Virginia Tech and TCU Get Huge Wins

SONG SELECTION:

“Call It Dreaming”, by Iron & Wine from album Beast Epic

Released August 25, 2017 via Sub-Pop Records

The TCU Horned Frogs played some spirited basketball on Monday night.  In beating seventh ranked West Virginia 82-73 in front of a very enthusiastic crowd inside Schollmaier Arena in Fort Worth, Texas–TCU is still going to be a player for a possible at-large bid.

West Virginia still had all five of their starters in double figures, but only shot 25 of 75 from the floor for the game (33 percent overall).  Leading the way for the Mountaineers (16-4 overall, 5-3 in Big 12 play) were Jevon Carter with 16 points, while Sagaba Konate chipped in with 14 points.

For TCU, Alex Robinson led all scorers with 17 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.  Kouat Noi had 13 points, including three 3-pointers before being ejected because of a flagrant foul with a little over 10 minutes left in the game.  Vladimir Brodziansky had 14 points, and Kenrich Williams had 14 rebounds.

The turning point came just before the half.  Desmond Bane almost became a one-man wrecking crew as he was a major factor in a 11-2 run to close the half.  It could have been a lot worse for the Mountaineers, but ESPN replays showed that Bane’s 3 point shot was wiped off the board after officials determined the ball was still in his hands when the clock hit zero, negating the 35-foot shot and leaving TCU’s lead at two instead of five at 35-33.

However, a 12-1 run that started the second half officially broke the game wide open.  Two threes and a heady layup helped balloon the Horned Frogs lead to 47-34 at the first media time out.  The result was TCU’s first win over a Top 10 team since upsetting then Number 10 Kansas on February 6, 2013.

Both teams get some time to rejuvenate and relax their bodies a bit since their next games are this coming Saturday during the annual Big 12/SEC Challenge.

Kentucky travels to West Virginia, while TCU will be at one of my favorite gyms to see a basketball game in Vanderbilt.  The Commodores are the only SEC team currently with a losing record.

Other games of note on Monday…

Kansas State held off Baylor on the road 90-83, Prairie View kept Mississippi Valley State winless in 20 tries winning at home 93-77, and in the Big Ten–Ohio State remains perfect in conference play edging out Nebraska in Columbus 64-59 while Michigan State had no problem with the “Orange Crush” as Illinois went down in a big heap 87-74 as Miles Bridges poured in a game high 31 points to go along with eight rebounds.

Tuesday will feature Trae Young and Oklahoma hosting Kansas, 7 p.m. on ESPN.  Young still leads the nation in scoring, averaging over 30 points per game.  His assist average is down a bit at 9.7.

Another key game at the same time will be in the ACC with Clemson traveling east to take on second ranked Virginia.  Among the games to watch at 9 p.m. including an interesting game on ESPNU, with Texas A&M traveling to Baton Rouge and taking on the LSU Tigers.  Finally, CBSSN has the nightcap at 11 p.m. as Fresno State gets back to playing after their game at the Air Force Academy was cancelled due to the recent government shutdown.  The Bulldogs host UNLV.

If any upsets occur on the 29 game slate, I will try my best to chime in.

Please have a good night.

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Kentucky Falls Out of AP Top 25

First time since March 2014 marking end of 68 straight weeks in Associated Press poll

A pair of losses to un-ranked teams in South Carolina on the road and Florida at home last week have sent John Calipari’s young and inexperienced Kentucky Wildcats out of the Top 25 poll.

The only small shakeup in the Top five was with Oklahoma’s overtime defeat at Oklahoma State on Saturday afternoon.

Villanova garnered 63 out of a possible 65 first-place votes, while Virginia and Purdue each received one first-place vote.  In fourth and fifth are traditional powers in Duke and Kansas.

Oklahoma slipped eight spots from fourth down to 12, while Gonzaga and St. Mary’s are right next to each other at 15 and 16.  A few mid-major schools are in this week’s poll as Nevada is 23, while Rhode Island appears at 24.  Michigan sneaks in at 25, while Miami and Louisville are on the outside looking in.

