Doubleheaders at Madison Square Garden are as much a part of the fabric of college basketball as the ball itself or Bill Raftery. There is nothing better, and only a few things that even compare.
If the Jimmy V Classic isn’t going to take place at North Carolina State, then MSG is a terrific place for it (especially since one Jimmy V’s signature wins of his college coaching career came when his Iona team routed eventual national champion Louisville at the Garden in Feb. 1980).
This year’s event included a pair of games that were good for about 30 minutes or so before blowing open late. Villanova led Illinois just 58-55 with under seven minutes to play but finished with a 15-2 run late for a 73-59 win. Dylan Ennis continues to play well for the Wildcats, as he scored 18 points to top double figures for the seventh time in nine games after averaging just 5.1 points last year.
In the second game, Louisville raced away from Indiana late to win 94-74. Terry Rozier scored a career-best 26 points and the Cards owned the glass 52-34. Chris Jones finished with 24 points and nine boards and Montrezl Harrell added 21 & 11. Game effort by the Hoosiers, but Louisville showed why it has a real claim on being a top 5 team.
Tuesday night’s action:
- Who would’ve thought the most suspenseful game of the night would be…Creighton against South Dakota? The Bluejays finally pulled out the win 91-88 in double overtime to avoid a very disappointing loss. It took the Jays’ best, though, as the Coyotes hit one big shot (most of them highly contested) after another in the game’s final minutes and in both overtime periods to make this one fantastic game. Much respect to USD for its effort here, and to Creighton for still doing enough to overcome it.
- Seton Hall got off to a good start at Wichita State, but the Shockers bullied the Pirates from there for a 77-68 win at the Roundhouse that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated. SHU’s Isaiah Whitehead is really, really good (23 points) but the best player on the court was Ron Baker, who had 22 points, made 9 of 11 shots from the field and played outstanding defense.
- Arizona (87-56 over Utah Valley), Notre Dame (93-67 over Mount St. Mary’s) and Iowa State (73-56 over Missouri-Kansas City) all rolled past overmatched non-conference foes at home. Noteworthy: ISU’s Bryce Dejean-Jones scored 22, while the Irish’s Steve Vasturia scored a career-high 19 points and hit all seven of his shots, including three three-pointers.
- Michigan has issues right now. The Wolverines lost their second straight, this time falling at home to Eastern Michigan 45-42. EMU shot just 32.6%-same as Michigan-but dominated the glass (36-27 advantage). Huge win for the Eagles, while a second straight surprising loss for the Wolverines.
- Bowling Green very nearly pulled off another big road win for the MAC, but Dayton rallied late to nip off the Falcons 56-52. The BG’s led by 11 late, but the Flyers finished the game on a 17-2 run.
- TCU is still undefeated after an 80-69 win over Furman. Kyan Anderson has been quiet of late but came up with 21 in this one, and they were needed as the Horned Frogs struggled to put away the Paladins despite shooting 59.6%. TCU is 9-0 for the first time since 1997-98, the last time it made the NCAA Tournament.
- Evansville earned a nice win at Belmont, defeating the Bruins 65-62. The battle between super scorers D.J. Balentine and Craig Bradshaw never materialized, as Bradshaw sat out the game with a leg injury. Balentine was terrific with 25 points while Belmont point guard Reece Chamberlain had a unique stat line: two points on 1-for-11 shooting but 14 rebounds and eight assists.
- Baylor topped former SWC/Big 12 rival Texas A&M 77-63. The Bears finished with a 38-17 rebounding bulge and allowed the Aggies ZERO offensive rebounds.
- While South Dakota could not pull off the surprise, South Dakota State did Tuesday night, winning at Saint Louis 62-55. It’s looking like it will be a long season for the Billikens.
- Hartford picked up an impressive win, going to Holy Cross and coming out with a 79-61 win. The Hawks’ Mark Nwakamma had maybe the best individual performance of the night, scoring 29 points on 14 of 18 shooting.
- Finally, NJIT followed up its historic win over Michigan with another victory, edging St. Francis (N.Y.) 68-66.
- Marquette announced that Deonte Burton and John Dawson are both transferring at the end of the first semester. That leaves the Golden Eagles temporarily down to eight scholarship players, though they’ll be adding another when Indiana transfer Luke Fischer becomes eligible in time for their next game Dec. 16.
- Wake Forest announced yesterday that sophomore guard Miles Overton also is transferring at the end of the semester. Overton had played in seven of the Demon Deacons’ nine games this year and was averaging just over 12 minutes and 5.1 points per game.
Kansas vs. Georgetown (7 p.m. EST, FS1) On a night with a lot of intriguing games, this is still the best one. Want to see the young Jayhawks on the road against the Hoyas’ patient offense.
Colorado State at Colorado A huge “resume” game for both teams. Other than maybe a trip to New Mexico State, this is also really the last chance for the Rams to impress out of conference.
Utah at BYU (9 p.m. EST, ESPNU) There are rivalries, and then there are bitter, vicious rivalries (think: Cincinnati/Xavier). The Holy War between these two schools is one of those.
North Carolina Central at Maryland This one has upset opportunity written all over it. The Eagles were hammered by injuries early this year but have won five straight since early losses at North Carolina, Creighton and Cincinnati, while the Terps are the team currently fighting injuries.
Rhode Island at Providence Yet another terrific in-state series tonight. Friars need to snap out of it.
Wyoming at California Important game for both teams, especially the Cowboys. Like Colorado State, Wyoming really has no other big non-conference chances after this.
Northern Iowa at Denver Tricky road game for the newly ranked Panthers.
Long Beach State at San Diego State Talked yesterday about teams bouncing back after ugly performances. Both are attempting to do that here after their last games-the 49ers were blown out in the second half at Stephen F. Austin, while the Aztecs are coming off a thoroughly miserable offensive showing at Washington.
Have a great Wednesday.