The first full Saturday of 2023 brought forth a college basketball chalkboard featuring everything we love about the sport. As conference play rolled into full swing across the country, there were explosions, exciting results, and stunning surprises.
Number 7 Alabama Made the flashiest explosion ever during No. 25 Iowa He delivered the exciting finish with a 69-67 win in 17th place TCU. As for the frightening disorder, there aren’t many questions about it Washington.
Take out the Cougars #5 Arizona 74-61 en route to the program’s first-ever win against a top-five opponent. The win was also the Cougars’ first win against a top-five team since 1983 and was particularly impressive given WSU’s poor start to the season.
Arizona (14-2, 3-2 Pac-12) shot just 31.7% from the floor and had just 2 points off the bench as they trailed by as much as 18 points in the second half. Muhammad Jayi edged Washington State with 24 points, including 13 in the second half, while the Cougars improved to 7-10 (2-4).
That unexpected result only cemented that there are some truly dominant teams in college basketball this season. Four of the top six teams in the AP Top 25 lost their games this week as chaos begins to engulf the sport with the arrival of a new calendar year.
Let’s dive a little deeper into Saturday’s action by examining the winners and losers from across the country.
Winner: Cord Back to the circle of winners
The Lotta people abandoned ship at UConn and swam thousands of miles in the opposite direction after losing two games in a row – both in the Big East game – Xavier and then providence To end the Gregorian year 2022 and start the new year. Well, these people are looking pretty silly right now. The #4 Husky has turned over its business to the modern competitor Creighton 69-60 to end a two-game slip in a game that wasn’t great. Both teams traded blows in the second half, but UConn took control midway through the final frame, extending his lead to as much as 12 before heading home with a nine-point victory.
After back-to-back league losses, UConn needed not just a win, but a win against a good team that could help them get back into the mix as the regular-season race races. She achieved just that, limiting the visiting Bluejays – the 3rd best 3 point shooter in the Big East – to 2 out of 16 3 point range shooters. This was only the third time since Greg McDermott took over the 2010–11 program that Creighton had scored 2 or fewer 3s in a regular-season conference game.
“Our identity is elite defense and top five defense,” said UConn coach Dan Hurley. “What makes teams special is when they’re so effective at both ends of the field when our defense is on point.”
Loser: Kentucky falls flat on the street again
Kentucky suffered its second-biggest loss to an SEC foe since John Caliparis’ arrival at Lexington on Saturday, when the Wildcats went flat and were subsequently leveled in a 78-52 loss to Alabama. It was also the Crimson Tide’s biggest win over the Wildcats, beating the previous 25-point record that had stood since 1990.
“With this one, I don’t know if I want to watch the tape,” Calipari said afterwards. “We did what we wanted but missed every shot. You can’t let three of your starters go 3 for 27 – three of your starters that you rely on to make baskets. We looked unbound again because everyone held the ball, everyone caught and bounced first.” You have to surrender [Alabama] Credit.
It was Kentucky’s third road loss of the season in as many trips after losing in a semi-field (not The Kennel, but not necessarily a neutral field) vs. Gonzaga on November 20th and then lost on Missouri before the new year. Combined, Great Britain led on those two losses by 23 total points and never led against Gonzaga and Alabama.
Winner: State of MichiganThe yo-yo rides are going up
It’s still early January and it looks like Michigan State has already gone through the ups and downs of an entire season. The Spartans, once ranked 12th, have played out in the polls over the past month after two ugly defeats Our lady and northwest On November 30th and December 4th. Since then, the Spartans have racked up six straight victories. While a handful of them faced key middle opponents, the Spartans won comfortably and played solid defense. In a 59-53 win over the challenger Michigan On Saturday, the Spartans held the Wolverines at just 34.5% shooting. While the win wasn’t a technical feat, it did improve Michigan State to 11-4 (3-1 Big Ten) and that might be enough to reevaluate Sparty on Monday.
Winner: Jerome Tang wins Best Teacher
For 19 years, Jerome Tang has stood shoulder to shoulder with Scott Drew and helped build a champion indeed a hero! – at Baylor. That changed last season when Tang finally spread his wings and took the position of head coach at Kansas State and set up Tang’s Wildcats for at least two face-to-face meetings a year with the Drew’s Bears.
Check the result: 1-0, Tang.
K-State went to Waco Saturday and stunned Baylor 97-95 in overtime behind Markquis Nowell’s 32 points and 14 rebounds. Florida transfer Keyontae Johnson added 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting to help the home-bound Bears duel.
“I like Scott,” Tang said. “Thanks to the Baylor fans and the welcome. That was really cool. Then it turned out to be a basketball game.”
