Night Court: Villanova upset over Kansas headlines huge Friday
The day after Thanksgiving reminded us why we're so thankful for college hoops. It was a packed slate and gave us plenty of good results. No HUGE upsets, though.
Here's everything you need to know from college basketball's post-feast Friday ...
Game of the Day: Kansas loses 63-59 to Villanova in a riveting upset.
The Jayhawks were weak on the interior, defensively, for the most part, and I think Bill Self isn't too surprised by this outcome. KU's been good but tempting to be taken out. Villanova's a team many don't know too much about, and I'm not sure Villanova even knows how good it is, but what a win to get for Jay Wright's team. It has experience, good guard play and a frontcourt that's fledgling. Ryan Arcidiacono (profiled here in the preseason!) was a gut-check player for VU.
Overall, Villanova just took it to Kansas in a way Kansas rarely accepts. Physical game, the kind that will make most Wildcats fans proud purely because it the team played unafraid and tossed shot after shot, in the metaphorical sense. I love this tweet from Fran Fraschilla.
Bright spot for Kansas was the play of Joel Embiid, who some wondered if he'd need two years to turn himself into a lottery pick. (Frank Mason also was solid Friday night.) More and more, that's absolutely not the case with Embiid. There was buzz on Twitter that he's entered the conversation for top pick in the draft. I don't think we're THERE yet, but I believe he can challenge Wiggins at some point this season to make GMs mull the pick. Wiggins' 10 points, three rebounds, four turnovers and no assists effort was probably his worst of the season.
Game of the Day, No. 2: Drexel and Alabama need three overtimes to settle the NIT undercard.
Cracks me up that Arizona and Duke fans -- who had a great game in their own right, and you should read all about it from Borzello and Rothstein -- were booing these teams as they failed to decide an outcome in regulation, then overtime, then the second overtime. The final: 85-83, Drexel.
I wrote on Wednesday how much I love Drexel's backcourt. We still don't know the status of guard Damion Lee for the Dragons, but even without him, what a great win for Bruiser Flint's team.
Conversely, Alabama's going to have to do damage in an average-as-usual SEC in order to warrant consideration down the road. The Tide did good in reaching Manhattan, but dropping two straight will hurt the overall profile, even if one of the Ls was to Duke.
Game of the Day, No. 3: Mercer and Valpo also need 15 extra minutes to settle their affair.
Just because it's a couple of small schools doesn't mean they're not deserving near the top of Night Court. Plus, these two could wind up winning their respective leagues down the road. Mercer came out on top 117-108. Game had 58 fouls and 73 free throws, not all that bad considering it took 55 minutes of playing time. Jakob Gollon's 37 points was second in all scorers nationally on Friday.
What else we'll be talking about in the morning: Marcus Smart and Oklahoma State outlast a tough-as-usual Butler ball club.
Brandon Miller has the Bulldogs at 5-1, and they'd be 6-0 were it not for some missed free throws near the end of this one. (Man, what a great Friday it turned out to be in college hoops.) Butler came back from trailing by 23 at the half and almost gave OSU its first L of the season. Smart missed the front end of a 1-and-1, and then Khyle Marshall missed two freebies. UGH, Butler fans were feeling. A 69-67 ending.
Smart -- clearly the Player of the Year at this point, in my opinion -- finished with 17 points and eight rebounds. Read Gary Parrish's column on Smart here.
That's a REALLY good win: San Diego State bounces the Bluejays 86-80.
The Aztecs are showing, again, how good they can be. Most casual fans probably couldn't name one player on this SDSU team, but get to know them now. Xavier Thames had 26 points and came up big down the stretch. The Show, SDSU's fan section, made the trip to Fullerton, Calif., for the Wooden Legacy to cheer on the team and they were definitely a factor.
Doug McDermott started off hot, helping the Jays get off to a 19-7 lead, but SDSU was so prepared and clearly ready to go Friday. The response was very impressive. Thirty points from CU's All-American wasn't quite enough.
That's a good win: Florida comes inches away from losing on what would have been the shot of the season to date.
Ian Miller heaved a half-court shot as time expired in Gainesville ... and it smacked the back of the rim. Because of that, Florida won over its hated in-state rival, Florida State. 62-61. A foul shot made by Va. Tech transfer Dorian Finney-Smith with 1.3 ticks to go was the separator.
Florida State's now 5-2, the losses coming against Florida and Michigan. That's not bad. And 6-1 UF is doing all right for itself, considering the injuries, suspensions and eligibility issues that have faced the team.
But that's a bad loss: None!
