For a day that looked like an uneventful one when surveying the schedule of games for the night, Tuesday was anything but a dull one in college basketball.
A career ended early, a coaching veteran returning, a coaching tiff in the always-entertaining Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, and an en fuego shooting explosion were all part of the fun on a day that included just 24 games total, and not a single one matching top 25 teams against each other. Among the happenings:
–Creighton guard Maurice Watson got bad news about his knee injury from Monday’s game against Xavier, finding out he has a torn ACL in his left knee. Watson will miss the rest of the season, an unfortunate break for any senior, to say nothing of one who was one of the top players in the country. Watson leads NCAA Division I in assists, and his loss will almost certainly hurt the Bluejays. Here’s hoping the young man does not let this injury define him and goes on to big things after his college playing career, whether it be in basketball or not.
-On the other hand, Austin Peay received some great news as it was announced that head coach Dave Loos is returning to the bench this week after a four-game absence while he was undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer. Loos, in his 27th year as coach of the Governors, had been coaching this year while fighting cancer, a herculean devotion to his work, and especially for someone at 69 years of age. He finally took some much-deserved time off for some rest a couple weeks ago but will return for APSU’s OVC game against Morehead State Thursday.
-The end of Kentucky’s competitive 88-81 win over Mississippi State had a brief altercation with some jawing but little else before celebrity TV referee Ted Valentine stepped in and restored order in typically theatrical fashion. That was nothing, though, compared to the end of the MAAC game between Rider and Siena, which included a scuffle late that ended up with Rider coach Kevin Baggett and Siena head man Jimmy Patsos jawing at each other and having to be restrained near the end of the Saints’ 78-68 win. When the game concluded, the Broncs left the floor without shaking hands, leading to the memorable video of Patsos using it as a chance to practice his handshake technique anyway. The MAAC continues to have the most colorful and interesting group of coaches in the country in any single D-I conference, and it’s not even a close competition. Also not to be lost from this game: Siena now has won four straight, and senior Lavon Long had a monster game with 29 points and 12 rebounds.
-The night also had one of the most electric offensive performances of the season in Central Florida’s 86-64 roll past South Florida, and it didn’t come from Tacko Fall. UCF senior guard Matt Williams-one of the nation’s leaders in three-pointers made-outdid himself, scoring 38 points and hitting 11 three-pointers (in 21 attempts) to set new Knights and American Athletic Conference records for threes. UCF rolled even with Fall playing a supporting role (10 points, eight rebounds in just 18 minutes), and the Knights continue to be a team that must be taken seriously. We’re still waiting for the NCAA selection committee to let us know they’re going to evaluate UCF differently in games it had B.J. Taylor (who had eight assists against USF) than in those he missed, which included losses to Penn and George Washington in December.
- Mississippi senior guard Rasheed Brooks was taken to a hospital after collapsing in the second half of the Rebels’ eventual 80-69 win over Tennessee last night. Brooks was reported to have had a seizure but was in stable condition and undergoing more testing last night.
- Wisconsin needed a late rally to upend Michigan 68-64 in an as expected slow paced game in Madison. Also in the Big Ten, Purdue romped over Illinois 91-68.
- North Carolina State won a three-point shooting contest with Pittsburgh, claiming a 79-74 win at home in a game that featured a combined 23 three-pointers made and where seemingly every shot in the last 10 minutes was a triple attempt. Maverick Rowan was the most proficient bomber with 21 points including six threes, while Omer Yurtseven had 16 rebounds.
- Arkansas is a very quiet 14-4 after a 62-60 win at Texas A&M, which lost despite wearing some awesome Shelby Metcalf era throwback uniforms.
- Akron won a showdown in the MAC, handling shorthanded Ohio University 83-68. The Zips shot an impressive 55.4% and were led by Kwan Cheatham with 17 points and 13 boards, one of four starters to score in double figures.
- New Mexico entered its game at Boise State in a position where a win would’ve tied the Lobos for the most wins in the Mountain West, while a loss would’ve tied them for the most losses in the league. That may sum up Craig Neal’s team and the MWC this year in a nutshell. UNM led by 18 at halftime, weathered a Broncos run and went on to an 81-70 win.
- More games in the MAAC included Iona winning the latest installment of its rivalry with Manhattan, 82-67, while St. Peter’s won at Fairfield 69-55 to move into second in the conference, half a game behind Monmouth.
- After no top 25 matchups Tuesday we get two right away on Wednesday. The first isin the SEC, with Florida at South Carolina, and just half an hour later a top-15 clash starts when Notre Dame visits Florida State.
- Struggling Indiana faces up-and-down Penn State (7 p.m. Eastern, Big Ten Network). Also in the Big Ten, Ohio State is at Nebraska in a game where both teams need to keep stacking victories (9 p.m., Big Ten Network).
- It’s incredible to think about, but with TCU squeezing into some national rankings this week, the Horned Frogs’ game at Texas Tech is suddenly a big one with national ramifications.
- Overachieving Georgia Tech looks to frustrate another ACC foe when it travels to Virginia Tech.
- We’ve still got a lot to learn about Kansas State, but the Wildcats can make a case for their legitimacy as an NCAA Tournament contender if they can win games like a road trip at Oklahoma State (9 p.m., ESPNU).
- After slaying Wichita State, Illinois State now has a very tricky road game, albeit one not very far away, as it takes on bitter rival Bradley in the I-74 rivalry game (9 p.m., CBSSN).
- Speaking of teams in bad, bad need of a win, Colorado makes the Washington swing this week in the Pac-12, starting with the Huskies tonight (11 p.m., ESPNU). It could easily be argued the Buffaloes need both if they want to make postseason plans.
Have a terrific Wednesday.