Night Court: Bracket Busters and star-driven performances
If you're a hoops lover, you know the Saturday drill by now. Afternoon Delight recaps the first five-or-so hours' worth of action, the perfect appetizer right before dinnertime. Be sure to get the latest look at what our bracket projections look like, see which games of bubble consequence were played today, and play with my favorite toy, the Palm Reader.
By Matt Norlander and Jeff Borzello
Before you dive into Night Court, take a look at what we've written so far today...
- How did all the bubble teams fare on Saturday? Borzello breaks everything down.
- Goodman looks at Miami's surprising loss to Wake Forest, and what it means for the Hurricanes' No. 1 seed.
- North Carolina has gone to a small-ball lineup, and it's working, writes Goodman.
- Otto Porter dominated against Syracuse, and Parrish says he should be in the National Player of the Year conversation.
- Saint Mary's made a statement with its win over Creighton, a team Norlander thinks is the biggest second-half disappointment.
- Towson beat Drexel behind good production from Jerome Hairston, who was playing with a heavy heart after the death of his friend.
What else happened on Saturday? Let's find out.
Game of the night: Missouri and Kentucky went back and forth -- and UK came out on top.
Both Missouri and Kentucky have had their share of struggles in the last couple of months, but their matchup Saturday night was outstanding. Missouri got out to an early lead due to the Tigers' dominance on the offensive glass and their ability to consistently get into the lane. Kentucky fought back, though, with Archie Goodwin picking up his play in the second half and Julius Mays making big shots. Late in overtime, though, Phil Pressey's late-game mistakes came back to haunt him once again, as his turnover helped Kentucky pull out a 90-83 win. Pressey had 27 points and 10 assists, while Alex Oriakhi went for 16 points and 15 boards. If Kentucky plays the way it did Saturday night, it will again be a dangerous team come March.
Game of the afternoon: Be on the lookout for both these teams come March.
Man, I hope you caught Montana-Davidson. A couple of one-loss-in-their-league teams went to overtime, and Davidson won 93-87. Really good one. Davidson (Southern) and Montana (Big Sky) could be a couple of 13/14s that scare or outright win the Round of 64. And speaking of March success, in other news, it's been just about five years since Davidson stole all our hearts.
It wasn't all good, though. Montana star guard Will Cherry, who missed the first half of the season with a broken foot, reinjured the same foot.
What else we'll be talking about tomorrow: Otto Porter and Kendall Williams put on outstanding performances to lead their teams to great road wins.
Arguably the two best performances of the day came from Georgetown's Otto Porter, who had 33 points and eight rebounds, and New Mexico's Kendall Williams, who knocked down 10 3-pointers en route to 46 points. In related news, arguably the two best wins of the day came when Georgetown beat Syracuse and New Mexico beat Colorado State -- both on the road. Georgetown has now won nine games in a row and sit atop the Big East standings by itself, while New Mexico has a two-game lead in the Mountain West after the road win.
Syracuse is now in a bit of a perilous position. The Orange were in the conversation for at least a top-two seed for the past several weeks, but now they have to go to Marquette and Georgetown, and host Louisville, in the final four games. It's a tough stretch. Colorado State, meanwhile, has lost two in a row and still have some questions to answer.
Deserving of a free dinner at the restaurant of their choice: Memphis wins another C-USA regular-season title.
The Tigers sweep their best conference competition in their final year as a C-USA resident. Josh Pastner's team won 89-73 at home over Southern Miss, clocking in 25 assists on 29 baskets. Yes, quite efficient.
And I think Donnie Tyndall's done a good job at Southern Miss, but the Golden Eagles will be NIT-bound barring a C-USA tourney title -- which is possible, absolutely.
Memphis has defeated USM in 20 of the past 21 games, by the by.
No soup for you: Miami falls off the 1-seed line.
It was 80-65 Wake Forest over Miami, and the Canes' 14-game winning streak is done. I'd warn anyone getting the least bit sour on this group just because it's had close wins as of late and then couldn't beat a bad Wake team. Miami is still, in my opinion, one of the six best teams in the country as of today.
I will say these kind of results make me chuckle because Wake fans want Jeff Bzdelik out but the guy delivers just enough good wins to keep on keeping on. Sorry, Wake fans.
Players with impact
- We already mentioned Otto Porter and Kendall Williams, but what they did deserves another mention. Porter scored 33 of Georgetown's 57 points, while Williams dropped 46 on 10 3-pointers.
- What a line for Marist's Chavaughn Lewis: 30 points, 16 rebounds, six assists and five steals.
