With college football entering its bowl season, it's time for college basketball to take centerstage. And since its only December, that means there's more than three months of high-octane, fast-paced action ahead on the hardwood.
With conference play quickly approaching, teams are looking to right the ship heading into the meat of the season's schedule. In the meanwhile, primetime performances and high-profile matchups continue to pop up, much to the delight of college basketball faithful around the country.
New storylines continue to give fans a myriad ways to keep themselves glued in to the action. To help with that process, NCAA.com takes a look back at some of the games you may have missed.
Top 25 teams in action:
- No. 25: Iowa State crushed Omaha, 91-47; fell to instate rival Iowa, 78-64
- No. 24: Oregon survived Alabama, 65-56
- No. 23: Notre Dame defeated Fort Wayne, 87-72; lost to No. 1 Villanova, 74-66
- No. 22: Cincinnati faltered against No. 16 Butler, 75-65
- No. 21: Florida lost to No. 5 Duke, 84-74; defeated by Florida State, 83-78
- No. 20: Arizona bested Missouri, 79-60
- No. 19: South Carolina off
- No. 18: Purdue bounced Arizona State, 97-64; brushed by Cleveland State, 77-53
- No. 17: Wisconsin dismantled Idaho State, 78-44; outlasted Marquette, 93-84
- No. 16: Butler fell against Indiana State, 72-71; bounced back against No. 22 Cincinnati, 75-65
- No. 15: West Virginia dropped Western Carolina, 90-37; beat back Virginia Military Institute, 90-55
- No. 14: Virginia cruised against East Carolina, 76-53
- No. 13: Xavier tripped up by Colorado, 68-66; outscored Utah, 77-69
- No. 12: Saint Mary's lost to University of Texas at Arlington, 65-51; rebounded against UC Irvine, 84-53
- No. 11: Louisville defeated Southern Illinois, 74-51; ran past Texas Southern, 102-71
- No. 10: Creighton bested Nebraska, 77-62; triumphed over Longwood, 113-58
- No. 9: Indiana crushed Houston Baptist, 103-61
- No. 8: Gonzaga dropped Washington, 98-71; clawed past Akron, 61-43
- No. 7: North Carolina tipped Davidson, 83-74; edged out Tennessee, 73-71
- No. 6: Kentucky dominated Valparaiso, 87-63; toppled Hofstra, 96-73
- No. 5: Duke beat No. 21 Florida, 84-74; cruised against UNLV, 94-45
- No. 4: Baylor off
- No. 3: Kansas bested UMKC, 105-62; knocked off Nebraska, 89-72
- No. 2: UCLA outran Michigan, 102-84
- No. 1: Villanova emerged over La Salle, 89-79; outplayed No. 23 Notre Dame, 74-66
Need to know:
A big night from Portland’s point guard Alec Wintering piloted (pun intended) the home team to a double overtime win on Monday over UT Rio Grande Valley, 90-89. WIntering’s line touched nearly all categories as the native of Charlotte, North Carolina tallied 24 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, and five steals in 50 minutes of floor time.Three other players reached double figures for first-year head coach Terry Porter — the very same Porter who spent 10 of his 17 NBA seasons with the Portland Trailblazers. Wintering’s night was indicative of the year he’s been having for the Pilots, one that has seen him average 22.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 6.3 assists. Coach Porter would be happy to see more of the same from his senior floor general.
It’s hard to think that the lone matchup between two Top 25 teams on Tuesday night — No. 5 Duke against No. 21 Florida — might have been overshadowed by a few bouts between unranked opponents, but that’s just the way the ball bounces sometimes. Nonetheless, it is by no means an excuse to not take note of a solid game from the Blue Devils in their 84-74 win over the Gators.Head coach Mike Krzyzewski got three 20+ point efforts from freshman phenom Jayson Tatum, sophomore swingman Luke Kennard, and senior big man Amile Jefferson to pace things in the win. Not the most balanced scoring night for the Blue Devils as the aforementioned trio accounted for 75 of the team’s 84 points, but a win is a win. Fun fact: The last Duke trio to score at least 22 points each was Jay Williams, Carlos Boozer and Shane Battier on Jan. 20, 2001, per ESPN Stats and Information. Mind you, Duke won the National Title behind that core group in 2001. Just saying.
A pair of losses for ranked teams on Wednesday began with Butler's trip to visit Indiana State of the Missouri Valley Conference. There the Bulldogs ran into a roadblock in the form of Sycamores lead guard Brenton Scott. Scott’s performance, which included 25 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals, lifted the home team over the No. 16 Bulldogs. And a free throw with 0.8 seconds left in the ballgame proved to be the difference in a 72-71 affair.
