Oklahoma big winner after topping No. 3 Wichita State; Florida, Florida State losers
Sooners beat third-ranked Shockers while Florida and FSU lost in upset fashion to unranked foes
Saturday's slate of college hoops was littered with upsets, as five top-25 teams fell to unranked foes. Stealing the show was unranked Oklahoma, which marched into Wichita State and topped the third-ranked Shockers 91-83. The Sooners (8-1) rode the hot hand of super frosh Trae Young to a convincing win, and will likely see their name appear in the rankings on Monday.
The day also saw two previously unbeaten teams fall in Florida State and Georgetown -- to Oklahoma State and Syracuse, respectively. The Seminoles fell in the final seconds to the Cowboys and Syracuse topped the Hoyas in an overtime thriller to cap a game that began with a thud and finished with a bang.
With that in mind, let's sort out the winners from the losers in a wacky day of college hoops.
The Sooners marched into Wichita and drubbed the Shockers. Despite the close final 91-83 tally, they led for 36 minutes and 11 seconds of a possible 40 minutes, and ballooned their lead to as many as 18 midway through the second half.
Behind true freshman Trae Young, who finished with 29 points and 10 assists, the Sooners held off a late Shockers surge and notched a massive resume booster in the process. Before Saturday, OU projected as a tournament team, and a win over the third-ranked team only strengthens its budding resume that also includes wins over Southern California and Oregon. Saturday's outcome proved that OU is not only a tourney team, but one that deserves some thought as a sleeper in the Big 12 title race, too -- especially when Young is playing at the top of his game.
Not much has been made of John Calipari's Wildcats this season given its extreme youth and lack of truly elite-level NBA prospects compared to years past. But the Cats are quietly 9-1 and secured their biggest win of the season Saturday over Virginia Tech, 93-86.
Earlier this season Kentucky was looking for a go-to scorer to replace Malik Monk and De'Aaron Fox, and they seem to have developed a two-headed option with Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo leading the way. Calipari's group is hitting its stride at a perfect time, too, with a gauntlet of UCLA, Louisville and Georgia on tap before the years end.
Loser: East Tennessee State
Credit Xavier for clawing its way back and coming out on top of a 68-66 final, but the Buccaneers chucked up the lead and couldn't seal the deal after going cold down the stretch and giving up crucial buckets at inopportune times.
"Unfortunately we just couldn't finish it," said coach Steve Forbes. "We had some opportunities. Got on our heels a bit and didn't play well with the lead."
This isn't the same ETSU team that has been a force in the SoCon over the last few years under Forbes, so Saturday's result is a disappointment given the season's outlook and its middle-tier projection within the league.
My colleague Caleb Swanigan to the NBA, but it's worth reiterating just how good the Boilermakers have been.on Saturday detailing the insane consistency Matt Painter has maintained despite losing all-everything big man
With a convincing 82-67 win over Butler, Purdue has six wins vs. top-60 KenPom teams -- a claim no other team in college hoops can make on Dec. 16.
The Boilermakers are 10-2 -- their only losses coming in a weird trip to the Bahamas in the Battle 4 Atlantis -- and look again like a sexy sleeper pick to contend in the Big Ten with Michigan State. Second-year man Carsen Edwards has developed into one of the top players in the conference, too, and has taken the reins of a stellar Purdue backcourt that will give teams fits all season.
Loser: Notre Dame
It's too early to sound the alarms on the Fighting Irish, but they've been in a real funk of late with three losses in their last five contests. Saturday's 80-77 loss to Indiana in overtime on a neutral court isn't as bad as its 80-77 loss to Ball State a week ago, but it's cause for concern for a Notre Dame team that began the season in the top 15 but hasn't been able to put its pieces together in December.
Perhaps you can chalk up the Hoosiers' win to Juwan Morgan being on a different planet on Saturday (34 points and 11 rebounds), and the Irish have ample opportunity to get back on track before ACC play. But outside their win over Wichita State in the Maui Invitational finale, they've mostly been unable to live up to their expectations, and have struggled against KenPom top-150 team with a record of 3-3 in those contests.