- Central Connecticut State won 80-72 over Sacred Heart, and Joe Efese came away with eight blocks.
- Jeff Early showed up early and had 31 for Southern Illinois in its 74-68 home win over Miami-Ohio. SIU has done a good job this year, all things considered.
- Wake's C.J. Harris: 23 points and went 5-of-5 from 3.
- Alabama suffered a bad loss to LSU, but Trevor Releford did have 36 points and five rebounds in the defeat.
- Texas A&M and Tennessee went four overtimes before the Volunteers pulled it out. A&M guard Elston Turner went for 38 points.
- If you put up 34 points, six rebounds and six assists, you're getting a mention. So here you go, UC-Davis guard Corey Hawkins.
Other action worth your attention
- Saint Mary's getting a win at Creighton was important for the Gaels, who now have a top-50 win to hang their hat on. On the other side, Creighton might start sweating about its at-large status.
- Kansas really got its revenge on TCU for the earlier loss, rocking the Horned Frogs by 26 points.
- Kansas State went on the road at Texas and came away with a 12-point win. Rodney McGruder led the way with 20 points.
- North Carolina got 22 points and 13 rebounds from Rodney Bullock to help the Tar Heels knock off NC State. Roy Williams has shortened the bench and shrunk the starting lineup -- and it's working.
- Biggest bubble winners: Kentucky (Missouri), Saint Mary's (Creighton), Villanova (Marquette), North Carolina (NC State). Biggest losers: Creighton (Saint Mary's), Arizona State (Washington), Baylor (Oklahoma), Alabama (LSU). For more on those games, go over to Poppin' Bubbles.
- All credit to VCU for roaring back from 17 down and winning 75-71 at Xavier. The first half was all X, but the Muskies just don't have the depth. And that Havoc defense reared its head. The 3-point play from Troy Daniels, 4 for 6 from 3 in the second half, was also a big help as he scored a game-high 19 points.
- Alabama and LSU went three overtimes, the Bayou Bengals winning 97-94 and offing Bama's at-large hopes. Junior Crimson Tide guard Trevor Releford had a career-high 36 points.
- No Marcus Smart for most of the first half due to three really quick fouls, yet Oklahoma State keeps pace and wins at West Virginia, 73-57. The Mountaineers are just having a bad, bad year. Maybe Bob Huggins' worst in his tenure?
- Maryland keeps treading water, wins 72-59 at home over Clemson. Maryland was led by Nick Faust's 18 points. I maintain: Terps will dance.
- San Diego State and UNLV both pulled out wins, including the Runnin' Rebels getting their second road win since before Christmas.
- Connecticut scored 47 points in the second half and beat DePaul. The Huskies still technically have nothing too much to play for, but they are only two games out of first place in the Big East. What a job by Kevin Ollie.
- In my estimation, Indiana State has no at-large chances remaining unless it runs the table, reaches the Valley finals, and then enters the convo out of obligation, if nothing else. But the Sycs probably have no shot altogether, realistically, in terms of at-large chances. ISU eked out a 65-64 win at home over Iona on Saturday. Iona's past six losses have come by an average of 1.8 points and include five total overtime sessions. Gaels have endured too much heartbreak here.
Delightful (and not-so-delightful) thoughts
-- As everyone else seems to be pushed and tested on a nightly basis, Gonzaga continues to roll. The Bulldogs beat San Diego by 31.
-- Harvard improved to 9-1 in the Ivy League with a six-point win at Yale.
-- I'm not proud or rubbing it in or anything, but to me Iowa has never resembled an NCAA tourney team. I had 'em out about three weeks back. Today's loss at Nebraska is the permanent seal, though. Iowa has played in eight games this season decided by four points or less.
-- Arizona cruised at home over Washington State, 73-56.
-- Robert Morris stays in first in the Northeast Conference, dominating Fairleigh Dickinson. And this is interesting. Kinu Rochford is arguably Fairleigh Dickinson's best player.
@brendanprunty Yeah, Kinu Rochford apparently took off his jersey at halftime and didn't return to the court for the second.— John Templon (@nybuckets) February 24, 2013
-- Grambling still hasn't won a game, falling at Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
-- Norfolk State remains undefeated in the MEAC, moving to 13-0 after winning at Delaware State. North Carolina Central is one game back, at 12-1.
For more college basketball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnCBB on Twitter, like us on Facebook and subscribe to the thrice-a-week podcast on iTunes. You can follow Matt Norlander on Twitter here: @MattNorlander and Jeff Borzello here: @jeffborzello.
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