Three more unbeatens bite the dust. Only five—No. 1 Duke, No. 2 Michigan, No. 4 Arizona, No. 11 Cincinnati and Wyoming—remain unblemished.
- No. 3 Syracuse took a spill on Saturday at the school’s home away from home (Madison Square Garden). Led by Khalif Wyatt’s career-high 33 points, Temple sliced and diced the Orange zone, then challenged Cuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams to play out of character as a scorer. It worked.
- Missouri dealt rival Illinois its first loss in the annual Braggin’ Rights game. Newly eligible Oregon transfer Jabari Brown scored 18 points and pulled down seven rebounds in his first start as a Tiger. Phil Pressey certainly didn’t have the shooting touch (3-19 FG), but the junior point guard was a game-changer with his dynamic passing ability (11 assists). Laurence Bowers (23 points, 10 boards) and Alex Oriakhi (13 points, 14 boards) controlled Illinois’ flimsy interior all game, and though Brown and Pressey were each effective in different ways, Missouri ultimately won the game thanks to its superiority in the frontcourt.
- South Dakota State had the deck stacked against it heading into Saturday’s showdown with New Mexico at the Pit. The road-weary Jackrabbits arrived in Albuquerque late Friday following a 1,200-mile bus ride that had been complicated by cancelled flights. Point guard extraordinaire Nate Wolters tallied 28 points and dished out seven assists to pace South Dakota State, which limited New Mexico to 37-percent shooting from the floor. Lobos star guard Kendall Williams poured in 21 of his own.
Kansas shakes Ohio State…again. Kansas dealt Ohio State its third loss in the last 12 months, each accomplished in a different venue. The Jayhawks have beaten the Buckeyes at home, on the road and on a neutral floor in New Orleans at the 2012 Final Four. Saturday’s game in Columbus was perhaps the most impressive of the three. Playing on the road against revenge-minded Ohio State, Kansas turned to Ben McLemore in the redshirt freshman’s first-ever college road game. The young phenom didn’t disappoint. McLemore dazzled in every which way, ultimately finishing with 22 points to spearhead the Jayhawks attack. KU held Ohio State to a paltry offensive showing in the second half, just the latest of an alarming trend in Columbus, where prolonged offensive ruts have become the norm.
Kansas State upsets Florida. Success in the Sunflower State didn’t stop with the Jayhawks. While Kansas was putting the finishing touches on its win over Ohio State, in-state rival Kansas State began working on a top-10 win of its own. Will Spradling powered the Wildcats to a signature win over Florida, handing the Gators the team’s second consecutive Saturday loss. Patric Young was the lone offensive force for Billy Donovan’s team, whose backcourt went cold against K-State’s pressure man D.
Sean Miller notches 200 career wins. Arizona cruised past Miami (minus Reggie Johnson) in convincing fashion to advance to the Diamond Head Classic title game, where it will face No. 18 San Diego State. Thanks to double-digit scoring performances by each of the team’s top three guards (Lyons, Johnson and Parrom), the Wildcats dominated the sluggish Canes from the opening tip.
Michigan State holds off Texas. Derrick Nix scored a career-high 25 while Adreian Payne (13 points) flashed new dimensions to his game never before shown. Only five Sparty players figured into the scoring column, but State got all the scoring it needed from its two top interior presences. Texas got off to a hot start, thanks largely to Julien Lewis, but the Longhorns cooled off down the stretch as Michigan State’s defensive intensity ramped up a notch.
Virginia rivalry games go down to the wire. George Mason’s Sherrod Wright swished a 3-pointer at the buzzer to down Richmond in the undercard of the Governor’s Holiday Hoops Classic. The shot gave the Patriots their first win over the Spiders in six tries. In the second game of the twin bill, Old Dominion snapped a 9-game losing streak in a big way by edging fellow in-state school Virginia.
Speaking of Wright, Wright State gave Cincinnati quite the scare on Saturday. The Raiders nursed a six-point halftime lead, but the Bearcats steadied in the second half to remain unbeaten.
Other notable upsets.
- Wofford clipped Xavier, 56-55, thanks to a mental error by Jeff Robinson. Robinson needlessly fouled [and sent to the line] Lee Skinner, who sunk one of two free throws, with eight seconds to play after a Brad Releford 3 had temporarily evened up the score.
- Fairfield topped St. Joe’s, 60-57, in Philadelphia
- Boston College tipped Providence, 71-68, in Chestnut Hill
- Mercer handled Alabama, 66-59, in Tuscaloosa