A game-winning free throw has to be especially gratifying for Indiana State’s head coach Greg Lansing, who has seen his team lose four games this season by a total of 10 points. Maybe a win over an opponent in the Top 25 is just what the doctor ordered to help the Sycamores get over their late-game blues.
The second upset of the night came when the No. 13 Xavier Musketeers traveled to play the Buffaloes of Colorado. Despite 27 points from junior guard Trevon Bluiett, the Musketeers shot just 37.3 percent in their two-point loss (68-66) at the hands of the Buffs. Colorado's senior guard Derrick White had 23 points in the victory.
When No. 12 Saint Mary's met the Mavericks of UTA (University of Texas at Arlington) on Thursday at the McKeon Pavilion in Moraga, California, few would have predicted anything short of a romp for the hometown Gaels. And given that UTA had never beaten a team in the Top 25, even fewer would have said that the school's first such win would come on the road at Saint Mary's. Well, someone forgot to send that memo to head coach Scott Cross as his Mavericks put together a complete effort in their upset win over Saint Mary's.
The Mavs were led by a pair of juniors — forward Kevin Hervey and guard Erick Neal — who both reached double figures to pace the scoring effort. Neal's eight assists also proved key in the victory, with the Mavs also winning both the rebounding and the turnover margin. An uncharacteristically poor offensive night for Saint Mary's helped the cause as well as well as UTA outshot the Gaels — 49 percent to 31.9 percent, respectively. The Mavericks were previously 0-28 against ranked opponents, according to data from the school's athletic department.
A fairly ho-hum Friday evening on the college slate (only 10 games scheduled for all of Division I) meant fans had to look a bit harder to find the must-see action, but there's always something worth fixing your attention on in the realm of college basketball. In this case, a pair of late 3-pointers from Wake Forest's Bryant Crawford and Hartford's Jason Dunne proved to be the best finishes on the day. And both buckets helped give their teams a much-needed win.
Hartford's Dunne knocked down a triple with just over two seconds left to tip Boston College (65-63), capping off a career-high 25-point night in the process. The jumper also gave Hartford its first win against an ACC opponent, the school said in a release.
On the flip side, a late three from Wake Forest's Bryant Crawford gaves the Demon Deacons a 78-75 edge against the Spartans of UNC Greensboro. Both Crawford and sophomore big man John Collins had 17 points in the victory, as Wake Forest improved to 8-2 on the year. The Deacs will have another opportunity to make a big statement when they meet Xavier on Dec. 17. Until then, the image of Crawford draining a game-winning 3-point shot will have to do.
Cold. Blooded. Crawford. pic.twitter.com/UMHrB1mJLw— Wake Basketball (@TieDyeNation) December 10, 2016
It seems that each time the defending national champions take the floor they are tested in some way, but so far the Wildcats and head coach Jay Wright have been up to the task on each occasion. On Saturday, the obstacle in the way of the 'Cats was the No. 23 Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Notre Dame gave Villanova a good fight, well into the latter stages of the game, but ultimately Villanova's offensive firepower proved to be too much for the Irish to overcome in a 74-66 defeat.
Josh Hart (37 points) was the only player in double figures for Villanova on Saturday, but this battle could in some ways be a blueprint for teams looking to beat Villanova. To put it bluntly, teams have to find a way to beat the 'Cats at their own game — scoring the basketball. Notre Dame did a lot a of things well in this bout (i.e. limiting Villanova's 3-point opportunities and creating issues for the 'Cats motion offense) but the disparity from the free-throw line was too big to overcome (Villanova finished the game 20-22 from the line, while Notre Dame finished 6-6).
When Florida matches up with Florida State the topic of conversation is almost invariably football. However, on Sunday these two schools linked up at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center for a good, old-fashioned slugfest of a basketball game. Sophomore standout Dwayne Bacon — a native of Lakeland, Florida — scored 24 points to lead all scorers in the 83-78 final. A double-double from Terance Mann also helped pace the Seminoles in this one, which included a 25-33 (76 percent) day at the charity stripe.
FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton has got to be happy with his team's effort as the 'Noles outrebounded the Gators and limited Florida to just 25 percent from the 3-point arc. And an opportunity to knock an instate rival from the ranks of the Top 25 makes the victory that much sweeter — just ask the Iowa Hawkeyes, but more on that later.
In other action:
Florida Atlantic stuns Ohio State
The Buckeyes may not be currently ranked, but that shouldn’t take anything away from Florida Atlantic’s 79-77 overtime victory on Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio. Sophomore guard Nick Rutherford hit a running left-handed floater off glass with one second left in the extra session to give the visiting team the victory. Senior guard Adonis Filer also had 23 points off the bench in the win.
