Conference play is in full swing now all across the country, and Saturday gave us a big taste. It was a slate with mostly conference games, and some dandies among them. It’s too early to make much of the first conference game for anyone, but it can go with or against the impression the non-conference showing of many teams left on us.
There’s a lot of basketball left to play, obviously, but we’ve gotten off to a good start. Here are some notes from many of the day’s games.
Oklahoma 87, Iowa State 83: Oklahoma continues to look like a team capable of winning it all, pulling out this big conference opener and setting up a potential No. 1 vs. No. 2 on Monday night when they go to Kansas.
Iowa 70, Purdue 63: Beating Michigan State at home was one thing. Doing that and then going on the road to win at Purdue? If you weren’t taking Iowa seriously beforehand, it’s time to do so now.
Xavier 88, Butler 69: The Musketeers got hammered in their conference opener, but bounced back nicely in this clash of the titans.
Providence 83, St. John’s 65: This convincing win can be summed up like this: Providence has Kris Dunn (26 points, nine rebounds, six assists) and St. John’s doesn’t.
Villanova 85, Creighton 71: Creighton tried to make a run with the home crowd behind them, but Villanova responded and in the process spent this week re-asserting themselves as a team to beat in the Big East after a relatively non-descript non-conference showing.
Virginia 77, Notre Dame 66: Virginia with another convincing win, looking more and more solid all the time.
Miami 64, Syracuse 51: A classic tale of two halves saw Miami dominate Syracuse in the second half to send the Orange to 0-2 in early ACC play.
Virginia Tech 73, NC State 68 (OT): Not a good start to ACC play for NC State, even though this was on the road.
LSU 90, Vanderbilt 82: We can talk about how good Ben Simmons (36 points, 14 rebounds) is, or how maybe LSU will turn the corner and play more like an NCAA Tournament team. But we should also recognize that Vanderbilt whiffed on their best chances in non-conference play and thus has some work to do as SEC play starts with this home loss.
Boise State 84, Colorado State 80: With the Mountain West having no clear favorite, could the Broncos grab the mantle of leadership? They’re trending upward as they open conference play with this win.
St. Bonaventure 97, Davidson 85: The Bonnies are tough at home and used a big second half to break away from a very good Davidson team. Jaylen Adams had 30 points in this one.
Saint Joseph’s 77, Richmond 73: A good road win like this behind 17 points and 16 rebounds from Isaiah Miles is a nice sign for Saint Joseph’s, a team thought to be a sleeper in the Atlantic 10 before the season.
Gonzaga 102, San Francisco 94 (OT): Make no mistake, this is not a vintage Gonzaga team. They are far from unbeatable, and looked it here as they were down big in the second half before winning in “we had ’em all the way” fashion.
Houston 77, Temple 50: This is hardly your typical Temple team, but for Houston to go there and blow them out is a big deal. The Cougars largely feasted on weak opponents in non-conference, but a 2-0 start in conference play including this may be indicative that they’re a little better than that suggests.
Southern Illinois 75, Northern Iowa 73: Anthony Beane with another great game (32 points) helps Southern Illinois continue their great run at 13-2 overall and 2-0 in early Missouri Valley play.
Evansville 76, Missouri State 59: A solid road win for Evansville moves them to 2-0 in early Missouri Valley play. They also have the individual stat of the day: 21 points and 21 rebounds from Egidijus Mockevicius.
Northeastern 65, UNCW 63: The Huskies go to 2-0 early in CAA play, but more importantly, both wins are on the road. This one came against another team expected to contend.
Bucknell 84, Army 76: It wasn’t the best of non-league showings for Bucknell, but they’re 2-0 early on in Patriot League play after going on the road and winning against an Army team that might have had the best non-league performance of anyone. Chris Hass had 40 points.