Where are my late-night college basketball cretins? Please sound off in the comments. But for those of you who missed out on today’s (or yesterday’s, if you’re on the east coast) action, here’s what happened:
- VCU lost.
- Dayton lost on this ridiculous buzzer-beater.
Buffs beat Dayton at the buzzer. This game was awesome. pic.twitter.com/MHC72DFIGi— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) December 22, 2019
- Western Kentucky made a ridiculous buzzer-beater to force overtime, but lost.
- Gonzaga, San Diego State and Utah State won against probable postseason teams (this is Eastern Washington’s year in the Big Sky, y’all). That matchup between San Diego State and Utah State is going to be huge.
- Nebraska lost again at home, this time to North Dakota. When are we going to stop calling these Nebraska buy games upsets?
- Previously winless Florida A&M won its first game on the road against Seattle. Congrats to them!
- Texas Southern was oh-so-close to beating Oregon for the second-straight year, then the kid from Toy Story hit a few shots for the Ducks late. Oregon eked out to an 84-78 win.
And now Saint Mary’s and Nevada are squaring off at the Chase Center, in front of a crowd of (what looks like) dozens. It’s only 9:50 p.m. in California right now, but it feels like much later. I may or may not update this; it’s late and I don’t know how long I’m going to stay up tonight because I am old and washed.
It’s no secret that UTSA has — as a team — been disappointing thus far. Yet, today’s game allowed us a glimpse of why our writers were so high on them at the beginning of the year.
Illinois State is by no means good, but skill level hasn’t stopped UTSA from losing to teams in the past, meaning today’s 19-point win is certainly a step in the right direction. However, the day’s most exciting note came from a familiar face: Jhivvan Jackson.
Jackson has scored 28 or more points in the past four games, and today’s outing saw him hang 41 on the hapless Redbirds.
It’s performances like these that remind us of why UTSA began the season ranked in our Other Top 25, and it’s no doubt a welcome sight for a Roadrunners squad that is attempting to get the ship righted before Conference USA play begins.
Through the early portion of the season, St. Bonaventure seemed like one of the more disappointing stories in mid-major basketball. After starting the season 1-4, the Bonnies rattled off six-straight wins heading into today’s matchup with a not-quite-decent Middle Tennessee team.
However, the Bonnies’ win streak seemed in serious jeopardy earlier, as they found themselves trailing by four with 30 seconds remaining. Yet they were able to force a late turnover that led to a clutch shot by Dominick Welch to secure a 66-65 victory over the Blue Raiders.
Today’s big star for St. Bonaventure was a familiar one: Osun Osunniyi, who posted 15 points and snagged 16 rebounds in the process. He still isn’t playing a large amount of minutes following his return from a knee injury earlier in the year, but he does seem to be coming back into his dominant self.
While today’s victory represented the seventh consecutive win for the Bonnies, it was made extra special by the milestone it created:
Well, that's a memorable way to secure a milestone.— Bonnies Men's Basketball (@BonniesMBB) December 21, 2019
Congrats Coach Schmidt on career win No. 3⃣0⃣0⃣! pic.twitter.com/B9iCeIWcO6
Just another special moment for the best coach in St. Bonaventure history.
In its final marquee opportunity of the season, Utah State was able to grind out a “neutral” court win against a Florida team that came into the game ranked No. 24 in KenPom. It was a low-scoring affair and neither team was able to create significant separation throughout, but Utah State was ultimately able to close it out down the stretch for a -
Sam Merrill turned in his best all-around performance of the season for the Aggies, tallying 21 points, nine rebounds and five assists. His 5-10 performance from behind the arc including this shot late in the second half that gave Utah State some breathing room in the closing minutes.
This win is a huge boost for Utah State’s tournament resume, especially as the non-conference slate comes to a close. Coming into this game, Utah State was 0-2 in Quadrant I games, and the win against LSU back in November was just in the Quadrant II bucket. Florida was ranked No. 62 in the NET before the game, which will give the Aggies another Quadrant II win to take into Mountain West play.
One thing to monitor is the health of Neemias Queta. After missing the first month of the season, the sophomore big man had started to work himself back into form as he healed from his knee injury. In the first half, Queta limped to the locker room with another knee injury and would not return.
Utah State will close out the calendar year against a Non-Division I program, but their Mountain West schedule will ramp up right out of the gate. They’ll travel to Vegas on New Year’s Day for a trap game against UNLV with a home matchup against San Diego State looming.
Through two months of the season, it’s safe to say few teams have had a gut-wrenching ride like Western Kentucky’s.
