Happy New Year! And let me be the first here at BOTC to say we salute all you wonderful Wildcat fans who grace us with your presence! Now, on to the recaps.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Gonzaga Bulldogs are back.
Left for dead after a 4-5 start that included four losses to teams currently in the Top 25, they instead proved once again that what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.
Since the loss at Notre Dame on Dec. 11, the Zags have ripped off five straight wins, including victories over probable tournament teams Baylor, Oklahoma State and Xavier.
That CBE Classic win over Marquette is looking pretty salty right now, too. But last night's demolition of the Cowboys had to be the most impressive of the bunch.
Midway through the first half, OSU held a 17-11 lead and things were looking pretty orange, but Gonzaga solved its early offensive woes by dialing up the pressure, getting out into transition and scoring easy buckets to tie the game.
That keyed a 29-9 Bulldogs run to close the half, punctuated by a running, buzzer-beating halfcourt 3 by David Stockton that made it 40-27 as the horn sounded, and the game essentially was over in The Kennel, one of the toughest venues in the nation (even when the students are home on holiday break).
Now, full credit to Mark Few and his team, but this was not the same OSU team we've seen lately. I can't remember Keiton Page making any 3s, and Robert Sacre and Elias Harris clearly outplayed Marshall Moses and Matt Pilgrim.
Maybe it was the long layoff between games, maybe it was the travel and the road environment or maybe Gonzaga's just a better team than the Pokes, but no matter the reason, I still expected a slightly better showing by OSU.
Even though the game a week from now is in Stillwater, I think it's one in which we should like our chances of winning.
We now have two common opponents with OSU, Gonzaga and Virginia Tech, both of whom we beat and both of whom the Cowboys lost to.
Now, granted, we played them in The Octagon of Doom and Sprint Center, while OSU played Gonzaga on the road and VPI on a true neutral court in southern California, but we still crushed both those teams and should be able to handle whatever the Cowboys throw at us, even without Curtis Kelly.
More after the jump.
In addition to the Gonzaga-Oklahoma State game, which was a win-win proposition for us, and the 100-76 victory over North Florida, which obviously was very positive from at least an offensive perspective, things went pretty well from a conference and non-conference standpoint.
Florida took a huge step toward redeeming itself for the Jacksonville debacle by ending Xavier's 30-game home winning streak, the second longest in the country behind you-know-who. Of course, it's only Florida's second-best non-conference win this season (ahem), but it's still one of the better road wins by any team this year.
Plus, I'm still mad at Xavier for wearing us out in March, so the schadenfreudistic part of me was happy.
James Madison moved to 10-3 with a nice road win over Kent State. Everyone's loving Old Dominion in the CAA, but keep an eye on the Dukes, who I think are more than capable of winning that conference.
Presbyterian couldn't match that with a win at Winthrop, traditionally the strongest program in the Big South Conference, but the Blue Hose nonetheless acquitted themselves well in a two-point loss.
If you're one who thinks comparative scoring means anything, take solace in the fact that the Cats scored five more points than Texas on Thursday, while yielding only one more point.
I, however, prefer to be encouraged by the identical scoring and rebounding stat lines of Tristan Thompson, an early candidate for Big 12 Freshman of the Year and potential one-and-done talent, and Wally Judge — 22 points and nine rebounds. Read into that what you will.
Texas A&M gave me a bit of a scare when the Aggies were trailing McNeese State 37-30 at halftime in a home game, but they opened the second half on a 7-0 run to tie it, then took the lead and never looked back. Probably just typical post-Christmas break sluggishness.
And finally, my predictions of Washington State challenging its instate rival for the Pac-10 title already appear predictably foolish after Wazzu's 60-56 loss at USC. That completed an 0-2 road trip to Los Angeles, even as U-Dub wrapped up the same trip 2-0. The Cougars now own a three-game losing streak.
Right now, it looks as if Arizona and Washington are a notch above their conference brethren, and I guess you'd have to put UCLA and USC on the next tier based both on their respective performances against Washington State and their inspired near-upsets in Allen Fieldhouse.
But Arizona State, Cal, Oregon, Oregon State and Stanford all are patently awful, so the Cougars clearly are no worse than fifth. That should get them on the NCAA Tournament bubble, at least.
Associated Press Ranking = 17
ESPN/USA Today Ranking = 17
Overall Record = 11-3
RPI = 20
SOS = 23
Signature Wins (RPI 1-30) = none
Quality Wins (RPI 31-100) = James Madison, Virginia Tech, Presbyterian, Gonzaga, Washington State
Bad Losses (RPI 101 or greater) = none
James Madison (10-3, 0-1 CAA) | RPI = 53: Win at Kent State (60-51)
- Virginia Tech (8-4, 0-1 ACC) | RPI = 48
Presbyterian (6-8, 1-2 Big South) | RPI = 90: Loss at Winthrop (51-53)
Gonzaga (9-5) | RPI = 49: Win over Oklahoma State (73-52)
No. 1 Duke (12-0) | RPI = 10
- Texas Southern (2-8) | RPI = 159
- Emporia State (7-4, 4-1 MIAA*)
Washington State (10-4, 0-2 Pac-10) | RPI = 66: Loss at USC (56-60)
- Alcorn State (0-10) | RPI = 235
- Loyola-Chicago (9-5, 0-3 Horizon League) | RPI = 188
Florida (10-3) | RPI = 17: Win at Xavier (71-67)
UNLV (12-2) | RPI = 19
- UMKC (8-6, 1-3 Summit League) | RPI = 249
North Florida (4-9, 1-1 Atlantic Sun) | RPI = 128: Loss at No. 17 Kansas State (76-100)
- Savannah State (2-14) | RPI = 318
Oklahoma State (11-2) | RPI = 43: Loss at Gonzaga (52-73)
- Colorado (9-4) | RPI = 142
- Texas Tech (6-7) | RPI = 197
- No. 10 Missouri (13-1) | RPI = 32
- No. 18 Texas A&M (12-1) | RPI = 30: Win over McNeese State (66-57)
- No. 23 Baylor (8-3) | RPI = 155
- No. 3 Kansas (12-0) | RPI = 1
- Nebraska (10-2) | RPI = 101
- Iowa State (12-2) | RPI = 91
- Oklahoma (7-6) | RPI = 195
- No. 14 Texas (11-2) | RPI = 37: Win over Coppin State (95-75)