College basketball roundup: Six unbeaten teams remain at
In the spirit of the season, NCAA.com is offering a little holiday cheer in the form of an introductory poem. Enjoy.
As the clock struck midnight on this fine Christmas day,
gifts were still left waiting in Santa's Christmas sleigh.
But it's not those gifts he gave to boys and girls galore,
these gifts were dunks, jump shots, and oh so much more.
The 2016-17 season has already seen one month fade away,
teams are beginning to gel, AKA, teams know who to play.
But hark! What's that? It's conference play that draws near,
which means the safety of an early slip-up is gone most fear.
For now, six unbeaten Division I teams are left standing tall
but no need to worry, there's still plenty more college basketball.
MARCH MADNESS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
JOIN THE TEAM.
Be sure to pace yourself though. The college basketball season is not a sprint, it's a marathon.
Need to know:
A packed Monday slate saw six ranked teams in action despite the impending holiday break, and all six found a way to end up on the right side of the scoreboard. However, the performance of the night undoubtedly goes to Purdue’s sophomore forward Caleb Swanigan, who had 21 points and 21 boards to pace Purdue’s rout of Western Illinois. The big man from Fort Wayne, Indiana, has had a coming out party in his second season. Swanigan is averaging 18.3 points and 12.5 rebounds in a year that many thought would be reserved for the anointment of fellow frontcourt mate Isaac Haas. With Big Ten play set to begin, Purdue fans have got to be confident in what they see from the tandem of Haas and Swanigan.
After a tough time dispatching Oral Roberts last week (66-65), the Bluejays of Creighton got exactly what the doctor ordered when they met Arizona State on Tuesday. And boy did they get back in an offensive groove against ASU, with junior guard Marcus Foster (29 points) leading six players in double figures during a 96-85 win. ASU could do little to stop the barrage of 3-pointers from Creighton, as the Bluejays tallied 14 makes from deep in this one — four more than the team’s average of 10 3-pointers a night. As one of college basketball’s remaining unbeaten teamss, it will be interesting to see how Creighton fares in the Big East slog. Continuing to lead the country in 3-point field goal percentage should help.
Louisville and Kentucky squared off on Wednesday in their annual meeting with just a few spots separating the two squads in the AP Top 25. Despite a four-game winning streak in the rivalry for the Wildcats coming into this one, Louisville and lead guard Quentin Snider had plans to start a streak of their own. And thanks to a career-high 22 points from Snider, that’s exactly what the Cardinals did. Head coach Rick Pitino was able to use his lengthy bigs to control the backboards in this one and keep the Wildcats at bay. To be fair, Kentucky has faced what is arguably the toughest two-game stretch in all of college basketball this season. Nonetheless, a pair of three-point decisions and a 1-1 record is an outcome the Wildcats can live with heading into SEC play.
A Thursday evening affair between the Thundering Herd of Marshall and the Cincinnati Bearcats turned out to be one of the week’s tighter matchups — although it was a true tale of two halves. It would take overtime to decide this one, with Troy Caupain’s short jump shot in the overtime period proving to be the decisive bucket. There may be high-octane and high scoring spurts at times (81.2 ppg, 47th in the nation), but don’t let that fool you, Cincinnati still mostly plays the same gritty brand of basketball that the Bearcats faithful have grown to love over the years. This year’s team has flexed its scoring streak though, and it was a necessity to get back into this one. Sophomore guard Jacob Evans (25) and junior forward Gary Clark (26) combined for 51 points in the win.
The Trojans of USC withstood a tough test in the form of the Wyoming Cowboys on Friday, before emerging with a 94-92 overtime victory. Junior point guard Jordan McLaughlin (22 points, seven rebounds, five assists) helped USC finish off nonconference play with some flair, as he converted on a game-winning layup with just under five seconds left in the extra session. The win gave the Trojans the Las Vegas Classic Title.
Freshman guard Jonah Matthews poured in a season-high 26 points, including five makes from the 3-point line, to help pace the effort for USC and head coach Andy Enfield. Like Creighton, USC is also one of college basketball's remaining unbeaten clubs. But only time will tell how long the unbeaten ride lasts. Pac-12 play starts soon.
Saturday: No Top 25 action
Sunday: No Top 25 action
In other action:
Marcus Keene, Tyler Hall trade buckets in Central Michigan-Montana State shootout
If one 40-point game is good, then two must be better. At least that’s the kind of logic that Central Michigan is operating with these days behind the leadership of 5’9” dynamo Marcus Keene. And the latest victim of Keene’s 2016-17 campaign were the Bobcats of Montana State. Keene posted a career-high of 44 points on Wednesday, while also collecting nine rebounds and dishing out six assists in a 106-103 win.
The San Antonio native continues to lead the nation in scoring through Sunday with a hefty margin over Valparaiso's Alec Peters. Montana State sophomore Tyler Hall had a personal best of 29 points for the Bobcats in the losing effort, including eight points in the game's final minute and a potential game-tying 3-point shot that bounced off the rim at the final buzzer.
Jairus Lyles big night in UMBC’s 2OT win
An unlikely submission for “Game of the Week” comes from the campus of the UMBC Retrievers (University of Maryland, Baltimore County). Sure, basketball royalty is not far off in the form of Georgetown and Maryland, but for now the Retrievers should have your ears. In Monday's win, a 120-111 double-OT thriller against The Citadel, UMBC’s lead guard junior Jairus Lyles posted 32 points and grabbed 20 rebounds — the first 30-20 game in school history, per UMBC Athletics.
Jairus Lyles has the first 30 pt.-20 rebound game in UMBC DI history. He is fourth UMBC DI player to record 20 caroms in a game— UMBC Mens Basketball (@UMBC_MBB) December 20, 2016
It was also the eighth win of the year for first-year head coach Ryan Odom, one more than the Retrievers had all of last season. And for those who are surprised to see The Citadel included in such a high scoring affair, don’t be. The Bulldogs, who call the Southern conference home, actually lead the nation in scoring at 103.2 points a night.