Entering Tuesday’s game, FAU was 0-6 against Big Ten teams in the last 20 seasons, according to data from ESPN’s Stats and Information group. All of those losses came by double-digit margins. And though the Owls trudged into this matchup with just a 2-5 record overall, head coach Michael Curry has seen his team play competitively in a number of tight ballgames this season (three of the team’s losses have come by a total of six points).
The win against Ohio State was the Owls’ first victory against a Power 5 team since a 2010 defeat of Mississippi State, so maybe it stands to give the Owls a kick-start as they enter Conference USA play.
Marcus Keene’s big night/near triple-double leads Central Michigan
Another week down and another big performance courtesy of Central Michigan’s lead guard, Marcus Keene. NCAA.com tabbed him earlier this week as one of the All-Week selections, then the team at ESPN decided to give Keene a little face time after his monster night against Green Bay.
One problem, the production team pulled a photo of the wrong guy. That’s not a photo of Keene, the 5’9” junior from San Antonio, it’s actually a shot of his teammate senior guard Braylon Rayson — who also happens to stand at 5’9”. It’s the thought that counts y’all, and everyone makes mistakes. That’s why pencils have erasers, and ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt was all class in his handling of the gaffe.
@Marcus3Keene won't be the last time we lead the show with you. We'll sort out the picture. Keep doing your thing.— Scott Van Pelt (@notthefakeSVP) December 7, 2016
Nonetheless, this was one heck of a ballgame as Keene’s career high of 40 points — along with 11 assists and seven rebounds — lifted the Chippewas to another big victory.
Rayson (30 points) tried to keep in lockstep with his backcourt mate Keene, as the tandem accounted for 70 points on the night, while Green Bay did all it could to stay with the Chippewas, getting 23 points — including 20 straight — from junior forward Kerem Kanter (younger brother of Oklahoma City Thunder forward Enes Kanter). But it was not enough on this night. It might be cliché to say, but Keene may have the “greenest” light in all of college basketball. Until this stretch lets up, the coaching staff is likely going to just roll with it.
Iowa busts Iowa State's streak
It turns out that the fourth time is the charm for the Iowa Hawkeyes when it comes to battling their instate rival Iowa State. In the last three years, it’s been all Cyclones, but the hometown Hawkeyes had designs on bucking the trend when these two teams squared off on a quiet Thursday of hoops action.
Iowa beats Iowa State for the first time since 2012. Hawkeyes came out desperate and it showed. Completely outplayed the Cyclones.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) December 9, 2016
Iowa’s Peter Jok led all scorers with 23 points as the Hawkeyes handled Iowa State quite easily despite five Cyclones players reaching double figures. The rosters won’t be the same this time next year, but who knows maybe it’s time for Iowa to start a winning streak in their annual matchup. The chance to knock Iowa State from the ranks of the AP Top 25 is just the icing on the cake.
In other Iowa basketball news...
When a player scores all of their points in one half it's pretty novel, but what about when a player scores 38 points in a half? Well, then fans should be taking notice. Such was the case for Northern Iowa's senior guard Jeremy Morgan. When the Panthers met North Dakota on Saturday, Morgan was held scoreless in the first half, as Ryan Cooper of NCAA.com notes, but something clicked at halftime for the Iowa native. What ensued was pure basketball bliss. Don't question it, just enjoy this stuff.
"The UNI star was scoreless through 20 minutes, missing all five of his shot attempts, and the Panthers trailed 33-29 after a very flat half of basketball. But whatever coach Ben Jacobson said to his players seemed to resonate with Morgan in particular, as the senior absolutely exploded from there to completely carry UNI to a win. Morgan scored 38 points in the second half, breaking his career high of 36 in last year's second-round NCAA tournament game against Texas A&M. He came within just two points of the Northern Iowa record of 40. What's more, Morgan single-handedly outscored North Dakota 38-37 in the second half and the Panthers ran away to a 78-70 victory."
Montana State’s Tyler Hall continues to show scoring prowess
After a solid freshman year, Montana State's Tyler Hall is continuing to show in his second year that he can fill it up. Milwaukee may have gotten a win over Montana State on Monday (83-78), but the Bobcats' sophomore guard put together a Herculean scoring effort in the loss. Hall finished the night with 42 points on 15-25 (60 percent) from the field, as well as 6-12 (50 percent) from the 3-point line.
Hall averaged more than 18 points a game last year, but has upped that tally to 23.5 points per game in the 2016-17 campaign. Add in more than five rebounds and just about three assists a night and you have yourself a pretty good mix.