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Saturday Notes – December 12, 2015

December 13, 2015 Columns, Your Phil of Hoops No Comments

College basketball is starting to take center stage on Saturdays, as this one was full of TV games, and many of them good ones. A few teams scored important wins, but most of all, the games generally lived up to their billing. This is something college basketball needs at a time when college football is otherwise fading from the spotlight for a bit with the time in between the end of the regular season and bowl games.

Here are notes from a number of those games on the day, including some rivalry games.

Texas 84, North Carolina 82: The first signature win of the Shaka Smart era at Texas, and no one was more fired up than the usually understated coach.

Michigan State 58, Florida 52: Denzel Valentine had an off game, but when you’re an elite team like Michigan State, you still beat a good team like the Gators. Florida could have used this for a significant non-conference win, as they have whiffed on their other chances and are left with Oklahoma State, Jacksonville and Florida State.

Kentucky 72, Arizona State 58: Every time Arizona State seemed on the verge of tying or taking the lead, Kentucky had an answer, until they pulled away.

Kansas 82, Oregon State 67: It was a tale of two halves, and also a case of a young team losing a lead turning into a psychological blow. The Beavers gave a glimpse of how good they could be in building a double-digit lead, while the Jayhawks showed again why they should be a national title contender.

California 63, St. Mary’s 59: The Gaels lose their first game of the season, but there’s no shame in losing at Haas Pavilion, where the Bears haven’t lost this season. Cal got 15 points and 11 rebounds from Ivan Rabb to lead the way.

UCLA 71, Gonzaga 66: Now more than ever, we not only have to see UCLA as a team with a chance to contend in the Pac-12, but also realize that the teams that beat them early weren’t all bad. Wins over Kentucky and Gonzaga (this one on the road) will do that.

Xavier 65, Cincinnati 55: The Musketeers are probably the best 10-0 team no one knows about, but they’re quietly piling up good wins like this rivalry game, too.

Marquette 57, Wisconsin 55: There’s plenty to discuss about how Wisconsin already has three home losses, which is probably more than anyone expected even though we knew this was more of a rebuild than before. But let’s take note of how much better Marquette is, led by freshman double-double machine Henry Ellenson, who added another with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

Texas A&M 78, Kansas State 68: Either reality had to set in for the Wildcats, or they would score their first quality win of the year. It was the former, as the Aggies rode 25 points and nine boards from Jalen Jones to this win.

Providence 74, Bryant 67: We know about Kris Dunn, but how important is Ben Bentil to Providence? Well, the sophomore forward didn’t start on Saturday as he hoped to rest a bum ankle, but after he came in, Bryant missed 15 of their last 19 shots in the first half and Providence outscored them 53-39 the rest of the way. Providence won despite Dunn and Ryan Fazekas (illness in both cases) sitting out.

Wichita State 67, Utah 50: The point guard tells the story, as Utah would surely love to still have Delon Wright, while Wichita State hasn’t lost since Fred VanVleet returned from ankle and hamstring injuries.

Colorado 92, Brigham Young 83: After an off year, Tad Boyle has the Buffs winning again, now 8-1 with the only loss being to Iowa State in the opener.

Butler 94, Tennessee 86: Butler is like a lot of the Big East in that they are quietly having a great non-conference run, improving to 8-1 after this win.

Chattanooga 61, Dayton 59: Just days after the Flyers scored another nice victory (at Vanderbilt), Chattanooga ekes out a win in their gym to continue their good start.

George Washington 83, Rutgers 49: Tyler Cavanaugh continues to be a difference-maker for the 9-1 Colonials, who ran out to a 23-2 lead in this one and was never seriously threatened.

Ole Miss 75, Southeast Missouri State 64: For the second straight Saturday, Stefan Moody has a big second half to lead the Rebels to a win away from home. This time, he scored 19 of his 28 points in the latter frame.

Middle Tennessee 88, Auburn 81 (OT): The Blue Raiders just keep winning year after year, improving to 6-2 after pulling out this one.

Louisiana Tech 91, UL-Lafayette 79: New head coach Eric Konkol has picked up where Mike White left off, as the Bulldogs move their home winning streak to 36 games and improve to 8-1.

Boise State 74, Oregon 72: This might be the win Boise State was looking for. They were 3-4 after losing two of three in the Wooden Legacy, but have won four in a row and this is the best of them.

Northeastern 75, Stony Brook 62: Northeastern continues to win at home, while Stony Brook continues through a very tough non-conference schedule that will certainly have them ready to contend in America East.

Army 90, Air Force 80: A nice road win for the Black Knights, who once again are playing well in non-league as they are 8-2.

UALR 66, DePaul 44: Plenty will knock DePaul for getting blown out, but UALR is now 8-0 and needs to get some credit.

Siena 78, Albany 70: Another rivalry game on the day, with the home team taking this one behind a nice double-double from Brett Bisping (14 points, 15 rebounds).

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