The first fully-loaded Saturday slate of league play across the college hoops landscape did not disappoint, as all three of the sport's unbeaten teams suffered losses.
The first unblemished foe to fall, No. 10 TCU, entered Saturday with a perfect 12-0 record and the nation's longest winning streak dating back to last season. But Jamie Dixon's Horned Frogs became just the last in an increasing line of Trae Young victims, as the Sooners freshman again cruised to another stellar performance with 39 points and 14 assists to sneak his squad past TCU 90-89.
The biggest surprise however came Saturday afternoon when Villanova, No. 1 in the polls, fell to Butler 101-93 -- the second time in two seasons the Bulldogs dealt a first-ranked Wildcats team their first loss of the season. Not to be upstaged, though, was No. 17 Arizona topping cross-state foe Arizona State at the McKale Center 84-78.
Let's recap that and other action across the sport from Saturday with some of the big winners and losers on the day.
Third-ranked Arizona State entered the McKale Center on Saturday as the lone unbeaten team in college basketball after two stunning afternoon results, and it lost just as the other unbeatens did before it earlier in the day, 84-78. The Sun Devils put up a solid all-around performance, but Arizona was too much. The Wildcats grabbed their biggest win of the season by getting 23 points a piece from its two stars DeAndre Ayton and Allonzo Trier.
"They're a difficult team to beat - this is our best win of the season because that's such an exceptional team," said Arizona coach Sean Miller.
So now after a rocky 3-3 start, Arizona's on an eight-game win streak — one that includes a win over top-10 Texas A&M and now top-3 Arizona State -- and the Wildcats have shown no signs of slowing down. With Southern California struggling, they again look to have established their spot as the early favorite to win the league.
Against an admittedly depleted Texas A&M team, Alabama put on a show in Tuscaloosa to get to 9-4 on the season and win convincingly in its first SEC game of the season. Oddly enough, the 79-57 beatdown fittingly caps an up-and-down December that began with a loss to UCF, then alternated between wins and losses for the remainder of the month.
- Dec. 3: 65-62 loss to UCF
- Dec. 6: 68-64 win over Rhode Island
- Dec. 9: 88-82 loss to Arizona
- Dec. 19: 80-79 win over Mercer
- Dec. 22: 66-50 loss to Texas
- Dec. 30: 79-57 win over No. 5 Texas A&M
The Tide have a stellar point guard in Collin Sexton -- heck, they've got an incredible backcourt with he and fellow freshman John Petty -- and they've got an efficient defense that will keep them in games. If they can put together a string of consistently well-played games, it would do well for their NCAA Tournament resume that, to this point, lacks much luster. So perhaps a win over a top-5 team like Saturday's over the Aggies could be the kick-starter this team needed to get off the ground towards a run at the Big Dance.
The Volunteers led by nine points over a solid Arkansas team with under 4 left to play in the second half, but the Hogs' late regulation run to tie it and force overtime spelled doom for Tennessee as it fell 95-93. It's a crushing defeat for a Vols team that also recently lost to North Carolina with a near-double digit lead in mid-December. So instead of a potential 11-1 record, Rick Barnes' team is 9-3 and is gearing up for a grueling four-game SEC stretch against Auburn, Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Texas A&M.
Winner: North Carolina
The reigning national champion Tar Heels were in serious hot water on their home floor against unranked Wake Forest on Saturday. Down 4 points with under 3 minutes left to play, though, UNC found a way to survive a turnover-laden day against the Demon Deacons, 73-69.
Joel Berry's late big bucket proved to be the game-winner.
There's no superlative more fitting to describeover top-ranked Villanova other than "wow."
The Bulldogs drilled 15 3s and kept Nova on its heels defensively to win 101-93 and hand the Wildcats their first loss of the season. Storm that court, Bulldogs fans. You earned it.
The hype Oklahoma freshman Trae Young has received for his climb to national player of the year frontrunner has been well-warranted. But Duke freshman Marvin Bagley III reminded fans that he remains deserving of being in the discussion on Saturday as he dropped 32 points and 21 rebounds to thwart No. 24 Florida State's upset bid inside Cameron Indoor with a 100-93 victory.
and the driving force behind Duke's 53-35 rebounding advantage. The gap between he and Trae Young for NPOY remains large, but he did nothing on Saturday to prove he's not the second man in a two-man race early this season.
Oh, DePaul. You nearly had a top-10 win on the road over Xavier before, with a 16-point lead, you crumbled and let X come back to win it 77-72.
Credit the No. 6 Musketeers for again mounting an unlikely double-digit come-from-behind win. Xavier's made a bit of a habit of falling behind the eight ball before rallying. But DePaul's the loser here with a blown opportunity to land its biggest win of the season.
Oklahoma is a winner simply because Trae Young continues to will them to one. Saturday was no different, as the Sooners fell behind 10 points to TCU but won 90-89 behindthat fueled OU to its first win in Big 12 play.
There are a handful of teams that appear primed to give Kansas a run for its money in Big 12 play this season, but the way Young has played as the best player in college this season, OU's no longer a sleeping contender in the league.