Chris Lofton looked like he was ready to beat Memphis one on five. Tennessee's sharpshooter had 21 points at the half while the #17 team in the country had just 22. Lofton ended with 34 points, including 6 threes, often of the fade-away, off-balance variety. Prior to this game, the Vols had lost to UNC and Butler and their best win of the season was arguably at home over Fordham. This win puts them back in the thick of the nationl picture, though the Top 25 is still probably out of reach.
On a night busy with Top 25 action, everyone else advanced with relative ease. #2 Pittsburgh, #7 Florida, #9 Duke, #10 UCONN, #14 Butler, #22 Maryland, #23 Air Force, and #25 Michigan State all won by double digits.
The difference as usual for LSU in their win over #6 Texas A&M was that they had Glen Davis, while their opponent didn't. Lost in Florida's championship, Tyler Hansbrough's Player of the Year hype, and this year's stellar class, is that Davis just might be the country's best player. Big Baby had 24 points and 9 rebounds to key the win. And this isn't one of those 24 point efforts in an up and down game where both teams are scoring into the 80's or beyond. This is 24 points in a game featuring two tight defenses, limited possessions, and where Davis' 9 field goals were almost half of LSU's 20. A&M was led by Antanas Kavaliauskas who is quietly becoming a major offensive player for Billy Gillispie. The big Lithuanian added 18 points a game after setting a career high with 23 against Pacific.
6-3 Winthrop gave it another good run against a ranked team.. falling in overtime to Wiscosnin. The Eagles pose an interesting problem for how we look at mid-major teams. For example, well-played, close losses at UNC, Maryland, and Wisconsin are impressive and have to count for something. But on the flip side, Winthrop's best win so far is at Mississippi State. We had Winthrop in our CHN Top 50 Ranking.. and I still believe they are a top 50 team.. but there gets to the point that they have to win a big game to warrant the ranking. If Purdue for example lost to those three teams and had only beaten Mississippi State and some nobodies, then it would seem perfectly normal not to put them in the Top 50. The difference though when comparing a Purdue and a Winthrop is that a Winthrop will never have the chance to play the likes of a UNC, Wisconsin, and Maryland on their home floor. Winthrop plays a 5th BCS team this year, Texas A&M, but also on the road. I'd say its an assumption that if a team goes on the road and takes a team to OT, that they would be the favored team at home. Unfortuntely, we may never know.
#24 Georgia Tech.. not anymore. #19 Maryland.. good try. #4 Florida.. thanks for playing. A season of wild upsets, surprise, and intrigue, continued on what was expected to be a somewhat quiet Sunday.
Don't feel bad for Gator fans though. Florida will play Ohio State in the National Championship game in football so today's 70-66 loss at Florida State will be forgotten. For FSU, Al Thornton was basically one man team. They needed everyone of his 28 points and 9 rebounds. The last 2 minutes of the game was all Thornton.. a nice post move in the paint, a 15 foot jumper, and a pair of free throws to lock the game up. The Gators were without Corey Brewer.. but his replacement Walter Hodge added 17 points so you can't blame it on that.
What a day of college basketball.. 17 Top 25 teams in action.. two major Top 10 upsets.. the first game of the year on CBS.. and the debut of the most heralded prospect in recent (if not all-time) history?
I'll start with the early action and then move my way into the evening.
Is there a new, better Hansbrough in town? Freshman Ben Hansbrough poured in 23 points and 8 assists as Mississippi State romped on TAMU-CC, 96-72. Meanwhile, younger brother Tyler's 7 points and 3 rebounds kept a pesky Kentucky team alive against UNC. The Tar Heels were the better and more talented team from the tip, but Randolph Morris' 21 point domination of Hansbrough, and Tubby's ability to play the game at his pace instead of Roy's, kept the game relatively competitive. Hansbrough's struggles were reminiscent of his 9 point clunker against Josh Heytvelt and Gonzaga.
This is the first edition of CHN's Question of the Week. Last year, fans we used a web form for fans to submit their responses, and we posted the best one's online. This year, we'll be using a new system where you can login and post your response below.
This week's question:
How Good Will Greg Oden Be? Can he match the hype? Will he lead Ohio State to the Final Four?
Let us know what you think below!
Today's a big day.. college basketball reaches the national airwaves as Kentucky heads to North Carolina on CBS. Will be interesting to see how the Heels follow up their big win over Ohio State. The game I'm really looking forward to is Gonzaga vs Texas on ESPN. These are two of the most intriguing teams, due to youth and style of play. I love star power and its fun to watch Kevin Durant (22 & 10) improve on a day by day basis.
North Dakota State got some big time pub last year when they upset Wisconsin in Madison. Though 4 of last year's wins were over non-D1 teams, the Bison's 16 overall wins was very impressive for a first time independent. This year, the team is off to another solid 4-2 start, and one of those losses was by just 4 points at Texas Tech. What's amazing is that outside of senior Andre Smith, no one else on the roster is older than a sophomore. Its too bad this team isnt affiliated with a conference this year, because they could do some serious damage in a league like the Big Sky or the Mid-Con.
Ohio State's 98-89 loss to UNC is one of the few times I can remember a #1 team losing.. but actually gaining respect. The Buckeyes came out smoking, hitting three's left and right and finished with 13 bombs on the night. Ron Lewis finished with a career high 30 points and Dickie Dolittle was suddenly touting him as a future NBA star. The play of freshmen Wayne Ellington and Tywon Lawson keyed UNC's big 2nd half. Lawson continues to show why he is UNC's best option at point guard.
Marist continues to impress, picking up a 13 point win over Old Dominion. Star point guard Jared Jordan, the nation's leader in assists, was 2 rebounds shy of a rare college triple double. He ended up with 26 points, 10 assists, and 8 boars.
Nothing like a 54-51 snooze fest to highlight Tuesday's ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Duke eeked out an ugly victory over an Indiana team that deserves credit for hanging in there despite a very poor first half. This game featured a complete lack of frontcourt offense: Duke's three starting forwards combined for 3-12 shooting (Remind me again why McRoberts is a lottery pick?) while Indiana's two bigs were 4-17.
Glad to see Kelvin Sampson's decision to start playing the freshmen Shaw and Bassett more and more. In the long run, this should be a major help for the Hoosiers. Bassett had a career high 16 points, though he showed his inexperience in the closing minutes with one poor shot and then one poorer lack of shot. The lanky Shaw has played 24 minutes the last two games after being a non-factor in the first few.