My quick take on Arizona over Duke: The Wildcats are going to win at least 10 games this season based on their defense alone. By that I mean, literally, the offense is probably going to be under 40 percent, but Arizona will win anyway because of the nightmare matchups they can use. So many different styles and looks. And Aaron Gordon is getting it, it seems. By "it" I mean that he's not a go-to scorer. He can get buckets but isn't a 22/game guy. In every other aspect he's been great for Arizona. Wildcats do lack a true go-to man in crunch time, but perhaps T.J. McConnell becomes that.
The knocks on Duke's interior D and overall lack of presence in the paint remain fair. Sometimes matchups matter in college hoops, often times they're not that meaningful, as this game is won frequently by talent and luck. With Duke, any time the former is close enough, the size/matchup will be a factor. But at least the Blue Devils have the two best possible losses of any club with two in the L column at this point. I remain optimistic. Totally capable of winning it all, but they'll need the right draw.
Players with impact
Jarnell Stokes had his second straight double-double, loading up on 20 points and 10 rebounds in the Tennessee-Xavier game. More on that below.
UCBS's Alan Williams, who the past two yeares I've campaigned to make our top-100-players list, only to be shouted down, put up a Friday-best 39 points in Santa Barbara's 83-64 win over South Dakota State. Williams also had eight blocks.
I can't leave anyone out of Arizona's starting five, which saw everyone score in double figures.
You finish top-five in points and rebounds, you're getting love here. Killian Larson, playing for the Lopes of Grand Canyon -- yes, you read right -- went for 31 and 13 in the team's 91-61 win over a school ... that is far from Division I. (San Diego Christian.)
Numbers to figure:
20: Consecutive home victories for Florida.
26-4: Second-chance points for Tennessee over Xavier in the Vols' win. X, I think, will get it together well in time for conference play. For Tennessee, a needed bounce-back game after totally getting out-schemed against UTEP on Thanksgiving. Vols won Friday 64-49.
23-27: This, via Purdue: In two games at the Old Spice Classic, Purdue has 23 assists against 27 turnovers. Team came in with a 1:38 to 1 assist/turnover ratio.
92.2: The percentage of Ethan Wragge's shots, all-time, to come from behind the 3-point line while at Creighton. That's 567 of 615. On Friday Wragge took the first 2-point attempt of his senior season.
Other outcomes of note:
- We're gonna get a Memphis-Oklahoma State rematch (remember how OSU did the Tigers in Stillwater less than two weeks ago? It was oogly) because Josh Pastner's Tigers beat the LSU Tigers in Orlando on Friday, winning 76-69. My prediction for the rematch: Oklahoma State wins 78-70.
- Virginia 76, SMU 73. Both teams will play in the NCAA tournament this season. Cavs are now 6-1.
- Are we going to keep a tally of USC's record in the wake of his comments last week? The Trojans can handled by Wake Friday in the Bahamas, falling 77-63. The Demon Deacons are now 6-1 ... and perhaps not awful!
- Illinois played very poorly and just escaped a game against IPFW, 57-55. Sometimes major-conference teams win close games against smaller schools and it's actually a good sign, considering the circumstances. This here, nah, this one was a disaster avoided, and I'm not sure how much good John Groce will take from it.
- Another too-close-for-comfort win on Friday came at Texas, where the Longhorns held off Texas-Arlington 72-69. Rick Barnes' team, now 6-1, trailed by 10 at the half. Demarcus Holland was the hero in orange, shooting 9 for 13 from the field and leading all scorers with 23.
- Here's where I was wrong: I thought Miami would be able to prove most who thought this team would struggle to be at .500. Well, playing in the Wooden Legacy Friday, the U won over Fullerton 48-46, thanks to a put-back that didn't fall through as time expired. Canes are a 4-3 team, and just about every game's been a rock fight.
-- St. John's and Penn State played a great one that was not broadcast on television. I was there, and you can read about the overtime outcome here.
-- Curious about Ole Miss? Marshall Henderson had a minor incident Friday, and I cover that here.
-- Our Drexel-Bama recap from MSG.
-- Without Cody Doolin -- read more here -- San Francisco is now 3-0.
-- Teams that remained undefeated with wins Friday: Arizona (7-0), Iowa (7-0), Illinois (7-0), Missouri (7-0), Michigan State (7-0), Oklahoma State (7-0), UCLA (7-0), Boise State (6-0), Ohio State (6-0), Cincinnati (6-0), Villanova (6-0), Oregon (5-0), Ole Miss (5-0), Missouri State (6-0).
-- Warner Pacific College in Portland, Ore. drafted a young girl battling cancer to its basketball team. These stories, as sad/happy as they are, never get old.
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