As we gear up for the first of two weeks full of early season tournaments, Sunday was a decidedly ho-hum day on the bottom line. We didn’t have some of the surprise results we had the first couple of days, while all of the ranked teams in action won by more than 20 points. What we did have was a rivalry game late in the day that lived up to its billing, but also had a scary moment.
New Mexico traveled to Las Cruces to take on arch-rival New Mexico State in the Rio Grande Rivalry. Behind 31 points from Elijah Brown, the son of former NBA coach Mike Brown, they won 83-74. The Lobos continued their recent dominance in the rivalry, as they have won 14 of 17, including nine straight in Las Cruces. It was a close game well into the second half, before the Lobos eventually opened up a double-digit lead.
But that’s secondary right now. Lobos forward Devon Williams collapsed face-first on the court with over 11 minutes left in the second half, and has an apparent neck injury. ESPN.com reported that Williams was being evaluated at a Las Cruces hospital. There are conflicting reports on whether there was any contact, and a non-contact injury is always a little more scary. Members of the coaching staff were staying in Las Cruces with Williams.
Already, we’ve seen a few big injuries in the first few days of the season. Rhode Island lost their best player for the season, another school lost a key player for the season with the same injury (more on that below), while NC State has already lost a starting guard for at least six weeks. But none appear as scary as what happened to Williams, as neck injuries can be life-altering.
Fortunately, there is some reason for optimism. The Lobos’ official Twitter account shared a comment on the social media from Williams’ mother, which read, “Devon fell and hit his head on the floor. I have spoken with him and he is alert. However, he is in pain and is undergoing tests. We appreciate your thoughts and prayers.”
That he is alert is a good starting point, and hopefully the news gets better as we learn more. We’ll keep an eye on this as it develops.
A few teams who lost their opener bounced back on Sunday. Wisconsin handled Siena 92-65 two days after losing their opener. UCLA got a scare on Sunday night from Cal Poly, who tried to rally in the second half to no avail as UCLA won 88-83 to go to 1-1 on the season. NC State pulled away from South Alabama in the second half for an 88-70 win behind a double-double from Cat Barber (17 points, 12 rebounds), who was two assists shy of a triple-double.
Wake Forest started slowly in Lewisburg, trailing Bucknell 48-37 at the half. They opened the second half with a 16-3 run, then ran the lead to 11 before having to hold off the host Bison 90-82 behind 18 points and 12 rebounds from Devin Thomas.
Your ugly score of the day: Cincinnati beat Robert Morris 106-44, with the Bearcats scoring 51 points in the first half alone.
Princeton has already sustained a big blow to their Ivy League title hopes, although it’s early enough that there is time to do something about it. Co-captain Hans Brase suffered a torn ACL that will keep him out the rest of the season. The senior forward, their second-leading scorer and rebounder the past two seasons, did not play in their season-opening win over Rider on Friday night. Since it is very early, there is time for someone else to emerge in his place with more game experience over the next couple of months.
A tip of the hat goes to Purdue for something they did before Sunday’s 107-79 win over Vermont. The school honored Vermont recruit Josh Spiedel, a native of Columbus, Indiana who suffered serious injuries in an auto accident on Super Bowl Sunday. A travel teammate of Purdue freshmen Ryan Cline and Grant Weatherford in high school, Spiedel is still receiving therapy for a brain injury.
ESPN’s Tip-Off Marathon is coming right up, and a few of the early games are ahead that we’ll mention here along with the ones that actually fall on Monday but are not part of that.
- In the Mountain West/Missouri Valley Challenge, Indiana State hosts Wyoming in what should be a good battle.
- CAA contender James Madison travels to take on West Virginia in Charleston.
- A great matchup as part of the Legends Classic has Belmont traveling to Tempe to take on Arizona State.
- The Tip-Off Marathon begins with Tennessee heading south to visit Georgia Tech at 7 p.m. Eastern, then George Washington hosts Virginia with a tip a half hour later. San Diego State visits Utah in a matchup of old Mountain West foes at 9:30 p.m., with Baylor heading west to visit Oregon at 11:30 p.m..
- Going into the overnight in the east, Brigham Young goes to Long Beach State, tipping at 1:45 a.m. Eastern. As is usually the case, Hawaii hosts a game in the next session, taking on Nevada at 4 a.m. East Tennessee State hosts Green Bay at 6 a.m. as many people rise to start their day, and Stephen F. Austin heads to Northern Iowa at 8 a.m.