Loser: TCU home field advantage
TCU fell to 13-2 at home from their second loss all season as Iowa sped to Fort Worth and won 69-67, and the Hurricanes seemed to cause trouble with very little resistance in front of a TCU home crowd that looked sparse best and completely empty.
Of course, TCU fans might have something else in mind — the Horned Frogs are playing in the College Football Playoff National Championship Monday, underscoring a dream season — but still, it’s hard to see a 13-1 (now 13-2) team put it this type of participation.
Winner: Providence Red
Providence improved to 6-0 in the Big East game for the first time in program history, but not without drama. He led the Monks in pre-holding for Dear Life to an 83-80 win over . St. Johannes. The brothers were picked for fifth place in the league but got off to another strong start after similar success last season. The brothers were selected to finish seventh in the Big East in 2021-22 but ended up winning the league. Veteran coach Ed Cooley lost five of his top six goalscorers at that side but once again proved himself a magician of the transfer portal. All five starters scored in double figures for Providence against Red Storm, who started 1-5 in the league.
Loser: Villanova Wasted opportunity to gain quality
Xavier could also be considered a weekend winner in the same category as his Big East Providence counterpart, but I would argue that his win isn’t, on the whole, as influential and important as Villanova’s loss. Trailing 88-80 at home, they fell to 2-3 in conference play, eliminating a good chance of earning a Quadruple 1 win at home. The Wildcats have been up and down all season in their freshman year under new head coach Kyle Neptune, and while it’s too early for a team to take a week off a calendar year, they seem ever closer to the goal of becoming a NIT team to come out as an NCAA tournament team. Only one of his wins all season came against a team that is expected on the field Jerry Palm’s latest chip: Oklahomawhich fell short in a field of 68. Nova must botch shortstop style and stack up wins in the Big East game.
Loser: Wisconsin He’s missing out on a Big Ten takeover opportunity
Illinois He traveled to No. 14 Wisconsin to start 3-0 in the Big Ten game and the loss of key freshman guard Skyy Clark, who left the program for personal reasons. Wisconsin started 3-0 in the league and had a chance to come out of the day as the only Big Ten team unbeaten in conference play. The Badgers missed the opportunity with a holey defense as the Illini powered 49 points in the second half to a 79-69 win. Wisconsin stepped in to allow opponents to shoot just 30.8% from 3-point range, but Illinois drilled 10 of 19 shots from outside the arc to earn the Badgers’ first loss in the league.
Alabama made the biggest statement of the day in the SEC by crushing Kentucky. But if there was such a thing as an “impressive” win over struggling South Carolina, it was 8th-ranked Tennessee who found it. The Volunteers beat the Gamecocks 85-42 on the road to go 3-0 in the SEC. The South Carolina Volunteers held a ridiculous 25% shot mark and kept freshman star JJ Jackson scoreless. Two of Tennessee’s conference wins come to more than 30 points.
Loser: Herzog You need luck late in the game
No. 16 Duke finished the win 65-64 Boston-College by making only one of the last 14 attempts from the field. The Blue Devils led 52-38 in the second half but almost gave up the game late. Luckily, Duke hit 17 of his 19 free throw attempts and helped the Blue Devils end 15 turnovers and a 29.2% shot percentage in the second half. Winning is winning, especially on the street. But after an 84:60 defeat State of North Carolina On Wednesday, Duke’s gameplay was uninspiring.
Winner: Fau He wins the thirteenth in a row
Florida Atlantic held almost a 20-point lead against it CharlotteHowever, the Owls held on to a 71-67 win to extend their winning streak to 13 games. The Owls finished 12th on the starting lineup, and while they received no respect from the AP’s top 25 voters, there’s no doubt something special is brewing in Boca Raton. The winning streak is the longest in the program’s history, and the Owls could be considered for the program’s second NCAA tournament bid if this continues.
Loser: Arkansas cools off on the road
After just 2 of 16 3-point attempts in the 72-59 loss at Auburn, No. 13 Arkansas is officially cold on the road. The Razorbacks have made just 4 of 25 long-range attempts in a road loss at LSU to start the major league game, meaning they’re just 6 of 41 deep in their only true game to date. At 12-3 (1-2 SEC), the Razorbacks are at home with #7 Alabama next and need to shoot much better into the friendly confines of Bud Walton Arena to beat the blistering tide.
Winner: Clemson is the last undefeated team
Clemson got his best start ever in the ACC, going 5-0 in the league with a 75-74 win over a Pitt team that went 4-0 in conference play. The Tigers were down 67-59 with 5:30 to go but used a 13-2 lead from there to take control of the road. Four players reached double digits, led by Chase Hunter’s 17. The rising guard scored 13 points in the second half and led the Tigers, who are the last unbeaten team in the ACC game. Duke’s away game is next Wednesday, but the Tigers suddenly looked great after a 3-1 start to the season.