Night Court: Tobacco Road woes, Iowa St. falls, Wichita St. escapes

By Eye on College Basketball staff |

The Blue Devils haven't had four losses this early in a season since 1996. (USATSI)
The Blue Devils haven't had four losses this early in a season since 1996. (USATSI)

Here's everything you need to know from college basketball's Saturday …

Game of the Day so far: Florida takes out Arkansas, at Arkansas.

With plenty of ranked teams losing on the road -- which you'd expect -- Florida goes into a place that hadn't seen the visitor leave with a win in 23 tries. And the Gators didn't have Casey Prather, either (bruised knee). Dorian Finney-Smith, who normally comes off the bench but started for Prather, had a game-high 22 along with 15 rebounds. It was Scottie Wilbekin's clutch basket with two seconds remaining that got this game to OT. Wilbekin was a game-time decision with a tender ankle.

There's a reason why Florida is still considered a Final Four-type team and perhaps best in the SEC. It's just so well-rounded. It's reliable. It doesn't have many weaknesses. Wilbekin had 18. Michael Frazier had 15. This team is getting better with Kasey Hill at the point, and if Chris Walker is deemed eligible? Look out. The Gators are 6-2 this year in games decided by single digits.

The Hogs, well, they got fat in the non-con by beating bad teams. But they usually win at home, no matter the opponent. Speaks to Florida's fortitude that it could get out of there with that dub.

Game of the Day, Vol. II: Oklahoma State dodges one at West Virginia, 73-72.

Phil Forte's 3-pointer (below) put the Cowboys on top and kept Travis Ford's team with just two losses. Juwan Staten had a good effort (20 points, eight rebounds), and probably was fouled near the end of the game -- but there was no call. And now WVU has dropped its last 13 games against ranked teams. It last won one more than two years ago. Marcus Smart had 22 points and 13 rebounds.

Game of the Day, Vol. III: Wichita State overcomes 18-point halftime deficit, beats Missouri State in overtime.

For most of Saturday night's game, it looked like we were going to be down to three unbeaten teams heading into Sunday. Missouri State apparently had heard the same things everyone else did -- that Wichita State had the best chance to go undefeated, and Indiana State was the biggest pitfall remaining on the schedule. The Bears jumped out to an 18-point halftime lead, and had the lead until Fred VanVleet hit a free throw with eight seconds left to tie it up for Wichita State. In overtime, VanVleet scored seven points and the Shockers survived to remain unbeaten. He finished with 16 points and four assists, while Cleanthony Early went for 22 points and 14 rebounds.

The most noteworthy thing about the comeback was the way Wichita State did it. Outside of one stretch where the Shockers forced too many 3-pointers, there was very little panic. VanVleet ran the show, Ron Baker did his thing, and Early continued to make plays. Wichita State still probably won't go unbeaten, but the Shockers are legit. They've got winners.

What else we'll be talking about in the morning: Duke's quick slippage as a national title contender.

(Borzello on the Clemson angle can be read here. You'd never even know Clemson only scored 41 against Florida State two nights ago. K.J. McDaniels scored 24 points and Jaron Blossomgame put up 14 points and 14 rebounds, a personal best, in Clemson's win.)

The Blue Devils were out of sorts in the biggest way. From about the 10-minute mark of the second half on, it didn't seem like Mike Krzyzewski's team had any shot of winning the game. And so it didn't. A 72-59 final for Clemson, which last beat Duke in 2009. Clemson outscored Duke 13-2 in final six minutes.

Is Duke out of the national title picture? For many, yes. Doesn't mean they won't be capable come March, but issues abound.

Krzyzewski afterward, "We are not a very good team," according to reporters.

Then there's this.

And if you were wondering, like Norlander was wondering.

That's a good win: Kansas rolls at home and Wiggins plays splendidly.

Andrew Wiggins needed a game like this. At home, against at least an OK opponent, he was rock-steady. At one point scoring 13 in a row to help Kansas separate itself, Wiggins finished with 22. Fellow frosh Wayne Selden had 20. Selden had 24 against Oklahoma earlier in the week, and his emergence will be vital for KU. The Jayhawks didn't turn it over in the first half and finished with just seven giveaways. The team won 86-60 over Kansas State, snapping a 10-game winning streak for Bruce Weber's team.

