Well, wasn’t that a fascinating holiday week, from utter shock in Cameron Indoor Stadium, to Michigan’s coming-out party in the Bahamas, to 91 points scored in barely 24 hours by one 5-11 guard from Marquette.
There were lots of compelling, startling and mystical numbers marching down the college basketball street the past few days, like floats at the Macy’s Parade. Here are 29 of them.
20 – Unbeaten teams remaining at the close of November business. That includes Liberty with the only 9-0 record in the nation, and Butler and DePaul, who were picked by the coaches to finish eighth and last in the Big East. The only unblemished records left on the list from the pre-season top-10 are Louisville and Maryland. Michigan State and Kentucky started the season ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the nation, but might not even be the best teams in their own states at the moment.
2 – That’s how many weeks Louisville has been ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press poll. Ever. One week in 2009 and another in 2013. It seems a little strange, given the Cardinals’ pedigree, that 46 schools have been at the top of the polls more often. Not just the Dukes and Kentuckys and UCLAs, but Indiana State, La Salle and UMass. But Louisville will likely be there Monday.
21.9 – Jordan Nwora’s average with the Cardinals after his 25 points against Western Kentucky. If he would end that way, he’d have the highest Louisville average in 40 years. Another program oddity, given its rich heritage: Only 10 Cardinals have ever averaged 20 points in a game.
19-0 – Virginia’s impregnable defense actually allowed that run to Arizona State over nearly eight minutes. Astonishing. Ah, but the Sun Devils managed only 26 points the other 32 minutes and the Cavaliers won their seventh consecutive November tournament 48-45.
4-27 – Tulane’s record last season. The Green Wave, with new coach Ron Hunter, passed that win total on Nov. 24.
14th – Virginia Tech’s predicted finish in the ACC. It didn’t look that way when the Hokies knocked off No. 3 Michigan State 71-66. But then they lost their next two games to Dayton and BYU by 27 and 13, respectively.
38.7 – National player of the year Cassius Winston’s shooting percentage for the season after the Virginia Tech game. The Spartans star had been gamely trying to play through the mind-numbing grief of his younger brother’s death.
30 – Tennessee’s nation-leading home winning streak after beating Chattanooga 58-46. The Vols haven’t lost in Knoxville in 23 months.
21 – It took until 21 seconds were left in overtime for either Georgia Tech or Arkansas to score in their extra period, combining to go 0-for-8 with five turnovers. Then Georgia Tech hit a basket for 61-59 lead, but Arkansas’ Mason Jones grabbed the game back with a 30-foot banker with one-tenth of a second left.
6 – Duke turnovers in overtime against Stephen F. Austin. So this is the way the Blue Devils’ 150-game, nearly 20-year home court winning streak against non-conference opponents ended: Not with a bang, but a bunch of bad passes.
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33 – Points by Georgia freshman Anthony Edwards against Michigan State in the second half. That helped the Bulldogs cut a 28-point Spartans lead to two in under 12 minutes, but Michigan State held on, 93-85.
3 – DePaul players who had double-doubles DePaul to beat Central Michigan 88-75. It made the Blue Demons 7-0 for the first time in 33 years.
In a game that was the very definition of a story of two halves, @DePaulHoops roared back over the final 20 minutes to erase an 18-point deficit in an 88-75 victory over Central Michigan.— DePaul Athletics (@DePaulAthletics) November 27, 2019
🔵👿 | #PlayingPossessed pic.twitter.com/lUsLJcUolZ
26 – Maine points against Virginia in a 46-26 stuffing, the fewest Virginia has allowed in the shot clock era going back to 1986. Maine took 43 shots and made eight of them. Only three were 2-pointers.
25-for-36 – Dayton’s Obi Toppin’s shooting in Maui, as he scored 67 points in three games, led the Flyers to the title game, and generally got as much out of the week as any individual player in the nation. Kansas finally stopped the Dayton surge in the championship game 90-84 in overtime, after 20 lead changes and 14 ties. It took 31 points from Devon Dotson and 29 from Udoka Azuibuike, the most for a Kansas combo in 29 years.
9-1 – Jeff Capel’s record against fellow members of Mike Krzyzewski’s Duke coaching tree, after Pittsburgh beat Northwestern and Chris Collins 72-59. Pitt was 8-24 two years ago and 0-18 in the ACC. This pushed the Capel’s second Panthers team to 6-2.
