Saturday was as consequential in college basketball as it was entertaining in one of the most loaded schedules of the season. There were buzzer-beaters, highlight-reel dunks, lowlights (looking at you, Louisville!) and plenty of upsets to go around to top it all off.
Four top-10 teams took losses on the day but none likely as significant as Zach Edey. Edey finished with 33 points in his 19th double-double of the season, but IU big man Trayce Jackson-Davis had 25 points and freshman Jalen Hood-Schifino added 16 and won the duel vs. the frontrunner for national player of the year.inside Assembly Hall. Indiana led for more than 39 minutes of action and held off a late, furious comeback from the Boilermakers, charged by a huge 18 points and 10 rebounds in the second half from big man
As far as surprises go, Purdue falling in a close one to Indiana on the road barely registered comparative to what happened inside Hilton Coliseum. No. 13 Iowa State dominated No. 8 Kansas 68-53, blasting the reigning national champions in a game that wasn't all that close. Then, in the nightcap, No. 18 Saint Mary's outlasted No. 12 Gonzaga in an overtime thriller.
The first Saturday of February was loaded. Let's take a tour around the sport and examine the winners and losers from the action.
Loser: No. 1 Purdue stumbles inside Assembly Hall
Purdue for the second time in as many seasons stumbled on the road Saturday inside Assembly Hall in a 79-74 loss to Indiana. The top-ranked Boilermakers made it interesting late in cutting the lead to a possession, but after grabbing the lead 5-4 in the opening minutes, they were never able to get on top of the 21st-ranked Hoosiers. Zach Edey had 33 points for Purdue but Trayce Jackson-Davis willed IU to the finish line with 25 points, giving the Hoosiers their first win over an AP-ranked No. 1 team since Feb. 2, 2013.
Winner: Saint Mary's freshman Mahaney takes charge
Saint Mary's took a firm hold on first place in the WCC standings as the No. 18 Gaels rallied for a 78-70 overtime win over No. 12 Gonzaga. It wasn't until overtime that Saint Mary's reclaimed the lead for the first time since it was 2-0. The driving force behind Saint Mary's resurgence from an 11-point deficit was star guard Aidan Mahaney. The eight-time WCC Freshman of the Week struggled mightily in the first half, making just 1 of 7 shots. But he turned on the afterburners down the stretch.
Mahaney scored 18 points including 13 points and a key assist in the final six and a half minutes of regulation before banking in a 3-pointer in overtime as the Gaels took control. The last time Gonzaga failed to win at least a share of the WCC title was in 2012, when Saint Mary's captured an outright league crown with a one-game edge on the Zags in the final standings. Entering Saturday night's rivalry showdown between the two, the Gaels held a one-game edge. Now, it's a two-game advantage, and Gonzaga will need Saint Mary's to slip up somewhere down the stretch if the Bulldogs' run of league titles is going to continue.
Loser: Kansas hits another (not great) milestone
After shaking off a rare three-game losing skid in league play with wins over Kentucky and Kansas State in consecutive games, No. 8 Kansas on Saturday slumped to its fourth loss in its last five Big 12 outings with a 68-53 loss to Iowa State. The loss was KU's first-ever four-losses-in-five-games stretch of league play under Hall of Fame coach Bill Self and its 53 points were the lowest output in a conference game under his watch, too.
"We weren't very good early, middle or late," Self said. "I thought Iowa State defended us perfectly. They were much better. I thought our defense was very lackluster and not a lot of energy at all."
Iowa State, the No. 1-ranked defense in forced turnover rate, forced 20 Kansas turnovers and converted that into 19 points in a near wire-to-wire effort in which it led for nearly 39 minutes of action.
Winner: Iowa State avenges its reputation after blowing lead
Less than a week after coughing up a 23-point road lead vs. Big 12 cellar-dwelling Texas Tech, Iowa State went and totally redeemed itself in not just winning -- but dominating -- vs. No. 8 Kansas inside Hilton Coliseum. Iowa State trailed only once, in the opening minute, before taking the lead and growing it to as many as 19 in a 15-point win. Three Cyclones players finished in double figures led by St. Bonaventure transfer Jaren Holmes, who scored all 15 of his points in the second half.
Winner: Duke wins in Tobacco Road rivalry
For just the third time this century (!), UNC-Duke in the Tobacco Road Rivalry featured both teams not ranked in the AP Top 25 poll. But, just like always, the game lived up to the hype as the Blue Devils outlasted the Tar Heels 63-57 for its third consecutive win.
