Jonah Keri writes the college basketball closer (more or less) daily. E-mail your questions, comments or Clarence Ceasar-related memories to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Seeking to motivate his players, the UConn coach posted the Big East standings and the team's remaining schedule for his players to read. The Huskies then went out and whomped Marquette 89-73. The game wasn't nearly as close as the final score suggested too, with Connecticut grabbing a 29-point lead midway through the second half. So was UConn's win just a case of A.J. Price (17 points, eight assists) and Hasheem Thabeet (15 points, seven rebounds, six blocks) finally playing up to their potential, or did the UConn players need a newsroom intern to toss up a few stats? The future of college basketball coaches and J-school students hangs in the balance.
MAC Attack! The two 0-3 teams in the conference waged a mortal battle, before Miami (OH) topped Buffalo 64-57. Kenny Hayes scored 20 points to lead the RedHawks, who held the Bulls to 35% shooting. Still, Miami (OH)'s record stands at 7-8, with a few strong defensive performances mixed in among a bunch of stinkers, especially since the start of the MAC season. Earlier this year, the Redhawks needed to keep themselves afloat with a road win against a Big-10 school. Of course when that school is Illinois, you're going to get well.
...I am so fired. (Ed. Note: We'll let it go, as long as your next note isn't about how good Indiana is playing. Wait ... GRRRR.)
Three Cubed. That's the number Indiana's home winning streak reached with the Hoosiers' 81-65 win over Penn State. The Hoosiers ran their record to 16-1, with a 5-0 mark in the Big 10. They led by only three at halftime, before Eric Gordon (25 points) and D.J. White (22 points) sealed the deal for Indiana. IU coach Kelvin Sampson rolled out an interesting strategy in the second half, playing the same five players for all 20 minutes. Sampson's plans for today: Have Gordon pick up his dry cleaning, White's washing the car, Lance Stemler and Armon Bassett will be chopping wood for 12 hours and Jamarcus Ellis is on drywall detail.
Predictions. My first 0-for-3 skunk job! I picked Holy Cross over Bucknell by two, USC to hang in there against UCLA before losing by eight, and Louisville over Seton Hall by 13. Bucknell dropped the Crusaders to 0-3 in Patriot League play with a 73-65 win. The Trojans, the most unpredictable team in college basketball given their combination of all-world talent, inexperience and erratic play, knocked off the Bruins 72-63.
But the weirdest game of the three had to be Seton Hall's 92-82 win over Louisville. Midway through the first half, The Hall (as the Pirates are known on the Prudential Center scoreboard) looked awful early on, clanking threes and looking lost on offense. But The Hall eventually got hot, riding a career-high eight threes by Jeremy Hazell to a huge comeback win. The Pirate players celebrated like they'd just won the national championship, which says a lot about Seton Hall, given it was a win over an unranked team in January. Of course no one celebrated more than Saturday night's Pants Party attendees, the group collectively going nuts as if we were all Seton Hall grads. Good times all around.
No. 5 Georgetown 73, Syracuse 67. It's been a while since both teams were at the height of their powers and Syracuse fans pelted the backboard with oranges while Georgetown players shot free throws. The Hoyas' experience and polished approach should be enough to take down the talented but erratic Orangemen.
Results within five points: 1-15