Tim Hardaway Jr. (Getty Images)
Tim Hardaway Jr. (Getty Images)
The day after Thanksgiving in college basketball featured some marquee wins, some upsets and a player's revenge against the team that didn't recruit him. Here's a look at the biggest winners and losers (and check back for updates):
Until a woozy Tim Hardaway Jr. left the floor late in the second half after taking a knee to the head, Friday's NIT Season Tip-Off title game had gone about as well as Michigan possibly could have hoped. Hardaway Jr. scored 23 points on efficient 10 of 15 shooting, Glenn Robinson III dominated the glass, and the Wolverines limited Kansas State to 36.7 percent shooting and 4 of 18 behind the arc. It all added up to an impressive 71-57 victory that elevated Michigan's record to 5-0 and further showed the Wolverines are ready for their toughest non-conference test, an ACC-Big Ten Challenge matchup with NC State on Tuesday.
It's no surprise Vanderbilt has taken a step backward after losing stars John Jenkins, Jeff Taylor and Festus Ezeli to the NBA, but the past week has made it clear the Commodores have fallen farther anyone realized. First came a 74-48 wipeout at Oregon last Friday. Up next was a decisive loss to Davidson in the Old Spice Classic quarterfinals on Thursday. And worst of all was Friday's 50-33 setback to a Marist team that lost by 33 to West Virginia the previous day. Leading scorers Kedren Johnson and Kyle Fuller shot a combined 4 of 23 against the Red Foxes, enabling Vanderbilt to redefine the phrase "40 minutes of Hell" for its fans.
Since Creighton only has limited opportunities to face marquee opponents in non-league play, it's crucial the Bluejays take advantage of those games. Mission accomplished Friday as Creighton lit up Wisconsin's vaunted defense en route to an 84-74 victory. National player of the year candidate Doug McDermott had 30 points, Ethan Wragge sank four 3-pointers and Austin Chatman consistently attacked the rim. That was enough to enable Creighton to survive Jared Berggren's 27 points and lift the Bluejays to a 5-0 record and a matchup with Arizona State in Saturday's title game.
As high a ceiling as UNLV has this year, the Rebels will never approach it if they don't start doing the little things. In their first true test of the new season, UNLV lost 83-79 to Oregon on Friday night largely because it missed defensive assignments, didn't consistently box out, seldom made the extra pass and displayed horrible shot selection. The host Rebels fired up so many contested jump shots early in the shot clock that they shot 35.8 percent from the field and 8 of 30 from 3-point range. Bryce Dejean-Jones was the big culprit, missing 7 of 8 3-point attempts. The missed shots fueled Oregon runouts and contributed to the Ducks winning despite 3 of 19 3-point shooting of their own.
Winner: Arizona State
None of Arizona State's first three wins were especially noteworthy, but its fourth will draw some attention. The Sun Devils survived B.J. Young's 29 points and routed Arkansas 83-68, a neutral-court victory that suggests Arizona State could emerge as a surprise team in this year's Pac-12. Between double-double threat Jordan Bachynski at center and a host of promising perimeter players, the Sun Devils have more talent than they have since the days of James Harden. Wing Carrick Felix had 24 points on 8-for-10 shooting, point guard Jahii Carson had 19 and Bachynski had 14 points and 13 rebounds as the Sun Devils shot 56 percent.
Loser: North Carolina State
Instead of bouncing back with a vengeance after its humbling blowout loss at Oklahoma State, NC State found itself locked in a battle with UNC Asheville. The Wolfpack trailed deep into the second half until Richard Howell scored the go-ahead basket with 3:06 left to help NC State rally past the Bulldogs 82-80. Howell had 23 points and 15 rebounds, but the Wolfpack committed 19 turnovers, leading to 31 UNC Asheville points. Those are mistakes NC State will have to clean up in a hurry because its next opponent is unbeaten Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Winner: Andre Hollins
One of the few Memphis recruits Josh Pastner has allowed to get away made the Tigers coach regret not recruiting him harder. Andre Hollins became the first Minnesota player to eclipse 40 points since 1971, lighting up Memphis for 41 in an 84-75 win that gave the Gophers the signature win they had failed to get the previous day when they fell to Duke in the Battle 4 Atlantis quarterfinals. Hollins ended his magnificent by hanging on the rim and grinning after a dunk with 13 seconds to go. It was the perfect ending to a near-perfect day for Hollins, who went 12 of 16 from the floor, 5 of 5 from behind the arc and 12 of 13 from the foul line.
If a narrow win over Samford was a warning sign Memphis wasn't ready to take a big step forward this season, then the first two rounds of the Battle 4 Atlantis have been even more alarming. Between VCU harassing the Tigers into 22 turnovers in a 78-65 quarterfinal loss and Minnesota riding Hollins' 41 points to an 84-75 consolation win, Memphis suddenly finds itself needing to beat Northern Iowa on Saturday to avoid going 0-for-the-weekend. Particularly disappointing for the Tigers has been the play of point guard Joe Jackson, MVP of the Conference USA tournament last season. Jackson played just seven minutes Friday after a seven turnover, two assist performance the previous day.
Others worthy of praise ...
• No Oregon player had more to do with the Ducks win than freshman Damyean Dotson, who scored a team-high 19 points, including a late jumper to give his team the lead for good. Dotson had eight of the Ducks' final 10 points.
• Pacific followed up its upset of Xavier on Thursday by toppling Saint Mary's on Friday to reach the DIRECTV Classic title game. We'll have more on the Tigers on Sunday, but this has been a huge 48 hours for that program.
• With J.P. Kuhlman sidelined with an ankle injury and Jake Cohen saddled with foul trouble, Davidson needed someone to step up against West Virginia. Junior guard Chris Czerapowicz did his part, scoring 15 points, grabbing nine rebounds and sinking a huge late 3-pointer to lead Davidson to the 63-60 victory.
• Half of Sean Kilpatrick's 32 points came via perfect 16 of 16 shooting at the free throw line as he led Cincinnati to the Global Sports Classic title game against Oregon with a 78-70 win over Iowa State.
• If VCU's "Havoc" defense was a early-season test for Duke's Quinn Cook, he passed with high marks. He had nine assists compared to only three turnovers as the Blue Devils advanced to the Battle 4 Atlantis title game with a 67-58 win.
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