Morning Coffee: Columbia Pushes Spartans, Oakland Still Kicking

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

A lot happened yesterday, making us need our morning coffee more than ever. Grab that mug, and start reading about all the near misses and big shot in Friday night's basketball action.

I think I need my morning coffee more than ever this morning. Not that anything interesting happened yesterday.

I mean, one minute, I am sitting there eating my lunch, and the next I am salivating for the next bit of news about the two players from Oakland. And of course, you have to watch their game later that night. How will the team react? How will they deal with the news on the broadcast?

Is it rubbernecking? Yes, just a little bit. But that doesn't make it any less fun.

So grab your morning coffee and let's catch up on the night that was in college basketball.

What everyone will be talking about over their morning coffee:

Columbia Pushes Michigan State to the Brink

The Lions of Columbia captured the attention of everyone Friday night when they not only kept up with Michigan State, but led by seven points in the second half. That shouldn't happen to the team that is supposed to be the new No. 1 in the country after knocking off Kentucky earlier this week.

It is really not supposed to happen when the Lions' top three scorers don't actually score until the second half. Neither team shot great, but it wasn't like the Holy Cross - North Carolina game where the teams weren't hitting three out of every four attempts they made.

Columbia eventually outdid themselves, taking shot clock violations on two straight possessions, then missing the front end of a 1-and-1 (when by design, the Lions don't stand on the lane), and then getting called for traveling on consecutive possessions. At the time that string started, Columbia was still down just two points. After that, it was going to take a miracle to get their mojo back.

Isaac Cohen finished with 10 points and nine rebounds, and Maodo Lo hit four big 3-pointers for the Lions in the 62-53 loss.

Side of bacon:

Grizzlies Still Fierce Despite Losses

After Duke Mondy and Dante Williams were suspended, it seemed likely that Oakland would just roll over and be a passive team against Cal. But this team really proved everyone wrong.

Coach Greg Kampe, whose job security I wondered about because you can never be safe enough when things like this happen, cemented that he is still the coach to manning the sidelines for Oakland. With just eight players dressed -- only six of which are on scholarship -- the Grizzlies almost took out Cal, losing 64-60.

The game was ugly and started with a score of just 7-4 midway through the first half. Yep, only one more point had been scored than minutes had been played.

The teams obviously found a little more of a groove later on, and Travis Bader does what he does best, going 5-for-11 from 3-point range and scoring 21 points in the loss. Corey Petros proved himself inside against the Pac-12 foe with 10 points and 13 boards.

Most importantly, Kahlil Felder didn't folder under pressure. The freshman point guard is going to be expected to step into Mondy's very big shoes. He went for 13 points, and had three assists to just two turnovers. If he can just not implode, Oakland might remain competitive over the next few games until Kampe decides his starting guard's fate.

Other bites:

  • We tease NJIT a lot for being the last independent, but they showed they can compete Friday night. The Highlanders took out Army, 89-85, behind 27 points from Damon Lynn. The Black Knights couldn't get a third player going consistently to help out Kyle Wilson (26 points) and Josh Herbeck (12 points). So much for my Patriot pick.
  • We had quite a discussion about Furman when discussing the Southern conference, given what the Paladins return this season. And we might be on to something. Sure Friday ended in a 70-69 loss to Florida Gulf Coast, but this is a game that Furman normally wouldn't even be in. Stephen Croone had 24 points and Kendrec Ferrara added 12 points and seven rebounds off the bench for Furman. Chase Fieler had 10 points, nine rebounds and two blocks for the Eagles, who were led by Bernard Thompson with 20 points and six assists.
  • This next one almost needed to be my morning coffee talk, or at least the side of bacon. Holy Cross pushed North Carolina (hey, big time teams, maybe you shouldn't play on Friday nights) for 30 minutes after falling behind by 10 points early in the game. The Crusaders ended up tied with UNC at the half, after both teams bricked their way through the first 20 minutes. Eventually Marcus Paige helped the Tar Heels to pull away, 62-54. Dave Dudzinski had 11 points and five rebounds, and Malachi Alexander added 13 points and five boards off the bench for Holy Cross.
  • The string of "What If"s continues this morning. Louisiana-Lafayette held a slim lead on Arkansas with five minutes remaining but managed just three points the rest of the way. Meanwhile, Michael Qualls took over the game for the Razorbacks on his way to 16 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Elfrid Payton led Lafayette with 27 points, and three steals, but had nine turnovers in the 76-63 loss.
  • Daniel Mullings showed why he is the pick for the best player in the WAC, leading New Mexico State to a 86-73 win over UTEP. The junior guard had 26 points in the win, to go with 11 points and two blocks from Sim Bhullar. Tshilidzi Nephawe added nine points and 12 boards for the Aggies.
  • The Southland Conference has been... bad this season. For a while, the league as a whole was listed behind the MEAC in the KenPom conference ratings. But that league is really held down by the bottom two-thirds. Oral Roberts, Northwestern State and Stephen F. Austin are still difficult teams to contend with. Proof: The Demons of Northwestern State tripped up Auburn 111-92. But it wasn't just the win, it was the way they won. Count 30 points and nine rebounds from Jalan West (10-for-15 shooting, 5-for-8 3PT); count 23 points from Gary Stewart. Actually, just say "Count It" a lot, especially in the second half. The Demons scored 72 after the break to earn the win. The winning team in 14 of the 44 games Friday night failed to scored more than 72 points in the whole game. Look out for these Demons.
  • Northern Arizona stopped almost everyone on USC. Almost everyone. They couldn't find a solution for Byron Wesley who scored 31 to help the Trojans top Northern Arizona 67-63. Aaseem Dixon had 20 points and three assists in the loss.
  • Texas-Pan American did this.

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