Ring in the New Year with a Big 12 – West Coast Conference clash. It’s the Ronald McDonald House Charities Classic at Spokane Arena. Jeff Capel brings his Oklahoma Sooners (8-4) west for an inter-conference showdown with Mark Few’s No.22 Gonzaga Bulldogs (9-3).
Kenny Frease made good on a first career start with 12 points and seven rebounds. Terrell Holloway led the way with 20. Jamel McLean picked up the double-double off the bench with 10 points and 10 boards. The Musketeers out-rebounded the Tigers 51-29.
After a season where both of these teams won their respective conferences, LSU and Xavier each need to prove themselves. LSU is looking up at a revived Kentucky program while Mississippi State and Ole Miss have also improved. Xavier will need to knock off Temple and Dayton to win their fourth consecutive A-10 title.
After a week break the Orange open Big East play at 12-0 for the sixth time during Boeheim’s tenure. Seton Hall will face their second consecutive undefeated and top ten team. On Saturday, the Pirates lost in overtime to West Virginia, 90-84.
Conflict: Seton Hall went 10-11 from long range and scored 64 points in the second half against Navy, but Bobby Gonzalez’s crew will need a different focus come tip off today. The Mountaineers can score in bunches as evidenced by Wednesday night’s second half outburst. Wellington Smith led the Mountaineers hitting four threes in the first 4:30 of the second half. Smith led three Mountaineers in double figures. Devin Ebanks scored 14 and Kevin Jones chipped in 12. Pre-season All American, De’Sean Butler was only needed for nine points.
Kennedy served as an assistant to Huggins for four years at Cincinnati. The Rebels are trying to win seven straight for the first time since 2007. The Mountaineers’ six spot in the polls is the program’s highest ranking since 1982. West Virginia has won 29 in a row during the month of December. Over the last seven seasons, West Virginia is 47-2 at home against at non-conference opponents. Their last loss was to Dusquesne in 2001, 68-61. Ole Miss has never defeated a top ten non-conference opponent.
Things we learned: 1. Gordon Hayward is a really good player. His 22 points and 14 rebounds were special – add to that 3 assists. He went 4-5 from the three-point arc, and 6-7 from the free throw line. He scored the winning bucket and finished another basket on a drive to the basket against the half court set. He sees the floor well and makes great cuts.
The two teams have played at least twice a season since 1915-1916. NC State leads the all-time series, 131-98. Wake is 16-4 at Joel against the Wolfpack including four of the last five. Wake won last year, 85-78. The Wolfpack won at Raleigh, 82-76.
Xavier and Butler represent two of the most successful college basketball programs of the last decade. From 2000-09 Butler holds a winning percentage of .729 – 12th in the nation. Xavier earns the 14th spot at .727. Butler and Xavier are two of nine schools to win 25 or more games each of the last three seasons. The schools combined for 14 NCAA Tournament appearances during the ten-year span. Xavier reaching the Elite Eight twice with one Sweet Sixteen appearance. Butler advanced to the Sweet Sixteen twice.
Rumors of the Atlantic 10’s demise appear greatly exaggerated, at least for now. After a sluggish November characterized more as opportunities lost rather than seizing chances, the A-10 seems to have landed on its feet. In a pair of intra-city rivalries, Xavier downed Cincinnati, 83-79 in a double overtime classic, and Temple took down Villanova