MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Preston Knowles went buck wild. So did the officials in Wisconsin-Illinois. San Diego State made a statement, Tony Jones got a win, Kris Joseph got concussed, and Bob Huggins is simply doing what Bob Huggins does. It's all in the Monday Look Back.
Best game of the weekend: I had Louisville's win over Marquette on the television at the house while packing for this trip Saturday, and it was time to go to the airport about the time Marquette went up 18 with less than six minutes left. So I loaded my bag into the car, came back inside, told everybody goodbye and glanced at the TV one last time only to see Preston Knowles sink a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 13 with 5:11 left, then to eight with 3:56 left, then to three with 1:56 left, then to two with 1:24 left, and suddenly I was on the couch. Car running, and I was on the couch determined to see the conclusion of one of the best comebacks I can remember, even if it caused me to miss my flight. The Cards closed on a 24-5 run -- thanks to Knowles' four 3-pointers in the final 5:11 and his pass to Kyle Kuric for the game-winning layup with 4.0 seconds remaining -- to win 71-70, and I'm glad I stuck around because, A) I still made my flight, and B) it was one of the best comebacks Rick Pitino could remember, too. "That's one of the top-five comebacks," he said. "I'm really proud of these guys. I'm shaking. It happened so fast."
|It's about time Texas A&M's Khris Middleton received some publicity. So here it is. (AP)|
Win to brag about: ESPN's Doug Gottlieb tweeted it best. "San Diego State is real, guys. You don't just go into the Pit and crush New Mexico." No, you don't. So those still discounting the Aztecs would be wise to stop, ASAP. Is SDSU a traditional power from a traditionally powerful league? Of course not. (Neither was Butler last season.) But Saturday's 87-77 win at New Mexico moved San Diego State to 19-0 overall and 4-0 in the Mountain West, and three of those four conference wins have come on the road. The Aztecs' next road game is at BYU on Jan. 26. In related news, I'm headed to Provo next week.
Loss to hide from: North Carolina has had numerous bad games since winning the 2009 national championship, but Sunday's 78-58 loss at Georgia Tech might be the worst. The Yellow Jackets -- fresh off a 25-point loss to Clemson -- limited UNC to 27.6 percent shooting, otherwise known as the lowest field goal percentage for the program since 1956. Seriously, 1956. "We stunk," said UNC coach Roy Williams. Nobody is arguing.
Player who deserves improper benefits: I got an email from a Texas A&M fan after one of the Aggies' recent wins asking when Khris Middleton will become a "household name." This was my reply: "The day he transfers to Duke or starts dating a Kardashian." Actually, that wasn't my reply. I typed it but never sent it because it was an unnecessary (yet still kinda funny) thing to say about someone who has developed into a really nice college player. Granted, my point remains solid; unless you're a diehard you probably wouldn't recognize Middleton. But the 6-7 forward did get 28 points in Saturday's 91-89 overtime with over Missouri, and this seems like a good place to point that out and thus help Middleton on his path to household-recognizability.
Player who does not deserve improper benefits: Pretty much everybody on the LSU roster was terrible in Saturday's 82-44 loss to Kentucky, but Andre Stringer was the worst. Dude was 0 of 10 from 3-point range, and I can't figure out how that happens. Also tough to figure out: Why a player who shoots 32 percent from 3-point range thinks it's reasonable to launch 10 3-pointers.
Why I'm smarter than you think: I picked unranked West Virginia to "upset" No. 8 Purdue in the Friday Look Ahead.
Why I'm dumber than I think: West Virginia was actually a 3-point favorite over Purdue on Sunday. (Note: The Mountaineers won 68-64. So I got the pick right even while laying points. If you're not rich by now, it's your own fault.)
Three things you should know before you go
1. Syracuse forward Kris Joseph suffered a concussion in Saturday's 67-52 win over Cincinnati. He will not play at Pittsburgh on Monday night.
2. Tennessee associate head coach Tony Jones got his first win in place of Bruce Pearl on Saturday when the Vols rallied from a 17-point deficit for a 67-64 victory over Vanderbilt. UT is now 1-2 through three games of Pearl's suspension.
3. I posted my Top 25 (and one) before Washington's 92-71 win at California late Sunday, which means I didn't consider the Huskies for the updated rankings. Felt OK about it until I got the following Tweet from Cal director of basketball operations John Montgomery. "I'd reconsider leaving Washington out. Best team we've played all year -- over San Diego State, Kansas, Notre Dame and Temple."
On tap: Syracuse and Pittsburgh meet in a battle of Big East powers on Monday night at the Petersen Events Center. On Tuesday, Michigan State is at Illinois. On Wednesday, Texas A&M is at Texas. On Thursday, Arizona is at Washington.
Final thought: I was at West Virginia's 68-64 win over Purdue and chose to write about the Boilermakers because, quite simply, I thought they were the better column. But I didn't want the weekend to pass without pointing out one thing: Bob Huggins is super.
Tom Izzo gets a lot of credit as a coach who "always gets it figured out," and for good reason. But Huggins should be mentioned in the same breath because he's traditionally done similar things, and he's similarly doing it again this season. West Virginia lost two pros (Da'Sean Butler and Devin Ebanks), enrolled no impact freshmen, and started the season 8-4 overall, 0-2 in the Big East. Time to panic, right? Not really. The Mountaineers responded with two road wins at DePaul and Georgetown, came home and blasted Providence, then topped the Boilermakers here Sunday to break back into the Top 25 (and one).
They now appear headed to the NCAA tournament again.
Which is what Huggins' teams do.
Seventeen of Huggins past 18 teams have made the NCAA tournament with the lone exception being a Kansas State team that won 24 games and barely missed in 2007. Doesn't matter who enrolls, who graduates, who is dismissed, who leaves for the NBA or how a particular teams starts, Huggins always figures it out.
Jim Calhoun doesn't.
Roy Williams clearly doesn't.
But Bob Huggins absolutely does.
A weekend win over a top-10 opponent is the latest bit of evidence.