College Basketball Saturdays are the best, with so many moving parts throughout the day, there is always a large amount of pure chaos that transpires throughout the day. The Big 12 was key to two of the biggest upsets of the day, which of course presented room for ever-changing conference standings, while the race for #1 is now down to two teams. Plus there are plenty of other key results from the rest of the day that need discussing, so let’s dive into what should be a loaded daily roundup.
Oklahoma State knocks off Baylor
Up until earlier this week, the Baylor program had won 21 straight games and was the best team in the sport, as well as the best program in the sport. What has transpired over the past week has been nothing short of shocking, to say the least. The Bears not only lost back-to-back games for the first time since the 2018-19 season but became the first #1 ranked team to ever lose two home games in the same week. In some defense of Baylor, this is a team that has played such a high level of basketball this season alone, that they were due for a rough stretch, and it has hit. This game was a textbook example of why shooting consistency is the key to winning games. The Bears got lots of similar looks to what they usually get, the difference was that they weren’t making those shots, as they went 8-28 from three and shot 31% from the floor. The Cowboys certainly did almost everything they needed to do, to have a chance at winning, and still, Baylor had a shot late to tie the game. Bryce Thompson had a huge game, scoring a career-high 19 points, and was the one that was trusted to make the free throws late. Oklahoma State may not be able to make the NCAA Tournament, but topping the #1 team in the country on the road is something that will be the highlight of the season.
Kansas State tops red-hot Texas Tech
Coming into Saturday, no team was hotter than Texas Tech, who had just beaten two Top-6 teams in a row, while Kansas State was the best no-win Big 12 team that you could ever find. Naturally, Kansas State pulled off the upset and beat Texas Tech 62-51. The Red Raiders led at halftime, but you could tell that this game seemed like a must-win for Kansas State and they played with a sense of desperation in the second half, as they got the lead. From there they closed strong, Mark Smith hit a big three to put them up four, then Smith again connected on a three to make it a seven-point game. Kansas State now is 1-4 in Big 12 play and while this team has a long way to go before having any chance at the NCAA Tournament, at least for now they have quieted some of the hot seat rumblings of Bruce Weber.
Northwestern picks off Michigan State for critical road win
Speaking of teams that had a sense of desperation, Northwestern was a team that had a lot of it going into a road game at Michigan State. The Wildcats had started Big Ten play 0-4 with close losses to Maryland, Ohio State, Penn State, and this Michigan State team, which was a letdown. It’s not as if this team was playing badly by any means, but they just found ways to end up on the wrong end of too many results thus far. This game provided Northwestern with a big-time win as they went on the road and beat the #10 Michigan State Spartans. The Wildcats led throughout the first half but allowed an 11-0 run that allowed Michigan State to take a four-point lead, which again made it feel like Northwestern was going to lose another winnable game, but they had the answers. Ryan Young helped propel an 11-2 run to answer, while they were able to avoid a late officiating snafu that could’ve helped Michigan State en route to a 64-62 win in East Lansing. Northwestern still has a lot of work left to do to make the NCAA Tournament but if they can start winning these 50-50 type games on a more frequent basis, that could at least help them get back in the mix.
Kentucky offense explodes in blowout win against Tennessee
In terms of the biggest name-brand matchup of the day, Tennessee traveling on the road to take on Kentucky provided that matchup, in terms of competitiveness, that was a different story. Kentucky destroyed the Volunteers, shooting a season-high 68%, scoring 107 points, and doing so against the previously #2 ranked defensive team in the sport. TyTy Washington had his breakout game of the year, scoring 28 points to lead the Wildcats, Sahvir Wheeler had 21 points and 8 assists, while guards Kellan Grady and Davion Mintz got into double figures. The crazy part is that they had this offensive explosion despite a below-average performance from Oscar Tshiebwe, who only had 9 points and 12 rebounds (I know, atrocious). This Kentucky team is starting to round into form and that is scary for the SEC, as they are extremely dangerous with the amount of shooting and passing from the guards, mixed in with Oscar Tshiebwe, who is a walking 20-15.
