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Night Court: Wichita State hangs on in tough road test

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

Cleanthony Early takes a shot against Indiana State Sycamores forward Demetrius Moore.  (USATSI)
Cleanthony Early, left, takes a shot against Indiana State Sycamores forward Demetrius Moore. (USATSI)

Now, here's everything you need to know from college basketball's Wednesday ...

Game of the Night: Wichita State has just enough to hold off Indiana State.

The Shockers led pretty much for the entire game. Indiana State made it closer near the end. But a 3-point play by Cleanthony Early -- who led the Shockers with 19 points -- to make it 61-56 was the deciding play down the stretch. Chadrack Lifile hit some big free throws down the stretch to secure the W.

Many people looked at this game as the toughest test for WSU in its conference slate. Indiana State is the second-best team in the Valley this year, so the thought was, if ISU couldn't win, who could? It still remains possible, but the odds are ever, increasingly, in the Shockers' favor in getting to the end of the regular season without a loss.

Ultimately, the Shockers deserved this win, too. If you're rooting for WSU to get to the end of the season, you've gotta be happy in how Greg Marshall's team is doing this. The wins are convincing and this team looks more and more like a Final Four threat.

What else we'll be talking about in the morning: San Diego State still just with one loss after terrific comeback on the road.

It was the second-largest comeback for SDSU under Steve Fisher. Playing at a Boise State team in desperate need of a really good win, the Aztecs trailed by 14 points in the second half, a 57-43 deficit. Then Xavier Thames went nuts, Boise State couldn't hit a shot, and the Aztecs roared back like the No. 1 or No. 2 seed it is right now.

Because of Thames -- who finished with 23 points -- and his hot hand, Boise State collapsed to him on SDSU's final possession of the game. He whipped the ball over to Dwayne Polee, who canned the winning three from the wing with four seconds to go. Polee had nine points. Josh Davis added 10 for SDSU. Boise State's Mikey Thompson had 16. The Broncos took just nine foul shots.

It was the 19th straight win for SDSU, whose only loss came against Arizona.

So when will this team move up in the metrics? It entered Wednesday at No. 19 in KenPom, eight spots behind six-loss Iowa. Hard not to be so impressed by this team's resolve. It's somehow looking like the best group in school history, and this is a team that was a No. 2 seed just a couple of years back.

That's a good win: West Virginia gets its third straight win over a quality opponent.

Well, at the very least, the Mountaineers are playing spoiler. But could this be a sneaky bubble team? WVU's now beaten Baylor, Kansas State, and on Wednesday night it was Oklahoma. The Sooners fell 91-86 in overtime at Morgantown. Eron Harris was absolutely huge. He had 28 points, 26 of which came after the halftime break.

It was a crazy game in that WVU got up to 14 points at one point, then went down by three, but a 3 from Harris with 24 seconds to go to forced OT.

And that's a bad loss: Tennessee drops one at Vandy, remains an enigma.

The Volunteers, who fell 64-60 at to the Commodores, can't decide who they are. Despite getting 11 points and 14 rebounds from Jarnell Stokes, UT takes on another bad loss. The team has wins against Virginia and Xavier and losses to UTEP, Texas A&M and North Carolina State. Would you call this team an NCAA-worthy one right now? It's 14-8 and 5-4 in the SEC. I think it's set up to be the ultimate polarizing bubble team. The metrics still favor the Vols, somehow.

Also a bad loss: Cal follows up its huge win over Zona with loss at Stanford.

The Golden Bears -- what a comedown. It almost completely cancels out the Arizona win, though Stanford's obviously not horrible. The Cardinal went into Berkeley and won 80-69. Three Cardinal score 16 points or more and the team was a very impressive 28-of-35 from the foul line.

Justin Cobbs, Cal's star, had 24. The team's starting five showed up -- but the bench was terrible. Only four points from six players -- and double the turnovers, with eight. Cal is now 15-8 and has lost four of its last five. Man was the Zona win huge or what?

Players with impact

  1. This is how you put a team on your back. Arkansas won at home over Alabama 65-58, but was able to do it thanks to 35 points, nine rebounds and six blocks from Bobby Portis. No other Hogs starter had more than four points.
  2. Have to give Dwight Powell of Stanford a nod here. Twenty-two points, 11 boards and six assists in the win.
  3. UMass got back on a good track by dispatching La Salle at home. The Minutemen won 79-67 behind 17 points, eight assists and four rebounds from Chaz Williams.
  4. Malcolm Brogdon had his first career double-double, a career high in rebounds and also dished seven assists for UVa. He finished 17 points and 11 rebounds.
  5. This is nuts. You come off the bench and score 24 points and grab 25 rebounds. And your team loses. Only a handful of guys have put up at least 24 in each of those categories in the past 10 years. That's what Tyrell Nelson of Gardner-Webb did Wednesday. More on the game below.

Numbers to figure

32: The number of years since Virginia started 9-1 in league play. The Cavs won 77-67 at home over Boston College.

3: The number of overtimes it took for Minnesota and Purdue to settle their differences. The Boilermakers won 77-74. Both teams are 4-6 in the Big Ten.

4: The number of overtimes it took for VMI and Gardner-Webb to settle their differences. The Keydets won 108-104. Eleven players scored in double digits, and D.J. Covington of VMI had 28 and 13 in the win.

65: Per the school's information office, current coach Zach Spiker has now joined Bob Knight and Coach K as the only coaches to win 65 or more games in their first five seasons at Army.

Other outcomes of note:

  • Pittsburgh almost took a rough loss. The Panthers needed overtime to beat Miami 59-55. The Hurricanes have a whole lot of close-but-no-cigar outcomes this season. Lamar Patterson had 25 for Pitt.
  • Saint Louis: now 21-2 and still just zipping under the radar, somehow. It's because the majority of SLU's wins are against non-tournament teams. Wednesday night brought a 65-49 win at Saint Joe's.
  • Delaware is now 10-0 in the CAA after winning 67-74 at home over Charleston, which is 4-5 and new to the league this season.
  • UNLV: Maybe not even worth of the NIT. The Runnin' Rebels got pasted at Colorado State, 75-57.
  • The Florida State Seminoles won 70-50 over Virginia Tech.
  • Michigan improved to 9-1 in the Big Ten with a 79-50 win over Nebraska. Glenn Robinson III led the team with 23 points.
  • Green Bay now to 9-1 in the Horizon after beating winless-in-the-league UIC, 81-70.
  • Picking up a road league win it absolutely needed, Dayton won 84-67 at George Mason. The Patriots are now 0-8 in the Atlantic 10.
  • Northern Iowa, the next team to host Wichita State, fell 76-65 at Illinois State. UNI is now below .500.
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