Wednesday Night Hoopla: Wake's Reign As The Top Ranked Team Lasts Two Days

Jameson FlemingSenior Writer IJanuary 22, 2009

There have been a few Saturdays that have produced tremendous days of college basketball, but Wednesday night may be the best night of college basketball during the entire 2008-2009 season.

It was THAT good. Between the upsets, matchups between ranked teams, and winning (and losing) streak snapped, Wednesday had it all.

Virginia Tech 78, (1) Wake Forest 71

Fueled by early foul trouble for super sophomore James Johnson and center Chas McFarland as well as an injury to freshman stud Al-Farouq Aminu, Virginia Tech took an early 16-point lead by turning the Demon Deacons into a perimeter team that couldn't buy a basket.

Wake Forest looked like it was going to go on a run and blow Virginia Tech out of the water in the second half, but just like that the Deacons stalled and Tech managed to hold a single digit lead.

Dino Gaudio's club continued to play stout defense throughout the entire second half, but Virginia Tech was literally hitting everything from their side of the court. At one point fairly late in the second half, the Hokies were 14-20 from the field, but most of those shots were tough looks or contested mid-range jumpers.

Jeff Teague was once again sensational for Wake Forest, but when it counted in the final two minutes, Teague repeatedly passed the ball out of his hands and couldn't get the ball back as most of Wake's shots in the waning moments came from the hands of its role players. Teague did finish the game with 23 points on 10-15 shooting.

After numerous disappointing losses for Seth Greenberg's team in the non-conference schedule, VTech is suddenly tied for second in the conference with a 3-1 record.

(6) North Carolina 94, (9) Clemson 70

This contest featuring two ACC heavyweights was a tale of two halves. In the first half, UNC struggled at times handling Clemson's full court press, but still managed to grab a 40-35 halftime lead. Terrence Oglesby had 17 of Clemson's 35 first half points.

In the second half, Oglesby went cold and Clemson was absolutely, positively, 100 percent sunk. The Tigers looked like they were shot by a mastodon tranquilizer. UNC went on a 20-7 run to open the half and a 16-2 run later in the half to flat out embarrass Oliver Purnell's team.

Wayne Ellington is getting hot and at the right time. The junior wing had season highs in points (25) and assists (seven) to lead the Tar Heels. Ellington and Ty Lawson toyed with the Clemson pressure towards the end of the first half and the entire second half.

The motto in the Big East is don't let one loss turn into two, well Clemson has violated that turning its loss against Wake into a second loss. Georgia Tech may be struggling, but has NBA talent on that team, Clemson can't afford to turn two losses into three with a poor performance against the Yellow Jackets up next.

New Jersey Institute of Technology 61, Bryant 51

It's been almost two years since the Highlanders last sniffed the sweet smell of victory. But on Wednesday night, Jim Engles' team familiarized itself with that smell by defeated independent doormat Bryant. It's been a rough transition to Division I for the Bulldogs and it certainly didn't get any easier by losing to NJIT. 

So what's happened since February 2007, the last time the Highlanders won? Well gas jumped over $4 a gallon, and then dipped to less than half that price, America elected a biracial president, Wall Street managed to collapse, and Britney Spears is somehow relevant again.

Congrats NJIT. Next year's goal can be to win two games.

Northwestern 70, (7) Michigan State 63

Bill have saved your job. The Wildcats have been noticeably better this year, but Carmody still sat on the hot seat as Northwestern began to tailspin in Big Ten play.

That tailspin has quickly stopped in an authoritative way. Let's count all those authoritative ways! Michigan State had won 28 straight games at home, the third longest streak in the nation...over! Michigan State had beaten Northwestern each of the last 12 times...over! Michigan State had won 15 consecutive games at home against Big Ten opponents...over!

All thanks to that ugly 1-3-1 zone Northwestern still employs still despite finally having the size this year to play a standard defense. Junior Kevin Coble's 31-point, four steal performance also helped quite a bit. 