 

 

Florida Gets Huge Win At Kentucky

SONG SELECTION:

Everything But The Girl, “When All’s Well”

Found on the Compilation CD, The Other Side of The 80’s

Released in 2016 by Rhino UK

A nip-and-tuck affair at famed Rupp Arena on Saturday night and somehow, Florida escapes and appears to have ended the stranglehold after all of these years of Kentucky dominating the Southeastern Conference.

Jalen Hudson scored 17 off the bench, while three of the five Florida starters each finished in double figures:  Keith Stone had 14, Chris Chiozza posted 13, and Kevaughn Allen chipped in with 11 points.

For Kentucky, another tough luck loss as Kevin Knox was held well below his season average scoring only nine points.  Although UK had 46 rebounds to Florida’s 33, it was smart defense by Florida that proved to be the difference.

Both teams are 14-5, but Florida has separated themselves in the SEC race.  Kentucky is struggling to stay around .500 in league play.

The rest of the games from Saturday night had Kansas State going retro in beating TCU 73-68, while Kansas, Auburn, Tennessee, Gonzaga, USC, and Belmont all won their games.

Only 19 games are scheduled for Sunday, with the big one taking place in the Missouri Valley at the ARC in Valparaiso.  Ginger Zee’s alma mater will host Loyola of Chicago at 4 p.m. Eastern time, part of a tripleheader on ESPNU.

The next time I will greet you in the blogosphere will either be on Monday or Tuesday, depending on the weather.  Please enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Oklahoma State Surprises Oklahoma

Trae Young ties Big 12 single game record scoring 48 points, but it was not enough

Great game in Stillwater at 80 year old Gallagher-Iba Arena on Saturday afternoon.  Both teams played at a near furious pace, and by the time Oklahoma freshman guard Trae Young flipped the switch–his game was on again.

His 48 points led all scorers to go along with 8 assists and five rebounds.  Not only he tied a Big 12 conference high in points, but it was his third 40 point effort of the season.  Only the late Wayman Tisdale did it most often in a Sooners uniform–five times in the 1980’s.  One-time Chicago Bulls great Stacey King did it twice in the late 1980’s.

Jeffery Carroll came up with some huge shots down the stretch and finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds for the Cowboys (13-6 overall, 3-4 in Big 12 play).  By the time Young missed on a few easy layups, Oklahoma State earned their final points from the free throw line in another stunning upset, 83-81 in one overtime period.

In other key mid-afternoon games of interest:

Northwestern got back on track with a nice 70-61 win over upstart Penn State at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois.

Several miles to the south at Wintrust Arena near McCormick Place in downtown Chicago, Butler coasted to a 79-67 victory over DePaul.

West Virginia outscored Texas 54-29 in the second half as the Mountaineers raced past the Longhorns 86-51.

Also in the Big 12, Iowa State held Texas Tech to their lowest shooting output of the season in a shocking 70-52 decision in Ames, Iowa.

Finally, Xavier continued their road mastery coming up huge at Seton Hall 73-64.

Government Shutdown claims one game

The contest between Fresno State at the Air Force Academy has been postponed since the United States Senate failed to come up with a deal to keep the government open in the eleventh hour on Friday night.

All Falcons men’s and women’s basketball games are cancelled until further notice.

However, the shutdown for the time being does not affect the games involving either the Army or the Naval Academy.

 

 

Georgetown Survives Over St. John’s, Sweeps Season Series in Double Overtime

SONG SELECTION:

“Only The Lonely”, by The Motels

Found on the 2005 Motels:  Essential Collection CD from Capitol Records

It took a typical length of a baseball game in 1985 to decide things in Washington.  No, it was not the Fishbowl that is Capitol Hill–but Georgetown finally had enough spurts in them to eek out a hard-fought 93-89 victory in double overtime.

The key play in the second overtime stanza was a four-point play by Jagan Mosely.  Georgetown players were fouled in the act of shooting two other times earlier in the contest, as St. John’s gave away 12 instant points with the clock stopped.  His two three throws with a few seconds left finally iced the game.

