Everyone enjoy their weekend? I hope so. We’ve got some fun stuff coming your way this week, including a podcast dropping later today, some new power rankings, and more. But first, you need to get caught up on everything that happened on Saturday and Sunday.
Off we go...
These teams were good:
Towson: Towson opened the year by narrowly falling to Old Dominion. We found that interesting. Then the Tigers beat up on some inferior competition to start 2-1. Cool. Then they beat Florida Atlantic, Penn, and a good Georgia Southern team on back-to-back days. Then went to Ireland and beat La Salle and Manhattan. Yeah, Towson is for real.
UC Davis: The Aggies did what Saint Joseph’s, Saint Mary’s, and San Diego State could not: They beat Washington State. They handed the Cougars their first loss behind 20 points from T.J. Short and 19 from Chima Moneke. UC Davis’s only two losses have come to a solid Utah Valley team and Washington, but this was the Aggies’ first win over a top-200 team in KenPom.
Rhode Island: Since losing EC Matthews, the Rams have knocked off Seton Hall (who just beat Louisville) and now Providence. We knew that URI had enough backcourt depth to weather the storm in Matthews’ absence, but we did not count on Daron “Fatts” Russell posting back-to-back 20-point games on combined 7-12 shooting from three. Would the Rams be the best team in the Big East? Please tweet your takes at @becb_sbn.
Fresno State: On our most recent podcast (coming today), we talk about how the Mountain West is pretty good, actually, and Fresno State might be the dark horse. Might be. The Bulldogs’ 36-point win over Long Beach State was intriguing because of their fun-as-hell 1.41 points per possession, led by 26 from Jaron Hopkins, 23 from Deshon Taylor, and three more players in double-figures. They don’t face a real challenge, however, until Dec. 16 when Oregon comes to town.
BYU: The Cougars shot themselves in the foot in November, blowing at-large statement opportunities against UT Arlington and Alabama. But since then, they’ve won three in a row, all against top-175 teams. The last two came on the road, including Saturday at Utah State.
These teams were not:
Saint Louis: Remember a few weeks ago when we had such high hopes for Saint Louis? The Billikens had just beaten Virginia Tech and were going into a game against Providence with a 3-0 record. Well, they haven’t won since then. Providence beat them by 27, then the Billikens lost back-to-back home games against Detroit and Western Michigan. Their 30-point loss at Butler Saturday was even worse than the final score indicated. Saint Louis players not named Javon Bess shot a combined 26 percent and scored 23 total points.
Florida Gulf Coast: FGCU is still good, don’t get me wrong, but losing both games to Middle Tennessee in its in-season home-and-home was discouraging. The Eagles were never going to be in the at-large conversation anyway, but I had higher hopes for them after they beat Illinois State in exciting fashion to start the season. There are, however, plenty more tests remaining on the schedule.
Rice: You can be expected to take a step back when you lose five of your top six scorers from a season ago. But Rice has been really bad. Most of the Owls’ half-dozen losses are forgivable: Georgia State, UNLV, Ole Miss, UT Arlington, heck, even the one-point loss to Eastern Kentucky to open the season. Stuff happens. But there’s no excuse for losing at home to UTRGV. It looks like it’s going to be a long first year for Scott Pera.
Team of the Weekend (by GameScore):
G Cortez Edwards, Southern Miss | GmSc 34.4 | 29 pts | 8 rbd | 5 ast | 4 stl | 12-15 FG
G Tramaine Isabell, Drexel | GmSc 33.4 | 35 pts | 13 rbd | 3 ast | 3 stl | 4-9 3PT
G Junior Robinson, Mount St. Mary’s | GmSc 29.1 | 39 pts | 4 ast | 4-7 3PT | 15-16 FT
F Alan Herndon, Wyoming | GmSc 30.6 | 32 pts | 10 rbd | 5 ast | 4 blocks | 6-12 3PT
F Thomas Bruce, Binghamton | GmSc 30.1 | 26 pts | 12 rbd | 3 blocks | 9-12 FG
Game of the Weekend:
Bucknell 81 Vermont 77
Bucknell won a battle of two elite northeast mid-majors and seems to have rebounded from its 0-4 start. Zach Thomas led the way with 24 points, eight rebounds, and five assists for the Bison, while Anthony Lamb had 20 on 9-18 shooting for the Catamounts.
Nate Jones with the steal, then a neat feed to Nana for the jam at the other end. pic.twitter.com/v1RgmlK0RC— Bucknell MBasketball (@Bucknell_MBB) December 3, 2017
We met our hero!:
Our own Kyle Cajero was at UC Irvine’s game against Nevada this weekend, so he got a chance to meet Friend of the Site Peter Anteater (who is actually an aardvark). Here’s a pic of the two of them. Meet mid-major basketball’s greatest power couple:
Congrats to our other hero, Rick Byrd:
The latest on Ty Solomon:
In case you missed it, there was a scary moment during the South Carolina State-NC State game this weekend, when SC State’s Tyvoris Solomon collapsed on the sideline and was administered CPR before being carried away on a stretcher. Our own Torrance Jones was on hand and he had this to say shortly after the game.
A quick update for you: As of Sunday night, Solomon is “stable and conscious” and in fair condition, according to WRAL.com. WRAL even did an interview with Solomon, who is still recovering in the hospital.
What we learned:
Every week, I ask two questions in our weekend preview that I hope are answered with Saturday and Sunday’s games. Here they are for this week.
What do we make of Saint Louis?
See above. Right now, Saint Louis is not good. Not close. Butler led this game 24-6 at the under-8 timeout in the first half. That became 42-13 by halftime and 52-13 a few minutes into the second half. The Billikens were outplayed in every way imaginable
Daum or Johnson?
The answer always has been and always will be both, but on Saturday, Alize Johnson won the battle decisively. His 20 points and 14 boards led the Bears to a 20-point win on the road, as Missouri State has now won five in a row after a rough start to the season. Mike Daum struggled on Saturday, scoring only seven points on 3-14 shooting.
13 unbeaten teams remain. They are: Villanova, Kansas, Virginia, Duke, Texas A&M, Miami, TCU, Nevada, Florida State, Arizona State, Mississippi State, Georgetown, Valparaiso
Seven teams are still looking for their first win. They are: Texas Southern, Norfolk State, Alabama State, Coppin State, Arkansas Pine Bluff, Alabama A&M, Mississippi Valley State
Belmont at Lipscomb, 8:15 p.m., ESPN3
It’s a light slate on Monday, but pay attention to this one. Lipscomb might not have the name recognition that Belmont has, but the Bisons are a good team. They’re ranked 134 in KenPom and have already beaten the Bruins on the road this year. Byrd, one of the best coaches in the mid-major game, will likely have a few tricks up his sleeve as he tries to return the favor.