Wednesday Night Hoopla: North Carolina and Duke Deliver
Tobacco Road Rivalry Renewed
No. 2 North Carolina 101, No. 5 Duke 87
The nation's best rivalry came through with a game natives of the Tar Heel State will be talking about for generations. This epic game featured several major runs by both squads to take sizable leads.
North Carolina walked onto Duke's court bracing for a brutal onslaught of Cameron Crazies' cheers and jeers. The Tar Heels ended up running Duke out of the gym in the second half after blowing an early lead.
UNC jumped out to a 29-18 lead and was on pace to score more than 110 points against a Duke defense that ranks among the best in the country in defensive efficiency.
But just like the 1995 game at Cameron Indoor that featured a massive Blue Devil comeback, Duke clamped down on Deon Thompson (who had an early 10 points) and the Tar Heel fast break to stop UNC in its tracks.
Mike Krzyzewski's team answered with a 31-12 run to put Duke up by eight at the break.
The second half was a completely different story. UNC reestablished the run-and-gun offense and blitzed the Blue Devils into oblivion. At one point, North Carolina had outscored Duke 43-19 in the second half, and put up 57 points in the second frame.
UNC coach Roy Williams got 24 points out of Tyler Hansbrough and Wayne Ellington in the second half, after getting a combined eight points from the two before the break.
Duke went cold from behind the arc—especially in the second half—as Gerald Henderson (1-6) and Jon Scheyer (2-7) combined to hit 23 percent of their three-pointers.
UConn Holds Court Behind Thabeet's Inside Presence
No. 1 UConn 63, No. 22 Syracuse 49
The 'Cuse had 40 minutes to figure out that its offensive scheme was ruinous.
Running a high screen with either point guard Jonny Flynn or shooting guard Eric Devendorf driving the ball to the basket was a bad idea with a 7'3'' behemoth standing in front of the basket.
Possession after possession in the second half, the Orange settled for an out-of-control drive to the basket instead of kicking to an open shooter or dumping off to a big man under the basket when Connecticut's Hasheem Thabeet committed to the penetrator.
Thabeet had one of his more dominating games of the season under the basket. The junior either altered or blocked more than a dozen shots and pulled down 16 rebounds.
UConn didn't have to do much offensively with Thabeet's dominance in the post. The Huskies overcame double-digit turnovers in the first half and the loss of Jerome Dyson He left with a knee injury just over four minutes into the game.
Jim Calhoun's team should stay No. 1 through the weekend as the Huskies take on Seton Hall next.
Top 25 Upsets
North Carolina State 82, No. 8 Wake Forest 76
The Demon Deacons are officially in a swoon that rivals the current slumps Georgetown, Syracuse, Notre Dame, and Baylor have fallen into. Dino Gaudio's team has dropped four of six with half of those losses against two of the four worst teams in the ACC.
Wake Forest really needs to just drop its remaining games against unranked ACC teams as the Deacons are 2-4 against teams outside the Top 25, but undefeated against Clemson, Duke, and North Carolina.
The Wolfpack forced Wake into foul trouble again, a problem that has started to plague the Deacons. Al-Farouq Aminu and Chas McFarland combined to score 15 points, but had eight turnovers and each fouled out.
Dayton 71, No. 14 Xavier 58
The Flyers came up with a pretty splendid way to rebound from a loss against Atlantic 10 doormat, Charlotte. Thumping the top team in the A-10 and the 14th-ranked team in the country is a pretty nice statement for a Dayton team that lacks quality wins outside its impressive win over now-struggling Marquette.
High-flying guard Chris Wright scored 19 points in a mere 23 minutes to lead the Flyers, who had 11 players record at least nine minutes of playing time.
No. 2 Oklahoma 78, Baylor 63
The Bears' chances of making the NCAA Tournament are almost gone with another blowout loss to Oklahoma. The Sooners got a slightly sub-par game from Blake Griffin (18 points and 10 rebounds count as sub-par for Griffin), but Austin Johnson, and Willie Warren combined for 31 points.
No. 10 Memphis 63, Tulsa 37
So much for the Golden Hurricane's bid for an NCAA Tournament berth. Tulsa started to put together a semblance of a resumé, but a win against the fast-rising Tigers would have gone a long way to get Tulsa in the tournament on Selection Sunday.
No. 23 Purdue 61, Penn State 47
The Nittany Lions are in a very similar situation as Tulsa, but with a better resumé than the Golden Hurricane. The Boilermakers won without Robbie Hummel to dash PSU's NCAA hopes for now.
Northern Iowa 81, Southern Illinois 55
The Panthers rebounded nicely after losing to Creighton on Sunday. Northern Iowa sits at 12-2 and comfortably in first place in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Vermont 75, Boston U. 47
In a battle for the top spot in the America East conference, the Catamounts made an emphatic statement Wednesday night.
Drexel 62, Northeastern 58
The Dragons picked up a tough conference road victory against league-leading Northeastern.
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