Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun didn't expect this.
Calhoun returned from a seven-game medical absence Saturday to see his Huskies fall to Cincinnati 60-48 at home. The loss, in which UConn posted its lowest point total since 2002, could prove devastating to NCAA tournament hopes.
"I thought it was one of the worst performances I've had here at UConn in 24 years," Calhoun told reporters. "I'm really disappointed by the performance, and I'm embarrassed by it, quite frankly."
Connecticut (14-11, 4-8 Big East) has lost five of its last six games since upsetting then-No.1 Texas. The Huskies probably need to win all six of their remaining regular-season games to have a shot at earning an at-large bid to the NCAAs. Connecticut probably won't crack the 65-team field unless it wins the Big East tournament.
While it's easy to blame the Huskies' struggles on Calhoun's absence – they went 3-4 while he was away – their slump actually began long before an undisclosed ailment caused the coach to take a leave.
Connecticut was on a three-game losing streak before Calhoun's hiatus. The Huskies beat St. John's and Texas in their first two games without the Hall of Fame coach, but they've won just once since.
The talented trio of Jerome Dyson, Kemba Walker and Stanley Robinson, have struggled with consistency and received little support.
The Huskies haven't scored as many as 70 points in any of their last six games. They went without a basket for more than 11 minutes in the loss to the Bearcats. Connecticut's three top post players – Ater Majok, Alex Oriakhi and Charles Okwandu – each went scoreless against Cincinnati.
"I agree with [Calhoun]," Walker told reporters. "For him to come back, and for us to play like that is an embarrassment."
Now, more of Saturday's winners and losers.
Kalin Lucas and the Spartans got back on tarck.
Cincinnati's rebounders – The Bearcats pulled down 19 offensive boards and outrebounded Connecticut 46-32 to give their NCAA tournament hopes a major boost.
Kalin Lucas – The Michigan State point guard, recovering from a sprained right ankle that kept him out of a loss to Illinois last weekend, bounced back nicely. The reigning Big Ten player of the year made 10-of-15 shots and contributed 24 points and six assists with only one turnover in a 65-54 victory over Penn State. MSU snapped a three-game losing streak.
Mike Krzyzewski – The Duke coach won't have any problem remembering his 63rd birthday. With 100 former players, coaches and staff members looking on, Krzyzewski coached his 1,000th game for Duke, a 77-56 victory over Maryland. With the win, the Blue Devils (21-4, 9-2) took command of the ACC race. Krzyzewski owns a 781-219 record over 30 seasons.
Brian Zoubek– In his first start of the season, Zoubek scored 16 points and pulled down a career-high 17 rebounds against Maryland despite playing only 22 minutes. Eight of his rebounds came on the offensive end. Kyzyzewski called the 7-foot-1 center the difference in the game.
Texas' freshmen – The Longhorns' chances of making an impact in March depend on the development of their freshman class. Consider a 91-51 rout of Nebraska a step in the right direction. Avery Bradley scored 20 first-half points and finished with 25. Jordan Hamilton collected 16 points with three assists and two blocks. J'Covan Brown added 12 points and six assists.
James Anderson and Keiton Page – One week after being held to 10 points in a loss to Texas Tech, Anderson regained his All-America form. He scored 27 first-half points and finished with a career high with 31 as Oklahoma State trounced Oklahoma 97-76. Anderson had plenty of help from Page, who scored a career-high 25 points and dished out seven assists with only one turnover.
Michael Eric – The 6-11 sophomore from Nigeria made 9-of-10 shots and scored a career-high 19 points in Temple's 78-56 victory over Rhode Island. Eric's effort helped Temple shoot 68.6 percent to break a 37-year-old school record for single-game shooting percentage.
Ekpe Udoh – Baylor's 6-10 center invoked the name of Kobe Bryant after tipping in the winning basket with 1.3 seconds in the Bears' 64-62 triumph over Missouri. "I had a chance to tip it, and it was Kobe time," Udoh said.
California – The Golden Bears moved a step closer to winning their first Pac-10 title in 50 years with a 86-70 comeback win over Washington State. California (17-8, 9-4 Pac-10) followed up a 93-81 win over Washington by rallying from an 11-point halftime.
Lance Goulbourne – The Vanderbilt swingman had a career-high 18 points and nine rebounds as the Commodores outlasted LSU 77-69. Goulbourne played 26 minutes because a shoulder injury sidelined starting forward Andre Walker and reserve guard John Jenkins was out with the flu.
Scottie Reynolds – Held to five points in the first half, Reynolds struck for 17 points in the final 20 minutes of a 92-81 victory over Providence. The Wildcats (22-2, 11-1) moved into a first-place tie with Syracuse in the Big East standings.
Andrew Warren – The Bradley guard scored all of his game-high 15 points in the second half as the Braves upset No. 19 Northern Iowa. Bradley hadn't beaten a ranked foe at home since an 82-79 double-overtime victory over No. 8 Tulsa on Feb. 27, 1982.
