Georgia Tech 76, No. 4 Wake Forest 74
Tab Wake Forest as a team with a small gas tank. The Demon Deacons are 1-2 in follow-ups of big games, playing with hangovers against both Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech.
Wake is a team that can beat anyone on any given night, but not consistently—a March Madness nightmare.
They were out-hustled on Georgia Tech’s home floor, and out-coached in the final seconds as 6'5" Iman Shumpert nailed the winning shot in the eye of 6'2" Jeff Teague.
Demon Deacon players insisted the loss wasn’t a letdown after stunning Duke last week, and fans were raving on the message boards for the referees’ heads. The real reason for the loss came in the rebounding category, down to a battle of brothers in opposing front-courts.
Alade and Al-Farouq Aminu both went for double-doubles, and although freshman Al-Farouq scored more points, senior Alade pulled down more boards for Georgia Tech. In all, Wake Forest was out-rebounded 44-35, an edge gained by Demon Deacon foul troubles.
Wake center Chas McFarland and David Weaver both finished with four fouls. Four other Demon Deacon players had three fouls.
11 of Gani Lawal’s 25 points came from free-throws, Alade Aminu sank a perfect 4-for-4, and Lewis Clinch shot 5-of-6 from the line. Freebies win ballgames.
Penn State 72, No. 9 Michigan State 68
Michigan State had the perfect chance to put some distance on the rest of the Big Ten field Sunday against Penn State, a middle of the road team in what has turned out to be a middle of the road league.
Instead, a loss drops the Spartans to a tie with Purdue and puts them within one game of countless teams looking to challenge Michigan State in what was supposed to be their year.
First, injuries hit. Against Penn State, it was a virus for Raymar Morgan and his 12.9 points per game that were, for the most part, absent. The junior forward averages over 25 minutes per game but saw the court for only three against the Nittany Lions.
Taylor Battle hit everything except his free-throws for Penn State, surging an 11-0 second half run. The Nittany Lions had the Spartans in a 10-point hole before they made a comeback, but it was all too late.
No. 3 Pittsburgh 93, Notre Dame 80: The Panthers opened the game with an unsuccessful double team on Irish center Luke Harangody allowing Notre Dame to open up a 20-10 lead. Again the Irish were out-classed in the second half when DeJuan Blair took control of the painted area.
No. 7 Louisville 69, West Virginia 63: Louisville jumped out to a 20-point lead thanks to 18 first half points from hibernating Jerry Smith and 10 from Terrence Jennings. The Cardinals squandered a blowout win, allowing West Virginia to trim the lead due to lackluster defense and little ball movement throughout the second half.
No. 10 Xavier 82, Massachusetts 80: UMass’s best effort since knocking off Dayton on Jan. 10 was a loss. Minutemen center Tony Gaffney proved, once again, that front-court height is Xavier’s main weakness this season.
Kansas State 85, No. 11 Texas 81: Miami transfer Denis Clemente’s 44-point effort was just enough to give Kansas State an overtime win, but Texas should be worried more about their turnover total than a one-time performance by Clemente. It’s the Wildcats that should have had trouble controlling the ball, not the Longhorns.
No. 23 Washington 84, No. 14 Arizona State 71: Nobody expected Washington to be tied for the Pac-10 lead heading in to February, but nobody expected Herb Sendek’s squad to look so careless with the basketball. Nine first-half turnovers put Arizona State in too much of a hole.
No. 16 Purdue 67, Michigan 49: Manny Harris’s questionable ejection from the game was just what a struggling bunch of Boilermakers needed to break a close game wide open. Chris Kramer’s return, highlighted by a probable broken nose, didn’t hurt morale either.
No. 20 Gonzaga 64, San Diego 47: A win over St. Mary’s last Thursday solidified Gonzaga’s position as the West Coast Conference front-runner. Defeating San Diego simply drives the message home. Credit San Diego with stout defense, but the Zags’ low point total was due mostly to overall slow tempo of the game.
South Carolina 77, No. 24 Kentucky 76: For the second time this season, Kentucky coach Billy Gillespie incurred a technical foul in a down to the wire affair. For the second time this season, it was the difference between winning and losing when the clock hit zero.
Best Weekend Stat Line: Hasheem Thabeet, UConn
A triple-double for the big man: 15 points 11 rebounds, 10 blocks in 94-61 win over Providence