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Night Court: NC State is officially not worth trusting

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer
Virginia got a good win, but NC State is the story. Wolfpack have lost last three road games. (US Presswire)

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

That's a good win: Well, well, hello, Kentucky.

It actually wasn't a really good game. Ole Miss had this weird lack of readiness. It made a run -- a 16-0 run in the second half and came within one of Kentucky, briefly making it worth watching -- but then the Wildcats responded by ending the game on a 14-2 run. In general, if anyone plopped on their couch to catch the Marshall Henderson hype train, they undoubtedly came away disappointed.

Kentucky is now a dominating 100-13 all-time vs. Ole Miss after its 87-74 win.

Goodman has written up a separate take on the game. Here are my three immediate thoughts:

1) Marshall Henderson had his chance for a big moment and came up short. He forced a lot of shots. This was my worry all along. Can he handle the pressure? Can this team? Favored at home against a Kentucky clan with plenty of flaws, the Rebels failed. I remain skeptical but still think Henderson has more memorable moments in the wins over the next seven weeks.

2) Nerlens Noel is Nerlens Nofear. The man blocked the final five of his 12 blocks with four fouls to his name. And one of them -- who has my GIF? -- against Murphy Holloway was as strong an at-the-rim denial as we'll see all season. More Noel block/stat fun below.

3) Kentucky is now an NCAA tournament team, though it can take away its good from here if it loses a bad one in the SEC. Still, it's now putting itself in a position to challenge for second in the SEC. Yes, with just one game. Road wins carry a lot, and Ole Miss had only dropped two games all season before Tuesday night.

What else we'll be talking about in the morning: Virginia is now in the NCAA tournament conversation.

Scott Wood's 3 didn't fall at the buzzer, NC State lost 58-55 and continues to be a team that we can't trust. C.J. Leslie went for 20 points and 14 rebounds -- though he had seven turnovers -- and it still wasn't enough. I wonder if we'll get another performance like this out of Leslie again.

Virginia and Kentucky share something in common: both got their first W's over ranked teams this season on Tuesday night. And now with 12 straight home wins, the Cavs have matched their longest home streak in the history of John Paul Jones Arena. (It has never lost to State there, either, the only ACC team that's true of.)

I think Virginia's an intriguing team, which has been the case ever since Tony Bennett got there some years back. But the story for now is NC State, a 5-3 ACC team that's tripping over itself and looks likely to stagger closer to a five or six seed than a three or four. Similar -- but different -- to Henderson, you wonder if certain teams can handle the pressure of being a target. The Wolfpack, at best, have been inconsistent, going winless in their past three road games and shooting less than 40 percent from the floor.

The caveat to mention is Lorenzo Brown tweaking an ankle and missing the second half of the game.

"I think it will be a couple days before we have any idea if he'll play against Miami this weekend," Mark Gottfried said after the game.

But that's a bad loss: Shockers shocked at home.

When the Missouri Valley slate plays out and Wichita State loses the league race to Creighton, this game will be why. Indiana State has been a tricky team all season, and the Sycs are decent, but I can't believe Gregg Marshall's WSU fell -- at home -- to ISU on Tuesday night. It wasn't close! A 68-55 final. Was half the team sick? This seems out of character.

ISU now has wins over WSU, Miami and Ole Miss. If it can finish No. 3 in the Valley, it's going to be in bubble talk.

Players with impact

Noel had a good night -- but so did Kentucky's Kyle Wiltjer, who scored a career-high 26 points. He was actually the vital factor for the first 30 minutes, then Noel started giving us Anthony Davis flashbacks and suddenly we were loving Kentucky all over again.

Ray Gallegos became the first Nebraska player in five years to score 30 points in a game, but Minnesota got the 84-65 win at home.

Walt Lemon Jr., who had hit a crazy 3 to win a game already this season, had 27 in Bradley's 83-77 win over Illinois State.

Numbers to figure:

  1. 0-3, 15-2: That's Virginia's record against the mediocre Colonial Athletic Association and its record against all other leagues. It's why UVa's a bubble team to begin with.
  2. 49: Ole Miss gets 49 percent of its points off 2-point shots. That's low. And when you're going up against Noel, it's a sign that you're going to lose. Rebels can't chuck as many 3s as they do.
  3. 390: Phenomenal stat: Wisconsin didn't have one free throw against Ohio State on Tuesday, the first time in 390 Bo Ryan-coached games that has happened.
  4. 6 in 6: Noel has had six straight games with six blocks or more.
  5. 93 in 20: Through 20 games, both Anthony Davis and Nerlens Noel have logged 93 blocks.
  6. Then, there's this:

Other outcomes of note:

  • Ohio State's win will be overlooked, but at least the Buckeyes took care of an unpredictable Wisconsin team 58-49. OSU needs all its home wins to keep pace for third place in the Big Ten.
  • North Carolina went up to Boston College and won 82-70. The big news from this was P.J. Hairston leaving the game for UNC due to a shot to the head from an elbow that led to a real scare. He appears to be OK, though.
  • UNLV beat Nevada 66-54 at home. That's fine and all, but the only reason we're bringing this is up is because Parrish made his sideline-reporting debut. Took the Twitpics!

Notebook:

-- The Vols' Trae Golden pulled a hamstring in Tennessee's 58-57 home win over Vanderbilt.

-- Stony Brook is dominating the America East! Seawolves are 7-1 after winning at Albany, which included this unfortunate scene. Not the way you wanna go out and play.


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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