Publish date:

Oklahoma Soars, Kansas Escapes and More: Taking Stock of an Eventful Saturday in College Hoops

It was a chaotic Saturday in college hoops, with five AP top-25 teams falling to unranked opponents. Get caught up with the day's biggest takeaways.

Saturday was a busy day in college hoops, with five top-25 teams falling to unranked opponents, including No. 3 Wichita State, and even teams like Xavier and Gonzaga needing second-half comebacks at home to beat East Tennessee State and North Dakota, respectively. Get caught up with our recap and what we learned from the day’s top matchups:

Oklahoma 91, No. 3 Wichita State 83

The Sooners followed up their win over USC with their biggest statement yet in a road win over the third-ranked Shockers. This one was won in the first half on the backs of Oklahoma freshmen Trae Young and Brady Manek and sophomore Kameron McGusty, who combined to score 47 of the Sooners’ 54 first-half points as they built a 15-point halftime lead. Young finished with 29 points and 10 assists on 9-of-22 shooting, while Manek added 21 points and hit 5-of-13 threes. OU’s 91 points represented the most Wichita has given up this season.

Key Takeaways:

• Trae Young has solidified that he’s a leading National Player of the Year candidate, if not the favorite at this juncture. The freshman leads the nation in scoring and is third in assists, and has now dropped 29 points in back-to-back big games, and on Saturday he proved he can do it against a defense like Wichita State’s.

• The Shockers squandered an opportunity to strengthen their nonconference résumé. They still have road wins over Baylor and Oklahoma State, which will be very important come March, but they had a chance to enter their first year of AAC play, where they'll be challenged by teams like Cincinnati and SMU, with three wins over Big 12 teams already in their pocket.

No. 8 Kentucky 93, Virginia Tech 86

The Wildcats recovered from giving up 47 points (1.18 per possession) in the first half to win their toughest challenge since falling to Kansas a month ago. The Wildcats’ defense and press forced 19 Virginia Tech turnovers and created 36 points off of those giveaways, while the offense hit 11-of-22 three-pointers. After knocking down 7 of 12 from behind the arc in the first half, the Hokies hit just 3 of 10 and turned it over 11 times after halftime.

Key Takeaways:

• This was the Wildcats’ best win of their young season, but perhaps the most important development of their day was the way the offense and defense responded after facing a six-point home halftime deficit, winning the second half 52–39 (of which Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo combined for 28 of those 52 points). UK has two more big games (UCLA and Louisville) before SEC action begins.

• Virginia Tech let a chance for a marquee road win get away from it and will enter ACC play on New Year’s Eve without a top-50 victory on its résumé (it will, however, get plenty of future chances amid a tough schedule). Similar to last season, the Hokies' offense is there but the defense needs to improve going forward.

Four Factors That Will Define Kentucky's Season Going Forward

Rutgers 71, No. 15 Seton Hall 65

One of the day’s biggest upsets came in Piscataway when the Scarlet Knights got the better of their in-state foe for their best win under Steve Pikiell. Corey Sanders scored 22 and added four steals to lead Rutgers, and Deshawn Freeman added 12 points and 16 rebounds. Seton Hall managed just two points in the final six minutes, both of which came from the free-throw line, as it relinquished a nine-point lead. It was the Pirates’ worst offensive game of the season, with them managing just 0.89 points per possession and shooting 30.4% from three.

Key Takeaways:

• How about those Scarlet Knights? They’re now 10–3 to start Pikiell’s second year as head coach, which is three more than they had in all of 2015–16, which was the season before he arrived. Until Saturday, though, none of those wins had been significant, and they’d yet to get over the hump in losses to Florida State, Minnesota and Michigan State. The win over Seton Hall is huge for the program and a sign that they won’t be pushovers in the Big Ten.

• This loss hurts for the Pirates, but it shouldn’t alter too much in the long run provided they shake it off; they’ve still had a successful nonconference slate including a road win at Louisville. Angel Delgado, Khadeen Carrington, Desi Rodriguez and Myles Powell can’t have nights where they combine for 16 turnovers, especially if the offense has gone cold.

Clemson 71, No. 22 Florida 69

The Tigers stunned the Gators late after rallying from a nine-point deficit with under five minutes remaining. Marcquise Reed scored eight of his team-high 22 points in the final 4:49 and Gabe DeVoe hit a crucial three-pointer to help deliver the win in Sunrise, Fla. The Gators were able to grab 15 offensive rebounds and hold an overall slim edge on the boards, but they hit just 9-of-17 free throws and stalled offensively down the stretch.

