Bearcats Pick Up Needed Win: Thursday's Quick Hitters
In the game of the night Duke rode the hot shooting of Andre Dawkins and the playmaking of Austin Rivers to avenge an earlier loss to Florida State, winning 74-66 in Tallahassee.
1. The game wasn't pretty but Cincinnati did enough to beat #17 Louisville.
It went without saying that Mick Cronin's Bearcats needed another good win for their resume due in large part to their weak non-conference slate. Their contest with #17 Louisville won't be a video that basketball purists eagerly throw into the DVD player but all that matters is the result, a 60-56 Bearcat victory to move to 10-5 in the Big East. Cashmere Wright rebounded from a second half ankle injury to lead Cincinnati with 22 points, five rebounds and five assists, and the Bearcats' superiority from beyond the arc proved to be the difference. Cincinnati made 11 of their 27 shots from deep while Louisville finished 1-for-14.
Peyton Siva scored 14 points and Gorgui Dieng and Chane Behanan scored 11 apiece (20 combined rebounds as well), but the struggles of Kyle Kuric and Chris Smith were critical. Those two combined to shoot 0-for-15 from the field with Kuric missing all seven of his three-point attempts, and Louisville can't win when that happens. There's more work for Cincinnati to do to make their Selection Sunday as stress-free as possible, but beating the Cardinals at home is a good start to the stretch run.
2. Likely needing a weekend sweep to enter the bubble conversation, Colorado gets whipped at home by Stanford.
With a 13-1 home record entering Thursday's action, Tad Boyle's Colorado Buffaloes had the look of a team that would enhance its NCAA prospects by winning at home against Stanford. But the Cardinal had other plans, as they jumped the Buffs in the first half on their way to the 74-50 victory. Chasson Randle scored 20 to lead the way offensively, and Johnny Dawkins' club was able to navigate 18 turnovers by limiting the Buffaloes to 29.6% shooting. Askia Booker led Colorado with 14 points, but a look at their resume depicts a team in need of a major run to reach the Big Dance. Andre Roberson (nine points, 11 rebounds) struggled, but he found other areas in which he could attempt to have an impact.
The same can't be said for guard Carlon Brown, who shot 1-for-8 from the field and has shot 6-for-28 over the last three games. As a result of Stanford's victory the Cardinal are back in the tournament discussion, but just ilke Colorado nothing other than the Pac-12's automatic berth will get them in at this point. Next up for Colorado is Cal on Sunday afternoon, and with a national audience watching that could be the Buffs' last stand. The hope in Boulder is that they find a way to avoid the slow start that has been their Achille's heal in recent weeks.
3. Gonzaga evens the score with BYU to keep alive their hopes of a 12th straight WCC title.
Elias Harris scored 19 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to lead the Bulldogs to a 74-63 win over the Cougars, avenging their loss in Provo and moving into sole possession of second place in the WCC. Brandon Davies led BYU with 23 points and ten rebounds but it was obvious that BYU was missing something with Noah Hartsock (knee) sitting out the majority of the game due to his injury. The Cougars attempted 37 more field goals than Gonzaga (78-41) but they made just 30.8% of their shots, and making the same number of three-pointers as the Bulldogs (six) with fifteen more attempts (28-13) didn't help matters either.
Gonzaga turned the ball over 20 times but their parade to the foul line more than made up for that. Gonzaga attempted 44 free throws, making 36 and pushing the Bulldogs' total to 72 free throw attempts in two games against BYU. Gonzaga didn't have much of an answer for Davies in the post when he received the ball, but the Cougars had their issues in the second half as well. The win moves Gonzaga to second place with one league game remaining, which also means that the Bulldogs are still alive for their 12th consecutive WCC title.
1. Two more teams locked up postseason (NIT) berths on Thursday night: Belmont (Atlantic Sun) and LIU Brooklyn (Northeast). The Bruins whipped Kennesaw State 90-50 as Mick Hedgepeth and Scott Saunders scored 12 points apiece to lead four players in double figures. Jamal Olasewere scored 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds and Julian Boyd went off for 21 and 20 to lead LIU past Fairleigh Dickinson 91-80.
2. JaMychal Green didn't play but Alabama still found a way to pick up a key road win as they beat Arkansas 79-68. Andrew Steele scored 15 points and Trevor Releford 14 for the Crimson Tide, who also received 31 points from Rodney Cooper (17) and Nick Jacobs (14) off the bench. At 18-9 and 7-6 in the SEC, Anthony Grant's team will likely reach the Big Dance with a respectable finish to the regular season.
3. Long Beach State clinched a share of the Big West title and the top seed in the conference tournament, but they still aren't the outright champs...yet. Cal State Fullerton needed an Isiah Umipig three with 13 seconds remaining to beat Pacific 69-68, moving the Titans to 10-3 in league play. Fullerton is a game up on UCSB in the race for second with three games remaining for both.
4. It was the "Matt Gatens Show" in Iowa City, complete with a bobblehead given out to fans before the game, as Gatens led Iowa to a 67-66 win over #15 Wisconsin. Gatens scored a career-high 33 points, and the last player to do that against the Badgers was Stephen Curry ('08 Sweet 16).
5. Don't look now but Butler is a win away from locking up the two-seed in the upcoming Horizon League conference tournament. Brad Stevens' team won on Tuesday, and Cleveland State's 77-64 win over Detroit eliminates the possibility of the Titans winning a tiebreaker between the two. But locking up the seed will be tough, as the Bulldogs visit regular season champ Valparaiso on Friday night.
6. Isaiah Canaan scored 24 points and Donte Poole 16 to lead #12 Murray State to an 80-62 win over Tennessee State, the team responsible for the lone blemish on the Racers' record. Murray won despite being out-rebounded 33-22, but that tends to happen when a team shoots 56.5% from the field and 12-for-22 from three.
7. Also locking up a postseason berth on Thursday night was Middle Tennessee, who won 94-61 at Louisiana-Monroe to move to 14-1 in Sun Belt play. Kermit Davis' team assisted on 30 of their 35 field goals and 12 of the 15 Blue Raiders who played ended up scoring.
8. Thanks to 26 points and 14 rebounds from center Mike Muscala, Bucknell won 55-50 at American to clinch at least a share of the Patriot League title. The Bison entered Thursday's game on a two-game losing streak, which added some unexpected drama to the league race. Daniel Munoz led three Eagles in double figures with 15 points, and they now need a win and some help this weekend to wrestle away the two-seed from Lehigh.