The win in itself is wind at Duke's sails but the way in which it won is doubly as promising. It got one of the most promising performances of the season from young freshman Dereck Lively, who had just four points but added 14 rebounds and eight (!!) blocks. Lively was the No. 3 recruit in his class and a McDonald's All-American who has yet to live up to the promise of his prospects, but of late he's playing with confidence and giving Duke a dynamic defensively that can remake its hope for a run this March.
Eight blocks (!!) and 14 rebounds for Dereck Lively II tonight vs. North Carolina. Only had 4 points on three shots but was *the* difference for Duke defensively. Easily the most promising game for him and his NBA prospects I've seen all season. pic.twitter.com/dm0LuktzN8— Kyle Boone (@Kyle__Boone) February 5, 2023
Loser: UNC's free-throw attempts
There is no proven theory that friendly home whistles are a thing, but North Carolina may have something to say about that after falling 63-57 to Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Tar Heels took just three free-throw attempts the entire game to Duke's 15 free throw attempts. UNC went more than 31 minutes of game action to close the game without being sent to the free-throw line.
"Going into the game, we shot 150 more free throws than any other opponent in our conference," UNC coach Hubert Davis said. "And we shot three. Zero in the second half."
No. 2 Tennessee's 46-43 win over No. 25 Auburn marked the fourth-lowest scoring game between ranked teams in the shot-clock era, according to ESPN Stats & Info. The Volunteers shot an abysmal 27%. Not to be outdone, the Tigers shot just 24%. The teams shot particularly horrific percentages from beyond the arc, combining to make just 5 of 48 (10.1%) 3-point attempts.
Though Auburn fans wanted a foul called on Wendell's Green's 3-point miss at the buzzer, all of college basketball owes the officiating crew a debt of gratitude for swallowing the whistle. The last thing this abomination of a basketball game needed was overtime.
Winner: IUPUI's Brady has monster jam
IUPUI snapped its 11-game losing streak and won for the first time in the 2023 calendar year with a 68-53 victory over Green Bay. And adding to its big day, IUPUI guard Vincent Brady II had a dunk of the year submission that might actually physically require you to pick your jaw up off the floor:
Losers: ACC challengers
In what has been an embarrassingly bad year for the ACC, several of the contenders missed chances on Saturday to grab hold of the regular-season race and instead only cloudied the picture as No. 6 Virginia fell 74-68 at Virginia Tech and No. 20 Clemson lost 78-74 at home to No. 23 Miami. The Tigers by default remained atop the league standings by a half-game over Pitt and Clemson, but with road tests vs. UNC, NC State, Louisville and Virginia in the next few weeks, they may be bemoaning their missed chance at home to grab a stronger grip on the conference race.
Winner: Kentucky wins bubble battle
Kentucky entered the day as one of the "Last Four In" of Bracketology while Florida entered as one of the "First Four Out." It was a bubble-battle extraordinaire at Rupp Arena, and the Wildcats came out on top 72-67 after Myreon Jones missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer with 17 seconds left for UF. UK has now won six of its last seven since a stunning home loss to South Carolina on Jan. 10. Freshman guard Cason Wallace led the way with 20 points while reaching double figures for a fifth consecutive contest. He also blocked three shots and grabbed a steal while continuing to demonstrate elite two-way chops.
Winner: Creighton stays hot at home
Creighton won its seventh straight game at home and extended its winning streak to six with a 66-61 win over visiting Villanova. The Bluejays led for the majority of the game and nearly blew it, as Nova took a lead in the final minute off a 3-pointer from Eric Dixon. But guard Trey Alexander, who had a game-high 27 points, salted the game away at the free-throw line with four makes in the final 30 seconds.
Winner: Baylor gets JTT back
Don't look now, folks, but No. 11 Baylor -- winners of seven of its last eight -- just got a little more dangerous this weekend as it welcomed Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua back from a gruesome knee injury he suffered towards the end of last season. "Everyday Jon" made his season debut vs. Texas Tech and didn't appear to have lost a step at all, tallying eight points and four boards in only 13 minutes of action. Baylor celebrated his return with a big win, too, toasting Texas Tech to the tune of 89-62.
