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Saturday stock watch: Wichita State asserts itself as a Valley title threat

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Wichita State's Nick Wiggins celebrates a 3-pointer (Getty Images)



Stock up: Wichita State

Wichita State sent Creighton a message that winning the Valley won't be a cakewalk. Despite shooting 4 of 23 from behind the arc and 9 of 19 from the free throw line, the Shockers upset the visiting 12th-ranked Bluejays 67-64 to forge a first-place tie atop the Valley standings. Wichita State (17-2, 6-1) overcame its poor shooting by forcing 14 Creighton turnovers and dominating the offensive glass. With Carl Hall back from the thumb injury that sidelined him for the past few weeks, the Shockers had 17 offensive rebounds. Hall had 17 points and 13 rebounds in his return.

Stock down: San Diego State

The Aztecs held Wyoming to 20 first-half points on the road on Saturday. Somehow, someway, they trailed by 11. It got a little better for San Diego State in the second half, but the Aztecs still lost 58-45 to the Cowboys because they were 17 of 59 from the field and 2 of 18 from behind the arc. The loss is damaging for the Mountain West title hopes of San Diego State (14-4, 2-2) because its schedule during the second half of Mountain West play is more difficult than the first half. The Aztecs, who already lost to UNLV at home on Wednesday night, face the Rebels, Colorado State, New Mexico and Boise State on the road in February.

Stock up: Michigan State's backcourt

Facing lock-down defender Aaron Craft, who smothered Trey Burke in Ohio State's upset victory earlier this month, Michigan State point guard Keith Appling found more success. Appling led the Spartans with 15 points, six of which came in the final minute, as Michigan State defeated the Buckeyes 59-56 to take sole possession of first place in the Big Ten. Appling scored the go-ahead bucket by blowing by Craft and scoring a driving layup with 41.5 seconds left. He also had a transition dunk to give Michigan State a two-possession lead on the following possession.

Stock down: Maryland's backcourt

There's no mystery why Maryland trailed North Carolina 42-20 at halfitme in its loss in Chapel Hill on Saturday afternoon. The Terps' guards tallied zero first-half assists and 10 turnovers, with five alone coming from now displaced starting point guard Pe'Shon Howard. A lack of production from the backcourt is the biggest reason the Terps are now 2-3 in the ACC despite Wednesday night's upset victory over NC State. In seven games prior to Saturday, Nick Faust is averaging 5.8 points per game on 16 of 46 shooting. Howard was even worse over the four games prior to Saturday, sinking just 3 of 22 shots and going scoreless twice. Both continued their struggles against North Carolina, combining for just four points on 1 of 5 shooting. Unless Maryland values the ball more and gets more from its supposed backcourt standouts, it's hard to see the Terps making an NCAA tournament push.

Others of note ...

Stock up: Colorado State

Yes, the Rams got UNLV on the heels of the Rebels' victory at San Diego State three days earlier, but their 66-61 win was still impressive. Dorian Green scored 24 points including six clutch free throws to help the Rams extend their school-record home winning streak to 24.

Stock down: Georgetown

Georgetown, viewed as a fringe Big East contender mere weeks ago, no longer appears capable of even finishing among the top five. The Hoyas fell to 2-3 in the conference after they blew an 11-point second-half lead at South Florida and lost 61-58. Otto Porter scored 21 points but committed a turnover in the final seconds to rob Georgetown of its chance at a final seconds.

Stock up: Cincinnati

Marquette had already won two overtime Big East games, but the Golden Eagles fell short in their attempt to notch a third victory in extra time. Sean Kilpatrick scored 36 points -- more than half his team's points -- as the Bearcats upended Marquette 71-69 to move to 4-2 in the Big East.

Stock down: Utah State

It was only three days ago the Aggies were unbeaten in the WAC and riding a 13-game win streak. Now they're in third place in the league after back-to-back losses at New Mexico State on Thursday and Denver on Saturday. The Pioneers faced Utah State without Preston Medlin and won 68-57.


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