College Basketball Weekend Update: UConn Plays the Role of Streak Stopper
No. 3 Connecticut 69, No. 19 Notre Dame 61
Hasheem Thabeet strolled off the court, emotionless outside of two raised arms of confidence and poise. Thabeet and the Connecticut Huskies snapped Notre Dame's 45-game winning streak in heroic fashion, piecing together one of their best performances of the season.
Outside of free-throw shooting, which UConn was a mediocre 15-30, the Huskies did seemingly everything right in taking ownership of the Joyce Center in South Bend.
In addition to stopping the home winning streak, Connecticut effectively stunted Notre Dame's run at a regular season Big East title. The Irish have proven to be too thin, too undermanned, and too over-matched to regularly compete with other Big East powers.
Five Notre Dame players were on the court for at least 29 minutes, and only seven saw more than three minutes of playing time. That lack of depth might not show in the early season, but at this point, the bleeding is unstoppable.
The Irish still have double-double machine Luke Harangody (24 and 15 on Saturday) and scoring machine Kyle McAlarney (held to nine points against UConn). That's enough to make the tournament, but finding the Final Four like many suggested at the beginning of the season is out of the question.
No. 9 Louisville 67, No. 8 Syracuse 57
Louisville ended round robin play with Syracuse and Pittsburgh 2-0, and is still looking for its first loss in the Big East and in 2009.
25,721 Syracuse fans at the Carrier Dome would be the story in most cases, but it was how the Cardinals repeatedly silenced the Orange masses that keyed a close win.
First, an onslaught of first-half offense pushed Louisville's lead to 10. Then, after a second half scoring drought from both teams and six-straight missed three-pointers by Louisville, Earl Clark threw the final dagger from just outside the three-point line with 2:06 remaining.
This is all from a team that had three horrible losses before conference play. The Cardinals' return to winning comes from improved shooting out of senior guard Terrence Williams (7-14 on Sunday) and the distributed minutes between freshman centers Samardo Samuels (22) and Terrence Jennings (18).
Jennings sat out multiple games through late November and December, biding his time behind another freshman center, George Goode. Goode attained an injury to his foot, and Jennings's stock rose with Rick Pitino. Now, his shot blocking ability and smooth post moves have the first-year player in the regular rotation, and Louisville on a seven game winning streak.
No. 2 Duke 85, Maryland 44: Imagine Xavier-Duke, only worse. A 40-15 halftime lead grew to 41 points at the final buzzer, and Duke will be ranked No. 1 for the first time since 2006.
No. 6 Oklahoma 95, Baylor 76: Every player on Oklahoma's team saw the court in this domination, but Baylor remains a good sleeper pick come March as long as Curtis Jerrels is scoring 26 a game.
No. 11 Marquette 79, DePaul 70: Marquette is undefeated in the Big East, but hasn't reached the peak of its schedule. Ending the season with consecutive games against UConn, Louisville, Pittsburgh and Syracuse will be brutal.
Seton Hall 65, No. 12 Georgetown 60: Doomed by shooting 32 percent from the field, Georgetown has now lost three-straight. Seton Hall is 1-6 in conference play and still going nowhere fast.
Washington 86, No. 13 UCLA 75: The Huskies beat UCLA with a well-balanced, team effort. Five players reached double figures in scoring, and only two played for more than 30 minutes.
No. 21 Minnesota 67, Indiana 63: The Golden Gophers snapped their two-game losing streak, but a four-point win against Indiana might as well go down as a loss. Minnesota is sliding at the wrong time.
No. 22 Memphis 54, Tennessee 52: For a game between under-performing teams, this one was spectacular. Struggling freshman Tyreke Evans scored Memphis's final seven points over three minutes.
No. 25 Illinois 64, Wisconsin 57: Well into conference play, Illinois is becoming what Wisconsin looked to achieve with a positive preseason outlook: second fiddle to Michigan State in the Big Ten.
Best Weekend Stat Line: Blake Griffin, Oklahoma
20 points, 17 rebounds, 4 assists in 90-75 win over Baylor
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