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Saturday Notes – December 13, 2014

December 14, 2014 Columns No Comments

Saturday was not as busy as most Saturdays typically are, but there were some eagerly anticipated matchups on the day. Fortunately, several lived up to their billing, with a couple of overtime games mixed in, though the most highly-anticipated ones were not among them.

Several games needed a little more time, including a couple that went beyond one extra session. One of those games ended up being a big win for the road team.

With that in mind, here are notes from some of the day’s notable games.

Kentucky 84, North Carolina 70: North Carolina tried to make this interesting, but that Kentucky won this convincingly might say more about the Tar Heels than the Wildcats. The good sign for the Tar Heels is that someone other than Marcus Paige led them in scoring (Brice Johnson with 15).

Arizona 80, Michigan 53: This game probably says more about Michigan than Arizona, as the Wildcats turned this into a rout late in the first half on into the early part of the second. Michigan may well get better come February or so, but right now the Wolverines simply aren’t very good.

Gonzaga 87, UCLA 74: Gonzaga led wire-to-wire in this one, and of note, they are clearly deeper. UCLA is looking to establish some players off the bench, getting just two points and two rebounds from backup center Thomas Welsh as the entire bench contribution in 27 total minutes from three reserves in this one. Gonzaga, on the other hand, got 15 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in 45 minutes.

Kansas 63, Utah 60: Imagine what this would mean for Utah had the Utes pulled this one out after rallying from a 21-point deficit. To win on Kansas’ home floor would have been an even bigger boost than beating Wichita State recently was. But the Jayhawks pulled it out despite Delon Wright’s best effort.

Wichita State 77, Detroit 68: Detroit led for a lot of the second half, so they continue to show promise in non-conference play. Still, this game was there for them at one point before it got away from them.

VCU 93, Northern Iowa 87 (2 OT): A great game that lived up to its potential between two very good teams. Northern Iowa was able to hang in all game, then Matt Bohanon was Mr. Clutch in hitting three-pointers to put them up late in regulation and then one to send the game to a second overtime. This is a great win for VCU, knocking Northern Iowa from the ranks of the undefeated.

Maryland 67, USC Upstate 57: The Terrapins continue their good start and avoid the same fate of former conference mate Georgia Tech last week, as USC Upstate knocked off the Yellow Jackets. An interesting stat is that freshman point guard Romelo Trimble led them in rebounds with 12 to go with 14 points.

Notre Dame 83, Florida State 63: A classic case of two teams going in opposite directions, as Notre Dame wins its ACC opener to go to 10-1, while Florida State continues to have a tough time thanks in part to various personnel matters.

Arkansas 69, Dayton 55: The Razorbacks are back on track, picking up a good win over the Flyers at home.

Providence 79, Stony Brook 61: Providence showed this week that they can regroup and play once again like they did before they hit a slump a couple of weeks ago and dropped three games. That’s a good sign for what is really a young team.

Xavier 74, Missouri 58: While this Missouri team isn’t very good, this is a road win, and Xavier is quietly 8-2 and getting better.

Oklahoma State 73, Memphis 55: The Tigers are not only 3-4 overall, but 2-2 at home after dropping this one. It was a matchup of teams that are trying to reload this season, and right now Josh Pastner’s team is having more growing pains. Oklahoma State is 8-1 and gaining confidence.

Davidson 78, Niagara 58: Speaking of gaining confidence, Davidson has to be gaining some as they are also 8-1 after this blowout. They have road games at College of Charleston and Virginia left before they begin their Atlantic 10 play for the first time.

Saint Mary’s 71, Creighton 67 (OT): Creighton’s 24-game home winning streak ends, and it’s a very good win for Saint Mary’s in a game that was as good as the matchup suggested. Aaron Bright and Brad Waldow came up big for the Gaels.

Oregon 77, Illinois 70: Not a good loss for Illinois, as they led by 13 at one time and got a career-high 29 points from Rayvonte Rice. This win may give Oregon a nice boost, but the thinking is that it’s one Illinois really should have had.

TCU 68, McNeese State 50: TCU remains undefeated, a sign that Trent Johnson may be making some strides with this team towards becoming relevant in the Big 12. It’s not out of the realm of possibilities that they go into Big 12 play with a perfect 13-0 mark given that three home games are all that remain in non-conference play.

Army 85, USC 77 (OT): Army was a popular pick as the preseason favorite in the Patriot League, and this win is the latest evidence that they’ve done nothing to this point to dispel that notion. They are 7-2, including a 4-1 mark on the road including this one, with the only losses coming at Duke and at home to Bryant.

Albany 77, Siena 68: Neither team has had a good first month of action, but for Albany, to win the Albany Cup is big. The Great Danes should contend in America East when it’s all said and done.

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