Joel Embiid was ejected for an elbow late in the game, but officials have already said that ejection won't mean he'll miss Monday's game at Iowa State.

But that's a bad loss: North Carolina ties a program low in scoring in shot-clock era.

The Tar Heels' losses have now overwhelmed their wins after falling 57-45 at Syracuse Saturday, tying a program record for the lowest points in the shot clock era. The loss was the fewest for UNC since 1997, when in fact the Heels actually won, 45-44, over N.C. State. (Credit: @BPredict.) It was the worst performance under Roy Williams, "besting" a 48-point showing against Boston College a few years back. Only two players scored more than four points for UNC.

Listen, North Carolina, you can't do this. If you're to be the team everyone wants you to be, you need to win these games and lose against the dregs of the league. Start holding up your end of the bargain and create the most erratic NCAA tournament profile the selection committee's ever had to deal with, m'kay?

The Orange, by the way, must feel like they were born on third base with this first year in the ACC. Duke and UNC are behind the 8-ball already, and teams like N.C. State, Virginia, Florida State and Maryland are not showing their best selves.

While we're at it, how about the other team in the Triangle? North Carolina State got stomped by Virginia, losing 76-45.

Virginia lost by 35 at Tennessee less than two weeks ago. Since then, the Cavaliers have won three in a row: a road win at Florida State, a home blowout over Wake Forest, and Saturday's demolition of NC State. The last two wins were by a combined 54 points. Virginia jumped out to a 21-4 lead on the Wolfpack, and never looked back. NC State shot 28.9 percent from the field and 20 percent from 3-point range -- and big-time scorer T.J. Warren was held to four points. Joe Harris and Mike Tobey each had 16 points.

So while we're here, let's look at some fun facts about Duke, North Carolina and NC State:

For what it's worth, Wake Forest got rolled by Pittsburgh. Not a great day for Tobacco Road.

Michigan State does what Duke, Iowa State couldn't: The Spartans win in a tough spot.

Adreian Payne wasn't able to play due to an ongoing foot issue, so without him Minnesota was able to take it to Sparty early. The Golden Gophers led 51-43 in the second half. MSU came back. Keith Appling led the Spartans with 24. And this game would've been over in regulation had Gary Harris sank two free throws. But he missed, and then Deandre Matthews hit an incredible layup with less than two seconds remaining to send the game to overtime. Nevertheless, MSU absolutely took over once it got to the free session. Check this:

Another bad loss: Is the SEC doing its best to max out at three bids this season?

Tennessee looked like it was turning its season around after a 6-4 start, blowing out Virginia before the New Year, and dominating LSU on the road earlier this week. The Volunteers had won four in a row heading into Saturday -- when they lost at home to Texas A&M, 57-56, on an Antwan Space 3-pointer with 4.4 seconds remaining. Tennessee was up the entire game, extending its lead to as many as 14 points in the second half. The Volunteers turned it over 16 times and the duo of Jordan McRae and Jarnell Stokes combined for just 15 points. Meanwhile, Texas A&M has now won back-to-back games over Arkansas and Tennessee, and Alex Caruso continues to emerge at the point guard position, going for 12 points and eight assists. Jamail Jones had 23 points for the Aggies.

Players with impact

  1. We looked at the game from Iowa State's point of view here, so let's talk Sooners. The team sank 13 3-pointers, tying a record for this season. And Ryan Spangler is becoming a breakout player alongside teammate Cameron Clark. Spangler had a career-best 15 boards in addition to 16 points. As a team, Oklahoma had only seven performances from a player last year with 10 or more rebounds. Spangler's already passed that mark this season.
  2. Evansville's D.J. Balentine had a terrific all-around line on Saturday: 33 points, six rebounds, five assists, 40 minutes.
  3. Thirty-two points for Robert Morris' Karvel Anderson.
  4. Frantz Massenat of Drexel nearly had a triple-double on Saturday, finishing with 27 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists.
  5. UC Santa Barbara lost to Cal Poly on Saturday, but Alan Williams still had a monster day: 33 points, 15 rebounds.

Numbers to figure:

48-3: Kansas' record against Kansas State in the past 51 games.

1-4: Roy Williams' record all-time against Jim Boeheim.

