Night Court: SMU earns first win over top-10 team in 27 years
Busy Saturday afternoon in college basketball, with Iowa and Xavier getting the highlight wins. Melvin Ejim and Marcus Foster also stole the show.
Game of the night: Memphis Tigers roar back at home against Gonzaga in entertaining ranked affair.
"I was too jacked up," Joe Jackson said on TV afterward of his team's 60-54 win over Gonzaga.
It was Jackson's 22nd birthday. He did this on a 7-footer, which essentially rallied the game for Memphis.
The Tigers trailed 41-32 at the time and went on to outscore the Zags 29-13 in the 60-54 win. Fearless, and probably the most memorable play of Jackson's career. They love this guy in that city, even for all the times he's made mistakes.
Gonzaga's troubles may be on the surface of the resume, but it's clear that team is by far the class of the WCC once again. If it wins most of its games there and reaches the WCC championship game, a bid is more than likely coming. Still, this would've been a huge win for Mark Few's team. Instead, Memphis ups its stock and gets some non-con beef to boast about.
(GIF via DieHard Sport.)
Biggest outcome of the night: SMU makes no doubt about its legitmacy with a smacking of Cincinnati.
The Mustangs remained undefeated at home this season and won over a team ranked in the top 10 for the first time since 1987 with a 76-55 win over No. 7 Cincinnati. The fans fled to the floor after the victory. In getting the dub, SMU ended Cincinnati's 15-game winning streak.
Nick Russell led all Mustangs scorers with 15 points. The team was 22-of-25 from the foul line. For the Bearcats, only Sean Kilpatrick (22) and Justin Jackson (10) scored in double digits. Jackson's final two points came on an uncontested breakaway dunk just before time expired at the end of the game.
At 19-5 and with wins over UConn and Memphis, it's hard to argue against SMU as a sure-fire NCAA tournament team at this point. The Ponies havent been to the Big Dance in 21 years, and this is quite the comeback under Larry Brown. Also, come Monday, expect SMU to be ranked in the polls for the first time in 29 seasons. Pretty incredible.
Lost in the Smart debacle: Oklahoma State is in big trouble after falling 65-61 at Texas Tech.
We'll know the suspension for Marcus Smart eventually, but how about the fact the Cowboys took on a major loss here. It was their fourth in a row, five in the past six games, and the only win at h ome against West Virginia -- by six. What was once thought to be a Big 12 co-favorite alongside Kansas; a Final Four hopeful with a lot of talent; a group to make Oklahoma State fans proud and eager for the first time in ages. All of that's dissolved.
Desperately needed win of the day: Xavier gets much-needed Big East win over Providence.
Both Xavier and Providence were struggling entering the weekend, with the Musketeers losing three in a row and four of six and the Friars dropping two of three. Just a couple of weeks ago, they both looked like NCAA tournament teams, but recent results put that in question. Xavier got the victory on Saturday, though, with Matt Stainbrook going for 13 points, nine rebounds and five assists in the 59-53 win. Semaj Christon was also a huge key (as usual) for Xavier, making plays at both ends down the stretch and limiting Providence's scorer Bryce Cotton to nine points. Christon also had 12 points and three assists.
Now comes a make-or-break stretch for Xavier, with four of the next five games on the road. Butler and Marquette are up this week. For Providence, a road trip on Monday to Georgetown suddenly becomes a key bubble battle in the Big East. The Hoyas are hot and have momentum.
Player of the Day: It's going to be hard to top Melvin Ejim's performance on Saturday afternoon.
We'll have a separate post on this, but Iowa State forward Melvin Ejim went for 48 points and 18 rebounds against TCU, shooting 20-for-24 from the field and knocking down two 3-pointers. He's the third player to hit 48 points this season, and set a Big 12 single-game record.
Here's the entire set of stats/records in the Big 12 Ejim set, via the league office:
Points scored in a game: 48
Points scored in a conference game: 48
Points scored in a half: 33 (second)
Points scored in a conference game half: 33 (second)
Field goals made: 20
Field goals made, conference game: 20
Field goals made in a half: 14 (2nd)
Field goals made in a conference half: 14 (2nd)
Combined Points + Rebounds, single game: 64
Tied the league record for consecutive field goals made in a half: 9
What else we’ll be talking about in the morning: Iowa dominates Michigan for marquee victory.
Borzello wrote about this earlier, but here's a quick recap. Iowa jumped out to an early lead behind 22 first-half points and six 3-pointers from Roy Devyn Marble, and Michigan really struggled to get anything going from its big guns on the offensive end. The Hawkeyes were up 14 at the half and ended up with an 85-67 win. Nik Stauskas had just 10 points for Michigan, while Glenn Robinson III scored the first two points of the game and was scoreless the rest of the contest. Marble was huge for Iowa, as was the Hawkeyes' depth and ability to score in transition.
