With so many colleges in the midst of final exams and rightly keeping their schedules short, the highlights were limited in the sport Thursday night. Most of the action took place in the Atlantic and South regions of the country.
A few of the happenings from a light night:
George Washington handled Central Florida 74-59 for its third straight win. Following a dud against Florida State, the Colonials have rebounded nicely with wins over Temple, Howard and now the Knights. Jordan Roland was the star, going for a career-high 27 points, more than 21 points over his season average and more than he scored in his first six games of the season combined before heating up of late with four double-figure scoring totals in his last seven games.
Mississippi held off Murray State 78-73, as the Rebels saw a 20-point second-half lead dwindle to four late after a spirited comeback by the Racers. Hard-driving Miami (Fla.) transfer Deandre Burnett has been a great addition for Ole Miss, and he topped 20 points for the sixth time this season, with his total of 24 points in this one buoyed by 14 of 16 shooting at the foul line.
Auburn blew out Coastal Carolina 117-72, playing rude hosts to former AU and current Chanticleers coach Cliff Ellis. We continue to see more and more teams putting up blow-up numbers in the three-pointer category, and the Tigers hit 21 triples in this game, almost a third of their season total of 66 entering the game.
One more in the SEC: Tennessee surrendered a whopping 58 points to Lipscomb in the first half…and then just 19 in the second half. Incredible how a 15-minute halftime break changes things. Freshman Grant Williams got it going for the first time this year, scoring 30 for the Volunteers.
College of Charleston continues to be one of the premier teams in the country when it comes to slowing the pace down and playing halfcourt defense. The Cougars stifled East Carolina 53-35-on the road-for their fifth straight win, and it’s their sixth straight game and ninth time in 11 games overall holding an opponent to 64 points or less. ECU scored 30 points in the game’s last 24 minutes, which represented a real hot streak after the Pirates had just five points at the under-4 media timeout.
North Carolina State rolled past Appalachian State 97-64, but the debut of 7-foot-1 freshman Omer Yurtseven was the real story for the Wolfpack. Playing for the first time after a nine-game suspension at the start of the season due his time with a club team overseas, he scored 12 points and even treated the fans to a three-pointer in a game where the Wolfpack had their entire team for the first time this season and were never seriously threatened.
- As most know, there was sad news in the world of basketball yesterday as Craig Sager died from his battle with leukemia at the age of 65. Sager of course was best known for his sideline work with NBA games on TNT, but he also did sideline work for NCAA Tournament games as well in recent years. He will be greatly missed.
- Sean Woods has resigned as coach at Morehead State following charges of misdemeanor battery after allegations by two MSU players that he had hit them during a game this year. Woods, a former star at Kentucky, finished with a 77-65 record with the Eagles, and it’s unfortunate the issues that have developed there as his teams developed a reputation for hard-nosed play at Morehead.
- Tough news for Illinois-Chicago’s Dikembe Dixson, as the worst fears were realized Thursday and tests revealed a torn ACL that will keep him out the rest of the season. Dixson was injured in UIC’s win at DePaul on Wednesday. He was the Horizon League’s freshman of the year last season and was averaging 20.3 points per game this year for the improving Flames.
- Indiana State also has lost one of its top frontcourt players as T.J. Bell has left the team. Todd Aaron Golden of the Terre Haute Tribune Star has a good story with details from ISU coach Greg Lansing, Bell’s departure is a surprise as he was emerging as a key player for the Sycamores, including good performances at the AdvoCare Invitational and the winning basket in Indiana State’s recent win at Utah State.
- Mississippi’s Karlis Silins also will miss the rest of the season with a torn left ACL. A 6-foot-11 forward, Silins had played about five minutes per game in eight appearances this year.
- Another light slate features just 11 games featuring Division I teams against each other. Easily the best one is North Dakota State at North Dakota, as these two in-state rivals complete a home-and-home over a 9-day span. UND won the game in Fargo easily and will be a favorite to finish off the sweep.
- Long Beach State is getting closer in its swings at big-name competition, having nearly won at Texas, and the 49ers have a real chance when they go to Oregon State.
- Florida Atlantic’s Owls knocked off Ohio State earlier this year and now get another chance to make noise at Miami (Fla.).
- Texas-Arlington has a tricky road game when it goes to Peoria, Ill., to face Bradley.
- Pesky Samford-already victorious three times on the road this year-travels again, south on I-65 to take on sliding South Alabama, which has lost four of five after a 5-0 start.
Enjoy your Friday and the weekend.