Today’s 86-81 overtime loss against Rhode Island was another dip in the rollercoaster. In its first game after Charles Bassey’s season-ending injury, Western Kentucky trailed the Rams the entire time, but staged a frenzied comeback in the final four minutes of regulation and forced overtime on one of the wildest possessions of the season.
Trailing by three with the shot clock turned off, Camron Justice and Taveion Hollingsworth frantically hoisted threes, but to no avail. Usually these possessions end in the trailing team heaving three after three in vain until the buzzer mercifully ends things. But this time was different.
Freshman backup point guard Jordan Rawls corralled Hollingsworth’s miss, then made a heads-up play by deferring to Carson Williams’s hot hand (26 points, 14 rebounds) as time wound down. Williams gathered himself for as long as he could, then sent the game to overtime on this corner three:
It's an absolutely furious final possession for Western Kentucky!!— Rhody MBB (@RhodyMBB) December 21, 2019
The Hilltoppers' THIRD STRAIGHT 3-point attempt falls at the buzzer to send us to overtime knotted up at 74-74
Free basketball. It's our gift to you this holiday season! pic.twitter.com/gX6nEuiX3B
But the Hilltoppers’ magic ran out in overtime. Freshman Jordan Rawls went toe-to-toe with Fatts Russell and appeared to get the best of the junior — that is, until Russell drew contact on an offensive rebound over Rawls, then made the ensuing free throws to make it 84-79 with 21 seconds left. Jared Savage’s three on the next possession gave the Hilltoppers a glimmer of hope, but Russell delivered again at the free-throw line. Despite getting shut out of the first half, Russell finished with 15 points and eight assists.
While Rhode Island’s slim at-large chances got a bit better with the win, Western Kentucky’s resume might be one of the strangest in college basketball. Three of the Hilltoppers’ four losses have been by single-digits; the past three games have either gone into overtime or the final possession. Somehow, they have a win over Arkansas despite a roster that’s seemingly getting thinner by the week.
Western Kentucky versus Rhode Island was a battle of two of the nation’s thinnest rosters. WKU is 343rd in bench minutes, whereas Rhode Island’s seven-man rotation isn’t far behind at 322nd, per KenPom.
In a cruel twist of fate for WKU fans, Georgetown transfer Antwan Walker made his Rhode Island debut against the Hilltoppers. Naturally, he added 10 points, seven rebounds and two steals off the bench. Western Kentucky countered with the following three-man bench: Matt Horton (37 minutes this season, 21 career points), freshman Jeremiah Gambrell Jr. (27 minutes, 13 points) and the aforementioned Rawls, whose 12 points off the bench was a much-needed silver lining.
Perhaps this will be Rawls’ breakout game. Heaven knows Western Kentucky needs any help it can get.
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Samford has ended the half on a 7-2 run to cut Georgetown’s lead down to 13 at 44-31. Georgetown has had leads as big as 22 in this first half, but the play of the nation’s assist leader Josh Sharkey had helped the Bulldogs close in on the lead. He has 12 points and four assists at the half. Georgetown’s big man, Omar Yurtseven has another first half double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
We’re on pace for another high scoring half. Tune into Fox Sports 1.
ANN ARBOR — Year one of the Quinton Ferrell era hasn’t started off too well for the Presbyterian Blue Hose. A shot to turn that around today against Michigan has not gone the way that he would have hope. Already amassing 10 turnovers in the first half hasn’t helped as they trail 38-15. I’m just hoping this game ends quick so I can make it to Calihan Hall for Detroit vs. SIU Edwardsville in time for tip.
Christmas is only days away, and if you’re anything like me, you still have plenty that you need to do to prepare for a stressful week of holiday activities.
Naturally, the best way to spend the last Saturday before the festivities is to plant your butt on the couch and strap in for what should be one of the best days of hoops that we’ve had all season.
There are marquee games all throughout the day featuring some of the top mid-major teams in the country. For those that are starting to have NCAA Tournament resumes on the brain, there’s plenty of games that should warrant your attention.
As I write this, I’m tuned in to the VCU-Wichita State matchup that would have been this blog’s Super Bowl three years ago. Later in the day, Dayton and Colorado square off in Chicago where the Flyers will look to stay hot. Down in Florida, Utah State will get another crack at toppling an SEC foe with a matchup against Florida.
We’ll check in periodically throughout the day with key updates on the action. For now, tell your spouse or significant other that you’re out of commission for the day and that you’ll be busy with very important basketball related duties.