Night Court: OK, that's it: No day the rest of the year can top Saturday

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

Here's everything you need to know from college basketball's insanely amazing Saturday. And for all the action and info from the first half of Saturday, we've separated that into a different post because there was just too much to squeeze into one ...

Game of the Night No. 1: How about Game of the motherflippin' YEAR.

I mean, before I even get to Gonzaga-Butler, I gotta say how incredible this day was. Last weekend was awesome. Really great. And then Jan. 19 comes along and blows it to smithereens. And how nice of it to do so, amid all the weird other news in sports we had this past week. Just really good/great games. Quite the antidote.

Now as for Butler, you can see the ending and reaction right here. (And oh by the way, it's now part of two -- no, wait, three -- of the five greatest games of the season to date.) Goodman's there and will write off it as well. We'll have a link for you once it's up. Also, it was a beyond-capacity crowd, maybe the kind of group that will one day quadruple in size for those who claim to have been there.

Gonzaga and Butler, I don't know if you're going to end up in the same league, but if you don't, please, please, please schedule each other every season. They won't all be like this -- no other game ever could be -- but this is a great thing for college hoops, these two schools who are no longer small-time, but continued proof of the sport's evolution among powers. These are the contemporary models for how to grow a program.

Butler is now 16-2 and off to its best start in 40 years. Gonzaga's 17-1 record entering Saturday was the best in school history.

Game of the Night No. 2: Yeah, Syracuse beating Louisville, remember that one all the way back around 6 p.m.?

Pretty awesome game as well. Also: I'm a bit of a jinx. (More on that below.)

Goodman details Syracuse above, but let me say this about the Orange: I totally picked those guys to win the Big East this season. Anyway, we'll see how it goes. And Jim Boeheim is now 10-10 against Rick Pitino, though that April 1996 game kinda breaks the tie.

As for the Cardinals, I'm not even remotely budging on how good this team is, how it's still clearly top-five and will continue to showcase its aggressive defense en route to domination in the Big East. Pitino was way ticked after this one, and so Cards players are probably dreading Sunday's practice.

Game of the Night No. 3: Big East battle in the Queen City goes 45 minutes.

Cincinnati had a Ring of Red night that became an afterthought of a game amid so much sexy hoop everywhere on Saturday. It ended 71-69, Bearcats, and Sean Kilpatrick was so big, scoring a career-high 36 and helping out his team in Cashmere Wright's absence (knee). That said, I couldn't believe the play of Marquette's Davante Gardner, who came off the bench and scored 15, including two foul shots with with 2.9 left to send it into overtime. He made 10 free throws in a row, and he was dealing with fatigue issues at the end.

That said, with his mom in the audience, Cincy fans were not calling, they were chanting to him that he was fat. It was a bad scene and totally classless by Bearcats faithful in attendance. Gardner sank two more freebies near the end overtime to tie the game, but Kilpatrick took the ball to the hoop on the ensuing possession, hit a bunny. Marquette couldn't counter: Junior Cadougan missed a runner as time expired.

Really good game. I think Buzz Williams has to be frustrated, though. He was particularly fired up tonight.

What else we'll be talking about in the morning: Well, it should be the amalgam that is the Mountain West.

Colorado State has now won 24 in a row at home, the fourth-longest streak in the nation, after beating UNLV 66-61 and looking stubborn (in a good way) in the process. The Rams now have a higher winning percentage than UNLV, which is up to four losses.

Here's something to make me puke: San Diego State fell 58-45 at Wyoming. Fine. Low-scoring, but the Pokes get a win they needed to correct themselves. But SDSU only managed nine damn points in the first half. Just atrocious. Unacceptable in D-I to not score a point per minute. Offense is only getting worse, people.

Then there's this: Air Force 91, Boise State 80. Just: WHOA. I've got the history behind this: Air Force had never put so many points up in a Mountain West game. The closest? According to this fella, a loss back in '99.

That's a good win: Oregon as a Pac-12 threat and legitimate team.

The Ducks ended UCLA's 10-game winning streak by winning 76-67 with young guards who remained composed and balanced that with bigs who are well into their own. If you want to know more of why/how they did it, do read Gottlieb over at his new hut on our site. That post details what Doug saw in person, as he did color for CBS at this game Saturday.

Man, I didn't realize Oregon had the ability to be this good, but I'm starting to believe in a hurry that this team is Sweet 16-caliber. And I say that knowing all too well it's going to lose a couple of stupid ones in Pac-12 play over the next month. This is the first time since Pac-8 days that Oregon's had this kind of start in league play. They're 5-0, 16-2 overall.

