Not pretty but winning
It has not been beautiful to this point, but Villanova is winning. The Wildcats (9-1) beat Delaware, 78-59, at a Wells Fargo Center that was not jammed per usual. Probably had more to do with opponent and time of year than anything. You know the fans will show up for the 2011 Big East games.
Corey Fisher is way too good of a player to keep missing all those shots. Fisher had been 8-for-40 over his previous four games. He shot 7-for-13 and scored 21 points against UD (5-3). It was his first 20-point game since the opener.
Delaware sophomore Jamelle Hagins had 30 blocks in 30 games last season. After blocking seven shots against Villanova, he has 32 blocks in eight games this season.
After beating Northern Illinois, 84-74, at the Liacouras Center, Temple (8-2) is 4-0 in its mandated games against the Mid-American Conference. The toughest game of the five likely will come Wednesday against a pretty good Ohio team.
The Owls' offense (53.4 percent) was solid against UNI (3-5) behind Lavoy Allen (22 points) and Ramone Moore (21 points). But there were 15 missed free throws and the defense was not up to typical Owls standards. The most any team had scored against the Owls was Georgetown's 65 in a loss.
Coach Fran Dunphy was hoping some of that huge crowd turnout for Georgetown would surface for UNI. Most did not return as a "crowd" of 3,116 saw the three-time defending Atlantic 10 champions. This team deserves more support. Fun to watch, really well-coached and a tradition of winning.
This game looked scary. After Drexel (8-1) won at Louisville, it was natural that they would not be all that excited to play at St. Francis (Pa.), a team that has not been a factor in decades and was 2-8.
The Dragons won it, 61-57. And they did it like they have been doing it. They got just about every rebound, killing the Red Flashes on the glass, 36-22, right at their plus-14-boards-per-game number.
Double-double machine Samme Givens did not miss a shot. He was 8-for-8 from the field on the way to 19 points and 16 rebounds. He has been one of the city's best players as we close on Christmas.
Baltimore's Josh Selby originally committed to Tennessee, changed his mind and signed with Kansas. He had to sit the first nine games as the result of an NCAA "improper benefits" suspension. He scored 21 points and launched the game-winning three with 26 seconds left in KU's two-point win over USC.
Selby's first game was terrific, but it was not quite the best in KU history. Wilt had a cool 52 points in his debut as a sophomore. He probably would only have had 50 if freshmen had been eligible in the 1950s.
Illinois was favored by 17 points over Illinois-Chicago at the United Center. And managed to lose, 57-54. UIC, by the way, was 4-7. And almost everybody in the crowd was rooting for a talented Illinois team.
Baylor had been unbeaten, but had not left home. The Bears went down the road to Dallas and promptly lost to Gonzaga, 68-64. The Zags have to be one of the great 6-5 teams ever. They have played everybody everywhere.
Not sure if this is much of an upset, but Kansas State was a slight favorite over Florida in Sunrise, Fla. The Gators won it, 57-44. K-State shot a sad 27.4 percent. Not much of a homecoming for native son Frank Martin, the K-State coach.
In the first Wooden Classic in Anaheim, Calif., without the late John Wooden around to see it, UCLA was not going to lose. The Bruins were very good in an 86-79 win over previously unbeaten BYU. UCLA's players are wearing a patch on their uniforms with Wooden's Pyramid of Success on it.
Two of the most touted freshmen, North Carolina's Harrison Barnes and Texas' Cory Joseph (who nearly signed with Villanova), took turns making giant baskets in Greensboro. Barnes hit a three to tie it with 13 seconds left before Joseph won it in the final seconds with a 15-footer. Texas won the game, 78-76.
Barnes had been shooting just 35 percent going into the game. Roy Williams' team is still trying to figure it out.
San Diego State was 12-for-24 from the arc in its dominant win over UCSB. In their previous game, the Aztecs were 0-for-18 from the arc in ugly win over Cal Poly.
Has to be St. Bonaventure 112, Ohio 107, in four overtimes. Andrew Nicholson had 44 points and 12 rebounds for the Bonnies. And he wasn't the star of the game. Ohio's D.J. Cooper had 43 points, 13 assists, eight rebounds and eight steals. And he was not cheated. He launched 41 shots.
Ohio got up 101 shots. The Bonnies attempted 48 free throws.
The third OT was 2-2. How is that possible?
Since Blake Griffin left for the NBA, Oklahoma is just 18-24. The Sooners lost at home to unbeaten Cincinnati, 66-56. And did not look very good doing it.
It is not going so well for Cornell. The Big Red gave up a 16-point first-half lead to Binghamton and lost its sixth straight to fall to 2-7. The Ivy League is wide open for a new champion after 3 years of Cornell domination.
Kentucky coach John Calipari was tossed with 6 1/2 minutes left in his team's blowout of Mississippi Valley State. Last time Cal was thrown out of a game was in 1996 when his then-26-0 Massachusetts team was losing to George Washington.
1. Duke (10-0): Return from exams with a serious test tonight against Elon. Be very good regardless, but championship hopes may rely on eventual Kyrie Irving medical report.
2. Ohio State (10-0): Freshman Jared Sullinger is putting up ridiculous numbers. He had 30 points and 19 rebounds in 79-57 rout of South Carolina.
3. Kansas (10-0): Needed game-winner from Josh Selby in his debut to beat USC, 70-68, and extend home-court winning streak to 65.
4. Connecticut (8-0): Back from exams tonight with game against Fang Mitchell's Coppin State road warriors.
5. Syracuse (11-0): Had to shoot 59.3 percent to beat Iona, 83-77. Lost a lot, but still have a lot.
6. San Diego State (12-0): Played what Steve Fisher called the best half in his 11-plus years there in 90-64 win over UCSB. Led 57-29 at the half.
7. Pittsburgh (11-1): Beat UMES, 97-64. Not sure what that means in the greater scheme of things, but a win is a win.
8. Missouri (10-1): Tigers survived Central Arkansas, 116-63. Shot 66.2 percent overall and 50 percent from the arc. Had 33 assists on 45 field goals. Hope they felt good about it.
9. Notre Dame (10-1): Crushed Stony Brook yesterday, 88-62. The Irish had 28 assists on their 34 field goals.
10. Villanova (9-1): Not sure how good Wildcats are after 78-59 win against Delaware, but I am not sure how good anybody is at this point.
11. Michigan State (8-3): Tom Izzo (one-game NCAA suspension) did not miss much in Spartans' 90-51 win over Prairie View.
12. Kentucky (8-2): Coach Cal was not around to see the end, but his very young (again) team is starting to get it. Beat Mississippi Valley State, 85-60.
13. Texas A & M (10-1): Outscored Arkansas 11-2 in OT to win 71-62. Only loss by two points to Boston College.
14. Purdue (10-1): JaJuan Johnson got a career-high 31 points in 65-52 win over Indiana State at Conseco.