1,600: The number of wins in Villanova history after 74-67 win at St. John's. St. John's is now 0-3 in the Big East.

17: How many years it's been since UNC started 0-3 in ACC play. And one more on the Heels.

Other outcomes of note:

  • Have to give serious props to UMass, which overcome a very game St. Bonaventure club -- that at one point held a 13-point lead -- and won 73-68 at home. Raphiael Putney, not Chaz Williams, led the Minutemen in scoring (17). Williams did have nine assists and three steals, however.
  • Butler is now 0-4 in its first season in the Big East, after losing to Georgetown in overtime, 70-67. It was the Bulldogs' third straight home loss, and considering a road trip to Creighton is up next, Butler is in trouble. It was Georgetown's first road win of the season, and the banged-up Hoyas are now 3-1 in the Big East. D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera had 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
  • Kentucky made no funny business of going on the road to Vanderbilt. The Cats got a 71-62 win behind Willie Cauley-Stein's 15 points and six rebounds. Julius Randle had 11 rebounds and seven points.
  • California is going to be a threat in the Pac-12. The Golden Bears came back in the second half to beat Oregon State, completing a road sweep of the Oregon schools and moving to 3-0 in the conference. Justin Cobbs had 20 points and nine assists, while Tyrone Wallace went for 17 points and six assists.
  • Ole Miss dropped a 76-72 outcome at Mississippi State. The Rebels are now 10-5, without one good win, and so it's likely Marshall Henderson will only be in this year's NCAA tourney if Rebels can win the SEC tourney.
  • Georgia has won two in a row following the death of Mark Fox's father. The Bulldogs beat Alabama 66-58 Saturday night.
  • Cincinnati moved to 15-2 with a 71-51 victory over Rutgers. The Bearcats had four players in double-figures, paced by Sean Kilpatrick's 16 points.
  • Indiana State is most likely the only team that can realistically challenge Wichita State in the Valley. It earned a 62-59 win over Bradley on Saturday.
  • Wake is terrible on the road, but with Pittsburgh beating the Demon Deacons today, Jamie Dixon's team is now 15-1. And still not seen a legitimate top-20 team. Fair?
  • Memphis didn't have a hangover after beating Louisville less than 48 hours prior. The Tigers took out a bad Temple team, at Temple, 79-69. Shaq Goodwin's career-best 23 points paced Memphis.
  • Connecticut won its second in a row, getting 20 points, eight rebounds and five blocks off the bench from Amidah Brimah en route to an 84-61 win over UCF. Shabazz Napier had 14 points and 11 assists.
  • Which team is the biggest threat to Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference? Saint Mary's made its statement with a 15-point win over San Francisco on Saturday, getting 21 points from Stephen Holt.
  • Given how Duke has looked ever since losing to Notre Dame, the Irish aren't looking that pretty. Mike Brey's team dropped a 74-69 decision at Georgia Tech and have lost two straight.
  • Rhode Island only scored 13 points by halftime against George Washington, fell 69-56. The Colonials are now 13-3 and becoming the A-10's best chance at getting four bids.
  • Marquette, at home, beats Seton Hall 67-66. The Golden Eagles still lack one win over an NCAA tournament-caliber team.
  • Boise State lost to Wyoming at home on Saturday -- and the Broncos struggled to score down the stretch.


-- Cornell became the last team to win a game this season, albeit doing it against a team that wasn't Division I (Oberlin College).

-- Sick photo of the big Andrew Wiggins dunk:

-- Indiana needed a good win, a road win, and it got one at Penn State, beating the Nittany Lions 79-76 and overcoming a 15-point deficit. Noah Vonleh had a team-high 19 points. And this was amazing.

--- Missouri held on and won 70-68 at Auburn, but the win came with controversy. A travel was not called with one second remaining. That would have given Auburn a chance. It was fairly blatant.

-- Georgetown's Jabril Trawick will miss an unknown amount of time due to a broken jaw. That means Aaron Bowen should step in and contribute a little bit more now. Unfortunately, Joshua Smith is still out due an academic issue and Nate Lubick also suffered an injury.

-- Kansas' throwback jerseys from today were spectacular, and they need to be the permanent threads for KU starting next season.

Matt Norlander and Jeff Borzello contributed to this awesome, monstrous post.

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