South Dakota St
As the streak grew longer, it seemed as if it became a foregone conclusion in the eyes of many that Murray State would simply run through the Ohio Valley Conference on their way to a Sears BracketBusters contest against Saint Mary's. Steve Prohm's head coaching career got off to a dream start, as the Racers won 23 straight games with Isaiah Canaan and Donte Poole leading the way. That run came to an end on Thursday night as the Racers fell 72-68 to a Tennessee State team that relied on balance to grab their eighth win in the last nine games.
A week after being outclassed at home by first-place Saint Mary's there was no ignoring the importance of BYU's game against Gonzaga, especially if the Cougars were to remain alive in the race for second place in the WCC. Dave Rose's team responded as good teams should, taking control of the game with an 11-4 run to close out the first half on their way to an 83-73 victory. The frontcourt matchup proved to be the difference as BYU's duo of Noah Hartsock and Brandon Davies outplayed Elias Harris and Robert Sacre, with Hartsock's 24 points and 14 rebounds leading the way.
The first Saturday of the new year proved to be far more exciting than anticipated, much to the detriment of ranked teams who took their show on the road. Removing #7 Missouri and #20 Marquette, who both lost on the road to ranked opponents (more on both of those games below), five ranked teams lost to unranked opponents with four of the losses coming on the road. The Big East provided the most intrigue, with #8 Connecticut and #9 Georgetown falling on the road while #10 Louisville lost in double overtime at home. So which of the three defeats is most concerning?
Suspense was expected in the matchup between Georgetown and #12 Alabama, and that's exactly what the two teams provided as the Hoyas beat the Crimson Tide 57-55 on a Hollis Thompson three-pointer with 1.8 seconds remaining. Instead of simply giving Jason Clark (22 points) the ball and telling him to shoot, Georgetown used the senior guard to run a dribble hand-off with Thompson on the right wing and the junior rose up and knocked down the shot. Levi Randolph's shot from half court missed just left of the rim at the buzzer, ending the Tide's 24-game home win streak.
In the latest installment in his "Forgotten Legends" interview series CHN writer Jon Teitel spent some time with Centenary great Willie Jackson, the school's all-time leading scorer while also ranking second in rebounding. Aptly nicknamed "The Legend" by players when an assistant at his alma mater, Jackson is now the head coach at Loyola College Prep in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Jon Teitel: Your nickname is "Legend". Who gave it to you, and how do you like it?
1. North Dakota State (16-2)
2. Oral Roberts (14-4)