AROUND THE CITY
Little chance against No. 1
La Salle was going to have to play a perfect game to have any chance against Kansas. In the first half, the Explorers (6-3) had too many turnovers and missed too many foul shots. They were not perfect, but they did get a lot of nice program pub on ESPN.
La Salle was not embarrassed in the 25-point loss, but was never all that competitive either. KU had been winning by an average of 34 points so there is that.
That Kimmani Barrett was playing with a broken finger on his nonshooting hand did not help a team already playing shorthanded.
Jerrell Williams (21) and Rodney Green (19) combined for 40 points, but, on a day when KU star Sherron Collins shot just 1-for-12, the Jayhawks had way too much. They may have too much for everybody.
Xavier Henry (31 points) became the first KU freshman since Paul Pierce (1998) to score 30 points in a game.
The Prep Charter reunion went to the Morris twins, Markieff (first double-double) and Marcus. Now, if they had stayed home and gone to La Salle to play with former teammate Green, the Explorers would have been on an even playing field.
Hawks crushed at Minnesota
Saint Joseph's got its first look at old Williams Arena and its raised floor. Unfortunately, they also had to look at Tubby Smith's team.
Minnesota (7-3) won easily, 97-74. It was the Hawks' sixth consecutive loss.
After St. Joe's (3-6) went all in against Villanova on Wednesday, this was not a shocking result. The Golden Gophers are a likely NCAA team and the Hawks are just trying to survive.
Seniors Darrin Govens and Garrett Williamson each scored 15 for St. Joe's. Hawks sophomore Chris Prescott had a career-best 14.
But the Hawks gave up in the high 90s for the second straight game and that is a hard way to win.
Penn still winless
The good news is that Penn does not play until Dec. 28. The bad news is the Quakers are not going to win until 2010.
After losing at Monmouth, 80-75 Saturday, Penn (0-7) does not play again until 3 days after Christmas at Davidson. On New Year's Eve, the Quakers play at Duke. Is there a 30-point rule?
Monmouth (3-7) shot 52 percent. Travis Taylor (28 points) shot 12-for-14 for Monmouth. Sophomore point guard Zack Rosen (23 points) was terrific for Penn, which had 25 assists on its 29 field goals.
But the Quakers just can't win. At least not now.
ACROSS THE COUNTRY
Closing on two grand
Kentucky is two shy of being the first program to win 2,000 games. People can argue about this, but a really good argument could be made that North Carolina has been the country's best program for the last 50 years. There is no argument about the most passionate fans. It is Kentucky and it is not close.
Game of the day
Seton Hall 134, VMI 107
The Pirates set a school record for points. The teams combined to go 37-for-78 from three. The Hall was 20-for-35.
And that's not even the good stuff.
The Hall's Jamel Jackson had scored 49 points in the first seven games for the unbeaten Pirates. He scored 40 against the Keydets. He shot 12-for-15 from the arc. He is thinking about transferring to VMI where all shots, theirs and yours, are good shots.
Were they really chanting "SAT, SAT" at my man, Coach Cal, at Assembly Hall in Bloomington? They were.
And that wasn't all they were chanting.
Coach Cal, however, is unbeaten and smiling in Lexington. If you think he cares about what you think, you would be wrong.
UCLA was playing in the Wooden Classic to honor the greatest coach in the history of American team sports. The Bruins lost to Mississippi State, 72-54, in Anaheim after trailing 40-19 at the half. UCLA is 2-6.
What's the road?
The ESPN announcer kept saying that Purdue was only the third top 10 team to win a road game when it won at Alabama. He cited Kansas at Indiana and Kansas at UCLA.
I was at the Palestra last Wednesday. That was a road game for Villanova. The Wildcats had a few hundred fans. And it was listed as a St. Joe's home game.
I was also at the Verizon Center in Washington last Sunday. That was listed as a neutral court game, but 90 percent of the crowd was for Maryland. Villanova won again.
How about Texas Tech?
I thought about putting Texas Tech (9-0) into my Top 15, but I need to see a little more. Whatever happens, Pat Knight's team is dramatically improved.
Since taking over for his father in February 2008, Pat has been trying to find his way. He may be finding it, but will have to deal with a very difficult Big 12 in 2010.
What is up in Louisville?
Charlotte crushed the Cardinals last Saturday at Freedom Hall. This time, they lost to Western Carolina, 91-83.
Yes, Western Carolina is 10-1, but seriously, Western Carolina? Yes, the Catamounts beat Duquesne and won at Bradley. They also lost at Texas by 32.
Think the Kentucky fans are looking forward to seeing the 'Ville come to Rupp on Jan. 2?
Louisville coach Rick Pitino did not have a very enjoyable offseason. The season is starting no better.
JERARDI'S TOP 15
1. Syracuse (10-0): No team is playing any better than the 'Cuse. Offense, defense, everything. Cruised past St Francis (N.Y.) yesterday, 75-51.
2. Kansas (9-0): Overwhelmed La Salle, 90-65, in Kansas City. KU has no obvious weakness.
3. Texas (8-0): Beat Texas State, 87-54. Leads country in scoring defense, field goal defense and three-point defense. Teams shoot barely 30 percent against UT.
4. Kentucky (10-0): Won at Indiana, 90-73, with dominating second half. John Wall (11 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds, 1 turnover) is ridiculous. UK outscored IU, 48-32, in the second half.
5. West Virginia (7-0): Missed two starters, 24 threes, 15 free throws and beat Coppin State, 69-43.
6. Purdue (9-0): Trailed at Alabama by 16 in the second half before coming back to win 73-65. No team is any tougher.
7. Georgetown (8-0): Went to Anaheim, forced 25 turnovers and beat a good Washington team, 74-66.
8. Villanova (9-1): Could not stop Juan Fernandez, Ryan Brooks or anybody else from Temple yesterday after taking a 14-point first-half lead. Great win for the Owls, 75-65. Fran Dunphy's team has put together a sure-fire NCAA nonconference resume with Kansas still on the agenda.
9. Duke (7-1): No superstars, but a lot of good players. Favorites in ACC, but far from a lock.
10. Tennessee (7-1): Bruce Pearl's team's only loss was to Purdue.
11. Florida (8-1): Played very well in Thursday's loss against Syracuse. SEC is much better this season with UK, UT and Ole Miss.
12. Memphis (7-1): Only loss was to Kansas. Don't sleep on Josh Pastner's team. They are used to winning, and that matters.
13. North Carolina (8-2): Edged Presbyterian, 103-64, after leading 32-5.
14. Kansas State (9-1): Went to Las Vegas and beat a good UNLV team, 95-80, at Orleans Arena. Part of a very strong Big 12.
15. New Mexico (10-0): Steve Alford is not in the witness protection program. He is coaching the unbeaten Lobos who just beat a solid Texas A & M team, 84-81, in Houston.