Night Court: Derrick Walton leads Michigan, but San Diego St. falls

Derrick Walton Jr. was the key for Michigan in the second half on Tuesday. (USATSI)
Derrick Walton Jr. was the key for Michigan in the second half on Tuesday. (USATSI)

Here's everything you need to know from college basketball's Tuesday ...

Heading into the season, Michigan had many of the same pieces from last season. Nik Stauskas was back, Glenn Robinson III was back, and Mitch McGary led a crew of returning big men. Plus, Caris LeVert and freshman Zak Irvin were capable enough of replacing Tim Hardaway Jr. on the wing.

The biggest key was going to be the point guard position. Replacing National Player of the Year Trey Burke wasn't going to be easy, and it was going to come down to freshman Derrick Walton Jr.

Through the first three-plus months of the season, Walton has been slightly up and down, demonstrating flashes of his potential -- and at other times reminding people that he's just a freshman. 

Tuesday could be the turning point, though. Walton Jr. was the catalyst for Michigan against Ohio State, going for 13 points, 10 rebounds and six assists as the Wolverines dominated the second half en route to a 70-60 victory. Nik Stauskas also had 15 points for Michigan. Ohio State was paced by LaQuinton Ross' 24 points, but the Buckeyes' 3-for-20 shooting from 3-point range cost them late in the game.

If Walton Jr. can continue to play like he did Tuesday, making smart decisions and staying aggressive but under control, Michigan can be a factor in the NCAA tournament. He went against one of the best defensive backcourts in the country, and although Aaron Craft was guarding Stauskas instead of Walton, he was poised and efficient. He constantly made big plays in the second half, and was calm in the final minutes.

It was an impressive bounce-back for Michigan, which looked awful in its road loss to Iowa over the weekend. The victory also means the Wolverines are alone atop the Big Ten standings at 10-2.

San Diego State sees 20-game winning streak end: The Aztecs hadn't lost since November 14, when Arizona came to town and won by nine. That was the second game of the season. Twenty-one games later, San Diego State finally lost again, as Wyoming got out to an early lead and held for a 68-62 victory. I wrote about it in a separate post.

What else we’ll be talking about in the morning: Oklahoma State experiences life without Marcus Smart. It didn't seem fun.

Marcus Smart began his three-game suspension on Tuesday, sitting out as Oklahoma State traveled to Texas. The Cowboys, well, they struggled. Texas scored 54 first-half points en route to an 87-68 victory. Point guard Javan Felix had 27 points and six 3-pointers, while Isaiah Taylor went for 16 points and five assists. What makes the final score even more alarming is the fact Texas was without starting forward Jonathan Holmes, who missed the game with a right knee injury. Oklahoma State was completely ineffective at both ends of the floor, getting just six assists on its 21 field goals, and failing to contain Texas' backcourt throughout the game. LeBryan Nash had 23 points, but guards Markel Brown and Phil Forte struggled without Smart commanding the defense's attention, combining to shoot just 6-for-21 from the field.

That's now five straight losses for Oklahoma State, who is now 4-7 in the Big 12. The next two games without Smart come at home against Oklahoma and on the road against Baylor. Given the way they played on Tuesday, another two losses isn't out of the question. By the time Smart comes back, will Oklahoma State have dug too deep a hole?

That’s a good win: Florida wins its 16th game in a row, at Tennessee.

Florida isn't a flashy or a "must-see" team in terms of style -- but the Gators find ways to get things done. On Tuesday, they went into Knoxville and came out with a 67-58 victory. The win moves Florida to 11-0 in the SEC and was the Gators' 16th win in a row. Scottie Wilbekin was terrific for Florida, finishing with 21 points, six assists, four steals, and zero turnovers. Mike Frazier had 11 points, hitting a couple of clutch shots late in the game. Jarnell Stokes had 20 points and 11 boards for Tennessee, who missed another opportunity at a resume-boosting victory. A road trip to Missouri this weekend could do the trick, though.

Jordan McRae did do this, though. (h/t @RyanFagan)

And that’s a bad loss: Ole Miss falls at Alabama.

Ole Miss knocked off Missouri over the weekend, as the Rebels seemed poised to take their turn at being the third-best team in the SEC. That quest hit a huge bump in the road on Tuesday, as Trevor Releford's 3-pointer with 0.6 seconds left gave Alabama a three-point win. Ole Miss has struggled a bit on the road this season, and racking up wins against the bottom-tier of the SEC is imperative. The Rebels now head to Georgia, before going back to Oxford to face Kentucky and Florida. This is a monster stretch for Marshall Henderson (14 points) and co. 

Players with impact

  1. Clemson fell in double-overtime to Notre Dame, but K.J. McDaniels had 30 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks. He's one of the ACC's most underrated players.
  2. T.J. Warren has been putting up big offensive numbers all season; Tuesday was no different. Warren had 34 points and 10 rebounds in a win over Wake Forest.
  3. Marquette picked up a nice win at Seton Hall on Tuesday, as Jamil Wilson went for 25 points, 10 rebounds and four 3-pointers.

Numbers to figure

2007-08: Wichita State is the first team to start 26-0 since Memphis did it in 2007-08.

1: Florida beat both Arkansas and Tennessee on the road for the first time in school history. (via @AlligatorArmy)

1993: Michigan hadn't defeated Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State on the road in the same year since 1992-93. (via @AReid_Wolverine)

Other outcomes of note:

  • Wichita State was down at halftime to Southern Illinois, but the Shockers rolled in the second half for a 78-67 win. Ron Baker had 19 points and five assists, while Cleanthony Early went for 18 points.
  • Xavier followed up its key win over Providence with a blowout victory of Butler. It was a game the Musketeers couldn't afford to lose, and Semaj Christon's 15 points helped them avoid it.
  • Clemson was inching closer to the NCAA tournament bubble, but a double-overtime loss to Notre Dame is worrisome -- especially with Virginia coming to town on Saturday.


-- This is pretty cool:

-- Rashad Vaughn, the best uncommitted guard in the class of 2014, announced on Tuesday he was going to UNLV. He was ranked as the No. 12 prospect in the country.

-- Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey said after Tuesday's game that freshman guard Demetrius Jackson would miss some time due to academics. 

-- This is going to be weird: the NCAA recognized Snapchat as a recruiting tool.

-- Kansas freshman Joel Embiid could be sidelined with knee and back injuries.

-- Louisville should get Wayne Blackshear (concussion) back on Thursday.

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