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Saturday Notes – January 31, 2015

February 1, 2015 Columns, Your Phil of Hoops No Comments

Saturday was one of the busiest game days of the season, as over 150 games were on tap with Division I teams. With the many great games on the slate, many of which were at least as good as advertised, it should be a happy day. But there’s a good deal of sadness hanging over the day in light of news that came after 10 p.m. Eastern: VCU point guard Briante Weber is done for the season with a torn ACL, MCL and meniscus in his knee. His college career is over.

Suddenly, all the great games on the day seemed so insignificant. Weber was the epitome of HAVOC and was on the verge of breaking the NCAA’s record for career steals. He had six of those on the afternoon before this happened. He’s a key vocal leader for a team that’s winning big this season, though they lost on Saturday (and were already trailing when he got hurt). He’s got a great motor and is a great kid. Put another way, he represents everything that’s right with college basketball.

Life goes on, and while I hope Weber has a speedy and (more importantly) full recovery, moving on means taking a look at notes from some of the most noteworthy games on the day.

Duke 69, Virginia 63: Duke now has wins at Wisconsin, Virginia and Louisville. Forget their 5-3 mark in ACC play; put them on the top line for the tournament if you don’t have them there already.

Louisville 78, North Carolina 68 (OT): Call it a comeback: Louisville was down by 18 in the second half, but outscored the Tar Heels by 28 the rest of regulation and overtime.

Pittsburgh 76, Notre Dame 72: Who saw this one coming? Jamel Artis did, perhaps, as his 20 points and eight rebounds are the latest in a good stretch for him. Over the last six games, he’s averaging 16.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game while shooting over 58 percent from the field.

NC State 81, Georgia Tech 80 (OT): Give Georgia Tech credit for competing all the time. The Yellow Jackets might be the best 1-8 conference team in the country, though that won’t do anything for Brian Gregory and his team, especially after a tough buzzer-beating loss like this.

Kansas 68, Kansas State 57: The Jayhawks just keep doing what they do, which is win Big 12 games.

Oklahoma 64, Oklahoma State 56: The Sooners sweep Bedlam, hanging on as the Cowboys battled valiantly but just didn’t have enough.

Baylor 83, Texas 60: The Longhorns are the epitome of feast or famine – they can look really good or really bad, depending on what day you catch them. They’re going to be a fun team for the NCAA Tournament committee to deal with if this keeps up.

Gonzaga 82, Memphis 64: About the only way to sum this one up is that Memphis was out-classed, as this game wasn’t even as close as the final score indicates. That’s how you know that this Gonzaga team is really good, while Memphis is just okay, reeling from heavy personnel losses in the backcourt that they haven’t replaced.

Richmond 64, VCU 55: The Atlantic 10 race suddenly got a little more interesting with this one, as VCU no longer has the two-game lead in the standings they had after Thursday night. Worse, though, is the loss of Briante Weber for the season with tears in his ACL, MCL and meniscus.

Rhode Island 59, George Washington 55: The Rams get a big win against a team they were in a three-way tie for second place with, and are now just a half game back of the top spot in the Atlantic 10.

Villanova 68, DePaul 55: Villanova has long been seen as the clear best team in the Big East, but even after this win, the Wildcats are simply tied atop the standings.

St. John’s 75, Providence 66: If St. John’s could just play Providence for all their Big East games, life would be good. They’re 2-0 against the Friars and 1-5 against everyone else they have played thus far.

Seton Hall 90, Xavier 82: Speaking of the Big East, that race gets a little tighter with Seton Hall holding serve at home.

Texas A&M 69, Vanderbilt 58: Quietly, Texas A&M has won six in a row and is now all alone in second place in the SEC.

Florida 57, Arkansas 56: Somehow, some way, Florida managed to eke out two wins this week. Both of these teams are among six that are tied for third at 5-3 in SEC play right now.

Mississippi State 73, LSU 67: This is not a loss LSU can afford, even if Mississippi State is much-improved from when Rick Ray first took over.

South Carolina 67, Georgia 50: Speaking of losses a team can ill-afford, this might go down as one for Georgia, though the Bulldogs are in good shape right now.

Northern Iowa 70, Wichita State 54: These two are all tied up atop the Missouri Valley after round one in Des Moines. Seth Tuttle had another big game in this one as he had 29 points and seven rebounds.

Tulsa 78, USF 71 (OT): Tulsa just keeps winning quietly (9-0), while all the talk in the American Athletic Conference centers on the likes of Connecticut, Cincinnati and SMU.

Pepperdine 67, Saint Mary’s 62: A big win for Pepperdine, as they go on the road for this one and look like they’ve rallied from a rough patch.

Cleveland State 76, Green Bay 62: The Vikings grab a half-game lead in the Horizon League for now after winning this showdown. Round two is in less than three weeks in Green Bay.

Valparaiso 70, UIC 65: Valparaiso keeps pace with Cleveland State, who they have already knocked off at home.

Colgate 71, Bucknell 69: The Patriot League remains a fun race, as the Raiders go on the road to even up the top of the standings. It’s proving to be every bit as good a race as we thought it could be before the season.

Bryant 72, Robert Morris 63: A big win on the road for Bryant to even up the standings near the top of the Northeast Conference behind leader St. Francis Brooklyn. Dan Garvin continues to emerge for the Bulldogs at a time they needed someone to be a steady complement to Dyami Starks.

Albany 77, Maine 59: Another road win for the Great Danes, who are 9-0 and basically running away with the America East regular season title.

New Hampshire 63, Stony Brook 48: Here’s your shocker of the day in mid-major basketball. Forget that it gives Albany an even more comfortable edge atop the America East; New Hampshire is now even with Stony Brook at 6-3.

UC Davis 81, Cal Poly 78 (OT): A great finish to this one, with Corey Hawkins having a big overtime to lift the host Aggies as they keep pace with Long Beach State and UC Irvine atop the Big West and remain undefeated at home on the season.

Texas Southern 80, Alabama State 65: It’s all even atop the SWAC between these two as Texas Southern hands Alabama State their first conference loss. They will meet again in four weeks in Montgomery.

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