College Basketball Saturday Recap
In the first weekend without a full college football schedule, there were few marquee college basketball matchups.
The only game between ranked teams came to us at 10 p.m. ET from Spokane between Illinois and Gonzaga, a time slot when college basketball will not get many viewers, unless you are a diehard fan like myself.
As for other games across the nation on Saturday, there were plenty of close games, including clashes between in-state rivals Wisconsin and Marquette and BYU and Utah.
After Gonzaga was defeated at home by Illinois, the number of unbeaten teams dropped to 14. The remaining unbeaten teams did not disappoint with their performances.
Here is a recap of Saturday's biggest games.
Kentucky Getting Back on Track
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
In one of the first games to tip off on Saturday, Kentucky defeated Portland, 74-46, at Rupp Arena.
Four of the five starters for Kentucky scored in double figures. Center Nerlens Noel was the exception, but the freshman contributed with nine rebounds and seven blocks.
The win was the second in a row for the Wildcats, who also beat Samford on Tuesday in Lexington.
Kentucky now has just two games, against Lipscomb and Marshall at home, before its in-state clash with Rick Pitino's Cardinals in Louisville.
In-State Rivalries in Wisconsin, Utah Come Down to the Wire
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
In Milwaukee, Marquette defeated Wisconsin, 60-50, thanks to the efforts of Junior Cadougan, who scored a team-high 18 points.
In Provo, the latest edition of the Holy War between BYU and Utah was played at the Marriott Center, where the game was not decided until the final seconds. Tyler Haws sank two free throws with 16 seconds left to clinch the victory for BYU and send the Utes back to Salt Lake City with a 61-58 loss.
Surprise Unbeaten Teams Continue Hot Starts
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Two of the surprise names on the list of the 14 unbeaten teams are Wyoming and Charlotte.
Wyoming entered itself into the national conversation after a win over Colorado last Saturday, and the Cowboys continued their hot start with a 74-55 win over Panhandle State.
Now 10-0, Wyoming has 10-day break before it seek its 11th victory against Denver.
Charlotte defeated Central Michigan, 78-66, at home on Saturday to improve to 9-0.
Unlike Wyoming, the 49ers have not had a signature win. But that will all change if Alan Major's team can go into Miami and beat the Hurricanes on Friday night.
Eastern Kentucky is a third surprise as an unbeaten team. The Colonels beat Chattanooga, 63-52, to move to 9-0 before their clash with Illinois next Sunday in Champaign.
Georgetown Is Still Having Scoring Issues
The Georgetown Hoyas are ranked 15th, but are 237th in the nation in scoring.
The Hoyas won an ugly, defensive game against Tennessee two weeks ago, despite only scoring 37 points.
On Saturday, Georgetown scored 46 points to record a six-point win over Towson. That's right, Towson, a team that had four wins in two years entering this season.
Towson was 4-4 before Saturday's game, but there is no excuse for the Hoyas to just squeak past their Beltway rivals.
The Hoyas scored the final six points of the game, but it took them four minutes to do so and clinch their seventh win.
Arizona Survives Death Valley
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Arizona put its unbeaten start on the line with a trip to play Clemson at Littlejohn Coliseum on Saturday night.
The Wildcats went on a 22-8 run to start the game before their hosts began to heat up. Clemson cut the lead to four at halftime.
Clemson then dominated until the third TV timeout of the second half. With 7:22 remaining and the score tied at 47-47, Arizona's combination of Mark Lyons and Nick Johnson took control. They scored 11 of the Wildcats' final 19 points as they broke away from Clemson and won, 66-54.
Arizona next will face Florida on Saturday in Tucson in a clash of top-10 teams.
AP Top 5 Win in Dominant Fashion
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
There was no need to worry about the fate of the top five teams in the nation on Saturday as they all cruised to victories.
Top-ranked Indiana took care of Central Connecticut State, 100-69, at Assembly Hall, Second-ranked Duke avenged its loss from last season against Temple, winning 90-67 in a neutral site game at the Meadowlands.
Third-ranked Michigan had the smallest margin of victory of the top five teams, pulling away late to beat Arkansas, 80-67.
And Big East rivals Syracuse and Louisville won big at home against Monmouth and Missouri-Kansas City, respectively.
Jim Boeheim won his 898th game as coach of the Orange and should be set to break the 900-win mark against Detroit on December 17th at the Carrier Dome.
Michigan State Denies Loyola (IL) of Upset at Breslin Center
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
As the halftime score from East Lansing scrolled across the bottom of television screens around the nation, most people were shocked to see Michigan State down by two to Loyola (IL) of the Horizon League.
Tom Izzo must have said something powerful to his Spartans at halftime as they went on a 22-9 run to start the second half.
The Spartans were the recipients of big performances off the bench from Adreian Payne, 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Travis Trice, who scored 11 points in his 13 minutes on the floor.
Izzo and company have two more games to improve before they face Texas in their final non-conference game on December 22nd. After that, the Spartans will enter the gauntlet that is the Big 10.
UCLA Completes Comeback with Win over Texas
Scott Halleran/Getty Images
In a game between two of the most disappointing teams in college basketball this season, UCLA scored 14 points in the final four minutes to defeat Texas at Reliant Stadium in Houston.
Both teams fought until the end, but it was the Bruins who had the willpower and determination to pull out the victory.
The Bruins held the lead for just two minutes and 22 seconds in the second half before taking the lead for good on a pair of free throws by Shabazz Muhammad with 47 seconds left.
UCLA will now be out of the national spotlight for a few weeks until it faces face Missouri at home on December 28th.
The Longhorns get a game against Texas State at home next Saturday before facing North Carolina and Michigan State in successive games before Christmas.
Illinois and Minnesota Win on West Coast
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Late Saturday night on the West Coast, two teams from the Big 10 came out victorious in Spokane and Los Angeles.
Illinois made a statement to the nation as it marched into the McCarthey Athletic Center on the campus of Gonzaga and won by a commanding 85-74 score.
Brandon Paul scored 35 points in the win that moved the Fighting Illini's win total to 10. John Groce's team is still undefeated and is emerging as a contender for the Big 10 title, along with Indiana, Michigan and Ohio State.
The Illini were not the only Big 10 team to defeat a West Coast team on Saturday night. Minnesota took down USC at the Galen Center, 71-57.
The Golden Gophers already had signature wins over Memphis and Florida State. In the win over USC, Tubby Smith's team proved that it can go on a long road trip and come out victorious.
If both teams carry their current play into the Big 10 season, the chance of any team coming out of that conference unbeaten becomes very slim.
What did you think of Saturday's college basketball games?
Comment below or leave me a comment on Twitter @JTansey90.