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Saturday notes – January 4, 2014

January 5, 2014 Columns No Comments

Conference play is very much underway all across the country now, and Saturday saw plenty of early games. As often happens, there were some surprises, especially with some of the favorites being on the road in this case.

Here are some notes from the day’s games.

Arizona 71, Washington 62: The Huskies put a scare into the nation’s top team in Tucson but couldn’t pull it out. It was a little different game for the Wildcats from Thursday night against Washington State.

Syracuse 49, Miami 44: It’s easy to first try and criticize Syracuse, but let’s give Miami and coach Jim Larranaga some credit. This is a very inexperienced Hurricanes team and he’s getting a lot out of them.

Notre Dame 79, Duke 77: A big start for the Irish to their ACC tenure. Eric Atkins continues to play big, and it looks like he’s trying to be the guy they ride with Jerian Grant done for the season.

Kansas State 74, Oklahoma State 71: Just a few days after knocking off George Washington, Kansas State picks up another quality win in taking out the Cowboys in the Big 12 opener.

Cincinnati 69, Memphis 53: A little surprising since it was in Memphis, but this puts the Bearcats at 2-0 out of the gate in the AAC.

SMU 74, Connecticut 65: This is where losing at Houston a few nights earlier hurts Connecticut. Losing at SMU isn’t so bad since the Mustangs have some talent, but now the Huskies head home for a non-conference game at 0-2 in the AAC.

Pittsburgh 74, NC State 62: One of the toughest tests for the Panthers goes well, as they win their ACC opener against an NC State team that has played well at home.

Maryland 77, Georgia Tech 61: Maryland goes to 2-0 to start ACC play, a good sign for a team that underachieved a bit in non-conference play.

Virginia 62, Florida State 50: This might be the surprise of the day in the ACC, as both teams looked promising in non-conference play but the Seminoles were at home. It’s a better win for Virginia than you might think.

Xavier 79, Butler 68: The Musketeers have been on a roll at a good time, now starting their inaugural Big East season at 2-0.

Oklahoma 88, Taxes 85: If the Longhorns are going to make their nice non-conference record stand up, they need to win in Austin in Big 12 play. This loss doesn’t help, while the Sooners just look better.

West Virginia 74, TCU 69: By itself, this isn’t big news. But West Virginia’s road issues have been well-documented, and this came in Fort Worth, so it’s a nice start to Big 12 play for the Mountaineers.

Houston 67, USF 58: The Cougars showed that Wednesday night’s win over Connecticut was not a fluke, winning in Tampa on Saturday.

Dayton 83, Mississippi 80 (OT): Devin Oliver’s 26 points included three big ones with less than a second to go in overtime. It’s a nice way to finish a 12-3 non-conference run for the Flyers, who open conference play in a week with Saint Louis.

Rhode Island 74, LSU 70: The Rams have been up and down in non-conference play, but this road win on a short turnaround after winning at Brown on snowy Thursday night is a great way to close out the slate. They aren’t likely to contend in the Atlantic 10, but as they come of age together they could knock off a contender late in the season to influence the race.

Princeton 80, Liberty 74: Harvard is rightly getting a lot of attention, but Princeton looks more and more like they might be a better challenger to the Crimson than first thought as they are now 11-2 including 5-1 on the road.

Iona 118, Niagara 92: Iona has a lot of offensive talent, and it really showed in this one. They shot 64.5 percent from the field, including 14-26 on three-pointers, and had 34 assists on 40 made field goals. Seven Gaels scored in double figures and another had nine points.

Quinnipiac 94, Monmouth 77: The Bobcats could be a sleeper in the MAAC, and with this win on the road they are 2-1 in early play.

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