College basketball roundup: Parity beginning to set in across the nation
The second week of January is here and with it the pace of conference play in college basketball soon picks up speed. The march to the NCAA Tournament is afoot and teams are beginning to fill out their respective résumés.
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Nonetheless, schools are into the meat of the season's schedule and coaches know what they have by now, so it's time to separate the men from the boys. A lot can happen in a seven-day period, so NCAA.com is going to catch you up on the wild week that was.
Need to know:
No Top 25 action on Monday, no problem. Just ask the fans of William & Mary or Hofstra who saw their respective clubs do battle in a wild overtime thriller. Daniel Dixon, the leading scorer (25 points) for the Tribe of William & Mary, missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer at the end of regulation before atoning with a buzzer-beater from well beyond 3-point range in the extra session.
Sophomore guard Justin Wright-Foreman had a career-high of 30 points for the Pride in a losing effort. Dixon’s game-winner — the third buzzer-beater of his career — marked the second time he helped beat Hofstra with some late-game heroics (2015 CAA Semifinals).
A busy Tuesday saw a bunch of close finishes across the Power 5 conferences, including: a Top 25 matchup between Wisconsin and Indiana; a tight overtime affair between North Carolina and Clemson; and a last-second layup that decided a bout between intrastate rivals Kansas and Kansas State.
While Wisconsin, UNC and Kansas would all emerge victorious in their respective matchups, the performance of the night has to go to Texas Tech and head coach Chris Beard. Some hot shooting from the field (51 percent) and a little extra oomph from 3-point range (7-of-13; 53.8 percent) helped pace the offensive attack in this one, as four players reached double figures in a one-point win over the Mountaineers, 77-76.
The Red Raiders got all they could handle in taking No. 7 West Virginia to overtime in Lubbock, Texas, but senior forward Anthony Livingston gave TTU the final lead with a 3-pointer from the corner as time winded down. Beard has his squad in the top 25 nationally in field-goal percentage (sixth; 50.7 percent) and 3-point shooting (23rd; 39.8 percent), which will bode well on some of those tough Big 12 road trips. For the time being though, savoring the win against a top 10 foe will do just fine.
Fans suffering from the midweek doldrums were treated to a busy night of basketball on Wednesday, and with 10 ranked teams tipping off there were sure to be some headlines. Butler and Vilanova squard off in a Big East battle, while Notre Dame and Louisville locked up to headline the ACC action, but the fun would not stop there. As conference play returns to full swing, there are going to be high-profile matchups nearly every night. Guess that means college basketball fans will just have to suffer the consequences.
- North Carolina State crushed No. 21 Virginia Tech, 104-78, behind a major triple-double from freshman guard Dennis Smith Jr. (27 pts, 11 reb, 11 ast).
- Pittsburgh upset No. 11 Virginia behind some scorching shooting (53.7 percent) from the field and an even hotter night from the 3-point line (61.9 percent).
- No. 23 Notre Dame toppled No. 9 Louisville with a big night from the free-throw line (22-25; 88 percent). Irish lead the nation in FT percentage.
- No. 18 Butler bested No. 1 Villanova with bruising defense, a clinic on the backboards and some timely backcourt play from Kethan Savage and Kamar Baldwin.
Some of Thursday night's most compelling games came courtesy of the Big Ten where three games were decided by a mere eight points. First off, Minnesota took down Northwestern 70-66 behind 17 points from freshman guard Amir Coffey and some key free-throw shooting late from fellow backcourt mate Nate Mason. Minnesota’s defense proved to be the difference, as the ‘Cats shot just a hair above 38 percent on their home floor. Both of these teams look like they’ll be in the middle of the conference pack come season’s end, but this battle had a little extra energy.
The entree portion of the Big Ten schedule on Thursday pitted No. 20 Purdue on the road against Ohio State. A one-point win for Purdue (76-75) was sealed when Ohio State’s JaQuan Lyle missed a potential game-winning 3-point shot in the game’s waning seconds. Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan — who tallied his 13th double-double in the win — joined three teammates in double figures to pace the Boilermakers.
But the game of the night goes to Iowa and Nebraska, which needed two extra sessions before the Cornhuskers emerged with a 93-90 victory. The guard pairing of sophomore Glynn Watson Jr. and senior Tai Webster ran wild as the duo accounted for 57 points, 11 assists, nine rebounds and seven steals.
In other words, they scored or assisted on more than 80 percent of Nebraska’s points. Not bad for the highest scoring tandem in the Big Ten (32.9 points per night). On the other side, Iowa’s Peter Jok dropped 34 of his own to lead the Hawkeyes but it was not enough on this night.
