What an exciting game Friday night, considering there wasn’t much on except for Kevin Hart graciously giving away his MVP trophy during the NBA Celebrity Game to Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan (well deserved performance by President Obama’s right hand man, that’s for sure with 20 points and 10 rebounds on the night).
Arizona State dealt Arizona a serious blow to their hopes of landing the number 1 seed out West 69-66 as Jermaine Marshall scored eight of his 29 points in the second overtime. Jordan Bachynski blocked T.J. McConnell’s layup attempt with 6 seconds left. This all happened after a nearly wild scene broke out. Marshall hit a major dryspell not scoring a bucket in over 20 minutes of play, but his consecutive 3-pointers preceded a driving layup with 14 seconds left on the clock to put ASU up 67-66.
Arizona State (19-6, 7-5 Pac-12) helped their chances in landing a possible at-large berth, with their RPI entering play on Valentine’s Day at 37, but a nice 25 ranking within Pac-12 play. It also does not hurt going 11-2 during non-conference play. But the Selection Committee could turn them a black eye come Selection Sunday when they look at the Strength of Schedule ranking, which stands at a meager 194.
McConnell then tried to drive the lane, but center Jordan Bachynski came up with a key block, leading to a breakaway dunk by Jahii Carson. Arizona State’s fans rushed the court, but had to be cleared by campus police since there was 0.8 seconds left to play. Shortly thereafter, Nick Johnson missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have sent the game to a third overtime–but it fell harmlessly off the front rim. McConnell led Arizona (23-2, 10-2 in Pac-12 play) with 17 points and five rebounds.
Saturday is a huge day with many games implicating possible seedings, but the key game belongs in the SEC: Florida at Kentucky, 9 p.m. Eastern time on ESPN. Florida has had UK’s number in recent years, but will John Calipari’s young studs stand in the Gators’ way? It looks to be a hostile environment as Billy Donovan looks to work his magic toward landing one of the four coveted Number 1 seeds.
Next closest big game will be early, 1 p.m. Eastern on CBS as two teams who have hit a small fork in the road, Pittsburgh tries to erase the bad memory of Tyler Ennis’ running game winning three-point shot which snapped a nine-game winning streak at home against Top 5 ranked teams since moving into the Recreation and Events Center. North Carolina will need plenty of rested and fresh bodies on the court because this is their first of four games in eight days, precipitated by the freakish snowstorm that cancelled the Duke game this past Wednesday and is scheduled for Thursday, February 20.
And of course, the last of the unbeatens–Syracuse plays on Saturday afternoon at home against North Carolina State. Meanwhile, catch Wichita State on Sunday afternoon in Evansville on the Watch ESPN website and mobile app. Enjoy your weekend.