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Saturday Notes – January 10, 2015

January 11, 2015 Columns, Your Phil of Hoops No Comments

As conference play is now in full swing, Saturday offered an early referendum on a number of teams. While the day wasn’t full of shockers, there were plenty of noteworthy games. 11 games went to overtime, with three needing a second extra set of five minutes to decide. And if there’s one conference that stood out, it was the Big 12.

Simply put, the Big 12 is reinforcing the idea that it is the strongest conference from top to bottom this season. There’s no one that appears poised to run away with the conference, and the regular season champion might well have at least four or five losses. Kansas and Iowa State are 2-0, four other teams are 2-1, and Baylor and Texas are hardly stiffs even with their early 1-2 marks, though Texas ended a rough week on Saturday. The only two teams you might rule out of the race are Texas Tech and TCU.

But the Big 12 isn’t the only conference that had noteworthy games on Saturday, or games that raised some interesting questions at this early stage. Here are notes on the day’s games.

Kentucky 70, Texas A&M 64 (2 OT): Let’s add one thing to all the chatter about whether or not Kentucky will go undefeated: if they do, it will be nothing short of remarkable. This game, as well as their win over Ole Miss, should tell you how hard it is to win even when you have the most talent and depth.

Virginia 62, Notre Dame 56: The Cavaliers turn back another challenger, and Notre Dame battled valiantly before succumbing.

North Carolina 72, Louisville 71: Marcus Paige comes up big to win one for the Tar Heels after they dropped a tough one to Notre Dame earlier in the week.

Connecticut 62, Cincinnati 56: Ryan Boatright had a big morning (the game tipped at 11 a.m. Eastern) with 18 points and eight assists, but more importantly, Connecticut did a good job late in the game to hold on for this win.

Kansas State 66, Oklahoma 63 (OT): The Wildcats really needed this win in Norman. They had lost three straight before beating TCU on Wednesday, and maybe this helps get them further break out of their slump.

Oklahoma State 69, Texas 58: It was a bad week for Texas against the Oklahoma schools, losing to both by double figures.

Iowa State 74, West Virginia 72: A great game between these two in Morgantown that could have gone either way. It was all you could expect it to be.

Baylor 66, TCU 59 (OT): The Bears should have had Wednesday night’s game against Kansas, or at least a better chance at the end. They pulled this one out in Fort Worth behind 17 points and 18 rebounds from Rico Gathers.

Indiana 69, Ohio State 66: Some will call this an upset, but it’s not. It’s two fairly evenly-matched teams and the home team won.

Michigan 62, Minnesota 57: Michigan took a while to get going, and suffered some bad losses along the way. But now they’re 3-1 in Big Ten play and may be turning a corner.

Villanova 81, DePaul 64: Okay, there probably wasn’t anyone outside the DePaul locker room who thought the Blue Demons’ 3-0 start in Big East play was a sign of things to come. A trip to Villanova led to their first loss, a convincing win for the Wildcats.

Providence 60, Georgetown 57 (OT): Kris Dunn continues to play well for Providence, scoring 16 points and handing out nine assists as the Friars pull out a dandy in overtime.

Seton Hall 68, Creighton 67: Another big game and big shot for Sterling Gibbs (24 points) moves Seton Hall to 3-1 in the Big East. The real surprise? Creighton is 0-4.

Washington State 80, Washington 77: The Huskies have gone from the penthouse to the outhouse, as they had a great non-conference run up until the end and have now lost four in a row with this one at home, and that includes an 0-3 Pac-12 mark.

Clemson 71, Pittsburgh 62: Well, Jamie Dixon did admit that his team is still figuring it out, and a home loss to Clemson would certainly seem to fit the bill. Both teams are now 1-2 in ACC play.

Wake Forest 76, Georgia Tech 69: Wake Forest was right there with Louisville less than a week ago, and they finally get their first ACC win over the Yellow Jackets, who remain winless in ACC play.

LSU 87, Georgia 84 (2 OT): I thought this would be one of the best games of the night, and it didn’t disappoint. Give LSU a lot of credit for pulling this out against an underrated Georgia team.

Tulsa 63, Temple 56: This road win for the Golden Hurricane puts them all alone at the top of the American Athletic Conference at 3-0.

La Salle 63, George Washington 50: La Salle jumped all over the Colonials early and shut them down, forcing 19 turnovers and holding them to 37 percent shooting.

Rhode Island 61, Duquesne 60: The Rams are quietly 3-0 in early Atlantic 10 play, with a tough one looming on Tuesday night as VCU comes to town also sporting a 3-0 mark after beating Saint Joseph’s a little later in the day.

Fresno State 69, Nevada 66: 40 points from Marvelle Harris leads to a road win for the surprising Bulldogs, who are quietly 3-1 in Mountain West play. It comes a week after he scored 25 against San Diego State in a win over the Aztecs.

Northeastern 52, Towson 49: Behind Scott Eatherton’s perfect afternoon (21 points on 10-10 shooting), Northeastern continued an odd trend in early CAA play – they are perfect on the road (3-0) and didn’t win their lone home game.

Pepperdine 59, San Diego 47: Right behind Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s in the West Coast Conference is Pepperdine, as the Waves are playing well early on.

Navy 75, Army 66: Navy has been tough to figure at times, but the Midshipmen are now 2-1 in Patriot League play after this very good road win. Army, meanwhile, is 1-2 after a non-league showing that had the look of a league favorite.

American 71, Colgate 69 (2 OT): One of the best games of the day, and one that sees American hand Colgate its first Patriot League loss of the season.

UC Davis 73, Long Beach State 67 (OT): Another overtime game is one that supports the idea that these Aggies are pretty good. Long Beach State is always well-tested, but UC Davis had a good non-conference run and is off to a 2-0 start in Big West play after this win behind 28 points and 10 rebounds from Corey Hawkins.

Eastern Illinois 84, Belmont 73: Eastern Illinois has now won seven in a row, but this game also has your stat of the day as Belmont shot 7-43 on three-pointers.

Vermont 71, Stony Brook 57: Yes, this was at Patrick Gym, but this result – as well as the teams’ respective America East records thus far (Vermont is 3-0, Stony Brook 1-1) – are probably not what many figured before the season given their respective personnel situations.

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