In a day that saw both Florida and Florida State catch a case of the losses, the Hurricanes quietly came out unscathed and cling to their still-perfect 9-0 record. With Hawaii and Pitt looming, they've got a favorable road ahead that could see Jim Larranaga's squad enter ACC unbeaten and one of the favorites in league play.
Most encouraging thus far has been the strong play of frosh Lonnie Walker IV, who had 13 points, 5 rebounds, and one jaw-dropping jam against George Washington. He was expected to be a big factor this season for Miami, and he's budded into a legitimate X-factor over the past 3 games, averaging 13.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per contest.
I'm not yet sounding the fire alarms on Notre Dame, but I've already pulled them, hit the sprinklers and exited the building when it comes to Florida. You might join me, too, when you look at the results of its last five games.
- Loss vs. Duke, 87-84
- Loss vs. Florida State, 83-66
- Loss vs. Loyola Chicago, 65-59
- Win vs. Cincinnati, 66-60
- Loss vs. Clemson, 71-69
So maybe the Gators are good. After winning over Stanford and Gonzaga and coming close to topping No. 1 Duke in the PK80, Mike White was getting as much praise as any coach in the country. But they've struggled mightily of late and are trending the wrong direction as SEC play nears.
Mick Cronin's Bearcats throttled a good UCLA team by 14 points in a game it was favored by 3. It's the second consecutive impressive win -- the first being over a previously unbeaten Mississippi State team on Tuesday -- and Cincy's ninth win of the season.
Kyle Washington and Jacob Evans combined for 35 points in the 77-63 effort over the Bruins. Transfer Cane Broome continues to pay dividends as well, and Jarron Cumberland has emerged as a sidekick alongside him in the backcourt. They've got a nice cast of productive players that continues to win at a high level in the early going.
Despite Wichita State being the flashy pick in the American, Cincy is not only an NCAA Tournament squad, but one that will give the Shockers a run for their money if it continues to play the way it has through 11 games.
If not for a Svi Mykhailiuk 3-pointer with 23 seconds left to play, Kansas would have dropped its third consecutive game in non-conference play -- something the Jayhawks have never done under coach Bill Self. They avoided disaster narrowly by eking out a 73-72 win over Nebraska, but it's nonetheless cause for concern that KU is playing with fire after being burned twice since last Wednesday.
The Jayhawks aren't dominating the boards, they're not shooting particularly well, and they're playing sloppy ball on the whole. Self's squad will get one final tune-up game on Monday against Nebraska-Omaha before a grueling stretch that features Stanford, Texas, Texas Tech, TCU, Iowa State, Kansas State and West Virginia over the next month.
Sean Miller's Wildcats are surging. Despite starting the season 3-3 with a skid in the Bahamas that saw them drop from No. 2 in the polls to unranked, they've won five-straight -- including a win at The Pit over New Mexico on Saturday evening.
Most notable in the resurgence of the Cats is the return of Rawle Alkins, who began the season on the bench due to injury. Since his return against Alabama last week, Arizona is 2-0 -- and Alkins is putting up 16.5 points and 3.5 rebounds on average in his two contests since his return.
In its first game against a legitimate opponent on Saturday, Georgetown fell -- in overtime -- to Syracuse, 86-79.
The Hoyas had a shot to silence their critics rightfully bemoaning their pillow soft non-conference schedule thus far with a statement win, and yet couldn't quite go the distance with their old Big East nemesis. And while it's quite likely they rebound with wins over their next two, the unfortunate part of Georgetown's early schedule is that it is difficult to get a gauge on the team against equal competition, simply because they've only faced one team on the same level as them. With only one challenging non-conference game before Big East play, not much has been learned of Patrick Ewing's team.
The bright side: the Hoyas hung tough with the Orange and didn't look out of their league.
Winner: Big 12
The Big 12 was the only conference Saturday that saw each of its representing members in action go undefeated on the day. Kansas State, Texas Tech, Kansas, Iowa State, West Virginia and Texas all won as favorites -- and Oklahoma State and Oklahoma won in upset fashion to make it a perfect 8-0 for the league on the day.
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