Matt Howard – The Butler power forward collected 21 points and 13 rebounds in a 70-59 victory over Cleveland State. This marked the second time he's reached the 20-point mark in his last three games. Butler's 15-game winning streak is now the longest in the nation.
Jonathan Tavernari – BYU's all-time leader in 3-pointers went 5-of-7 from beyond the arc and scored a season-high 19 points in a 91-48 rout of Air Force. Tavernari averaged 15.7 points for the Cougars last year, but was contributing just 9.8 points per game entering Saturday's game.
Marquette – An NCAA bid looked out of reach for the Golden Eagles last month after a 2-5 stretch. But Marquette has won five straight after a 63-52 win over South Florida. At 16-8, 7-5 in the Big East, things are looking up.
Randy Culpepper – The UTEP guard scored 45 points in a 100-76 blowout of East Carolina, the Miners' ninth straight victory.
San Diego State – Billy White scored 19 points in a 68-58 victory over UNLV. Freshman Kawhi Leonard added 13 points and 14 rebounds for the Aztecs (18-7, 7-4 Mountain West).
Dee Bost – Bost made sure Mississippi State didn't slip against Auburn. He scored a career-high 32 points, made seven 3-pointers and pulled down nine rebounds as the Bulldogs rallied from 14 down to win 85-75 in overtime.
Xavier Henry and Bill Self – Henry ended his recent slump and recaptured his early form by scoring a team-high 16 points in the Jayhawks' 73-59 win over Iowa State. The victory was the 400th of Self's career. After failing to score in double figures for five straight games, Henry has scored at least 15 points in each of the Jayhawks' last two contests.
Tiny Gallon's suspension stung the Sooners.
Talor Battle's teammates – The Penn State guard isn't getting much help. Battle, the only Nittany Lions player with a scoring average in double figures, shot 9-of-16 and scored 30 points in a loss to Michigan State. His teammates combined to shoot 9-of-28 and score 24 points.
Tiny Gallon – The Oklahoma freshman had 13 points and 18 rebounds in a 62-57 victory over Oklahoma State earlier this season. There was no repeat performance in the rematch as Gallon was suspended.
Northern Iowa's shooters – The Panthers shot 19.2 percent (5-of-26) over the final 20 minutes in falling to Bradley.
Dayton's execution down the stretch – If the Flyers fail to make the NCAA tournament, the will look back with regret at the final stages of their 68-65 double-overtime loss to Saint Louis. After Dayton missed the front end of two one-and-one opportunities in the final minute of regulation, Saint Louis' Kwamain Mitchell banked in a desperation 3-pointer to force overtime in the closing seconds. Dayton blew a 15-point lead while shooting 1-of-13 from 3-point range and 10-of-20 from the free-throw line.
Villanova-Providence controversy – The game seemed headed for a great finish until a sequence of events put Friars guard Sharaud Curry on the bench and helped the Wildcats take control. Villanova was clinging to a 64-60 lead with just over eight minutes remaining when Curry was whistled for a foul on Scottie Reynolds. When Curry complained, he received a technical foul that knocked him out of the game. Reynolds made three of his ensuing four free throws, and the Friars never threatened again.
Keith Cothran – A violation of team rules kept Rhode Island's leading scorer out of the starting lineup for a critical Atlantic-10 game with Temple. Cothran entered the game after the first media timeout, but he scored just 10 points – he was averaging 15.6 – as the Rams suffered their second consecutive loss.
Florida – The Gators' 76-64 loss to Xavier marked the second time this season Billy Donovan's squad has fallen at home to an Atlantic 10 team. Rhode Island knocked off Florida 56-53 on Dec. 19.
Indiana – Nobody expected the Hoosiers to contend in the Big Ten, but IU had earned praise for some competitive performances. After losing by double digits to Northwestern and Ohio State, the Hoosiers hit bottom Saturday by falling 83-55 at Wisconsin. Indiana committed 21 turnovers and had just 10 assists.
Iowa – The Hawkeyes shot just 29.8 percent in a 63-40 loss to Purdue.
South Carolina – The Gamecocks, who had won three of four, fell back to earth with a 66-61 loss at Georgia. South Carolina star Devan Downey made just 6-of-22 shots while scoring 18 points.
Chace Stanback – The UNLV swingman missed all seven of his field-goal attempts and mustered just four points as the Rebels lost their rematch with San Diego State.
Saint Mary's – The Gaels followed up a loss to Gonzaga by falling 80-75 in overtime to Portland. The two-game skid damages St. Mary's hopes of an NCAA at-large bid. All its remaining regular-season opponents are outside the top 200 of the RPI.
Colorado on the road – Colorado fell 68-51 to No. 9 Kansas State for its 26th consecutive road loss against a Division I opponent.
Paul Hewitt – Georgia Tech's coach is likely feeling the heat after a 75-64 loss to Wake Forest dropped the Yellow Jackets below .500 in ACC competition. Georgia Tech (17-8, 5-6 ACC) didn't make a basket in the final 8:50.