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Night Court: Arizona gets impressive road victory at San Diego State

By Jeff Borzello | College Basketball Writer

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

Game of the Night: Arizona goes into Viejas Arena and comes out with a very good road victory at San Diego State.

Arizona's showdown Thursday night against San Diego State was littered with tons of length and athleticism -- but the Wildcats just had too much aggressiveness and playmaking for the Aztecs. Arizona dominated the glass and forced San Diego State into a difficult night offensively en route to a 69-60 victory. Nick Johnson had 23 points, making several big second-half shots when San Diego State was making runs, while freshman Aaron Gordon finished with 16 points and eight rebounds despite being hampered by foul trouble. San Diego State got 19 points apiece from Xavier Thames and JJ O'Brien.

I think this game showed a little bit about each team. Arizona has as much size and talent as anyone in the country -- it will just come down to who steps up and makes key shots late in games. Johnson did it for the most part on Thursday, but will he do it consistently? San Diego State isn't going to be an easy out in the Mountain West. With the Aztecs' length and size defensively, teams are going to have nightmares trying to score in the halfcourt.

What else we'll be talking about in the morning: Towson is one of the country's best mid-major teams this season.

And this comes less than two years after the Tigers had a 41-game losing streak and were arguably the worst team in the country. Head coach Pat Skerry has turned things around completely, reeling in high-level recruits and transfers. Jerrelle Benimon is one of those players -- and he had 32 points and 10 rebounds on Thursday, leading the Tigers to a 75-69 win over Temple. Towson is now 3-0, and is the favorite in the CAA. Benimon, a former transfer from Georgetown, was our "Best of the Rest" Player of the Year in the preseason.

That's a good win: Big West favorite UC-Irvine made a major statement on Thursday night, as the Anteaters went into Washington and came out with a blowout win over the Huskies, 86-72. Washington led by six late in the first half, but Irvine went on a 27-3 run spanning both halves -- and never looked back. Will Davis had 22 points and eight rebounds, while 7-foot-6 Mamadou Ndiaye finished with 18 points, eight boards and nine blocks. The Anteaters lost their two opening games to Fresno State and Pacific, but Thursday showed their potential. A bright spot for Washington was the performance of freshman guard Nigel Williams-Goss: 13 points, four rebounds, five assists.

But that's a bad loss: I did pick Toledo over Boston College as my "potential upset" of the night in Thursday's Viewer's Guide, but that doesn't mean it's a good loss for the Eagles. Boston College relinquished an eight-point lead in the final three and a half minutes, giving up 55 second-half points en route to a 95-92 loss. What makes it worse is that the Eagles are now 0-3 to start the season -- and their at-large hopes are already in deep, deep trouble. Meanwhile, Toledo might have solidified its status as the favorite in the Mid-American Conference. Julius Brown had 23 points and 10 assists.

Players with impact

  1. After an up and down opener against Oklahoma, Alabama point guard Trevor Releford dropped 29 points on 14 shots in a win over Texas Tech.
  2. Terrific all-around game for Montana's Kareem Jamar against South Dakota State. Jamar had 23 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists -- and played 40 minutes.
  3. UAB rolled past Troy on Thursday, led by C.J. Washington's 25 points and 10 rebounds.
  4. Darius Gardner played 45 minutes in American's overtime win against UMBC on Thursday, going for 22 points, nine boards, four assists and six steals.
  5. Jyles Smith took only five shots for Nicholls State on Thursday -- but he still finished with 16 points, 14 rebounds and an outstanding eight blocks.

Numbers to figure:

2009: That was the last time Connecticut scored 100 points before Thursday night. The Huskies beat Detroit, 101-55, with Omar Calhoun leading six guys in double-figures.

16: Belmont was down 16 at the half to Indiana State, but the Bruins scored 63 points in the second half and hung on to beat the Sycamores, 96-95.

Other outcomes of note:

  • No. 13 Memphis played its first Division-I opponent of the season, and Josh Pastner had six players in double-figures as the Tigers cruised past Austin Peay, 95-69.
  • Iowa improved to 3-0 with an easy 109-63 victory against Maryland-Eastern Shore. Aaron White continues his strong start with 22 points.
  • No. 16 Wichita State was down two at the half to William & Mary, but the Shockers got 18 points and eight assists from Fred VanVleet in their 79-62 win over the Tribe.
  • Stanford looked much better on Thursday night than they did giving up 112 points to BYU on Monday night -- as the Cardinal pulled away in the second half to beat Northwestern, 71-58. Josh Huestis had 18 points and seven rebounds. It was Chris Collins' first loss as the head coach of Northwestern.
  • Despite no Matthew Dellavedova, Saint Mary's improved to 3-0 this season with a solid win over North Dakota State. Brad Waldow had another good day on the inside, with 17 points and 10 boards. The Gaels now have three sneaky-good wins on the season: Louisiana Tech, Akron and NDSU. All three could be in the dance.

Notebook:

-- After two straight overtime games (one win, one loss), Miami finally looked like an ACC team in its victory against Texas Southern. Rion Brown nearly had a triple-double with 13 points, 11 boards and nine assists.

-- Yale's Javier Duren hit a free throw with 50 seconds left to put the Bulldogs up four at Rutgers -- and then things got wild. The Scarlet Knights reeled off a quick five points, before Yale hit two free throws to take the lead. Kadeem Jack then hit what would end up being the two game-winning foul shots with 14 seconds left. Rutgers escaped, 72-71.

-- Another weird ending. Long Beach State was leading Loyola Marymount by three with 15 seconds left, then this happened, apparently:

-- Here's something you don't see every day: a SWAC team beating a Mountain West team on the road. Jackson State went into Air Force and came out with an 84-82 victory. Tre Coggins had 35 points for the Falcons, though.

-- The dunk of the night might have come from Youngstown State's Kendrick Perry:

 
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