|Kevin Murphy, the man who scored 50 tonight. (US PRESSWIRE)|
Here’s everything you need to know about Monday night’s light slate of games …
Game of the Night: Thank God Missouri had to play Texas on the road, because if this was in Columbia, I feel like we would’ve had to pick Pitt-WVU as the GotN. This just in last century: winning on the road in conference against competent teams is harder than spinning a ping pong ball on your pinky. Missouri learned the lesson again tonight, as it was unable to shake Texas off despite, largely, playing better than the ’Horns for the majority of the game.
Then came the elbow call on Michael Dixon that gave Texas two technical free throws and helped cut a 13-point deficit down to one with less than a minute to go. J’Covan Brown gave UT the lead on the next possession. Dixon, by the way, hit a ridiculous running, falling left-handed, high-arcing layup to give Mizzou the lead. It was the game winner, and Dixon was 9 for 10 from the field and finished with 21 points. Missouri is playing itself into a top seed. They remain a fascinating case study in teams that inexplicably do well with first-year coaches.
Win to brag about: It’s become an unpredictable college basketball season across the board, in almost every conference. Pittsburgh only adds to the haze with its 72-66 win at West Virginia, causing the Mountaineers to dip to .500 in Big East play while taking one in Morgantown. Seth Davis floated the possibility Pitt could become a faint factor in the bubble chase. To that I only say, Seth, I love ya, buddy.
Loss to hide from: I forgot to make the bed today. My fiancée came home in a huff. So I’m hiding from that — and her. I bring this up because there wasn't really a bad loss tonight. And on Jan. 30 college basketball needs to be offering us more than this.
Player who deserves improper benefits: Kevin Murphy became the first 50-point scorer in college basketball this season tonight. He had half a hundred in Tennessee Tech’s 98-80 home win over SIU-Edwardsville. Murphy, a senior, was 16-of-21 from the field, 6-of-9 from 3, 12-of-14 from the foul line, had seven rebounds and just one turnover. It all amounts to what is likely one of the best sports nights of his life and certainly the most impressive statistical performance in the senior’s college career.
The flip side of the game saw Jerome Jones from SIU-E have a season-high 25 points.
Player who does not deserve improper benefits: Shame on you for trimming that beard, Deniz Kilicli. Now it’s merely magnificent, instead of Zeusian.
Numbers don’t lie
- 18. Texas Southern blew an 18-point lead to Alabama State and lost 66-59 in overtime. The ESPNU play-by-play man called it "one of the most startling and unexpected comebacks you will ever see this college basketball season." I don't know about you, but I'm taking his word for it.
- 4. After a four-game drought where he was held below 20 points -- the only time that's happened this season -- Penn senior Zack Rosen got back to good, putting up 28 against Princeton. Jack Donaghy is not pleased.
- 3. The number of BracketBusters games that are actually worthwhile. Check out our succinct breakdown of the games.
- 83. The number of pages I burned through tonight "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." (Again, thanks for the slow night, CBB!) This book is not making me want to see the movie. Only 200 pages to go. I was told this thing picks up the pace 100 pages in. Lies.
Three other notable results
- Penn knocked off Princeton in the Ivy, which means Penn is still undefeated, which means they’re tied in the loss column with Harvard. I'd love a good Ivy race, but it feels like Harvard's going to win the league by at least two games.
- Norfolk State dropped its first game in the MEAC tonight (87-82 to Coppin State). Yeah, we’re scraping the barrel’s bottom.
- Central Florida, what are you doing playing Palm Beach Atlantic on Jan. 30? Are you not a major player in a respectable conference? Don’t schedule weaklings after Christmas if you want to be a big boy. Now, can someone help me get off this damn high horse?
- Did you happen to catch Bob Knight’s mocha sweater tonight? I promptly put on a cup of hot chocolate.
- I can’t stand the elbow = technical rule in principle. What Dixon tonight warranted two free throws, but all too often we’re seeing players get punished for a natural reaction with the ball. Can we agree to just keep the spirit of the rule alive but chop it to one free throw? That’s a compromise I can live with.
- I’ll be speaking with Kevin Murphy about his 50-point game early Tuesday morning. Look for the post around lunchtime.