SI Recommends

Key Takeaways:

• This was a huge win for Clemson’s NCAA tournament chances. The Tigers entered the day 8–1, but their lone top-100 win was a road win over Ohio State. They now own the win in Columbus and a semi-road win over the Gators in Sunrise, and have a chance to add a home win over South Carolina before entering ACC play.

• Florida is left soul-searching for the fourth time in five games after its latest tough loss. It’s hard to believe this is the same team that opened the season 5–0 and went toe-to-toe with Duke in a narrow loss that kicked off this spiral. It’s still only December, but with center John Egbunu not expected to return until late January and a huge game at Texas A&M coming well before that, things may get worse before they get better.

Indiana 80, No. 18 Notre Dame 77

Juwan Morgan scored a career-high 34 points to power the Hoosiers past the Irish in a thrilling overtime win at the Crossroads Classic, which almost went to double OT before Bonzie Colson’s half-court heave rimmed out. Morgan and Colson (29 points, 11 rebounds) both put on a show, but Morgan scored all 12 of Indiana's points in the final three and a half minutes of regulation to force overtime, then added eight in OT to will the Hoosiers to a win. The extra period’s most pivotal sequence came when Morgan got an and-one opportunity down three, then missed the ensuing free throw before it was grabbed by Zach McRoberts, who got it back to Morgan for the go-ahead dunk.

Key Takeaways:

• This was a terrific win for Archie Miller and Indiana, which had lost all four of its games against KenPom top-40 opponents coming into Saturday. Morgan played like a star and continued his strong play of late, but the Hoosiers need more consistent play from Robert Johnson (who had 20 on Saturday) and others if they are going to continue to grow and be competitive in the Big Ten.

• The Irish have sputtered since their 6­–0 start to the season, going 2–3 since with losses including the Hoosiers and Ball State. Rebounding continues to be a sore issue for Notre Dame, illustrated both by Indiana’s 41-to-32 overall edge and by the turning point of overtime being an offensive board by the Hoosiers off a wayward free-throw attempt.

How Mikal Bridges Transformed into Villanova's Star Leader and a Potential Lottery Pick

Oklahoma State 71, No. 19 Florida State 70

The Cowboys dealt the Seminoles their first loss of the season thanks to Mitchell Solomon’s tip-in with six seconds remaining and drawn charge on the other end. After having a poor day in a loss last week to Wichita State, Jeffrey Carroll stepped up with 23 points, seven boards and three assists in the win for Oklahoma State, which won despite being out-shot and out-rebounded by Florida State. OSU did, however, have an edge in points off turnovers, second-chance points and fast-break points, all areas the ‘Noles were able to control when they took down Florida.

Key Takeaways:

• The Cowboys have played a weak nonconference schedule despite Texas A&M and Wichita State (both losses) being on it, so their win over FSU in Sunrise could wind up vital in a potential future NCAA bubble debate. Without it, their résumé would have been incredibly thin heading into a grueling Big 12 slate.

• This is a game that could’ve easily gone the other way, but the Seminoles missed a chance to nab another solid win to go along with the one over Florida. After two upcoming games against weak competition, things will crank up in a big way when they open their ACC slate with Duke, UNC, Miami and Louisville.

No. 13 Kansas 72, Nebraska 71

Svi Mykhailiuk hit a huge go-ahead three with 23 seconds remaining and Anton Gill missed one on the other end to give Kansas a road win it desperately needed in Lincoln. Sophomore big man Udoka Azubuike had the best game of his career, scoring 26 points on 13-of-17 shooting with 10 rebounds (and a game-sealing block), and Devonte’ Graham added 18 points and eight assists. The Huskers had a number of clutch plays down the stretch but couldn’t get the game-winner they needed to pull off the upset.

Key Takeaways:

• The Cornhuskers may not be world-beaters, but this was a crucial win for a Kansas team that was coming off losses to Washington and Arizona State. The Jayhawks avoided their first three-game losing streak since February 2013 and will hope this helps them get back on track as conference play draws near—and that Azubuike’s big day is a harbinger of things to come.

• On the other side, it was heartbreak for Nebraska, which won just 12 games a season ago and was picked to finish 13th in the Big Ten this year. The Huskers already pulled off a home upset over Minnesota a week and a half ago, but a win over the Jayhawks would’ve been even sweeter. Regardless, behind transfers James Palmer Jr. and Isaac Copeland, junior Glynn Watson Jr. and senior Gill, Nebraska is proving to be better than anticipated and an especially tough out at Pinnacle Bank Arena.