ESPN calls it Super Tuesday and College Basketball, it was a super day as there were quite a few great games to talk about and as a result, that means a lengthy daily roundup. So I’ll keep the intro short and let’s dive into it.
LSU storms back to beat Kentucky
In what was one of the wilder games of College Basketball this year, LSU walked away with a 65-60 win against Kentucky. Kentucky dealt with all sorts of problems, Sahvir Wheeler and TyTy Washington both had injuries, which are to be determined on the severity of each. Oscar Tshiebwe had foul troubles in the first half and puzzlingly sat out the last 11 minutes of the first half. Despite all that, Kentucky still lead 50-41 with 13 minutes left in the game, before LSU’s run began. The Tigers went on a 20-2 run over the next 10 minutes, the defense was spectacular, while they really made it difficult for Kentucky to get anything inside. Of course, Kentucky followed that up with an 8-0 run to cut the lead to one, before a final stretch that included two steals, and two highlight-reel dunks by Tari Eason and Xavier Pinson as LSU won 65-60. The Tigers are now 13-1 and have their first ranked win on the season. Kentucky will be fine as long as they are healthy, everything that could’ve gone wrong did, and they still nearly won at a Top-25 team in LSU.
Akinjo and Flagler help Baylor overcome Defense struggles
This year Baylor has been one of the best defensive teams in the sport this season, but this was by far their worst defensive performance of the season. The Bears allowed Oklahoma to shoot 56% from the floor, gave up countless back-cuts, and just didn’t seem to have too much heart when it came to defending in this game. That will be something the Bears need to improve, especially when March Madness rolls around. That said, the offense continues to look better and better as the season rolls along, James Akinjo had 27 in this game and played like a legitimate star in this game, while Adam Flagler added 22 points himself to help carry the Bears to an 84-74 win against Oklahoma. The Bears are still deserving of their number one ranking for good reason, while they may have struggled defensively in this game the Bears still have enough offensive firepower to make up for it, which is scary for the rest of the Big 12.
Kansas moves Conference Opener win streak to 31
While Kansas has had some ridiculous streaks in the past, notably winning 14 straight Big 12 titles, this active streak might be the most ridiculous. Thanks to a 74-63 win at Oklahoma State, the Jayhawks have won 31 straight conference openers, which is a crazy streak especially in a sport that is as fluky as it is. Sure Kansas is favored in just about every game they play but to win the first conference game they play for 31 straight seasons is extremely impressive. This game seemed to be the return of David McCormack, who had 17 points and 15 rebounds off the bench, which is a welcome sign. While Agbaji and Braun have been spectacular to start this season, having a legitimate inside presence in McCormack is what gives the Jayhawks a legitimate chance at a National Championship.
Marquette hands Providence second loss of the season in blowout fashion
I’m not going to sit here and say that this loss wasn’t something that no one could have seen coming, the Friars were due for a bad performance amidst all the great performances they have had this season. This seemed like a prime letdown spot on the road against a Marquette team that was playing with a sense of desperation following a brutal loss to Creighton on Saturday. Even still, this beatdown was not something to be expected, as Marquette just ran Providence off the court in this one. Late in the first half, the Golden Eagles went on a 20-0 run and from there it was a matter of what the final score would be and not who would win the game. Justin Lewis had a game-high 23 points, while Oso Ighodaro continues to be one of the surprises off the bench, scoring 16 in this game. The Golden Eagles snapped a four-game losing streak and should be able to add to that win streak with games against Georgetown and DePaul next.
Rutgers ends 87-year drought against Michigan
With Rutgers being relatively new in the Big Ten, there are some streaks that are still around like the fact that Rutgers had not beaten Michigan in 87 years. There have only been 15 games between the two since 1933 but the fact that that streak was still around meant that this win was extra special for Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights pretty much led throughout and coasted to a 75-67 victory over Michigan, while hitting a season-high 11 three-pointers. Geo Baker had a game-high 27 points, while Ron Harper Jr chipped in with 20, as Rutgers now moves to 8-5 on the season and is slowly moving back towards the bubble conversation. Speaking of bubble conversation, Michigan may have removed itself from that conversation with the loss. The Wolverines have been extremely inconsistent all season long, including in this game. Hunter Dickinson had 25 but Caleb Houstan and Eli Brooks combined for 9-25 shooting, while DeVante’ Jones had a goose egg in the scoring column. The Wolverines are now 7-6 with games against Michigan State, Purdue and at Illinois coming up. Games in January aren’t usually classified as must-win games but for Michigan, their matchup Saturday against Michigan State will certainly feel like as much of a must-win game as any.
Illinois blows out Minnesota in the Barn
Minnesota has been one of the great surprises to start this season starting 10-1 and while they still haven’t gotten a huge win, they’ve certainly looked the part and have picked up a couple of decent wins. Tuesday presented Minnesota with a potential reality-check though, as they faced a really good Illinois team and got blown out. The game was never close, with Illinois quickly going up by 16 just 10 minutes into the game, while they cruised to a 76-53 win. Kofi Cockburn made a statement, scoring 29 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, while Grandison and Plummer also scored in double-figures. Illinois still doesn’t have a marquee win and struggled early in the season, but very much should be considered one of, if not the favorite to win the Big Ten.
Wake Forest blows out Florida State
In a result that would have completely shocked everyone preseason, Wake Forest blew out Florida State winning 76-54 in dominant fashion. The Demon Deacons have been the better team all season long, but this was still a game where you would expect Florida State to show up, but they did not. The Demon Deacons pretty much ran Wake Forest out of the gym from the get-go and the result was really never in question. Jake LaRavia had a game-high 22 points, while Alondes Williams had 20 points. The Demon Deacons had lost back-to-back road games but rebounded by blowing out Florida State and they continue to look like a legitimate NCAA Tournament threat.
Vanderbilt gets a nice road win at Arkansas
This season didn’t start out great for Vanderbilt, but momentum has been slowly building for Jerry Stackhouse and Vanderbilt. The Commodores won the Diamond Head Classic and now have backed that up by getting a big win at Arkansas in their SEC opener. While the game was seemingly won earlier, Vanderbilt couldn’t make it easy, up 75-70 they allowed a three-point play, then threw the ball to Chris Lykes who got fouled and went to the line for two free throws to potentially tie the game. Lykes went 1 of 2, while the Commodores dodged multiple shots by Arkansas to win as they won 75-74. Scotty Pippen Jr continues to look like one of the premier players in the sport, he had 22 points to lead the Commodores, while Rodney Chatman hit some key shots as part of his 11 points. Things have not always been easy for Vanderbilt in the Stackhouse era, but they are playing well and now have a road win against Arkansas. The jury is still out on whether Arkansas is actually good, they still don’t have any marquee wins, but this is still a big win for Vanderbilt.