While football remained top of mind for many in college sports on a day of championship games, Saturday was a much-anticipated day on the hardwood, the first of its kind this season. And it didn’t take long to live up to that hype.
In one of the first games of the day, UCLA beat Kentucky for the second straight year. As was the case last year, what to take from that game says much more about UCLA than Kentucky, and this time around, if you’re a UCLA fan you can feel pretty good, as opposed to a year ago. We’ll have more on this later.
There were a number of other big matchups on the day, along with rivalry games and the Mountain West/Missouri Valley Challenge. We’ll see them as we look at notes from around the nation.
UCLA 97, Kentucky 92: UCLA looked better before this game than they did last season, so this win means more. It tells you this team should be considered one of the favorites in the Pac-12 if they remain healthy, and also a candidate to make a deep run in March.
West Virginia 66, Virginia 57: This figured to be a good one, and it came down to West Virginia ending the game on an 11-2 run after the teams were tied at 55.
Baylor 76, Xavier 61: With this win in a clash of titans, the Bears have their fourth high-quality win thus far, having already topped Oregon, Michigan State and Louisville. They held Xavier to 31 percent shooting and now have outscored opponents 328-227 in the second half on the season.
Gonzaga 69, Arizona 61: After a couple of tough losses to the Wildcats the past couple of seasons, the Zags get a win over them in Los Angeles in the first game of Hoophall LA.
USC 91, Brigham Young 84: In the nightcap of the doubleheader at the Staples Center, USC improved to 8-0. The Trojans looked like a bit of a question mark when they lost a couple of key players to the NBA Draft unexpectedly, but they’re looking like they should be a big factor in the Pac-12.
Wisconsin 90, Oklahoma 70: The Sooners had their first big test of the season with their first true road game, and it didn’t end well. The Sooners actually led at halftime, but it was all Wisconsin in the second half.
Providence 63, Rhode Island 60: This was the best chance in a while for the Rams to break through against their arch-rival, but Providence pulled out a seventh straight win in the series by rallying in the second half. The Rams have yet to beat the Friars under Dan Hurley.
Villanova 88, Saint Joseph’s 57: This battle of two arch rivals wasn’t close at all, but it is noteworthy for the triple-double that Josh Hart posted of 16 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
Creighton 82, Akron 70: As the Bluejays fend off the Zips to remain undefeated, Marcus Foster continues to be reborn in Omaha. He scored over 20 points for the third time in four outings, this time 27 points on 11-19 shooting, and even had three assists without a turnover. He’s shooting over 50 percent from the floor on the season, including 46.7 percent from long range.
Michigan State 80, Oral Roberts 76: How hard-hit have the Spartans been by injuries? They were life-and-death with a 1-7 Oral Roberts team at home, this time without Miles Bridges as well.
Maryland 71, Oklahoma State 70: It was a tale of two halves for two teams that look good thus far, but just how good remains to be seen. Maryland has, however, proven adept at pulling out close games, which certainly helps, as this is their third one-point win and sixth win by six points or less.
Illinois 64, VCU 46: Illinois needed a win like this, a convincing win over a good team. The Illini let the Rams get within one early in the second half with 11 unanswered points, but the Rams ran out of gas and it was all Illini from there.
Minnesota 56, Vanderbilt 52: Like Illinois, last season didn’t end well for Minnesota and the off-season wasn’t much better. But both got nice wins on Saturday, with Jordan Murphy’s 16 points and 14 rebounds helping the Golden Gophers improve to 7-1.
Wake Forest 75, Richmond 67: Quietly, the Demon Deacons are 6-2 and got a nice win on the road here.
Ole Miss 85, Memphis 77: A monster game by Sebastian Saiz (20 points, 16 rebounds) lifts Ole Miss in a matchup of two teams that the jury is out on.
UCF 65, UMass 62: Johnny Dawkins is off to a 6-1 start with the Golden Knights, who won this on the road.
TCU 77, Arkansas State 54: Jamie Dixon just wins games, even at TCU, now 8-0 after this win. The early returns are promising in Fort Worth.