But that's a bad loss: Saint Louis, I'm sorry.

Well, it's clear I've put the jinx on SLU, as it seems the team loses immediately after I write a story about them. On Saturday the Billikens fell 82-80 to Rhode Island, which is an A-10 bottom-dweller, and that's a really bad loss. Bills are running out of room for slack.

Um, Nerlens Noel just literally dunked on and over a guy

Ahhhkay. That in addition to everything else.

Players with impact

Kwamain Mitchell had a a career-high seven 3-pointers (7-of-10), tying for second on the Billikens' all-time single-game list, but his 31 came in a losing effort.

Isaiah Canaan is still a stud: 20 points, nine assists, seven steals in a Saturday win over SIU-Edwardsville.

I can't omit Sam Dower, who was one of a few guys (like Gardner above) who came off the bench and played well in a loss. Dower averages single digits; he finished with 20 and looked good hitting shots outside of what Butler prepped for.

Nerlens Noel had 10 points, nine rebounds and seven blocks. He's starting to develop these kind of lines, and they're quietly devastating for opponents.

Ian Clark of Belmont went for 22 points, six rebounds and six assists in the Bruins' 78-66 win over Tennessee State. Belmont's now 6-0 in its new league, the Ohio Valley.

A guy by the name of Dorian Green was the one responsible for Colorado State getting its victory. He had 24, but his six free throws down the stretch meant everything.

Numbers to figure:

  1. March 13, 2009: The last time two teams ranked in the AP polls played each other in a Pac-12 game, until Oregon and UCLA got it on today.
  2. 16: The years gone between today and the last time Eastern Michigan beat Miami University. It ended 65-58.
  3. Feb. 10, 2001: It had been so long since Kentucky kept a team from sinking a 3, but it did that in its 75-53 road win against Auburn, which went 3-less for the third time in program history.
  4. .600: This is a good one, and I thought it would be an even better mark:

Other outcomes of note:

  • I WAS WRONG. Kansas State is now 15-2 and 4-0 in the Big 12 after beating Oklahoma 69-60. Bruce Weber is very quietly getting it done all over the place.
  • Virginia snapped Florida State's seven-game winning streak in this series by winning 56-36 in another game that hated offense. FSU's 36 "are the third fewest points allowed by Virginia in the shot clock era" according to UVa Athletics and is also the fourth time this year the Cavs have kept an opponent to less than 40. Yuck.
  • The Horizon League had a big battle, with Valpo roaring back and winning 69-63 over Wright State.
  • Charlotte took a bad loss, 81-61, to Richmond. The 49ers are now 15-3, but it's a frail 15-3.
  • I told you Washington would do this! The 4-0 Huskies are now 4-1 Huskies because, at home, they let Utah get the best of them (74-65). Never trust Washington.

Notebook:

-- Oh, right, we should have known the Butler game would be so crazy, given how the day started at Hinkle. And here's a slideshow of photos from the night in Indy.

-- Iowa earned a needed 70-66 home win over Wisconsin, and had good karma on its side going into the game.

-- In another offensively challenged but important game on the mid-major level, Western Illinois made sure the Summit League had no unbeatens left in league play, beating North Dakota State 50-42. That's how WIU plays, though, and it's working. Both teams are now 7-1 in the Summit.

-- Search "Mike Rice" mentions on Twitter. Notre Dame made it closer than it needed to be but won 69-66. Rice was gettin' mighty angry near the end.

-- We addressed Michigan State over Ohio State right here.

-- George Washington is the only team in the nation to start four freshmen this season. And so GW went up to Amherst and spoiled former All-American Marcus Camby's No. 21 jersey retirement ceremony. A 79-76 final. This is a very bad loss for UMass. The A-10 doesn't have the flexibility of the Big Ten or Mountain West when it comes to eating its own.

-- Alabama overcame a 14-point, first-half deficit to beat Texas A&M 50-49 at home. I saw none of this game, am glad I didn't, because neither of these teams should be making the NCAA tournament.

-- In other SEC news, Tennessee got -- finally -- its first league win of the season by beating Mississippi State 72-57. Jarnell Stokes had a double-double, 18 points and 11 rebounds.

-- If you missed it, Billy Donovan won No. 400 by beating the pulp out of Mizzou. Then his team doused him with water.


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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