Kansas frontcourt finds footing in runaway win against West Virginia
Coming into today, Ochai Agbaji has been a First-Team All-American but it felt oftentimes like he had been doing it alone as the frontcourt of David McCormack and Jalen Wilson both had been quite inconsistent and had not played well. Saturday that changed, as David McCormack had 19 points and 15 rebounds, while Jalen Wilson had 23 as Kansas beat West Virginia 85-59. The Jayhawks scored 52 points in the second half en route to that offensive output and with the rate that they were scoring, West Virginia just had no chance at keeping it close. The Jayhawks will need this to be a consistent thing, but if this David McCormack and Jalen Wilson, or even a slightly worse version, do show up consistently, this team not only could win the Big 12 but could be one of the teams to beat come March.
Murray State blows out Belmont in Ohio Valley showcase
In the biggest regular-season Ohio Valley game in a long time, these two programs both are looking to get an at-large bid, so this game would go a long way towards helping that happen. In the end, we ended up seeing one team establish themselves as being a clear NCAA Tournament team and that was the Murray State Racers. Murray State got hot early and seemingly never cooled down as they shot 56% from the floor and won 82-60. Juice Hill had a season-high 36 points on 8-11 shooting from three to lead the Racers, Tevin Brown had a typical 18 point performance and KJ Williams had 13. The Racers are now 14-2 with good wins against Belmont, Chattanooga, and Memphis, they are a clear NCAA Tournament team so long as they have a good performance in Ohio Valley play.
Oregon caps off great week with win against USC
Coming into this week, Oregon was 9-6 with no quality wins and nowhere near the NCAA Tournament discussion. After two great road wins, the Ducks have two Top-5 road wins and are waking up inside every projected Bracketology. This game was never really in doubt, the Ducks grabbed the lead early and were really in cruise control all game long en route to the 79-69 win. Will Richardson had a big performance, scoring 28 points to lead the Ducks in scoring, while De’Vion Harmon had 16. This team is starting to find their stride, Richardson, Harmon, and Young all have been good at the guard spot recently, while Guerrier and Dante make up a good frontcourt. This Ducks team will have to maintain this type of play going forward but at this point, the Pac-12 seems poised for 4 bids, with the Ducks being the fourth.
Arkansas stuns LSU without Musselman
Eric Musselman was out recovering from shoulder surgery, Arkansas had taken losses in five of their last seven and they were playing on the road at LSU, this seemed like a loss for Arkansas but that’s why they play the games. This game was relatively low-scoring, with the Tigers having a 56-48 lead with nine minutes left, which is where Arkansas went on one of the great defensive stretches of all time. The Razorbacks held the Tigers to just two points, as they were able to not only tie but beat LSU thanks to some late-game shot-making. Jaylin Williams drilled the go-ahead three to put Arkansas up 61-58, then had a game-deciding block on the other end, as Arkansas held on for the 65-58 victory. JD Notae and Jaylin Williams had the big performances for Arkansas in the win, while Devo Davis had good defensive energy off the bench. The Razorbacks aren’t a Tournament lock by any means, but this win will go a long way towards them potentially making the Big Dance.
BYU completes comeback against San Francisco
Coming off a tough loss to Gonzaga, the Cougars once again found themselves in a hole as they were trailing San Francisco by double-digits late in the second half, but they were able to come back and pull off the win. The Cougars trailed late 65-61, but thanks to some late free throw shooting and clutch shots by Caleb Lohner led the Cougars to a 71-69 win against San Francisco. Alex Barcello had 18 points to lead the Cougars, while Te’Jon Lucas had 12. San Francisco had a good overall performance and looked like the better team for much of the game, they certainly are a good team at 15-3 but have now missed a couple of opportunities to get quality wins with missed opportunities against BYU and Loyola-Chicago.
Seton Hall falls to Marquette on late foul
Seton Hall took on a tough, gritty Marquette team that was looking to get a quality win to help their at-large case. This was a really good game that came down to the final minutes, Greg Elliot’s three tied the game at 70, while Justin Lewis had a jumper to put Marquette up two, although Bryce Aiken’s free throws tied it. The game came down to the final possession where Marquette won thanks to a late foul call that went against Seton Hall and led to two free throws for Greg Elliot. Elliot made the first free throw and that lifted Marquette to the 73-72 win. The Golden Eagles are quietly building a really good resumé this season and minus a complete collapse should be dancing.