Wednesday Night Hoopla: No. 1 Duke's Defeat and Bigtime Big East Upsets
(4) Wake Forest 70, (1) Duke 68
Duke's stay as the top-ranked team lasted all of two days. Last week, Wake Forest also lasted two days, and the week before that, Pittsburgh lasted five days before losing.
Assuming UConn beats Providence this weekend, the Huskies will move up to No. 1, but their grip on the top spot may last about 10 hours—or as long as it takes to drive from Storrs, Connecticut to Louisville, where UConn will take on the surging Cardinals Monday night.
As for Wednesday night's game, Wake Forest showed the country once again why the Demon Deacons are a legitimate title contender. Dino Gaudio has now knocked off North Carolina and Duke when both Tar Heel State teams were ranked first overall. That's a nice résumé builder, eh?
Wake Forest managed to squeak out an up-tempo but defense-based contest. The Demon Deacons led throughout the majority of the night, building a lead as large as 13 points. The most Duke ever led by was a mere bucket.
But down the stretch, Duke made a comeback, tying the game at 68 with just seconds on the clock. Wake inbounded the ball on its offensive side of the court and ran a perfect play that completely fooled the stout Blue Devil defense.
Veteran guard L.D. Williams faked a deeper pass that allowed super sophomore James Johnson to slip towards the basket on the baseline to receive a pass that he needed to take two steps to the hoop for an essentially uncontested lay-up.
The most impressive aspect of Wake's victory has to be the fact that the Deacons still won despite the fact that Jeff Teague, a potential All-American, had a mediocre night, scoring 11 points on 14 shots.
(21) Villanova 67, (3) Pittsburgh 57
The aforementioned Panthers who could only hang onto the top spot for five days lost again Wednesday night, this time to in-state rival Villanova. The always spiffy-looking Jay Wright had his Wildcats ready to play, as 'Nova is starting to rebound after losing two of its first three conference games.
The undersized Wildcats did a fantastic job of keeping the Panthers off the glass, which is usually where Pitt wins its games. Pittsburgh only won the battle of the boards 32-28, mainly because stud center DeJuan Blair sat trapped on the bench in foul trouble for most of the game. The sophomore played just 20 minutes and recorded a paltry seven points and eight rebounds.
The Panthers are still in a good position to be the fourth team to grab a double-bye in the Big East Tournament, as Pitt still holds a 1.5-game lead over Villanova and West Virginia and is tied with surprise team Providence for the fourth spot.
Providence 100, (15) Syracuse 94
The 'Cuse very effectively answered the rarely asked question, "What happens to a 2-3 zone when your best defender on the wing is injured and your tank of a center is hobbling around in the paint?" The Friars tore Syracuse to pieces from inside (26-for-41 in two-pointers) and outside (10 three-pointers) all game long.
SU played lazy all night, repeatedly not diving for loose balls, and was careless with the rock throughout the game. Despite 27 points, Eric Devendorf turned the ball over nine times.
It's not too surprising Syracuse lost this game considering the 'Cuse's injury situation, but it is a very disappointing loss for the Orange because of the way SU lost it. Score 94 points and lose?
One bright spot for the 'Cuse is the fact that Jonny Flynn showed why some considered him a preseason All-American. The sophomore guard dropped 35 points on a highly efficient 12-22 from the field and contributed six more assists.
Cincinnati 65, (23) Georgetown 57
When the Bearcats win against top opponents in Fifth Third Arena, those wins tend to come in an ugly way. Wednesday night would be no different as Cincinnati downed the Hoyas using a late 11-2 run over the final 4:38 of the game to put John Thompson III's team to bed.
Georgetown is in absolute free-fall, sitting in a tie for 10th place in the Big East with another disappointing team, Notre Dame. The Hoyas have lost six of eight games, and things aren't going to get better in the near future with undefeated in conference play Marquette on the horizon.
The Hoyas' biggest weakness all year has been their lack of bench production, and tonight was no different. The GU dwellers of the pine combined for just 11 points on four of 12 shooting. Rarely used Nikita Mescheriakov contributed 25 minutes off the bench (though he only scored three points, but did grab seven rebounds).
(6) North Carolina 80, Florida State 77
Ty Lawson saved the collective behinds of his Tar Heel teammates Wednesday night with a buzzer-beating three-pointer. The slick floor general did everything for Roy Williams on a night where most of his teammates underperformed. Lawson tallied 21 points on a smooth six-of-seven shooting from the field and eight-of-nine from the charity stripe. Lawson even grabbed nine rebounds, four of which came on the offensive glass.
The Tar Heels have a problem though. It's a problem that's been discussed over and over again, and that's their defense. Florida State has scored at least 77 points an un-ACC like three times (all wins) this season entering Wednesday night.
(2) UConn 71, DePaul 49
The Huskies took care of business, and if they take care of business this weekend against Providence, will be the new top ranked team Monday.
(7) Louisville 80, South Florida 54
It looked like the Cardinals might be another victim of an upset tonight with only a one-point halftime lead, but a 47-22 second half outburst sent the Bulls home with a 26-point defeat.
(10) Xavier 69, Charlotte 47
Anyone notice the Musketeers are suddenly the 10th-ranked team and rolling through the A-10? Xavier is pretty quietly putting together a tremendous season in Cincinnati.
(19) Memphis 85, East Carolina 64
It looks like the Tigers are here to stay in the top 25. Shockingly, this poor shooting Memphis squad hit eight out of *gasp* just 17 attempts from beyond the arc.
Ohio State 72, Michigan 54
The Wolverines are currently playing their way out of the NCAA Tournament and squandering those victories over UCLA and Duke with their 4-5 Big Ten record.
St. Joe's 68, Richmond 58
Those quiet Musketeers have a challenger for the A-10 title as the Hawks are now 5-0 in conference play.
South Carolina 86, Vanderbilt 76
The Gamecocks are making a strong push for an NCAA Tournament bid with a solid 15-4 record.
LSU 79, Tennessee 73
The Volunteers are joining the Irish, Hoyas, and Syracuse in absolute free-fall mode. LSU suddenly looks like it can win the SEC West with a sweet 4-1 conference record.
Kansas 68, Nebraska 62
Guess the two undefeated teams in conference play in the Big XII...it's Oklahoma and Kansas, who's rolling through the league at 5-0.
Kansas State 88, Missouri 72
It doesn't look like the Tigers (17-4, 4-2) are ready to compete just yet for the Big XII title.
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