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Mike Lopresti | | January 11, 2021

College basketball's wacky — and inspiring — numbers from this weekend

College basketball rankings: UCLA, Alabama rise up in latest Power 36

This college basketball season never seems to run out of numbers that make you wonder why, and occasionally how. The latest sampling:

No. 1 Gonzaga had a tough 3-point shooting Saturday against Portland, hitting only 4-for-17. The Zags put up 116 points anyway. They scored 80 in the paint, which was more than 176 Division I teams scored anywhere on the court Saturday. And really, is it possible that Joel Ayayi’s triple double is the first in Gonzaga’s history?

No. 2 Baylor advanced to 11-0, with all 11 victories by double figures. The Bears did trail TCU by four points. That matched their largest deficit of the season.

Purdue missed 21 of 24 shots from the 3-point line, and beat Michigan State anyway in East Lansing. Maybe the Boilermakers couldn’t hit the ocean from the beach, but the comeback win from a 15-point halftime deficit was their largest in a Big Ten game in 34 years. The last two meetings between these teams, Michigan State — heavyweight of the Big Ten — has scored 54 and 42 points.

Texas beat West Virginia on Andrew Jones’ 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds left. It came three years to the day that coach Shaka Smart had to stand in front of the Longhorn players and tell them Jones had leukemia. The Longhorns are 4-0 this season in games decided by three points or fewer. In six years under Smart, Texas has won seven times with a field goal in the last two seconds. Jones has done it twice.

MORE: How Texas defeated West Virginia on Andrew Jones' game-winner 3-pointer 

Creighton had to go against St. John’s without injured Marcus Zegarowski, who was preseason Big East player of the year. The Bluejays still put six players in double figures, and their 97-79 win included a 56-39 halftime lead, their most points ever in the first half of a Big East game.

Dayton got by Davidson in overtime. That means the 6-3 Flyers’ record includes a victory in two OTs, another in one, two in regulation by three points, and three defeats by a combined total of five points. Jalen Crutcher played 43 ½ of the 45 minutes against Davidson. He has been off the court only 14 minutes all season.

Having lost six of eight games — four by double figures — Maryland limped into Champaign, and promptly upset Illinois. The Weather Channel wishes it had a barometer that forecast as accurately as graduate student Darryl Morsell’s scoring does for the Terrapins. Partly because of a broken bone in in his face, he had 27 points against Clemson, Rutgers, Purdue, Indiana, Michigan and Iowa, and Maryland lost them all. He was back for 19 against the Illini. The Terps beat the No. 12 ranked team on its home floor. Maryland is 18-1 in the last 19 games he has reached double figures.

Texas Tech blew away Iowa State in Ames, 91-64. A 27-point shellacking seldom happens on the home court of a Big 12 team. Last season, when the two teams met in Ames, it certainly wasn’t decided by 27. No, Texas Tech won by 30.

Virginia went nine minutes of the first half against Boston College without scoring a single point. But won anyway, 61-49.

RANKINGS: Alabama, Ohio State and UCLA rise in this week's Power 36

Seton Hall missed all six shots it took in the final nine minutes again DePaul. Not one field goal. But won anyway.

Then again, Oklahoma State hit all of its 13 shots in the last 13 minutes to put away Kansas State.

Rutgers was 5-for-10 in free throw shooting in a loss to Ohio State. In their four Big Ten defeats, the Red Raiders have been outscored 75-25 from the line and made only 44.7 percent of their free throws.

The Citadel’s Hayden Brown started out 0-for-6 shooting. Then he found the range, you could say. He scored 37 points against Chattanooga as the Bulldogs stayed unbeaten.

Kentucky, Texas' Andrew Jones earn weekly honors after big performances

Manhattan edged Quinnipiac  45-42 in a game where 20 players saw action, and none of them scored in double figures. The two teams played the night before,and Quinnipiac won 84-79 in two overtimes. Eight players scored in double figures.

Austin Peay won 74-71 over Eastern Illinois when Terry Taylor banked in game winner, for the last of his 38 points. He also had his 50th career double-double. He’s only 6-5.

NEW YEAR, NEW ME: These things really did happen in college basketball the 1st days of 2021

Iowa defeated Minnesota in a game with 31 Hawkeye field goals – and 27 assists.

Xavier, down seven in the final 65 seconds, stunned Providence on Colby Jones’ 3-pointer as time expired. It was the 24th lead change of the game.

Gonzaga has 16 victories in a row going back to last season, sharing the nation’s longest winning streak. Sharing with whom? Winthrop. The Eagles are 11-0 this season. The rest of the Big South is 40-73.

TOURNAMENT TIME: The 2021 NCAA tournament bracket, predicted by Andy Katz 2 months from Selection Sunday

UCLA lost star guard Chris Smith to a torn ACL on the last day of 2020. The Bruins have still started 5-0 in the Pac-12. They also won for the fourth consecutive time at Arizona, and hadn’t done that in 37 years.

In the third Associated Press poll of the season, Arizona State was the only Pac-12 team in the top-25. The Sun Devils, battered by injury, were swept over at home the weekend by UCLA and USC and dropped to 4-5.

UCLA defeats Arizona 81-76

The last weekend of 2020, Northwestern stormed into the top-25 with a 6-1 record. Since then, they’re 0-3, losing by 15, 29 and 25.

Remember UMBC, the 16th seed that shocked Virginia and the world? The Retrievers are 9-2, their best start in 39 years. Forward Daniel Akin is the only member of this team who played that night against the Cavaliers.

Wright State lost in the final seconds to Youngstown State on Friday, 74-72. In the rematch Saturday, Wright State won 93-55.

Little Rock and Louisiana Lafayette met Friday and Saturday. They each won by two points, and when the weekend was over, they had scored the exact same 142 points, with 23 ties and 32 lead changes.

Cleveland State, picked to finish seventh in the Horizon League, pushed its league record to 8-0.

Keion Brooks Jr., the only returning scholarship player who played last season at Kentucky, finally had his first full practice of this season Thursday, after a leg injury. Two days later, he took the court for the shooting-challenged Wildcats — 273rd in the nation in field goal percentage — hit six of eight attempts, and helped Kentucky past Florida.

The NCAA’s newest NET rankings came out after the weekend. Furman, Siena and Abilene Christian were among the 83 teams ranked above Michigan State, Duke and Kentucky. The funny bounces keep on coming.

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