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America East round-up: Vermont and Jairus Lyles stand out in opening weekend

Vermont came close against Kentucky while Lyles made name for himself across the country.

NCAA Basketball: MD Baltimore Cty at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Opening weekend for the America East was filled with victories, both real and moral. While John Becker will tell you he expected his Catamounts to beat Kentucky, Vermont showed it could hang with the best in a four-point loss. That should be a sign of things to come in the America East...

(5) Kentucky 73 - Vermont 69

Opening the season on the road is tough enough, but put that game at Rupp Arena and it seems a near impossible task. Especially when the Wildcats are ranked fifth in the nation.

Sound a bit daunting? Vermont didn’t think so.

Kentucky led most of the way and pulled out the win, but Vermont didn’t give up. The Catamounts missed three attempts to tie the game in the last two minutes as they clawed back from a double-digit deficit.

Four Catamounts ended the game in double figures with Trae Bell-Haynes leading the way with 16. Former conference Rookie of the Year Anthony Lamb came in with 15, while Drew Urquhart and Payton Henson added 13 and 10 respectively.

Want a more in-depth look at the game? Our own Cam Newton’s got you covered.

Jarius Lyles v. Arizona

There’s no other way to put this. Jarius Lyles is probably the best player the America East has right now. He put up 24 points against the SMU Mustangs on their opening night and single-handedly carried the UMBC Retrievers against Arizona with 31 points on 5-8 shooting from beyond the arc. Jourdan Grant and Arkel Lamar each had 14 and 11 respectively.

If UMBC can keep going at this pace, it’s possible that a Vermont tournament matchup is in its future. For now, the Retrievers need to get someone else to take the pressure of Lyles. If they can round out a bit more, they could end up as big of a threat to the America East as Vermont.

DIII wins all around

This week featured three America East games against non-Division I opponents. The Hartford Hawks, New Hampshire Wildcats, and UMass Lowell Riverhawks all boasted wins against their Divison III foes, while New Hampshire earned the biggest blowout in a 95-39 win against Wheelock College.

Though not the same cutthroat atmosphere that Vermont faced at Rupp, these games have their own entertainment value. Most coaches, for example, will put in their bench players who we rarely get to see. Who is Petr Stepanyants? He played three minutes for Hartford against Gordon College. How about Ken Uhlar from New Hampshire, who played a whopping recorded 0 minutes against Wheelock? We’ll probably never see them again this season.

Full scoreboard:

Friday:

Hartford 85, Central Connecticut 84 (OT)
New Hampshire 95, Wheelock 39
Maryland 76, Stony Brook 61
Albany 69, Iona 67
UMass 74, UMass Lowell 69
Binghamton 76, Morgan State 59
Boston College 85, Maine 65
SMU 78, UMBC 67

Sunday:

No. 3 Arizona 103, UMBC 78
No. 5 Kentucky 73, Vermont 69
UMass Lowell 102, UMass Boston 63
Hartford 80, Gordon 63

The Week Ahead

This week’s games to watch:

Tuesday: Stony Brook at UConn, 7 p.m., ESPN3
Tuesday: New Hampshire at Texas, 8 p.m., LHN
Tuesday: Maine at Texas Tech, 8 p.m.
Thursday: Binghamton at George Mason, 7 p.m.
Friday: Yale at Albany, 7 p.m.
Friday: Stony Brook at Ball State, 7 p.m., ESPN3