Despite loss, Miami still in charge; historic Big East finale; more hoops
Saturday night's schedule wasn't loaded with results of magnitude, but several games caught the eye and have significant NCAA tournament consequences. Earlier in the day? That's where the money was, with a series of great individual performances and compelling games. Miami escaped upsets in its last two games, but not today. It will be interesting to see the reaction to the Hurricanes' first ACC loss, as people continue to try to wrap their heads around Miami being a very good basketball team. If you missed any of the action, here's a quick roundup of the most meaningful results and why they matter:
No. 11 Georgetown 57, No. 8 Syracuse 46
The Hoyas went to the Carrier Dome and smothered the Orange in front of a school-record crowd of 35,012 in their final regular-season meeting at the Dome as Big East opponents. Georgetown snapped Syracuse's 38-game home winning streak, with the last 'Cuse loss at the Dome coming against ... the Hoyas on Feb. 9, 2011. Ironically, the Hoyas also broke a long streak Syracuse had in its old home, Manley Field House. Georgetown beat Syracuse there on Feb. 13, 1980 to snap Syracuse's then 57-game home winning streak. That was the final game in the Field House before the Orange moved into the Dome. The winning coach that night was John Thompson Jr., father of current Hoyas head man John Thompson III. Conference POY frontrunner Otto Porter had 33 points, eight rebounds and five steals in a monster effort that paced the victors. This was the latest in a lengthening list of bad perimeter shooting performances for the Orange, who were just 4-for-20 from behind the arc.
Wake Forest 80, No. 2 Miami (Fla.) 65
The Hurricanes had been asking for something like this for a couple of games and they ran into hot-shooting Home Wake Forest, a much different proposition than the Demon Deacons are on the road. C.J. Harris made all five of his three-point attempts to pace the Deacons with 23 points. Wake Forest shot 54.8 percent for the game.
Villanova 60, No. 17 Marquette 56
The Wildcats are one of the most enigmatic teams in the country, and they picked up a third high-quality home win for their at-large hopes. Darrun Hilliard poured in 22 for the winners. Only one Golden Eagle, Junior Cadougan (12 points), even scored in double figures. The loss drops Marquette out of a (virtual) tie for first in the Big East, ceding sole ownership to Georgetown.
Saint Mary's 74, Creighton 66
In the only BracketBusters game set to help up either winner, the Gaels grabbed what could be a really important home win. Matthew Dellavedova didn't deal an A+ game, but he still made five threes and dished out five assists in the win. The usually sharpshooting Bluejays made just 21-of-51 shots and went 5-for-18 from the arc.
As for Creighton, the Bluejays stemmed their Valley losing skid with two consecutive wins, but their seed is weakening rapidly. They'd be best advised to at least split at Bradley and vs. Wichita State to close out the regular season if they don't want to drop into the same type of situation as last season.
Kentucky 90, Missouri 83 OT
The Wildcats nabbed a crucial home win in overtime over road-struggler Missouri. Julius Mays and Alex Poythress combined for 45 points and 13 rebounds, offsetting 27 points and 10 assists from Missouri's Phil Pressey. The win moves Kentucky into a share of second place in the SEC with Alabama.
No. 3 Gonzaga 81, San Diego 50
Not a marquee opponent, but another massive win margin for the Bulldogs, who moved to 27-2 and are definitely for real, regardless of what you think about the West Coast Conference. Was Kelly Olynyk super-efficient with 14 points (on five shots) and nine rebounds? Or do the seven turnovers rank a grade drop?
No. 21 Memphis 89, Southern Miss 73
The bulk of the nation is finally catching on that the Tigers have improved a lot since their flop in The Bahamas over Thanksgiving. They easily handled the league's second-best team for the second time this season, shooting 50 percent from the field, making 11 of 24 from the arc and putting five guys in double figures.
LSU 97, Alabama 94 3OT
The Crimson Tide had an apparent game-winner in the first overtime come just after the buzzer and fell in triple overtime for a damaging loss for their at-large hopes. Trevor Releford poured in 36 points for the Tide in the losing effort.
No. 24 VCU 75, Xavier 71
The Rams rallied from a 17-point second-half deficit to grab an important road win for their overall profile and keep pressure on Saint Louis atop the A-10. The Rams forced 22 turnovers, which was enough despite making only 8 of 28 from three-point range. Troy Daniels made five of the threes on the way to a team-high 19 points.
No. 16 New Mexico 91, No. 22 Colorado State 82
Kendall Williams exploded for an arena-record 46 points on a Mountain West Conference record 10 threes (on 13 attempts) to lead the Lobos to a huge road win. Alex Kirk chipped in with an impactful 19 points and 10 rebounds for New Mexico. Colorado State had three 20-plus point scorers, but it wasn't enough as the Lobos closed the game on a 27-12 run.
North Carolina 76, NC State 65
This was a big home win and resume boost for the Tar Heels and the latest in a growing number of disappointing showings for the mercurial Wolfpack. Reggie Bullock busted the Pack for 22 points (including five threes) and 13 rebounds. Marcus Paige made a couple of big plays down the stretch on his way to 14 points and eight assists.
Tennessee 93, Texas A&M 85 4OT
Not to be outdone by Alabama-LSU, the Vols and Aggies went one extra bonus session before Tennessee pulled out the road win. Four players played at least 53 minutes in the contest. Trae Golden led the winners with 32 points. Elston Howard, who dropped 40 on Kentucky at Rupp earlier this season, had 38 points but needed 33 shots to get them for A&M.