Saturday Recap: Xavier wins the shootout, Wichita wins on the road, Devonte’ Graham goes ham
PLAYER OF THE DAY
Devonte’ Graham and Lagerald Vick combined to put on a clinic on how to beat a 2-3 zone as No. 2 Kansas cruised to a 76-60 win over Syracuse in Miami. Vick went for 20 points, eight boards and seven assists, but it was Graham that was the real star on Saturday. For the second straight game, Graham - who entered the weekend averaged 15.8 points and 8.5 assists for the undefeated Jayhawks - finished with 35 points, adding five dimes and making seven threes, which helped boost his three-point percentage from 36 percent to 41 percent. I think it’s safe to say that Graham’s slow start to the season has come to an end.
The question for Kansas now is whether or not they are ever actually going to get another big man on the roster. It’s not going to hurt them when Clay Young plays 12 minutes at center against Syracuse. It will once they get into the meat-grinder of the Big 12.
THE REST OF SATURDAY’S STARS
- Trevon Bluiett shook off a two-game slump to pop off for 28 points as No. 21 Xavier put a whupping on No. 11 Cincinnati, 89-76. That was before the postgame fireworks.
- Jalen Adams had 31 points on 13-for-22 shooting as UConn squeaked out another overtime win against a mid-major, this time picking off Columbia. I’m beginning to think Adams is the only good thing about the current UConn program.
- Shake Milton had 22 points and nine assists as SMU handed No. 14 USC their second-straight loss, 72-55.
- Drexel’s Tramaine Isabell had 35 points, 13 boards, three assists and three steals in a come-from-behind win over Rider. I feel like I should mention that he’s 6-foot-1.
- 5-foot-10 Fatts Russell came off the bench to score 20 points for the second-straight game as Rhode Island picked off in-state rival Providence.
TEAM OF THE DAY
Last Friday, No. 21 Xavier was embarrassed by then-unranked and now-No. 20 Arizona State, giving up 102 points and trailing by as many as 25 in the second half despite leading by 15 just before half time while allowing Tra Holder and Shannon Evans to look like the reincarnation of Stephen Curry and Allen Iverson. It was, as they say, a mollywhopping.
But that seems like so long ago after the week that Xavier has had. After picking off No. 16 Baylor in the Cintas Center of Wednesday, the Musketeers smacked around their archirival, No. 11 Cincinnati, in the Crosstown Shootut, arguably the most intense rivalry in college hoops. They won 89-76, but that number doesn’t quite let you know just how thorough this win was. Xavier was up by ten by the first TV timeout. They were up by 23 points early in the second half. Cincinnati never really threatened them on Saturday.
It was so bad that the loss coupled with the incessant trolling of professional heel J.P. Macura had Mick Cronin looking to fight after the game. A win over your rival as their coach embarrasses himself publicly is a pretty good day.
GAME OF THE DAY
No. 20 Memphis lost to No. 14 UCF in a triple-overtime thriller, 62-55.
It was in football, but I feel like I should mention it here because Memphis is, apparently, now a football school. Tubby Smith’s team sold 4,113 tickets in an 18,000 seat arena to see his Tigers win in double-overtime over Mercer. I’m old enough to remember when they use to sell out the FedEx Forum.
The football program just played for a league title. The basketball program — even though it has first-class facilities, a $3 million coach and strong natural recruiting base — has zero top-150 prospects and is about to play a home game in front of 2,000 people. So you tell me.— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) December 2, 2017
WTF??? OF THE DAY
Big Ten play started this weekend, and if that wasn’t strange enough, this result might be: Ohio State 83, Wisconsin 58.
In the Kohl Center.
For years, the Badgers were just about unbeatable in that building, and not only did the Buckeyes take a 2-by-4 to the back of the Badgers’ proverbial heads, they did so in a year where they were supposed to be rebuilding. Remember, it was just six months ago that Ohio State fired the greatest coach that their program has ever seen. Thad Matta was let go because the program in the eyes of the higher-ups, was too far gone.
And now Ohio State is winning by 25 points at Wisconsin when they have an all-american at center. Good for them.
Keita Bates-Diop led the way with 17 points, 11 boards and five assists if you were wondering.
WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?
Is Arizona back??? The Wildcats, who went from No. 2 to unranked this week, went into Vegas and left with a 91-88 win in overtime over a good UNLV team. Deandre Ayton had 28 points and 10 boards to lead the Wildcats while Allonzo Trier chipped in with 29 points. Brandon McCoy added 33 points and 10 boards.
No. 8 Wichita State landed their first win over a ranked team in roughly two years as they went into Waco and knocked off No. 16 Baylor, 69-62. The Shockers were led by 17 points from Connor Frankamp.
The AAC badly needed some good non-conference performances, and Wichita State wasn’t the only one to chip-in. Houston beat Arkansas by 26 points.
Virginia Tech landed an 83-80 overtime win at Ole Miss after trailing by 16 points in the second half. The Hokies are now 7-1 on the season after wins over the Rebels and Iowa this week, which is why the loss they took at the hands of Saint Louis - who lost by 30 to Bulter after trailing 42-13 at the half - earlier this year is one of the most perplexing results of the season. The Hokies head to Rupp Arena on Dec. 16th.
Georgia and head coach Mark Fox have quietly put together an excellent start to the season. The Bulldogs are 6-1 after winning at Marquette on Saturday. They also have a win over Saint Mary’s on a neutral. With games left at home against Georgia Tech and Temple and a trip to Kansas State, the Bulldogs have a chance to put together a really solid non-conference slate.