Here's everything you need to know from college basketball's Tuesday …
Game of the Night: Florida and Memphis give us a show.
The Gators get out of MSG with a 77-75 win after the 1-4 ISO play for Joe Jackson did not work. Josh Pastner did what many coaches will do, however. Because of the emphasis on tighter officiating, Pastner took his best penetrator and hoped for something that would lead to Jackson getting to the line. But it backfired. Given recent whistles around the rim in the closing minutes, I wonder how surprised he was that Jackson got a no-call.
Anyway, as good of a loss as you can have if you're Memphis. The Tigers are showing themselves to be the guard-oriented, dangerous team we thought they could be come conference play. Geron Johnson is fun to watch, and kind of a forgotten man in that backcourt, but he also needs to reel in the turnovers; had five tonight.
Florida is going to be your Final Four team du jour going forward. Once Chris Walker gets in the fold -- and he'll be a monster down low -- this team will probably be considered the SEC's favorites, yes, even over Kentucky. Kasey Hill is proving to be the provider and athlete at the point that is capable of making Florida an elite team.
Then you factor in Casey Prather, who led all Gators with 22 Tuesday night and has had a remarkable, out-of-nowhere awesome senior season, and it's hard not to see the Gators as one of the six or seven bests teams in the country right now. They're an 8-2 team with losses, road losses, to Wisconsin and UConn -- who are both without an L.
What else we'll be talking about in the morning: How did this shot not count?
South Florida got out with a double-OT win over Florida Gulf Coast after this play did not count. Had the basket been good, we would've had triple overtime. The reason why: College rules state a player must deposit the ball only on a tip possession with 0.3 or less remaining on the clock. The video above and the GIF below show was a catch-and-shoot by Chase Fieler, so USF won 68-66. Tough way to lose, and the NCAA should reconsider this rule.
Dunk City is now a 5-6 team. Nate Hicks had 19 boards for the Eagles in the loss.
That's a good win: Wichita State extends school-best start to a season.
The Shockers are now 11-0 after going on the road and beating Alabama 72-67. Cleanthony Early had a game-high 26 points, which included 11-11 from the foul line. Trevor Releford put up 22 for Bama. Wichita State is looking more and more like a team that's better than the one that reached the Final Four last season. Gregg Marshall has built something sustainable, and I can't wait to see what this team does in the Missouri Valley. It won't run the table in that league, but it should lord over it to previous Gonzaga-like levels, I'd think.
It was a game that had just 48 possessions, a season-low in all of college hoops this year, and ended 44-43 in favor of the Bearcats. But, really, are there any winners? Pittsburgh only made one field goal in the final 14:54 ... and lost by one. It was a bad showing for a Panthers team that played essentially nobody of consequence to this point, thus the program's absence all year long from the top 25 despite having an undefeated record.
Pitt has a long way to go to build its rep.
The Bearcats, by the way, really needed this win in the sense that it would've been three straight losses otherwise. Cincinnati will not be a sexy watch, but they can grind their way to some wins, and Mick Cronin will ultimately have this team competing and chasing near the top in the AAC.
Players with impact
- In a losing effort, Bernard Thompson -- who showed up for FGCU in last year's tourney -- had 32 for the Eagles.
- Montrezl Harrell had 17 points and eight rebounds in Lousiville's way-too-easy 90-60 win over 8-2 Missouri State.
- The 64-50 Louisiana Tech win over McNeese State had La. Tech forward Michale Kyser go for 17 rebounds, 13 points and seven blocks.
- Cameron Clark needed to give his team 31 points in order to. He plays for Oklahoma. More on that game below.
- Any time you log at 14 or more assists, you're getting mention from me. Good job out of Marshall's Kareem Canty, who had 14 against Alice Lloyd College (no idea) Tuesday.
Numbers to figure
100: Number of wins for Jerry Slocum at Youngstown State after the Penguins (who don't get enough love for that nickname) beat Bethune-Cookman 71-59.
6-5: Via @OnlyGators, Florida is now when wearing orange uniforms.
5: Average margin of loss for Charlotte coming into Tuesday. Then Florida State beat it 44 (106-62). Where is this FSU offense coming from?!
Russ Smith: at least 8 assists in 3 of last 4 games; never had 8 assists in any of previous 104 games— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 18, 2013
Other outcomes of note:
- New Mexico State went on the road and beat in-state rival New Mexico, 77-71. That's a really nice win for the Aggies, a team out of the WAC which has made a habit of reaching the NCAA tournament over the past five seasons. Cameron Bairstow had 25 in the loss for UNM, while NMSU did it by committee and only turned it over 10 times. Lobos are now 7-2. NMSU is 9-5.
- Because of its 78-65 road win, Toledo is now a 10-0 team. Seems every year we get one small school that makes it to mid-December nary a loss, and the Rockets are this year's club. Get to Dec. 30 against Kansas without a loss, and then we'll get a nice story on ya up here on the blog, promise.
- Oklahoma's off to a 10-1 start, its only loss to Michigan State, but loss No. 2 nearly came Tuesday. It ended 91-89 for the Sooners against Texas-Arlington.
- Georgetown held off a charging Elon team and won 85-76. Markel Starks' 21 paced the Hoyas to a dub.
- Wake Forest: hello, you, you 9-2 team! Demon Deacons won 77-62 over St. Bonaventure.
- South Carolina is in for a second straight long year. Manhattan is a solid club out of the MAAC, but should a Frank Martin team be beaten at home 86-68 by a team from the MAAC?
- VCU improved to 9-3 with a win over Wofford. Rams have talent and need leadership in order to gel.
- Belmont might have some real issues. It got absolutely manhandled at Denver, losing 90-62. Chris Udofia did this to a guy. Denver's decent, but I'd never think Belmont would get this kind of spanking.
-- The Good Word played the Good Book in hoops on Tuesday: Incarnate Word beat Open Bible 93-58. A classic Christian matchup if there ever was one.
-- I'm not sure what prompted Washington to agree to play a road game at Tulane, but props to Lorenzo Romar for doing it -- and getting a 73-62 win, to boot. And did it despite seven turnovers from freshman Nigel Williams-Goss.
-- The latest case of a basketball player's career being stalled because of an obtuse NCAA rule.
-- Michigan State continues to be hampered by injuries. The Spartans cruised by North Florida (78-48) Tuesday, but Matt Costello, Travis Trice and Gary Harris did not play. Izzo said Costello, who's got mono, won't travel for the team's game against Texas on Saturday.
-- In 27 minutes at home against a 2-9 Delaware State team, Marcus Smart's line: eight points, four rebounds, three assists, three steals, three turnovers.
-- Very good read on a player I think will have Jabari Parker-like impact next year at Duke, Jahlil Okafor.