It was a much-needed profile-boosting win for Fran McCaffery's crew, who had suffered several close losses to tough competition this season. On the other side, teams are starting to key defensively on Stauskas -- he had just six points in last weekend's loss to Indiana. How will the Wolverines adjust going forward?
- Kentucky let Mississippi State hang around, but the Wildcats got a 69-59 road win behind 16 points and seven rebounds from Julius Randle.
- Really weird ending in North Carolina State – Miami. Kyle Washington missed a free throw in the final seconds, which Rion Brown grabbed and launched a 70-footer. On the shot, it seemed he got fouled by Washington – but after a five-minute review, there was no call. NC State escaped, 56-55.
- LSU struggled with Auburn in the first half, but the Tigers scored 55 points in the second half en route to an 87-80 win. Johnny O'Bryant and Jordan Mickey combined for 33 points and 20 rebounds.
- In a tune-up for Tuesday’s home tilt against Florida, Tennessee took down South Carolina by 19. Jordan McRae had 24 points.
- Don't bury Arkansas' season just yet. The Razorbacks got their first non-Auburn road win since Mike Anderson arrived, beating a hot Vanderbilt team by two on a Michael Qualls 3-pointer with four seconds left. Arkansas heads to Missouri next week.
Arkansas beats Vanderbilt to win an SEC road game somewhere other than Auburn for the first time since Jan. 29, 2011 ... when it beat Vandy.— Patrick Stevens (@D1scourse) February 8, 2014
- George Washington has been hit hard by injuries lately, but that didn't matter against Fordham, having four guys in double-figures in the 93-67 win.
- Two conference leaders suffered losses on Saturday, with Green Bay falling to Milwaukee and Stony Brook getting upset at home by New Hampshire.
- American has now lost two straight games in the Patriot League, falling to Colgate. Boston University is now tied atop the standings.
- Robert Morris stayed in first-place in the NEC, beating St. Francis (NY) on the road. The Colonials are 9-1 in the league.
- UCLA now 18-5 after winning 83-73 at rebuilding USC. The Bruins will almost definitely be a part of this year's NCAA tournament under first-year coach Steve Alford.
- Ho-hum 67-49 home win for Ohio State over Purdue. Buckeyes finally back above .500 in the Big Ten.
- UNLV getting a 48-46 home win over Wyoming. Ooof.
- It wasn’t the easiest win for Toledo, but the Rockets got a seven-point victory at Ball State to remain as the class of the MAC.
- Back-to-back road wins for Dayton, which has now won three in a row after dropping four straight. Saturday's victory came at Saint Bonaventure.
- Saint Mary's moved to 18-7 overall, 8-4 in the WCC, with an overtime win over Pepperdine. Stephen Holt had 29 points for the Gaels.
- FYI: Stephen F. Austin is now 22-2. Lumberjacks won 74-54 over McNeese State.
-- Hilarious. The guy in the chicken costume is Pitino's son, Ryan.
I see Rick Pitino made an appearance in the Barn. pic.twitter.com/8QVy4rU0I8— Tim Miles (@CoachMiles) February 9, 2014
-- Also hilarious.
Photobombed by...Coach Hinson lolol pic.twitter.com/r8hrM9IkDC— Bronson Verhines (@B_Verhines) February 9, 2014
-- Preseason chic team that won't make this year's NCAA tournament? Boise State. The Broncos lost 76-70 at Utah State Saturday, falling to 15-9 and 5-6 in the MWC.
-- Frank Mason just breaking ankles at full speed.
Frank Mason. https://t.co/3drZTZbJqi— Chris Marshall (@marshallartist) February 8, 2014
-- Morehead State stayed within a game of Belmont, getting a key Ohio Valley win at Eastern Kentucky.
-- Drexel was hit by the injury bug again on Friday night, as the Dragons announced big man Kazembe Abif would miss the rest of the season with a hand injury.
-- Dick Vitale really wants Indiana and Kentucky to begin playing each other again.
-- Arkansas is retiring the No. 42 jersey in honor of former President Bill Clinton.
-- Could the NBA increase the age limit to 20?
-- John Calipari quotes are always fun.
Calipari just tossed out this nugget about playing hyped freshmen: "Their whole life they've been told they poop ice cream."— David Brandt (@davidbrandtAP) February 8, 2014
Jeff Borzello and Matt Norlander contributed to this post.
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