Jay Wright's Wildcats didn't look their best on Saturday afternoon, falling behind big early on their way to a 103-90 loss at Georgetown. But something changed between that loss at Monday night, with youngsters playing with poise and the Wildcats taking better care of the basketball, and the end result was an 82-75 win over West Virginia to move into a tie for first place in the Big East. In the first half nine different players scored for Villanova with senior Scottie Reynolds being limited by the defense of Devin Ebanks.
Led by future #1 NBA pick John Wall, this year's freshman class will be one to remember. What makes it particularly interesting is that not all of the top performers are at power conference schools. The WCC, CUSA, A10, MWC, WAC, and others have top-level rookies that can play with the best in the country. Here's a list of the Top 25 freshman in the country so far, with a bias on actual performance as opposed to potential. While players like UNC's John Henson may one day tear up NBA harcourts, this list focuses on the guys who are getting it done right now.
Random facts, tidbits, thoughts, and comments about a big day of college basketball..
#7 Michigan St at Minnesota - 12:00 CBS
When Blake Hoffarber scores 10+ points, Minnesota is 9-0. They've lost 6 in a row when he hasn't hit that mark. The inconsisent junior is coming off 2 bad games in a row (2 losses), but if he gets hot, expect a Gopher upset.
Auburn at Vanderbilt - 1:30
Are the Huskies in trouble? Well, considering their 3-4 Pac-10 record and lack of a true road victory you can definitely make a case that they are. Thursday's loss to UCLA was a tough one, falling 62-61 when one-time walk-on Mustafa Abdul-Hamid knocked down a pull-up jumper from the top of the key as time expired. Abdul-Hamid's shot was preceded by Venoy Overton's coast-to-coast dash in which no Bruin defender stepped up to change his path to the basket. But with the Bruins still having 3.2 seconds to make something happen that defensive error no longer mattered.
Before getting into the games of Thursday it would be appropriate to mention the tragic death of University of Southern Indiana basketball player Jeron Lewis, who fell and hit his head during a game against Kentucky Wesleyan. Tragically the senior had returned to school following the birth of his first child around Christmas. An autopsy will be performed on Friday. Jeron Lewis was 21 years old.
Three Key Happenings
Thursday's schedule may be lacking in regards to "marquee" games but there are important conference games to check out. Louisiana Tech hosts Fresno State in a matchup of the WAC's only two undefeated and there will be plenty of offensive talent on display. Kyle Gibson currently leads the conference in scoring and teammate Magnum Rolle has played the way people expected the LSU transfer to play when his career began. But on the other end, Louisiana Tech will have to account for Paul George and Sylvester Seay, two wings with the ability to light up the scoreboard.
With four minutes left in regulation it looked as if North Carolina was on its way to surviving a treacherous trip to Charleston to take on the preseason favorites to win the Southern Conference. But the fun had yet to begin, with Andrew Goudelock helping to spark a 12-1 run that he completed with a three-pointer to send the game into overtime. In fact, Goudelock scored the Cougars' last eight points in regulation on his way to a 24-point night for him and an 82-79 win for his team.
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