Here’s everything you need to know about Saturday’s slate of college basketball games …
Game of the day: Alabama pulled away from VCU late, but Anthony Grant got a real challenge from the team he used to coach. The Tide won, 82-74. VCU is young but are gamers. I watched that game thinking the Rams could make a run in the CAA if they played like that all year.
Win to brag about: If Tom Crean got the biggest win of his Indiana career, then it’s got to be the win to brag about.
Loss to hide from: Villanova is not an elite Big East team this year, but losing 65-64 to a middle-of-the-road WCC team (Santa Clara) hurts a lot. Jay Wright was steamed. He knows his team didn’t play well at all. The Wildcats didn’t look up for the game.
Player who deserves improper benefits: Pitt’s Khem Birtch had 10 rebounds, eight points and six blocks in the Panthers’ 81-71 win over intra-city rival Robert Morris.
Player who does not deserve improper benefits: Andrew Nicholson, one the best 100 players in college basketball, had one of the worst games of his career against Virginia Tech. The Bonnies’ big man scored just nine points, shot less than 30 percent from the field, had four fouls and just as many turnovers.
Numbers don’t lie
- 24. That’s how many consecutive home games Alabama has won; the Tide defeated Shaka Smart’s VCU team, 72-64.
- 71. That’s how many possessions Indiana got in its game against Butler, which much prefers to keep games in the 55-65 possession range. Hoosiers wanted it, took it.
- 64, 63. It was the final totals for Arizona State and Washington State. Both Pac-12 teams lost, to DePaul and UC Riverside, respectively.
- 11, 0 and 0. That was the line for Missouri point guard Phil Pressey, who had 11 assists, no turnovers … and no shots.
Three other notable results
- Minnesota lost Trevor Mbakwe in the midst of its 86-70 loss to Dayton. Dayton’s not that good. Gophers lose their first of the season. Will be the first of many more if Mbakwe’s injury proves long-term. (MRI coming soon.)
- Whoa: Bowling Green beat Temple 67-64? Owls aren’t as good as most thought. The Falcons finished the game on a 7-1 run.
- Saint Louis absolutely rolled to its 76 Classic title, winning over Oklahoma, 83-63. Bilks fans will like where their team is placed in Monday morning’s Non-BCS Power Pyramid.
- Fairfield is now 3-4 after losing to Indiana State. The Stags should probably be a 5-2 team right now. Something’s not working early for new head coach Sydney Johnson.
- New Mexico is an OK mid-major team, but Boston College remains to be a miserable Big Six squad. The Eagles fell 75-67 to Steve Alford’s team Sunday.
On tap: Xavier at Vanderbilt (ESPN2, 7 ET) is a must-watch. Long Beach State at Louisville is happening at the same time over on ESPNU, and remember, LBSU already knocked off one Big East team this year in Pittsburgh. Pepperdine at UCLA at 11 ET is worth tracking just to see if the Bruins can get their first D-I win of the season before December comes.Photo: AP