To say that there were some complaints about the "quality" of Saturday's schedule would be an understatement as many felt that the college basketball slate wouldn't provide much intrigue. But once again college basketball didn't disappoint the fans, with the big result being Iowa State's 72-64 win over #5 Kansas. The Cyclones won despite turning the ball over 19 times by getting to the foul line and controlling the boards. ISU attempted 34 free throws (making 25) to just sixteen for the Jayhawks (who made ten) in handing the visitors their first Big 12 loss.
The game between #17 Indiana and #25 Wisconsin proved to be every bit as competitive as expected with the largest margin either team held being seven points with two seconds remaining. In the end it was the little things that made the difference in the Badgers' 57-50 victory, as Bo Ryan's team shot 12-for-12 from the foul line in the second half and grabbed the final seven rebounds of the game. That rebound stretch was over the final 3:38 of the contest, with their offensive rebounds leading to four of their nine second-chance points.
Consistency has been an issue for the Oklahoma State Cowboys this season, and it's been an issue for highly-touted freshman Le'Bryan Nash as well. After scoring 21 points in the Cowboys' 71-68 loss to Iowa State (which ended at the buzzer on a Scott Christopherson three) Nash scored just four points in a 66-58 home loss to Kansas State. But the Dallas native brought his "A-game" to Gallagher-Iba Arena on Wednesday night, making 12 of 18 shots from the field to score 27 points while also grabbing four rebounds in Oklahoma State's 79-72 win over #2 Missouri.
It's been an interesting couple of days in college basketball when it comes to travel issues, with Purdue having to bus to Michigan State in the early hours of Saturday for a noon tip. While the Boilermakers hung tough in the first half they lost their legs in the second as the Spartans rolled. So what was going to happen to San Diego State, whose trek to Laramie for an important Mountain West game against Wyoming took 20 hours, not to mention the fact that they'd be playing more than 7,000 feet above sea level?
For Syracuse fans watching Monday's game between the Orange and Cincinnati, the fact that the Bearcats made four of their first five three-pointers may have been a cause for concern. But the Bearcats made just four the rest of the game (with 20 more attempts), making it important to note that those deep threes that fall early more times than not are "fool's gold" against the Syracuse zone.
With the announcement that starting center Fab Melo would miss Saturday's game due to an unresolved academic issue, the chances that top-ranked Syracuse would remain undefeated took a hit. But few would have thought that the Orange would have few (if any) answers in the paint as a result of his absence, and that's exactly what happened at Purcell Pavilion. Jack Cooley scored 17 points and grabbed ten rebounds and Notre Dame led by as many as 18 points on their way to the 67-58 win, the eighth in school history over a top-ranked opponent.
Remember the concerns late in non-conference play that Vanderbilt was destined to be one of the country's biggest busts? Don't look now but Kevin Stallings' Commodores won their eighth straight game on Thursday night, beating Alabama 69-59 in Tuscaloosa to remain tied atop the SEC with Kentucky (4-0). Alabama shot 26.5% from the field in the first half and trailed 26-19 at the half, and a 17-4 run over a five-minute stretch pushed the Vanderbilt lead out to 23 points at 58-35 with 8:12 remaining.
Following Shabazz Napier's game-tying three-pointer most coaches would choose to call a timeout to draw up a play, risking the chance of the defense aligning and taking away the primary scoring option. But with the man he wanted to take the final shot already in possession of the basketball, Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin decided against calling a timeout and as a result his Bearcats are now 5-1 in the Big East.
Given how reliant Michigan is on the three-point shot, many would think it highly unlikely that John Beilein's team would win a game in which they shot 6-for-21 from beyond the arc. But thanks to a late basket from Stu Douglass and some solid defense on the final possession of the game, that's exactly what happened as the Wolverines beat in-state rival Michigan 60-59 at Crisler Arena. Trey Burke scored a game-high 20 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. and Zack Novak scored ten points apiece, but Novak's biggest contribution came on the defensive end of the floor.
Monday's showdown between #3 Baylor and #7 Kansas gave the visiting Bears a great chance to make the statement that they were ready to dethrone a program that's won at least a share of the last seven Big 12 titles. Well while there's still plenty of basketball to be played before the regular season champion is determined, it's safe to say that Bill Self's team has no plans to simply hand over the top spot.
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