Five Things: Top Teams Continue To Impress, Arizona And Illinois Dominate
By Andrew Kahn
Most conferences have begun league play, with preseason favorites like Gonzaga and North Carolina State getting off on the right foot. Illinois showed its hot start was no fluke with a dominant performance against a top-10 team, while Arizona won another tight game. Lehigh not only lost its game this weekend, but it will be without its preseason All-American, C.J. McCollum, for eight to 10 weeks after he broke a bone in his foot.
Arizona escapes again
Arizona has some magic working right now. Leading scorer Mark Lyons went 3-of-14 from the field but the Wildcats pulled out another close victory on Saturday, beating Utah 60-57. Utah’s three at the buzzer was just off the mark. The win came two days after Arizona’s controversial overtime victory over Colorado, in which Colorado had a game-winning basket called off because the officials ruled that time had expired. Throw in the game before that, a one-point win over San Diego State, and a wild one-point win over Florida earlier in the season, and Arizona is extremely fortunate to be 14-0 and No. 3 in the country.
Illinois crushes Ohio State
Heading into Saturday’s match up with No. 8 Ohio State, Illinois had lost two of its last three after a perfect start. A balanced scoring effort earned the No. 14 Illinois a 74-55 victory. Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas led all scorers with 24 points but needed 21 shot attempts to get there. Illinois’ head coach John Groce got the win over his former boss, Thad Matta.
Rudd rises up for USF
South Florida only scored 44 points in a loss to No.7 Syracuse on Sunday. But two of those points came in very impressive fashion, as Victor Rudd threw down an alley-oop in the first half. The 6’9” Rudd sprinted from the three-point line, along the baseline, and caught the pass with two hands before dunking it with his right. Syracuse’s previous win moved Jim Boeheim into second place on the all-time wins list.
The top two teams in the polls continued to impress this weekend. No. 1 Duke beat Wake Forest 80-62 in its ACC opener on Saturday and No. 2 Michigan beat Iowa on Sunday 95-67. Both teams are undefeated. For the Blue Devils, it was their seventh straight win by at least 13 points. The Wolverines, meanwhile, notched their second straight 28-point victory; they haven’t been seriously challenged since November.
St. John’s upsets Cincy
Given the recent history between these two teams, Saturday’s result was not surprising. Four of the previous five games between St. John’s and Cincinnati had been decided by two points. This one was taken by the Red Storm 53-52. The No. 14 Bearcats have two of their last three games, both by just one point. They will host No. 21 Notre Dame tonight; the tip-off was moved up to 6:30 in an attempt to avoid overlapping with the BCS National Championship.
Andrew Kahn is a contributor to CBS Local who has written for ESPN the Magazine and The Wall Street Journal. He writes about college basketball and other sports at http://andrewjkahn.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @AndrewKahn.