LSU (9-5, 2-0) might not be out of the NCAA picture after all, not by a long shot. The Tigers toppled ninth-ranked Kentucky (11-3, 1-1) by 18, claiming an 85-67 win to stay unbeaten early in the SEC season. While most of ESPN's promotional efforts centered on LSU's Ben Simmons (14 points, 10 boards), it was guard Tim Quarterman who was the Bayou Bengals' star on the night, as he scored 21 and grabbed 10 rebounds. In fact, three LSU players recorded double-doubles, as Craig Victor managed 15 and 12 too. Tyler Ulis scored 23 and Jamal Murray notched 21 for the Wildcats, who look more like the 2014 version, which reached the National Championship game from an eight seed, than last season's near-perfect outfit.
No. 22 South Carolina (14-0, 1-0) got its conference schedule off to the best possible start, winning easily at Auburn (7-6, 1-1). Sindarius Thornwell led the unbeaten Gamecocks with 22.
Anthlon Bell hit a three with 2.1 left that appeared to give Arkansas (7-7, 1-1) its first SEC win, but Damian Jones hit a dunk for at the buzzer for Vanderbilt (8-6, 0-2) to force overtime. But, Arkansas prevailed after the extra five minutes, 90-85. The Hogs are now 7-1 in games played at home and 0-6 in games played in other locales, including North Little Rock. The Commodores, considered Kentucky's biggest challenger for the conference crown in the preseason, is now rooted to the bottom of the table.
Marquette (11-4, 1-2) got its first league win of the season, and it was a big one. The Golden Eagles stuffed Kris Dunn in the final seconds to leave eighth-ranked Providence (14-2, 2-1) with a 65-64 win. While Dunn scored 20 for the nation's eighth-ranked squad, forward Ben Bentil was the star for the Friars in a losing effort, scoring 28 (including a perfect 10-for-10 performance from the foul line) and ripping down nine rebounds. Henry Ellenson picked up a double-double for the visitors (13 and 10), while Haanif Cheatham contributed 16 points to the victory.
The 18th-ranked Butler (12-2, 1-2) also got a conference win, and it also was a fight, as they took down DePaul (6-9, 0-3), 77-72. Kellen Dunham must have liked the shooting environment at Allstate Arena, as he was 8-14 from the floor and 4-7 from three, as he led the Bulldogs with 24.
Creighton (11-5, 2-1) picked up a significant home victory, dropping Georgetown (9-6, 2-1) with a strong finishing kick, which resulted in a 79-66 Bluejay win. The hosts were paced by Maurice Watson Jr.'s 27, while D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Jessie Govan led the Hoyas with 17 apiece. The win helps cement the Bluejays position ahead of the Hoyas in the Big East bid pecking order.
Syracuse (10-6, 0-3) lost the final game of Jim Boeheim's NCAA-mandated nine-game suspension, falling to surprising Clemson (9-6, 2-1) at the Carrier Dome. Trevor Cooney missed a three with a second to go in overtime, and the Tigers got the ball after the subsequent review of the post-shot possession, holding on for a 74-73 win. The Orange, who were the last team in my Tuesday projection won't be back in next week without upsetting North Carolina on Saturday night.
If you miss pre-shot clock reduction/rule change basketball, I hope you tuned into ESPN early Tuesday night because Indiana (13-3, 3-0) and Wisconsin (9-7, 1-2) were more than ready to humor you in their plodding contest, which went in the Hoosiers' favor by a 59-58 score. The evening was set aside to honor Indiana's 1976 National Champions, the last team to go through a season undefeated, so at least the party was capped with a win. Yogi Ferrell led the hosts with 19, while Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig had 15 apiece for the Badgers.
No. 19 Iowa (12-3, 3-0) remain tied for the conference lead, as they took care of business against visiting Nebraska (8-8, 0-3), 77-66. Jarrod Uthoff was once again the star of the night for the Hawkeyes, as he managed 25 and 8, while Tai Webster had 22 off the bench for the Huskers.
In a contest between two teams likely to play on the first day of the Big Ten Tournament, Penn State (10-6, 1-2) pulled away from Minnesota (6-9, 0-3) late, 86-77, with Payton Banks scoring 24 for the Nittany Lions.
Baylor (11-3, 1-1) picked up its maiden Big 12 win of the season rather handily, as the Bears blew out visiting Oklahoma State (9-5, 1-1) by a 79-62 count in Waco. Al Freeman scored 21 for the hosts, while Rico Gathers had a monstrous 17-point, 17-rebound night. Texas (9-5, 1-1) also got its first tally in the league win column, by taking down Kansas State (10-4, 0-2), 60-57. The Wildcats have been pretty unlucky in the early stages of league play, dropping both games by a total of seven points.
A pair of Rams, Rhode Island (10-5, 2-0) and VCU (10-5, 2-0), made statements on Tuesday night. URI took out Richmond (8-6, 0-2), 77-65, in Kingston, while VCU rallied to top Saint Joseph's (11-3, 1-1) in Philadelphia. While Melvin Johnson led VCU with 25, it was Mo Alie-Cox's 10 points in a 1:40-span in the final moments that gave the Rams the win. Richmond's T.J. Cline led all scorers at the Ryan Center with 28, but Rhode Island had four players reach double figures, led by Jarvis Garrett and Jared Terrell, who had 18 apiece.
Those wins might help both Ram squads build a bubble case, while the Hawks, a 10 seed in my Tuesday projection, saw their hopes take a slight hitâbut nothing like the Spiders' did.
Maybe the Temple (7-6, 2-1) should just play all of their home games on the road. They've now won at Cincinnati and No. 23 Connecticut (10-4, 1-1), as they prevailed 55-53 in Hartford on Tuesday night, thanks to a Jaylen Bond 11-point, 10-rebound performance and 15 from Quentin DeCosey.
Tulsa (9-6, 1-2) picked up its first conference win by handling East Carolina (8-7, 0-2), 55-43 at home. Meanwhile, Houston (13-2, 3-0) keeps rolling, as the Cougars rolled Tulane (7-9, 0-3) 63-45.
Both road favorites won close MAC openers, with Akron (12-2, 1-0) winning at Buffalo (7-7, 0-1) by a 75-71 count, while Kent State (10-4, 1-0) needed OT to win at Western Michigan (6-8, 0-1), 87-84.
Chattanooga (13-2, 2-0) built a big lead, then held off a Mercer (11-4, 1-1) rally, before winning the potential SoCon Championship preview, 74-62 at McKenzie Arena.
Boise State (11-4, 2-0) routed Utah State (9-5, 1-2) in Logan by a 76-61 score despite Anthony Drmic's failure to register a point. One of his backcourt mates made up for his off night: Mikey Thompson scored 17 and dished out six assists.
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