Posted by Jeff Borzello
Conference tournament action overshadowed the marquee match-ups on Thursday, but there were still games with NCAA Tournament implications. Furthermore, there were a number of extremely impressive performances across the board. Follow me on Twitter: @jeffborzello
Conference Tournaments Update: There were 13 conference tournament games last night. In the Northeast, all four favorites advanced, but it wasn’t easy. No. 3 Robert Morris beat Wagner by four, while No. 4 Central Connecticut State escaped St. Francis (N.Y.) by two. LIU and Quinnipiac cruised. Over in the America East play-in game, Binghamton destroyed UMBC by 26. The Missouri Valley had two games, with Southern Illinois and Bradley advancing. The Ohio Valley semifinals are also set, as No. 4 Tennessee Tech dominated upstart Tennessee-Martin and No. 3 Austin Peay handled Southeast Missouri State with ease. Tech plays Murray State and APU faces Morehead State. We have our first conference championship game finalized, as the Big South final will be between No. 1 Coastal Carolina and No. 3 UNC-Asheville. Coastal came back to beat VMI and Asheville crushed High Point in the second half. Wrapping up the tourney action was the Atlantic Sun. No. 6 North Florida upset No. 3 Jacksonville, while No. 5 Mercer defeated No. 4 Lipscomb. The top performers were numerous, including: Binghamton’s Greer Wright and Moussa Camara, who combined for 61 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists; Justin Rutty of Quinnipiac going for 22 points and 16 rebounds; Coastal Carolina’s Chad Gray and Anthony Raffa, who combined for 50 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists; Robert Morris’ Velton Jones’ 29 points and six assists; Caleb Brown of Austin Peay scoring 28 points; and Bradley’s Dyricus Simms-Edwards going for 26 points, nine boards and five assists.
Top Performer: Wisconsin point guard Jordan Taylor showed once again why his original exclusion from the Bob Cousy finalist list was preposterous, scoring a career-high 39 points to lead the Badgers to a 77-67 victory at Indiana. Taylor knocked down seven 3-pointers and went 10-for-10 from the free-throw line. Overall, he was 11-for-19 from the field. Perhaps most impressively, Taylor did it all on just 55 possessions.
Steppin’ Up: Faced with a must-win game against UCLA last night, Washington turned to an unlikely source. Freshman guard C.J. Wilcox went 4-for-7 from 3-point range en route to a career-high 24 points, leading Washington to a nine-point win. Wilcox hit all six of his foul shots, and was 7-for-10 from the field. He also helped the Huskies pull away down the stretch with a 3-pointer while getting fouled with 2:38 left.
Stat-Sheet Stuffer: Because of Georgia Tech’s struggles, Iman Shumpert has been flying below the radar this season. Last night, though, he was tough to ignore. Shumpert finished with 24 points, eight rebounds, three assists and six steals to lead the Yellow Jackets to an 80-54 blowout at Wake Forest. Shumpert even went 2-for-3 from behind the arc, an area he has struggled in this year.
Dub-Dubbing: Washington State might be getting back in the at-large mix after last night’s home win over a surging USC team, led by DeAngelo Casto’s 24 points 10 rebounds. Casto was nearly perfect from the field, shooting 10-for-11 and 4-for-6 from the free-throw line. He also had two assists. Casto is on a roll lately, averaging 17.7 points in his last six games.
Filling it up: Seton Hall guard Jeremy Hazell returned to his scoring ways last night against St. John’s, dropping 31 to beat the Red Storm. Hazell hit his season-high by going 9-for-14 from the field and 4-for-6 from 3-point range. He also grabbed four rebounds, dished out three assists and picked up three steals. When Hazell gets it going, Seton Hall can be tough to beat.
In a Losing Effort: South Carolina did its best to come back from a 20-point deficit against Tennessee, but fell short, losing 73-69. Senior Sam Muldrow finished in a major way in his last home game, going for 24 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks. He shot just 9 for-21 from the field, going 0-for-5 from 3-point range, but played well around the rim, grabbing seven offensive rebounds.
Set the DVR: Four conference tournaments start up today, with the CAA, MAAC, Southern and West Coast all getting underway. Moreover, the Missouri Valley, Horizon, Ohio Valley and Atlantic Sun continue.
Numbers Don’t Lie:
- Jordan Taylor outscored the rest of the Badgers, 39-38.
- Taylor scored the most points by a visitor at Assembly Hall since Shawn Respert scored 40 in 1995.
- South Carolina hasn’t beaten Tennessee since 2007.
- St. John’s hasn’t won at Seton Hall since 1997.
Notes and Notables:
- Arizona earned at least a share of the Pac-10 title with a 70-59 win over Oregon State. Derrick Williams led the way with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Photo: US Presswire
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