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The Morning Dish – Sunday, February 11, 2018

February 11, 2018 The Morning Dish No Comments

In a season of parity-which exists in college basketball, no matter how much some create microscopic definitions so they can refuse to acknowledge it-Saturday was just another day, loaded with happenings and surprises.

The No. 1-ranked team did not lose (Villanova finally got past its recent Butler bugaboo for an 86-75 win), but No. 2 and No. 3 did. Third-ranked Purdue’s 68-65 loss at No. 4 Michigan State was nothing to be embarrassed of, even as it was the Boilermakers’ second loss of the week. One would’ve expected No. 2 Virginia to handle its business, though, the Cavaliers at home against rival Virginia Tech with a No. 1 ranking awaiting them with a win.

Instead, the Hokies defeated UVA 61-60 in overtime, with fast-paced Tech beating the Cavaliers at their own game. Virginia Tech had lost to Virginia by 26 points earlier this season at home, but stuffed their 15-game winning streak this time and kept its in-state rival from a No. 1- ranking for the first time since 1983.

And now, suddenly, a Michigan State team that has looked to be in some trouble of late could wind up ranked No. 1 on Monday.

The Wahoos weren’t the only team to see a winning streak struck down. Gonzaga went into Saint Mary’s and jumped all over the Gaels, the 78-65 final outcome not indicative of how the Bulldogs’ balance on offense and defense on Jock Landale carried the day. SMC’s winning streak is done at 19 games after Landale scored just four points, the Zags completely shutting down the soon-to-be All-American.

They were hardly the only ranked teams to go down, some in spectacular fashion. Kansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma and West Virginia all lost, including the Mountaineers somehow falling to Oklahoma State 88-85 at home after holding a sizeable lead late. Tennessee-as rock-solid as any team all season in staying competitive-lost to Alabama 78-50. In all, a total of nine ranked teams were defeated, and only two had the excuse of falling to another ranked squad.

The game of the day, though, just might’ve been in Omaha, where Xavier and Creighton tangled in a matchup of Big East heavyweights. The teams traded longer stretches of superiority (mostly by the Musketeers) with sudden bursts (a Bluejays’ staple, especially at home), and in the end it left a two-point game in the final seconds.

It appeared the game was going to come to an unsatisfying ending when Xavier’s Trevon Bluiett-who was contacted on several jump shots throughout the game with no whistle-was called for a touch foul at best on a three-point try by Creighton’s Ronnie Harrell with 4.6 seconds left. Harrell hit all three foul shots to give the Jays a lead…that lasted 4.3 seconds. Compounding one poor call with another, a light foul was called as X’s Quentin Goodin drove the length of the court in the final seconds, and Goodin hit both free throws to give his team a 72-71 win.

The better call in both instances would’ve been to let both go, or at the very least call the game the way it had been throughout. In the end, the calls were a wash and the final outcome was probably correct. Or maybe not. Maybe in this wild season and especially on this day the real correct outcome would’ve been overtime, since the day included an incredible 16 games going at least one extra session.

Side Dishes:

  • Hoopville czar Phil Kasiecki has his Saturday Notes recapping all of the day’s biggest games right here.
  • Florida Gulf Coast became the first team to clinch a regular season outright league title, defeating South Carolina Upstate 88-71 to move to 11-0 in the Atlantic Sun. The conference title comes with an added bonus in the A-Sun as higher seeds host all conference tourney games.
  • The day’s top performances was led by Alante Fenner of Savannah State. Fenner scored 46, an incredible 33 above his average coming in, and the go-go-go Tigers won their eighth straight game by defeating Morgan State 97-94 in overtime.
  • St. John’s continued its recent sudden roll with Shamorie Ponds scoring another 44 points in the Johnnies’ 86-78 win over Marquette, which itself got 34 from Andrew Rowsey.
  • Rob Marberry is the No. 2 to Lipscomb lead Garrison Mathews, but it was Marberry who lit it up for a career-best 39 in the Bisons’ 82-75 win over North Florida. Also scoring 39 but in a losing effort was Georgia State’s D’Marcus Simonds, as his team’s 10-game winning streak was stopped by Louisiana-Monroe 90-82 in overtime.
  • VCU’s Justin Tillman was awesome with 37 in an 88-84 win over Dayton. Stephen F. Austin guard Shannon Bogues totaled a career-best 35 in the Lumberjacks’ 97-50 blowout of Northwestern State.
  • North Carolina’s Luke Maye finished with 33 points plus 17 boards in the Tar Heels’ 96-89 win at rival North Carolina State. Also, New Mexico State’s superb Jemerrio Jones posted a 20-20 with 27 points and 20 boards in the Aggies’ hotly contested 74-70 win over Grand Canyon in front of a fantastic crowd in Las Cruces.
  • Finally, Northern Illinois guard Eugene German scored 28 and hit the game-winner as the Huskies surprised MAC leader Buffalo 90-88 in yet another overtime game.
  • You can’t make this up: Colorado State suspended interim head coach Steve Barnes on Saturday, just hours before the Rams’ game against San Jose State. Barnes apparently now is also being investigated in part of the school’s “climate assessment” of the program. One would think the school shouldn’t need an investigation to know the climate for an indoor sport. Anyway, assistant Jase Herl coached CSU on Saturday, and led the team to a 90-79 win over the Spartans that snapped a seven-game losing streak. Nico Carvacho had a huge game with 26 points and 20 rebounds.
  • James Madison announced on Saturday that it has rescheduled the two games the school postponed this week due to concerns about a possible mumps outbreak on campus. JMU now will UNC Wilmington this Tuesday, Feb. 13, and also will host Elon on Monday, Feb. 26. Admission will be free for the UNCW game.

Today’s Menu:

  • After a loaded Saturday it’s a quieter Sunday. It starts in the Patriot League, where Loyola (Md.) is at Lafayette (Noon Eastern, CBSSN).
  • Michigan is at Wisconsin (1 p.m., CBS), with the Badgers coming in with a little momentum after defeating Illinois. In the evening, Penn State is at that Illinois team (7 p.m., Big Ten Network), and don’t be surprised if the ‘bubble’ talk starts creeping up if the Nittany Lions win another game or two this week.
  • Louisville and Syracuse seem fairly intertwined of late since their Big Monday meeting last week, and both are in action for should-win games today with the Cardinals at Pittsburgh and the Cuse hosting Wake Forest.
  • Cincinnati goes for its 16th win in a row when it travels for its latest grinder with SMU (4 p.m., ESPN). Not an easy task, but the Bearcats’ depth should win out. Also in the AAC, the undercard to that at the same time is Central Florida at Memphis (4 p.m., CBSSN), while another good one soon after is Tulane at Houston (6 p.m., ESPNU).
  • Stanford goes to Colorado (4 p.m., Pac-12 Network). Later on in the league, Washington State is at Oregon (8 p.m., ESPNU).
  • Bradley goes to perpetually shorthanded this year Southern Illinois, two of the teams fighting, clawing for second in the MVC.
  • Sunday night ACC has Duke at Georgia Tech (6 p.m., ESPN), the Yellow Jackets trying to find a way to slow up the young Blue Devils. Tech does have a freshman in Jose Alvarado who has had a nice year and plays with flair and should be stoked for the challenge of Duke’s rookies.

Have a relaxing Sunday.

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