Loser: K-State might have lost chance at Big 12 title
In the vaunted Big 12, wins of any kind are hard to come by but you have to defend your home court if you're going to remain in the hunt for the conference championship.
Kansas State did not do that.
No. 10 Texas instead marched into No. 7 Kansas State's home arena and came out with a massive road W, leaving victorious 69-66. A win for K-State would have made for a three-way tie atop the standings with the Wildcats, Longhorns and Iowa State, but instead Texas padded its lead in the standings to two games over Kansas State and TCU with both teams losing while going up one game on Iowa State.
The Longhorns will jump to the projected No. 1 seed line in Palm's Bracketology with the win, replacing Arizona. Purdue, Alabama and Kansas are the other projected No. 1s after Saturday's action, according to Palm. Texas will face the Jayhawks on Monday.
Winner: UCLA remains atop Pac-12 race
Following road losses to Arizona and USC, No. 9 UCLA responded this week with consecutive home wins in league play over Washington and Washington State by nine and 24 points, respectively, to remain atop the Pac-12 regular-season race. UCLA started slow vs. the Cougars but poured it on late, taking the lead with just under 13 minutes to play in the first half and never relinquishing it in its 76-52 victory. The Bruins built a lead to as many as 25 before calling off the dogs late, flexing their muscle as the best in the Pac-12 with a tough road trip to Oregon State and Oregon on deck.
Loser: Louisville remains hot mess
Coming off its first win in more than a month and facing a rebuilding Florida State team inside the Yum! Center, Louisville provided the Cardinals faithful some hope as it tied the game at 76 with just over a minute to play. But Louisville, much like it has done all season, could not close the deal, falling 81-78 to drop to 3-20 on the season.
Winner: Oklahoma State stays hot
The hottest team in the Big 12 right now might be one that is sitting squarely in the bubble conversation as we flip ahead into February. Oklahoma State won its fifth game in its last sixth outing Saturday over No. 15 TCU 79-73 to move to .500 in Big 12 play. TCU was without stars Eddie Lampkin and Mike Miles, but OSU -- which has been playing either without star big man Moussa Cisse or with him hobbled with a bum ankle for much of the last few weeks -- pulled off the upset without leading assist man and third-leading scorer Avery Anderson. The Pokes in the last few weeks have twice toppled Bedlam rival Oklahoma and now taken down two top-15 teams in league play.
Loser: Memphis takes ugly home loss
Memphis entered Saturday's action as a projected No. 10 seed for the NCAA Tournament in Jerry Palm's Bracketology behind a resume highlighted by a 6-5 mark in Quad 1 and 2 games along with a perfect 11-0 mark in Quadrant 3 and 4. But then the Tigers suffered a 90-89 overtime home loss to Tulane, which will go down as a Quad 3 loss for the time being.
Coach Penny Hardaway's squad was living comfortably on the right side of the bubble by avoiding such calamitous results in AAC play to this point. But Saturday's result wrecked Memphis' perfect home record and put the Tigers back in the bubbly, back-against-the wall type of position they have grown all too familiar with during Hardaway's five-year tenure.
Winner: Arkansas getting back on track
Can you heard that sound off in the distance? It's the Muss Bus rumbling down the highway after Arkansas made it four wins in its last five games by squeaking out a must-have 65-63 thriller at South Carolina. The Razorbacks appeared left for dead on Jan. 18 when they fell to 12-6 (1-5 SEC) with a loss at Missouri. With five-star freshman guard Nick Smith away from the team because of a knee issue and big man Trevon Brazille out for the season due to injury, Arkansas' NCAA Tournament hopes appeared to be fading. But as he's often done in his four seasons at Arkansas, coach Eric Musselman has begun to figure it out with a seemingly random collection of players.
The Razorbacks were one of Palm's "Last Four In" the projected NCAA Tournament field entering the day. Winning at South Carolina won't do much for their resume, but the Razorbacks are starting to stack up wins. Up next is a Tuesday road game against a Kentucky squad that entered the day in the same "Last Four In" category.
Winner: Drama in the OVC
The Ohio Valley Conference had all the drama on Saturday with not one, but two true buzzer-beaters that decided games. One came courtesy of Tennessee Tech's Brett Thompson, who wiggled coast-to-coast for the go-ahead game-winner to lift his team past Southeast Missouri State 82-80.
Taylor had 21 points in SIUE's 84-81 win over Little Rock.