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Night Court: Arizona goes down for the first time

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer
Oregon, led pre-game by No. 5 Fred Richardson, handled itself well and gave Zona its first loss of the season. (US Presswire)

Here's everything you need to know from college basketball's Thursday night ...

Game of the Night: Oregon sheds the undefeated club down to two.

It was more than six years since Oregon beat a top-five team. But the Ducks, at home, ended Arizona's streak of unbeaten luck by knocking off the Wildcats 68-66. It was the 17th consecutive home win for Dana Altman's program. Mark Lyons put up an Arizona-best 21 in the exact kind of game that I think a lot of coaches would like to see Arizona play. U of A was not aggressive enough to get to the foul line, took weird shots within their sets, and Lyons had to play bail-out too much. If Arizona plays like that consistently, it won't win the Pac-12 and will, in fact, swirl its way to a five seed.

Oregon had a balanced attack led by E.J. Singler's team-high 14. Speaking of high, a bunch of Duck fan hippies ran onto the hardwood and had a mini mosh with the Ducks after the win. Then some Duck player got to crowdsurfing. Oregon's a 13-2 team on its way to the NCAAs this season.

Game of the Late Night: Saint Mary's-Gonzaga is the Ravens-Steelers of college hoops. It always delivers.

Gonzaga got out of it with an 83-78 home win to improve to 16-1. Hey, wait a minute. Before I can go any further, I've got to give Dancing Zags Fan his moment. He is quite peppy despite the fact his team doesn't have the ball.

It was the start of another awesome season of late-night WCC hoops. I can't get enough of it. Saint Mary's has some quality wins that it very much needs to get -- and will need to return the favor when it plays Gonzaga at home later this season -- but at least the Gaels are good yet again, and the WCC at large is primed to be one of the most interesting chases for Nos. 2, 3 and 4 in the standings.

What else we'll be talking about in the morning: Kentucky gets lucky.

It created confusion for some, but the shot-clock violation that wasn't called against Nerlens Noel gave Kentucky two points that it didn't deserve ... and Kentucky won 60-58 over a definition-of-mediocre Vanderbilt team. Zebras can't review shot-clock plays, which is just dumb. But beyond that, Kentucky's looking like it will struggle to even get a four seed come March. At least the Wildcats are always interesting in one way or another.

Oh, and at one point, Ryan Harrow was in a lot of pain on the ground and John Calipari did this.

That's a good win: Hey, we're gonna focus more on Miami here.

A 10-game losing streak is history, and Miami is 2-0 in the ACC for the first time since joining the league. The Hurricanes went into the Dean Dome and gave UNC fans reason to really ponder whether their team will make this year's NCAA tournament. UNC is now a 10-5 team.

But, as I said: Miami. Give the Canes credit because they didn't have Reggie Johnson, a pivotal big man in the middle, yet never really fretted and let this game go Carolina's way. I like Miami's overall profile in terms of both schedule and how they've matured. Kenny Kadji had a really good game, going for a team-high 18.

If you want to know why UNC is so problematic, take Dexter Strickland. He played 26 minutes and had no points, no assists, no rebounds, no steals. And took one shot. Will Roy Williams adapt to his players, or is this doomed to be a lost year?

But that's a bad loss: Only because of what Temple can be ...

I never, ever underestimate Xavier come Atlantic 10 play, but Temple going out and losing 57-52 to an X team that's headed to the NIT this year (most likely), it doesn't inspire thoughts of the Owls threatening to win the league title. And Khalif Wyatt was a disappointing 2-of-11 from the field.

Players with impact

Some dap to a pair of Belmont Bruins -- Ian Clark and Trevor Noack -- who both went for 30 in a special kind of win for Belmont over Southeast Missouri State. Why? Check Numbers to Figure below.

Oral Roberts' Damen Bell-Holter gave us college hoops' third 20-20 game of the year. He had 25 points and 20 boards in the team's 80-74 win over Northwestern State.

Well, well, Kelly Olynyk has done it again. He had a Thursday night-high 31 points in Gonzaga's win. You can argue he's a Top-25 player in college basketball right now.

Numbers to figure:

  1. 90: Wagner set a new NEC record by hitting 9-of-10 3s, breaking a mark that stood for nearly 22 years.
  2. Here's to the hundred-point clubs from Thursday: Belmont (107), Bryant (103) and Detroit (101). Jacksonville even knocked on the door, putting up 99 in three OTs. I've lamented college hoops scoring often this season, so I love when teams find the century mark.
  3. Why UNC fans should worry.

Other outcomes of note:

  • Gary Harris is a tough player and, in large part, because of him Michigan State won 62-59 at Iowa. It also sort of got bailed out after opting not to foul in the final seconds. Iowa was without its leading scorer, Devyn Marble, who had a right ankle injury.
  • Saint Louis beat UMass 70-62. If you want to know why this is getting interesting, you're going to want to come back around the blog on Friday in the early afternoon.
  • Oooh, and now we see why the WCC is a tough league indeed this year. Santa Clara goes on the road and falls to Loyola Marymount. An 84-80 final, and now the Broncos are 1-2 and most definitely done with bubble chances before the bubble talk even really begins.
  • North Dakota State moved to 5-0 as a Summit League team and 14-3 overall with its 67-55 win over IPFW.

Notebook:

-- Buzzer-beater in the Big West! (Bummer the thing won't embed because of Facebook code.)

-- Here's South Dakota State coach Scott Nagy talking about passion and, obviously, Les Miserables. I really like his quote. Comes around 2:20. (I might or might not have acted in Les Mis in high school, too. Moving on ...) Via Terry Vandrovec:

-- North Texas is now a 1-5 Sun Belt team with a 6-11 record overall. So what? So it's got a future lottery pick (maybe; who knows how) in Tony Mitchell, and the team has gone through so much strife and disappointment, it really might be the biggest letdown in college hoops this year. UNT fell 67-53 Arkansas-Little Rock, and it's just a waste of a season there. Shame.

-- UCLA won on the road over Utah, 57-53, and got a quiet win that I think helps the program. Get the tough ones. Apparently this one was in the snow, too. Well, snow outside.

-- Bryant is at 10 wins this year, the first time it's done that in D-I. The program made the leap to the big boys five years back.


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.

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