Night Court: Holiday Week fully under way, Maui in fine form
Kentucky almost lost, Maui had a record-setting performance and the nation's two best point guard put on more of a show.
Here's everything you need to know from college basketball's Monday so far …
Game of the Night: Arizona State wins a thriller at home over Marquette.
Jahii Carson at this point is definitely one of the five most important players in the nation. He's an All-American. He's a maestro and as fun to watch as just about any other player in the game. The Sun Devils won 79-77 thanks in large part to Carson's play, but also the huge showing by teammate Jordan Bachynski, who had 14 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocks, the final one which came as a game-saving swat, Bachynski sending back Derrick Wilson's would-be game-tying shot.
Bachynski has been the unsung hero to ASU to this point this year, having put up a double-double in every game of Arizona State's 6-0 start.
With Marquette, it was a nice showing on the road against a team that will make the NCAA tournament. Buzz Williams' team is now 3-2, the other loss coming against Ohio State in what might've been the ugliest game so far this year. I'm not sure what MU is, but I'm less confident this is the team that will win the Big East, which is what I thought three weeks ago.
Game of the Night No. 2: Maui gets a great one with Dayton over Gonzaga.
A boneheaded foul by Kevin Pangos in the final minute, when Pangos had 27 points, gave the Zags guard his fifth and took him off the court. That meant Gonzaga didn't have its most reliable scorer on the floor as it tried to scratch back and steal the game away from the Flyers. No dice. An 84-79 final in favor of Archie Miller's team, which is now 5-0.
This was a great Maui game, one of those well-after-midnight affairs that is worth the watch and the type of gripping game we get every other year at Maui. Gonzaga blew a 16-point lead, and give credit to Dayton for hitting big foul shout after big foul shot down the stretch. Plus, Jordan Sibert -- or should I say, Jordan Sib3rt -- hit five 3s to give Dayton the edge in the second half.
Really fun game. You gotta love Maui.
This also damages Gonzaga in the sense that it loses this game, now it'll play D-II Chaminade on Tuesday, and D-II results don't go toward a team's NCAA tournament resume. If it wins there, it'll play either Minnesota or Arkansas on Wednesday, and neither of those teams are likely to be NCAA touranment-caliber. So the Zags' non-con schedule takes a significant hit with this loss.
What else we'll be talking about in the morning: Kentucky gets a scare but escapes Cleveland State.
First Vermont goes in and gives Duke a threatening on Sunday, and now we've got Kentucky making Cleveland State believe it can be Gardner-Webb. The Vikings led for more than half the game on Monday night, eventually giving way due to Kentucky's size and the Harrison twins finally showing up and playing the way they're capable of. Calipari's face won the night.
John Calipari reacts as Kentucky falls behind Cleveland State by nine points ... pic.twitter.com/Hgftp3tUEV— Ryan Fagan (@ryanfagan) November 26, 2013
That's a good win: Syracuse pulls out the victor in a test against Minnesota.
The Orange had a bloodied star and managed to stave off a game Gophers club. Trevor Cooney's 15 points on five 3s were a big factor, as was Minnesota 19-10 disadvantage in the turnover department. What I loved about this one: teams shot a combined 34 for 40 from the foul line. Good free throw shooting has a way of ensuring games are really good.
But that's a bad loss: Metro State takes out a conference favorite.
Metro State, a D-II program that has the goods, knocked off Elon. The Phoenix were picked to the with Southern Conference in the preaseason. Metro State isn't a terrible team, but it's not Division I. When you're Elon, at home, you need these games to be no-bones-about-it.
Players with impact
1. Jordan Bachynski, for sure. Mentioned his line above. He's a difference-maker and will go a long way to keeping Herb Sendek employed in Tempe.
2. Julius Randle had 15 and 15 in Kentucky's struggle against Cleveland State. Randle has been as reliable and impressive to scouts as any player in the country; it's the players around him who are still in need of catching up.
3. Christophe Varidel hit 10 3-pointers, setting a Maui record, and scored 42. He plays for Chaminade now, but was at Florida Gulf Coast last season. He grew up in life by living in Switzerland and therefore does not have my sympathy.
4. That'll do, Marcus Smart.
Numbers to figure:
.963: Kentucky's win percentage under John Calipari when the team holds opponents to 63 points or fewer.
13: How many teams scored 88 or more Monday night.
6-1: Dayton's all-time record at the Maui Invitational.
Other outcomes of note:
- Texas gave a good efort against BYU, but fell short, 86-82. It played better than I expected, since BYU has looked like a top-30 team so far this season. It was the Longhorns' first loss of their season.
- Maryland won the Paradise Jam by beating Providence 56-52. It was an ugly game, a game that almost saw the Terps blow a 19-point lead. The Friars shot only 27 percent from the floor, one of the worst-shooting nights in program history.
- Two teams with father-son coach-player combos played tonight. Canisius, with Jim and Billy Baron, beat Georgia State (Ron and R.J. Hunter). Baron went for 26 points and six assists, while the Hunter son chipped in 11 points in the loss.
- Stanford improved to 5-1 by taking out previously undefeated Houston 86-76, the game played in Brooklyn. Borzello was there with about 100 other souls. Just a sad scene to watch, the complete opposite of what Maui provides.
- No. 12 Wichita State made little issue of DePaul, winning 90-72 and moving to 6-0.
-- The 2015 Maui field was announced Monday. It'll be Indiana, Kansas, St. John's, UCLA, UNLV, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and Chaminade, of course.
-- Borzello's file from Brooklyn on Pittsburgh.
-- The nightly news with Brian Williams, of Oklahoma State. Good evening.
-- Teams that got to 5-0 Monday: Cal, Missouri, Baylor, Syracuse, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, Xavier, Pittsburgh, Dayton and Iowa State.
-- Washington announced Monday night that Hikeem Stewart is transferring.
-- Unrelated to tonight's games but worth sharing: Joel Embiid is only going to get better. Much better.
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