Chris Lofton looked like he was ready to beat Memphis one on five. Tennessee's sharpshooter had 21 points at the half while the #17 team in the country had just 22. Lofton ended with 34 points, including 6 threes, often of the fade-away, off-balance variety. Prior to this game, the Vols had lost to UNC and Butler and their best win of the season was arguably at home over Fordham. This win puts them back in the thick of the nationl picture, though the Top 25 is still probably out of reach.
On a night busy with Top 25 action, everyone else advanced with relative ease. #2 Pittsburgh, #7 Florida, #9 Duke, #10 UCONN, #14 Butler, #22 Maryland, #23 Air Force, and #25 Michigan State all won by double digits.
Despite winning 57-45, Duke's win over Holy Cross was anything but easy. The Blue Devils were down six at half and were putrid on offense most of the game. A major problem was that they turned the ball over 19 times, despite having just 9 assists (it was a 15 to 5 differential at one point). Point guard Greg Paulus, who has an amazingly low 1.07 assist/turnover ratio on the season had his normal 3 assist/3 turnover game. Paulus spent much of the 2nd half on the bench, including a lot of the minutes that Duke was gaining the lead.
Despite Duke's struggles, they did end the night with the nation's longest non-conference home winning streak. This was because Oklahoma, who previously had the lead with 49 games in a row, fell 67-51 to Villanova. For Nova, Mike Nardi continued his solid play with 23 points on 9 of 15 shooting. Nardi has taken his offensive game to another level this year following this summer's mass defections. His ability to catch the ball and shoot in an extremely quick motion enables him to get off shots that other guys simply cant.
West Virginia picked up a 71-60 victory over NC State. For the Wolfpack, it will obviously be somewhat of a long season, trying to play with such a limited amount of scholarship players. Sidney Lowe has to like what he sees out of Brandon Costner though. Costner, who is a red-shirt freshman (due to injury early last year) has continually impressed me. He had 15 points and 6 boards in the loss, close to his averages of 16 and 8 for the season. Costner's 6-9, but he's got a smooth jumper out to 3-point range, can rebound, and even passes a little. He has a chance to be a special player down the line.
Blake Ahearn had a smoking game in Missouri State's 79-60 win over Milwaukee Wisconsin. Ahearn had 26 points on 6 of 8 shooting, 4 for 4 from three, and 10 for 10 from the line. Ahearn, one of the best free throw shooters in NCAA history, is again sizzling from the line, having hit 21 from the line.
Nate Funk and Creighton didn't have as much luck as Ahearn and MO State. Funk went 5-14 from the floor as the Bluejays fell to 7-1 Dayton. Losing at Dayton isn't a bad loss, but the effort was typical for 3-2 Creighton. Funk struggled to hit shots, and no one other than Anthony Tolliver managed to contribute much on the offensive end. The Jays have struggled to deal with the graduation of Johnny Mathies.
- A Dribble a day keeps the dentist away -