We waited seven long months to have men’s college basketball games once again. The IUPUI standalone game to kickoff the season Monday morning was our first taste – a game the Jaguars won 70-63 over Division III Spalding.
But there was much more in store for the first day of the season. Some really great performances. Some not so much.
We’ll start with the upsets that got every mid-major fan screaming at the top of their lungs as the clocks hit zero before going over the not-so-happy moments of the way.
James Madison knocks off No. 4 Michigan State in overtime
The Dukes jumped out to a 20-7 lead in East Lansing before surviving an overtime thriller for a 79-76 win over the Spartans. This marked the first time Tom Izzo has lost a home game in the month of November. He was 73-0 before Monday night.
Raekwon Horton provided the dagger as he sank a 3-pointer with less than 10 seconds left in OT to bolster the lead to four.
This victory marks just the second time in program history JMU defeated a nationally ranked team. The other came back in 1992.
An added cool part of this game was Matt Bucklin, an assistant at James Madison, defeated his uncle, Izzo.
Princeton men win vs. Rutgers
The Tigers traveled to Trenton and handed Rutgers a 68-61 defeat.
It was a back-and-forth contest, and with the score even at 45, Princeton scored eight straight points to take the lead. After the lead reached double figures, Rutgers had its own eight-point spurt to pull back within two, but that’s as close as it got.
Matt Allocco and Xaivian Lee led the way. Allocco tallied 21 points on 9-for-13 shooting and nine rebounds. Lee posted 16 points and a career-high five assists.
Mitch Henderson has now beaten the Scarlet Knights in three of his four meetings with them.
Abilene Christian takes down the OK State
Well this was a random one not going to lie. ACU walked into Stillwater, led at half, and didn’t look back against the hosting Cowboys of Oklahoma State and the Big 12.
Ali Abdou Dibba (15 points) and Hunter Jack Madden (14) led the way for the Wildcats in the road upset.
GCU women comeback vs. Saint Mary’s
The Antelopes scored just four points in the first quarter and trailed by 19 with 7:32 remaining in the game, but as the old adage goes: ‘it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.’
GCU scored the final 22 points of the contest to claim a 55-52 win at home over Saint Mary’s. Naudia Evans sealed the win with her buzzer-beating three to break the tied score.
LOPES WIIIINNN!!!! NAUDIA EVANS AT THE BUZZER!! pic.twitter.com/UsAlJiwiTl— GCU Women's Basketball (@GCU_WBB) November 7, 2023
The Lopes scored 31 points over the first three quarters before knocking in 24 points on 10-for-19 shooting in the final period.
Evans posted a team-high 15 points.
D-II Clark Atlanta men upset Mercer
Clark Atlanta, a Division II school, outscored Mercer by 10 points in the second half to claim the 71-64 win.
The game was tied at 43 before the Panthers reeled off 11 of the next 13 points to surge in front. The Bears cut the deficit back to four but missed their final five shots.
This defeat marks the third straight season Mercer has fallen in its opener.
McNeese men top VCU
The Rams are coming off sweeping the Atlantic 10 regular season and tournament titles. The Cowboys finished 11-23 last season with a 6-12 mark in the Southland. However, the numbers that matter this year: McNeese 76, VCU 65.
The ties run strong between these programs as former VCU head coach Will Wade is now the head man at McNeese. But he wasn’t part of the game as he’s serving a 10-game suspension. So, Brandon Chambers, a VCU grad, served as acting head coach.
The Bayou Bandits kicked off their season with a win over a DI for the first time since the 1995-96 season.
McNeese used a 12-0 run in the first half to surge in front and never looked back.
NAIA Mobile downs South Alabama
Division I low majors losing to NAIA teams isn’t exactly rock bottom, but is sure is close. South Alabama was beat — mighty handily might I add — by NAIA squad Mobile, 83-74. The Jaguars trailed basically all night, including by 24 at halftime before making it close with a much more normal second half effort. But the damage was done and the upset was sealed.
D-II Trevecca Nazarene women beat Austin Peay
Trevecca Nazarene, a Division II school, held a 21-7 edge in the second quarter on its way to a 75-59 win over Austin Peay. The Trojans scored the final 10 points of the period to take a 14-point lead into the locker room.
The Governors tried to make a comeback as they shot 50% in the second half but failed to get within nine.
Trevecca Nazarene made 26 of its 32 free throw attempts, compared to Austin Peay’s 5-for-10.