Early season tournaments continue to lead the way, and will for much of the next week. Friday featured plenty of such action leading into the weekend, setting the stage for what’s to come. In one of them, a champion was crowned.
At Madison Square Garden, Texas won the 2K Classic 71-55 over California, frustrating the Golden Bears with their defense all night long, especially the 10 shots they blocked. In the consolation game, Syracuse held off Iowa 66-63 behind a career-high 20 points and nine rebounds from freshman Chris McCullough, who also got the game-sealing steal in the final seconds. More coverage on this is coming soon, so stay tuned.
The Coaches vs. Cancer Classic had its semifinals on Friday, and neither was a close game. Stanford opened up by blowing out UNLV 89-60, then Duke beat Temple 74-54.
In the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Classic, the championship game is set on Sunday, and it will be an old Big East matchup as Connecticut and West Virginia will battle. Connecticut rode a big game from Ryan Boatright to a 75-64 win over Dayton, while West Virginia had to overcome an 11-point halftime deficit to beat Boston College 70-66. Ironically, Dayton and Boston College, who will meet in the third place game beforehand, also met in one of these tournaments two years ago, the Charleston Classic.
The Charleston Classic also has its final set, and Miami will try to win it for a second time on Sunday. The Hurricanes, who won in 2010, blew out Akron 79-51 on Friday and will take on Charlotte, 65-63 winners over South Carolina in a game that came right down to the buzzer. The 49ers are looking to win an in-season tournament for the third year in a row.
The Paradise Jam got started on Friday, and it had a couple of mild surprises. Gardner-Webb beat Clemson 72-70, aided by Clemson calling a timeout they didn’t have in the final seconds, then later Old Dominion beat LSU 70-61.
In non-tournament action, the closest thing to an upset was Florida needing overtime to beat UL Monroe 61-56. Michael Frazier II led the way with 21 points for Florida, who played without starting guard Eli Carter due to a left foot sprain.
The best win of the night by a ranked team was Virginia‘s convincing 59-42 win over George Washington. The Colonials should contend in the Atlantic 10, so this is a quality win for the Cavaliers.
Kentucky shook off Boston University and broke the game open to win going away 89-65, while Louisville beat Marshall 85-67, Michigan State blew out Loyola (Ill.) 87-52 and Utah blew out UC Riverside 88-42.
Two other games whose results might raise an eyebrow were Long Beach State knocking off Kansas State 69-60 at Long Beach and Hawaii holding off Pittsburgh 74-70.
Texas played Friday night without point guard Isaiah Taylor due to a broken left wrist, according to ESPN. Taylor was seen with his wrist heavily wrapped, and on Friday night he had his left arm in a sling.
New Mexico may be without leading scorer Cullen Neal for a while, but they won’t know until they get home from the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Classic. Neal suffered an injury to his left ankle or foot in Thursday’s loss to Boston College, and according to a report on ESPN.com, they can’t do a bone scan and MRI there. The Puerto Rico Tip-Off Classic ends on Sunday.
Texas A&M got a boost when the NCAA cleared Danuel House to play this season. The junior forward transferred from Houston and got a waiver on Friday, so he will join the team in Puerto Rico for their game on Sunday.
More action in early season tournaments lead the way, though it’s a day off in a couple of them.
- The Coaches vs. Cancer Classic championship game will pit Stanford against Duke. It will follow the consolation game between UNLV and Temple.
- The Hall of Fame Tip-Off will finish up this weekend, with Saturday being the first of two days of games at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut. Notable matchups on the afternoon will feature Notre Dame taking on UMass and Providence taking on Florida State.
- The Paradise Jam has semifinal action pitting Gardner-Webb against Seton Hall and Old Dominion taking on Illinois State.
- Outside of tournament action, North Carolina plays Davidson in Charlotte and Boise State heads to Madison to take on Wisconsin.