What looked like it should’ve been the game of the night wasn’t much of a game at all.
Iowa State sometimes gets on those offensive runs at home when it looks like one of the top five teams in the country, and the Cyclones did it Thursday night in a 95-77 win over Arkansas. A game that looked to have a ton of promise coming in was never really close, and the Razorbacks were tagged with their first loss in seven games.
Bryce DeJean-Jones and Georges Niang combined for 53 points and combined hit 17 of 21 shots. That’s better than 80% shooting from your two leading scorers, and ISU as a whole shot 62.7%. Much like Duke against Wisconsin last night, you’re not going to beat the Cyclones when they play like that, and especially at Hilton Coliseum with those loose, creaky rims that are so loud they seem to have amplifiers on them on TV.
Many wondered how Iowa State would play after that loss to Maryland last week. The Cyclones will be just fine-this is too good of an offensive team. As for the Hogs, there’s still work to do, but this does indeed look like Mike Anderson’s best team so far. In fact, Arkansas shot 48.3% itself, and though its halfcourt defense could’ve been more firm, the Hogs will have plenty of chances throughout the season to prove they deserve to keep the top 25 ranking they carried into this one.
Thursday nights’s action:
- LSU trailed almost the entire second half but kept coming and kept coming and earned a big road win at West Virginia, 74-73. Tim Quarterman saved the Tigers with 21 points off the bench. WVU is a pleasure to watch defensively, but the Mountaineers seemed to lose some zip in the second half.
- Baylor nipped Vanderbilt 66-63 in wonderfully quirky Memorial Gym. One can look at this one two ways: 1) The Bears won by only three over a team that lost to Rutgers or 2) Baylor won a road game. Take the latter, especially since Kenny Chery was out, though the Bears gave up a few too many easy baskets at the back of their zone. Still, Scott Drew’s team had an answer every time Vandy got close, and that resilience says a lot.
- It’s time to rethink what you thought you know about TCU. The Horned Frogs are now 8-0, and it’s not just because of a friendly schedule, not after an impressive 66-54 win at Mississippi that should start getting this team some attention. This was a close game at halftime, but the Frogs dominated the second half on both ends. Unselfish, under control and playing with confidence right now, this is a team with a lot of guys who can hit an open shot. TCU had four score in double figures and posted 18 assists on 22 baskets. The Frogs also out-rebounded the Rebs 43-33, held them to 29.8% shooting, and had the hosts notably frustrated by the late going. An impressive win all around.
- San Diego State defeated San Diego 57-48 in the City Championship. As usual, the Toreros made it interesting-SDSU led virtually the whole way but could never pull away. ESPN noted during the broadcast that these two do not have a contract yet to continue the series after this year. Time to get that done. Pronto. This is an excellent rivalry, and there’s no reason not to play it every year.
- Georgia State blew out Wisconsin-Green Bay 72-48. The first game of two between these teams was no contest. R.J. Hunter scored 26 and Ryan Harrow added 17. This was a statement for the Panthers. As for UWGB…what happened here? The Phoenix has now been blown out twice this year. One was at Wisconsin, and that’s going to happen to teams in Madison. Now it’s also happened against Georgia State-a good team to be sure, but not a good sign with a game at Miami (Fla.) up next.
- Drexel lost to Philadelphia Sciences, 54-52. That’s not Philadelphia U., coached by the legendary Herb Magee, this is the school known as USciences. The Devils are led by Garret Kerr, a first team NCAA Division II All-American who was the Basketball Times D-2 player of the year last year, and Kerr was the best player on the court with 27 points and 10 rebounds, as well as the game-winning three-pointer with two seconds left. The Dragons were missing Tavon Allen, but this is still an ugly, ugly loss.
- George Washington rolled Maryland-Baltimore County 83-60. Notable because Patricio Garino had 23 points and seven rebounds. Garino had been quiet in the Colonials’ previous five games, and GW needs him to play a prominent role to provide a complement to Kethan Savage.
- Missouri State trailed most of the night but found its legs late to edge Arkansas-Little Rock 73-68. Marcus Marshall makes the Bears go (18 points) but Austin Ruder stepped up with a career-high 23, including seven three-pointers.
- News from yesterday morning, Utah forward Jordan Loveridge has had knee surgery and will be out for a month or more. The freshman was averaging 11.5 points per game early on for the Utes.
- Sports writer and columnist Bryan Burwell passed away yesterday from cancer at the age of 59. Best known for his work at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and for the USA Today, among many places, Burwell was a former president of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and was one of the best. He will be greatly missed.
Today’s Menu Light on offerings, but very high on quality. Here are seven of the best ones, and there are good games being left off here:
Texas at Kentucky (7 p.m. EST, ESPN) Your latest game of the year (does that make three of them in the first couple weeks of the season?) The Wildcat defense has been outstanding, while Texas is as battle-tested as anyone early in the season.
Florida at Kansas (9 p.m. EST, ESPN) The Gators are already being declared as having a down year by some, but let’s hang on just a bit. Billy Donovan usually gets these things figured out. KU has responded nicely since that blowout loss to Kentucky.
Wyoming at SMU (7 p.m. EST, ESPN News) A decidedly western feel as the Cowboys meet the Mustangs. Texas/Kentucky is going on at the same time, but this is also the first chance many have to see Wyoming. Still waiting to see more from SMU, which still has not been impressive at any point and even struggled to put away Monmouth on Sunday.
Providence at Boston College Both of these teams have had pretty quiet schedules the past week, with PC not playing since facing Kentucky on Sunday and the Eagles only facing Marist since competing in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. BC was competitive there and matches up pretty well with the Friars.
Long Beach State at Stephen F. Austin One could say that so far no two teams have played tougher non-conference schedules than these two. This is really the Lumberjacks last shot to impress, while the 49ers’ slate gets obscenely tough from here. This is not some team playing a bunch of made-for-TV contests at neutral sites, as Long Beach State does not play at home again until Jan. 15. Following tonight the 49ers play at: San Diego State, Texas, St. John’s, Syracuse, Louisville, Big West favorite UC Irvine, and undefeated 6-0 UC Davis. Incredible-even three wins in that stretch is an accomplishment.
Yale at Connecticut Yale is solid, but the Huskies should still roll in this one. Except sometimes they don’t in these games-see close calls against Bryant and College of Charleston.
Missouri at Oklahoma (9:30 p.m. EST, ESPNU) This one makes the list partly out of nostalgia for when both were in the Big 8/Big 12 together-still miss those old matchups between Norm Stewart and Billy Tubbs, including this legendary moment from 1989. Oklahoma should win, but expecting the Tigers to become a tough out as the season goes on.
Have a truly great Friday.