After nearly three hours, those fifty brave people can finally text, tweet, meme, and whatever else kids do these days.

Shamorie Ponds led all scorers for St. John’s, with 33 points in a game high 49 minutes played.  Marcus Derrickson had 27 to lead the Hoyas, including a game tying contested three with 3.9 seconds left in the first overtime period.

Rebounds were almost even (42 to 41 in favor of the Hoyas), but it was the free throws that proved to be the difference:  26 of 34 for Georgetown, while the Red Storm only 16 of 25 for 64 percent.  Three point shooting also was key with Georgetown hitting on 11 of 23 attempts from behind the arc, while St. John’s was a paltry 9 of 29.

Other results of key early games…

Villanova and Purdue both cruised to double digit wins on the road, same for Ohio State at Minnesota and Bucknell did the same at home–that final being 77-56 over Holy Cross.

But Wichita State lost for the second time this week, as Rob Gray poured in 24 points as Houston upset the Shockers 73-59 on this the 50th anniversary of the Cougars stopping UCLA’s then-record 47 game winning streak in the old Houston Astrodome.  It would be the last loss for UCLA for nearly six years.

50th anniversary of the first ever nationally televised college basketball game to air in prime time

If you get some time, DVR the one hour documentary on CBS Sports Network that Houston alum Jim Nantz moderated with two of the stars from that “Game of The Century” in Elvin Hayes and Don Chaney, along with The Athletic Managing Editor/CBS Sports analyst Seth Davis and the late, great announcer Dick Enberg in his last public appearance before his death in December 2017.

As one-time UCLA star Lynn Shackelford boldly commented during the documentary about their All World star in Lew Alcindor (later would be known as Kareem Abdul Jabbar), when he got poked in the eye ten days earlier after grabbing a rebound in a game at California-Berkeley, who knows what the outcome would have been had Alcindor been at full strength?

In the middle of the Astrodome, Houston outlasted UCLA in a game for the ages.  Both teams were ranked 1 and 2 at the time.

As “The Big E” himself said in that documentary,

“We just thought of it as another game.  It put the Houston Cougars on the map.”

Of course, that answer would come a few months later during the 1969 Final Four in Los Angeles.  Alcindor scored from inside and outside and could not be stopped in a 101-69 UCLA blowout of the Cougars en route to the Bruins’ fourth national title in five seasons.

 

Checking In On “Actual Reality”

You have to hand it Georgetown University, as fifty (50) people gave up their cell phones for two hours (clever idea using Ziploc bags to protect them from getting dusty) so they can enjoy a game and chat with their friends.

From the Twitter account of the Georgetown Hoyas (where else would you find it):

The only thing missing is seeing those brave people stand in line for Polaroid shots.

As for the game, Georgetown leads their rivals of St. John’s 30-29 at the half.

In the meantime, I feel for a moment like the late, great Dick Clark when he greeted his ABC Saturday morning audience to American Bandstand.

Once the game goes final, get on your most comfortable shoes and kindly dance to my Spotify playlist featuring all things 1980’s.

Consider this as my virtual gift to today’s kids born after 1993:

More updates to come later today.

St. Mary’s Gets It Done On the Road

SONG SELECTION:

The Decemberists, “Severed” from the album I’ll Be Your Girl

To be released March 16, 2018

Most impressive of their 13 straight wins comes at The Kennel

In a game that recently retired Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle could appreciate, the St. Mary’s Gaels finished off their rival of the defending national runner-up in the Gonzaga Bulldogs in a little over 1 hour and 40 minutes.

The 74-71 final featured 12 ties and 25 lead changes.

Leading the way for St. Mary’s was Jock Landale with 26 points and 12 rebounds.  Meanwhile, Calvin Hermanson chipped in with 16 points.  Johnathan Williams again had another nice game for the Zags, finishing the evening with 13 while Killian Tillie compiled 11 points.

With Gonzaga leading 42-38 at the half, an 8-3 run started the second half and helped the Zags race out to a nice point lead at 50-41.  Then, Saint Mary’s came back and chipped at the lead.  Landale’s jumper tied things up at 63 with seven minutes to play.  Almost a minute later, Landale scored once more to put the Gaels back in the lead at 65-63.