Suddenly, the Big Ten once again looks up for grabs with the Spartan loss.

(3) UConn 89, (21) Villanova 83

Defense in Hartford Wednesday night was completely optional, especially in the first half when the two teams entered the locker room tied at 48. Despite having a stable of tremendous guards, Jay Wright couldn't find a single answer for UConn's backcourt duo, A.J. Price and Jerome Dyson.

Price set a career high with 29 points on an extremely efficient 10-13 shooting and the senior added five assists to boot. Dyson managed to continually slash through the lane and employ the Georgetown backcourt to frequently get to the basket untouched.

Villanova did body him up enough to send Dyson to the line 10 times en route to his 19 points for the game.

Despite 'Nova's impressive scoring total, Scottie Reynolds never got going, taking several bad shots to try to get into a rhythm and forcing the ball into the lane where Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrien were camping out.

South Carolina 70, Florida 69

Gamecock basketball is relevant once again. On a night full of promotions to entice students to come to the game and be loud, Darrin Horn delivered the most memorable win of his short tenure in Columbia. The students came, filling up the Colonial Life Arena, creating a raucous atmosphere for the Gators to try to overcome.

And overcome the Gators did...for the first 39 minutes and 57 seconds.

Devan Downey dropped a deep fade away three with less than a minute to go and several missed Florida free throws kept South Carolina alive. Chandler Parsons missed the front end of a one-in-one with 3.3 seconds left. 

Gamecock Mike Holmes grabbed the rebound, threw the ball down court to a streaking Zam Fredrick who caught the ball and laid it in as the clock expired. Game over. USC wins.

The One-Liners

(12) Louisville 78, Rutgers 59

This game at one point was 7-5 Rutgers. It was later 28-7 Louisville. 'Nuff Said.

(23) Baylor 83, Kansas State 68

LaceDarius Dunn hit twice (nine) as many three-pointers as Kansas State (four). Dunn finished with 33 points.

(13) Xavier 84, St. Bonaventure 64

The Musketeers got a breather as this one was over at half. No Musketeer played more than 23 minutes.

(24) Memphis 80, Rice 52

Tyreke Evans had his worst game since moving to the point scoring just five points and fouling out, but Memphis still won easily.

(5) Oklahoma 72, Nebraska 61

The Cornhuskers kept it close for awhile, but Blake Griffin took over finishing with 27 points and 18 rebounds.

LSU 81, Mississippi State 57

When someone figures out the SEC call me. MSU loses by 24 after starting out conference play 3-0. Right now a Rock, Paper, Scissors Tournament would be a more effective way to decide the SEC West.

Northeastern 58, George Mason 57

In a matchup of the league's top two teams in the standings, the Huskies knocked off one of the nation's most recognizable Cinderella's George Mason. Both are tied atop the CAA standings at 7-1.


Davidson 83, Furman 43

Furman is clearly not one of the better teams in the Southern Conference as Stephen Curry created more points with 30 points, five assists, and five steals than Furman scored.

VMI 87, Radford 72

The Keydets broke a tie atop the Big South standings with a decisive win against second place Radford.

Miami 75, Florida State 69

Toney Douglas won the scoring battle with Jack McClinton (30-28), but the Seminoles lost the game. Miami is now 3-2 in the ACC.

Kentucky 73, Auburn 64

Jodie Meeks dropped 31 and Patrick Patterson had 21 and 18. Not too many teams are going to beat Kentucky when those two go off.

Missouri 97, Oklahoma State 95

The Cowboys play the 11th fastest basketball in the nation despite having no depth, so is it any surprise this game got up into the 90s? Missouri proved to be the better team on the road.

(16) Arizona State 53, Arizona 47

The Sun Devils are the exact opposite of Oklahoma State, they slow it down and play some of the slowest basketball in the country. James Harden notched 21 points for Herb Sendak's Sun Devils.

Plus Five Other Games Went to Overtime on Wednesday

Is there any doubt that Wednesday was the best night of college hoops this year?




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