22 – Michigan turnovers against Iowa State. The Wolverines had not committed more than 19 in a game in 11 years. But this Michigan team has a little different style, and the Wolverines won 83-76.
13.8 – That’s how many seconds Mississippi led Penn State. Fortunately for the Rebels, it was the last 13.8 seconds in a 74-72 win. Penn State was up by 21 points in the second half. Mississippi had 14 turnovers in the first half, one during the second.
60-31 – North Carolina’s rebounding advantage over Alabama in a 76-67 win. The Tar Heels had as many offensive rebounds (23) as the Tide had defensive.
19-0 – The run Michigan put on North Carolina in the second half to win 73-64. Anthony Cole continued to score big for the Tar Heels with 22, but they’ve been having trouble finding scoring balance. It was the fourth time in six games North Carolina had only two players in double figures.
22-for-22 – Harvard’s free throw shooting in a 62-51 win over Texas A&M.
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28 – Gonzaga’s regular season winning streak after a 73-72 victory over Oregon. A day after coming from 19 points behind to stun Seton Hall, Oregon rallied from 17 back to nearly do the same thing to the Zags. By the way, it was their first meeting in 20 years. How could that be, with two of the West Coast’s preeminent programs, in adjacent states?
40 – Markus Howard points in a 73-63 Marquette win over Davidson. He was 5-for-10 in 3-pointers. Everyone else on both sides was 1-for-22. It was the first time since 1994, and 809 games, that Davidson did not hit a single 3-pointer.
83-52 – The whipping San Diego State put on Creighton was the Bluejays’ worse in 18 years. It made Aztecs 7-0, with all seven wins by at least five points. That hadn’t happened before in 99 years of San Diego State basketball. Creighton followed that mashing the next day by upsetting Texas Tech in overtime. Bluejay Marcus Zegarowski: 3-for-16 against San Diego State, 12-for-18 against Texas Tech. That, as they say, is basketball.
92:13 – That’s how long Michigan led out of 120 minutes against its three opponents in the Battle 4 Atlantis. First Iowa State, then North Carolina, then Gonzaga — who were a combined 16-1 when they met the Wolverines. The remarkable week included unranked Michigan leading top-10 opponents North Carolina by 24 and Gonzaga by 21, and shooting 53.8 percent overall, 47 percent from the 3-point line. The 82-64 final was Gonzaga’s worst loss since the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
20-for-21 – North Carolina’s free throw shooting in a 78-74 win over Oregon. The Tar Heels went into the game 321st in the nation in free throw shooting. The Carolina offense is still perplexing; the Tar Heels have not shot 50 percent in any of their first seven games for the first time since 1959 and have not broken 80 for the first time since 1949.
51 – The day after he went for 40 points, Howard put up 51 against USC – in only 31 minutes and needing only 24 shots. The 51 points were more than entire teams have scored against Virginia in six of the Cavaliers seven games. That made 91 for Howard in a 24-hour period, hitting 25 of 50 shots, with 14 3-pointers. November ended with Howard’s 29.3 average leading the nation. Second best was way back at 24.9. Basketball being basketball – yeah, that again -- Marquette's entire team scored 63 on the first day of December Sunday in a 21-point loss to Maryland, and Howard went 1-for-12 for only six points.
85-64 – Syracuse’s defeat to Penn State. Two days before, Syracuse lost to Oklahoma State 86-72. Clearly, these Orange are having some trouble executing Jim Boeheim’s zone defense.
8 – If you don’t get the Florida State Seminoles in the first 40 minutes, you don’t get them at all. The 63-60 win over Purdue was their eight consecutive overtime victory. They haven’t lost in OT since December of 2016. Florida State’s week also included a victory over No. 17 Tennessee. It was the 18th time in Leonard Hamilton’s coaching career he has taken an unranked team and upset a ranked opponent. No one has ever done it more.
2 OT – It was Black Saturday for Purdue. In the afternoon, the football Boilermakers lost the Old Oaken Bucket to Indiana. In two overtimes. At night, the basketball Boilermakers lost to Florida State in the Emerald Coast Classic. In overtime.
Wild day. Wild week.