After Josh Perkins sank three free throws to put the Bulldogs back in front, Landale’s basket tied it at 68.  Calvin Hermanson’s layup put the Gaels in front 70-68 with 2:45 left on the second half clock.  However, Rui Hachimura’s basket tied the score again at 70.

Landale then hit another layup to give Saint Mary’s back the lead at 72-70 with 66 seconds left to play.  Zach Norvell Jr. from Gonzaga converted on a free throw for Gonzaga with 41 seconds left to cut Saint Mary’s lead down to one.  Once again, St. Mary’s turned to Landale.  His layup with 15 seconds left turned out to be the game winner.  Hachimura missed a 3-pointer from 30 feet out off the top of the backboard at the buzzer.

The difference in the game came in the final two minutes when Gonzaga a bunch of wide open threes.  The preseason pick by many media members out West before the season began, St. Mary’s has a two game lead overall at 18-2 (Gonzaga is 16-4).

More importantly–it is the Gaels who are still undefeated in the West Coast Conference at 7-0.  Gonzaga is one game back at 6-1 in WCC play.

But like all superheroes that came back when the chips were down during the old Saturday morning cartoons of the 1970’s and 1980’s, there is nothing to fear if you are a Gonzaga fan.

An article on CBSSports.com cited a few reasons why Gonzaga should be able to earn an at-large berth if they do not win the WCC postseason tournament in Las Vegas:

With an RPI of 54 entering Thursday night’s game, Gonzaga has “four Tier 1 wins in non-conference play, including victories over Ohio State and Creighton.”  Six of their games thus far have been against Tier 1 and Tier 4 (lower level) competition.

All signs point out to another huge game on Saturday, February 10 at 10 p.m. Eastern time when Gonzaga visits St. Mary’s.  We will see what transpires between now and then.

Belmont and Nebraska get statement wins

In one of the rare national TV games for the Ohio Valley Conference during the regular season, the fans in Nashville were treated to a great basketball game.  Murray State raced out to an early lead, then saw host Belmont chip away little by little.  Like all good teams do, they persist and succeeded when faced with adversity.

Belmont outscored Murray State 51-40 in the second half en route to a huge 79-72 win.  Conventional wisdom says do not be at all surprised if these same two schools somehow, someway will work their early March magic again at the OVC Tournament.

Back in the bruising world of the Big Ten, a surprise entrant that might take over Northwestern’s position as Tournament Darlings could be in Huskerland.

That’s right–Nebraska stunned Michigan with a convincing 72-52 win.  The Huskers shot 26 of 47 (55.3 percent) on the night, while holding the visiting Wolverines to 21 of 56 overall shooting (37.5 percent).  Even though Michigan won the rebounding battle 32-28, it was the fact that Nebraska as a team forced nine steals to Michigan’s four.  Another key stat was the personal fouls–Michigan as a team committed 19 fouls, but Nebraska only had 14 the entire night.

With the win, Nebraska is 14-7 overall and Michigan slipped to 16-5 overall.  Both teams are 5-3 in Big Ten play, one game back of both Michigan State and Indiana.  The Spartans and Hoosiers though have two games in hand, while the two top dogs in Ohio State and Purdue each have one game in hand.

Only seven games on Friday, with Fox Sports 1 showing a Big Ten doubleheader.

First, Indiana travels to Michigan State at 7 p.m. Eastern time, followed up by Illinois heading north and west to Madison to take on the Wisconsin Badgers at 9 p.m.

The next time I hope to blog will be on Saturday, with two huge games leading off at noon:

  • Villanova travels to UConn in kicking off another CBS tripleheader
  • Purdue heads west to Iowa for a key Big Ten tilt, airing on ESPN
  • And of course, for mostly giggles–check out FS1 on All Things 1980’s Day to see how that one section of Georgetown fans will try to survive “Actual Reality” during their game with the cellar dwellers of the Big East in long time rival St. John’s.

Please have a good night, everyone.  Pleasant dreams.