It was a tale of two halves when Dayton hosted Rhode Island on Friday in an A10 matchup. The hometown team trailed for most of this one, but would finally take the lead in the middle stages of the second half before holding off the Rams. Don’t let the lack of rankings fool you here, both of these teams have seen some quality competition with RPI rankings in the top 50. Dayton head coach Archie Miller got a big game from senior guard and New York native Scoochie Smith (21 points, six assists, five rebounds and four steals) to keep Dayton unbeaten in their jaunt through the A10. Next up for the Flyers, a date with Massachusetts.
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As wintry weather conditions around the country forced some games to be postponed, some fans might not have been able to see their favorite teams in action. But, rest assured, there was still plenty to savor on a day that featured well over 100 DI ballgames. Not a whole lot of missteps from team's in the Top 25, but the lone matchup of ranked teams on the day pitted No. 12 Florida State in an ACC scrum with No. 21 Virginia Tech. Unfortunately, the Hokies didn’t bring their “A” game in this one as Florida State cruised to an easy victory behind 22 points from sophomore guard Terance Mann.
However, the must-see highlight of the night — no disrespect to any other action on Saturday — came from Nevada’s 105-104 overtime win on the road against New Mexico. Despite facing a 25-point deficit with 11 minutes to go — a lead that still stood at 14 with just over a minute to play — the Wolf Pack showed an incredible amount of resiliency to claw their way back into this one. Aided by some heroics from a pair of guards — senior Marcus Marshall and sophomore Jordan Caroline — Nevada got the game to overtime after capping off a furious rally. Marshall, who finished with 26 points, hit four 3-pointers in the final minute of regulation to help get an extra five minutes on the clock. Caroline, the swingman from Champaign, Illinois, posted a huge double-double (45 points and 13 rebounds) en route to hitting the go-ahead, game-winning 3-point shot with just under three seconds to play in overtime. Words only do the comeback so much justice, so please check out the highlights below. Seeing is believing.
Nevada trailed New Mexico 90-76 with just over a minute left last night. What happened next was one of the most insane comebacks you'll see. pic.twitter.com/PEqe0wmbqK— March Madness 2017 (@Madness2017) January 8, 2017
Another day and another double-double from Purdue's leading scorer Caleb Swanigan. Swanigan's 18 points and 13 rebounds lifted Purdue over Wisconsin on Sunday and gave the big man his 14th such game of the year. He has had eight straight games with at least 10 points and 10 boards, and he leads all players in Division I in double-doubles. But enough about the sophomore forward, he's got teammates, right?
Fellow frontcourt mate Isaac Haas had 13 points and five rebounds in 18 minutes for head coach Matt Painter, as No. 20 Purdue beat up a much smaller Wisconsin team. The Badgers were outrebounded by double-digits and struggled mightily from the field as well, all which bolstered the effort for the Boilermakers.
In other action:
Scoring isn't everything, but here are a pair of career-high marks that you might have missed:
Jacksonville’s Darius Dawkins goes off on Middle Georgia St.
Senior reserve forward Darius Dawkins, normally a mild-mannered contributor (now averaging 10.1 ppg) for the Jacksonville Dolphins of the ASUN conference, must have gotten up on the right side of the bed on Tuesday. And unfortunately, NAIA member Middle Georgia State was the team that got in his way.
Dawkins connected on a school record 13 3-pointers in the team's 124-85 win, scoring a career-high 41 points in the process. The showing tied for the third-most 3-pointers made in an NCAA game, per ESPN's Stats and Information Group. Really not much else to say about this one, but performances like this are special. If you missed it, thankfully ESPN's Scott Van Pelt made sure to help get some love for Jacksonville and the ASUN conference.
Cobb’s 46 points, Nelson's playmaking pace Fairfield in Thursday win over Manhattan
Fairfield's leading scorer, junior guard Tyler Nelson (19.7 ppg), was a bit off his game when the Stags met the Jaspers of Manhattan on Thursday. Nelson struggled from the field a bit (3-8), but made up the difference at the free-throw line (9-10) and with his playmaking (seven assists).
The beneficiary of said playmaking — Nelson's running mate, sophomore guard Curtis Cobb. The 6'5" second-year man from Fall River, Massachusetts, was up to the challenge, as he poured in a career-best 46 points in the win. It just goes to show that a player can impact a game in more ways than just scoring. Very humbled reaction from Cobb as well, kudos.
Special night for Curtis— Fairfield Athletics (@FairfieldStags) January 6, 2017
Most points in a game in school history
Ties MAAC single game record for points
9 three's, ties school record pic.twitter.com/vCqlpcuSvj