowing a 17-point lead by not making a field goal in the last seven and a half minutes of the game. Butler held GW to 27.9 percent shooting, and the Colonials couldn't find a game-tying three late. They missed one, had a second opportunity squirt out of a shooter's hands (maybe a foul?) and a third chance was bobbled and missed after the buzzer anyway.
Alex Oriakhi made an impact all over the court. He tripped Ole Miss' Reginald Buckner (resulting in Buckner's ejection when he scrapped with Laurence Bowers) and treated Tigers fans to a 22-point, 18-rebound effort in an important win for the Tigers. Phil Pressey recorded four assists, which pushed him to the school's career assist record ahead of Anthony Peeler. Missouri tied a season-high by knocking down 12 threes.
Ole Miss is in worse shape, even if they're still a game ahead of the Tigers in the league standings. The Rebels only have three top-100 wins and their "marquee" win is home over Missouri (which, again, hasn't won a road game this season). They also don't play Florida, Kentucky or Missouri again the rest of the way, meaning they could have a gaudy league record with very little substance. The Rebels could be an interesting discussion for the committee depending on how this breaks.
Geron Johnson had a breakout performance -- 25 points (8-11 FG), eight rebounds, seven assists, four steals -- in a game Memphis really needed to start to shore up its NCAA credentials. The Tigers are now two games up in Conference USA, which is a good thing with some tough (by C-USA standards) games left on the slate.
Conversely, this is a disappointing loss for the Golden Eagles, who are squarely in the "good team, unacceptable NCAA profile" category. They drop to 0-6 against the RPI top-100 with the home loss. That's not going to cut it. They almost certainly will need to grab C-USA's auto bid, and definitely will should they not be able to win the rematch at Memphis.
Kelly Olynyk had another solid game in the easy victory, but that's really secondary to the dynamic developing in the Northwest. With all the mayhem swirling elsewhere, it's becoming more and more possible to think the Zags could run the table the rest of the way and land a 1-seed in the NCAAs. On the other hand, they still have to put away the WCC and that means handling Saint Mary's, which only has one league loss, in Moraga on Thursday night.
Rodney McGruder and Angel Rodriguez combined for 42 points and the Wildcats moved to 8-2 in the Big 12. That means that
In a ragged but entertaining game, the Rebels were in control for the entire contest but never leveled the knockout punch that would have ended the contest. Anthony Bennett notched another double-double. So did New Mexico's Alex Kirk, which used its double-big alignment again and got 30 points and 22 rebounds from Kirk and Cameron Bairstow. Unfortunately for the Lobos, they went through long stretches of the game where they weren't able to get the ball inside successfully, and it cost them. The win closes the gap at the top of the Mountain West and moves Colorado State into a tie with the Lobos in the loss column.
Things have gotten
The Panthers have pushed their way into Big East contention after another quality road win. Pitt held the hosts without a field goal for the final 9:21 of the contest, thanks in large part to a zone they leaned on heavily in the second half. The Panthers have won seven of eight and visit league leader Marquette next Saturday. The Bearcats' rough week (including a loss at Providence) has dropped them into a tie for ninth in the conference.