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The Morning Dish – Sunday, January 4, 2015

January 4, 2015 The Morning Dish No Comments

The unbeaten toppled over one-by-one on Saturday.

We started the day with six, but ended it with three, and nearly less than that. Villanova went down at 2:30 p.m. TCU was gone by 6 p.m. Colorado State dropped at 10 p.m. Two hours before that, Virginia looked for the world like it was going to join the list until some heroics by Justin Anderson and some poor clock management by Miami.

Welcome to conference play.

Seton Hall’s 66-61 win over Villanova was the Game of the Day v. 1.0. This one was special. Hard fought throughout. Seton Hall beat its second ranked team this week. Two ‘old’ Big East teams battling. The Prudential Center was rocking. It was like old times. Yes, it can be said: The Big East is back.

That game was later equaled by Virginia’s 89-80 double-OT win over Miami. Tony Bennett’s Cavaliers continue to prove they can win in multiple ways. Shooting, scoring, defense, coming from behind- they did all of that just in this game alone. Admit it: you don’t always know how they do it, but they do, and deserve so much credit for it.

The remaining unbeatens are Kentucky, Duke and Virginia. The latter two meet January 31st. Kentucky and Duke are probably the two most talented teams in the country, while Virginia is as battle-tested as anyone. The Final Four is the season’s culmination and ultimate goal, but we’ve got a pretty strong final three for 2014-15, too.

Saturday’s action:

  • Phil Kasiecki has his recap of many of the day’s biggest games here
  • The day overall included less close games than might’ve expected, but we did have some buzzer-beaters:
  • Toledo had a tough time at Northern Kentucky but won 57-55 on Julius Brown’s three-pointer with :00.7 left.
  • Utah State also got a nice 62-61 road win at Boise State when David Collette hit a triple just before the buzzer.
  • Staying in the northwest, Idaho’s Mike Scott hit a jumper with :03 left to give the Vandals an 86-84 win over Weber State. Idaho is 2-0 in its return to the Big Sky.
  • Ian Baker canned a triple from the corner to give New Mexico State a 70-67 win over fellow injury-bitten team UC Irvine, which once again played without its top two players (Mamadou Ndiaye and Luke Nelson).
  • The ACC had two double-overtime games on Saturday with Notre Dame joining Virginia as victorious after outlasting Georgia Tech 83-76, and the Big South also had two games go 50 minutes. High Point held off Winthrop 90-87 with John Brown scoring 33 points, while Longwood came back from 12 points down late in regulation and then pulled away in the second extra session for a 90-79 win over Radford.
  • Also going double overtime: Vanderbilt and Yale. The Bulldogs blew a big opportunity to back up their earlier win this season at Connecticut, as the Commodores rallied from 13 down in the second half and won 79-74.

Side Dishes

  • Dayton got bad news as backup point guard Ryan Bass will miss the rest of the season due to concussion-related symptoms. The Oakland transfer apparently suffered a concussion in practice in November, which sidelined him until late in that month. He returned to play in eight games, averaging 3.1 points per game in just under 10 minutes, but started feeling concussion-like symptoms again during the Flyers’ game last week against Mississippi.
  • New Mexico got the big win over Colorado State, but as reported by the Albuquerque Journal, the Lobos found out officially on Saturday that Cullen Neal will miss the rest of the season and apply for a medical redshirt due to the high ankle sprain he suffered in the team’s game Nov. 20 against Boston College.
  • Former UNLV guard Kendall Smith is transferring to Cal State-Northridge, per Jon Rothstein at CBSSports.com. Smith will be eligible for the second semester next season and will have 2 1/2 years of eligibility. Smith joins a list of players who have transferred from more prominent programs to CSUN, as Reggie Theus has made Northridge one of the more popular transfer destinations on the West Coast.

Today’s Menu:

UNLV at Kansas (4:30 p.m. EST, CBS)  The expectations for the Runnin’ Rebels have been raised after the win over Arizona (as well as the MWC pack coming back to them some in the form of San Diego State’s struggles). UNLV will be expected to at least keep this one interesting.
UCLA at Utah, Arizona State at Arizona (7 p.m. EST, FS1), Washington at Stanford (10 p.m. EST, ESPNU)  Two big early Pac-12 games, plus a rivalry game. Road wins in conference play, if they can be achieved, are worth gold.
Loyola (Ill.) at Northern Iowa, Illinois State at Wichita State (5:30 p.m. EST, ESPNU)  The MVC’s two favorites get early home challenges.
Old Dominion at UNC-Charlotte  Interesting road test early in the Conference USA season, one that matches a pair of old rivals from the Sun Belt.
Iona at Siena  The MAAC always has one of the most interesting conference races to follow during the season, and this one features two of the preseason favorites.

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