No. 1 Connecticut 69, Michigan 61
While ACC powers Duke, Clemson, and Wake Forest crumbled, UConn established its place as the No. 1 team in the country with a tighter than expected game against Michigan.
The difference in the game was UConn’s balance conquering Michigan’s depth. Although the Wolverines significantly played 11 players, three Huskies broke into double figures and two were left knocking on the door of the 10-point mark.
In other words, UConn didn’t need masses to beat the masses. Coach Jim Calhoun has found a working seven- or eight-man rotation that’s going to carry UConn into March, and possibly further.
The Huskies went down eight in the first half, but showed resiliency in recovering before the half-time buzzer sounded. A combination of the home fans and an adjustment to Michigan’s pesky 1-3-1 zone helped turn things around.
As for how UConn held on in the second half, it’s well known that you can’t mimic Hasheem Thabeet’s impact. Although he took responsibility for only 12 of the Huskies’ rebounds, Thabeet’s presence allowed UConn to out-rebound the opposition 46-21.
Connecticut followed up a clean game at Louisville with a 10-foul effort against Michigan while forcing the Wolverines into 20 team fouls. Once again, Thabeet dictated the pace.
No. 4 Duke 78, Miami (Fla.) 75, OT
It seemed that every time Duke was able to build a lead, Jack McClinton was there to answer. After the Blue Devils had rallied from a 32-19 halftime deficit to take control of the game, the senior guard was all Miami had.
Down three in regulation, McClinton sank the clutch shot for the Hurricanes. Down multiple possessions in overtime, he single-handedly narrowed the lead on jumpers and free throws.
Jack McClinton did everything he could, but his 34 points were just short, leaving the Blue Devils with a tight home court win to get back on track. Miami shot 9-of-16 from three, but 19 turnovers doomed any chance of holding the first half lead.
Fifteen-plus point totals from Duke’s big four of Gerald Henderson, Greg Paulus, Jon Scheyer, and Kyle Singler helped put to rest the 74-47 drubbing Clemson handed the Blue Devils last week.
No. 2 Oklahoma 77, Colorado 72: Tony Crocker played Robin to Blake Griffin’s Batman against Colorado, scoring 24 points on 7-of-12 from the field. Still, it’s easy to notice the Sooners playing lazily and allowing teams back into games. Future contests will tell whether that’s just Oklahoma being bored or playing gassed.
Duquesne 72, No. 9 Xavier 68: Xavier looked to be an unstoppable force in the Atlantic 10, then Duquesne shot 81 percent in the first half en route to a four-point win. While looking for a reason the Musketeers couldn’t pull this one out, look no further than free throws. B.J. Raymond was 6-of-15, Derrick Brown was 2-of-6 and C.J. Anderson was 4-of-8.
Florida State 65, No. 10 Clemson 61: Wake Forest fell to the fate of a Duke hangover last weekend. Saturday, it was Clemson’s turn. The Tigers ran out of steam in the second half, allowing a 23-4 Florida State run over the last nine minutes.
No. 23 Illinois 66, No. 12 Purdue 48: In the absence of Purdue star Robbie Hummel, the Boilermakers went cold from the field. Illinois took advantage by producing a star of their own. Illini sophomore Mike Davis score 14 and pulled down 16 boards in a complete domination of the Boilermakers.
No. 14 Memphis 68, No. 18 Gonzaga 50: This matchup would have been more lucrative in early December, leaving the leftovers of mid-majors looking to break the BCS conferences a snoozer. John Calipari’s adjustments with Tyreke Evans have paid off. That’s not to say Memphis’s pro-style offense will carry Evans very far in a one and done season.
No. 15 UCLA 89, Notre Dame 63: Notre Dame can’t win with Luke Harangody, and can’t win without him. The senior center was 2-of-12 from the field and pulled down only one rebound in the Irish’s seventh-straight loss, while UCLA has rallied since last losing to Washington on Jan. 24.
Nebraska 58, No. 16 Texas 55: Nebraska fought through a double-digit deficit and a waxing on the glass to hand Texas its third-straight loss. Both teams sit at 15-7, prompting the question: Outside of AJ Abrams, what makes Texas so special?
No. 17 Villanova 102, No. 20 Syracuse 85: Syracuse started slowly in an offensive shootout and was forced to claw back the entire game, allowing 100 points for the second time in three games. Villanova is perfect in their last five contests thanks to Dante Cunningham stepping up his jump shot.
No. 24 Arizona State 49, Oregon State 38: When the game’s leading scorer has 14 points, either you’ve just seen two teams have an off night, or it’s another Pac-10 special. Sun Devil coach Herb Sendek said it best that there were no easy baskets Saturday night. That included uncontested shots.
Cincinnati 64, Georgetown 62 OT: It was a battle to get off the bubble, and this game went both ways. With Providence surging, another Cincinnati win maintains the Bearcats’ run at a tournament bid. Georgetown needed a win (didn’t matter who against) and they couldn’t close the deal, shoving them further back on the shelf.
Charlotte 79, Dayton 66: The Flyers squandered a chance to make up Atlantic 10 ground on Xavier in only their third loss of the season. Chris Wright cashed it in on the wrong day, scoring only five points and guaranteeing that this will not be the week Dayton finally breaks into the top 25.
Best Weekend Stat Line: Dante Cunningham, Villanova
31 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists in 102-85 win over Syracuse