College Basketball Weekend Update: Big East Finally Gets a Signature Win

Jonathan LintnerSenior Analyst IDecember 14, 2008

Weekend Headliners


No. 19 Georgetown 79, No. 17 Memphis 70 (OT)

Georgetown and Memphis, both teams hinging on rebuilding or re-upping from last season’s successes, needed this game. But Georgetown needed it more.

In a contest that was as scrappy and even as they get, the Hoyas needed the assistance of a few extra ticks on the clock to hold on to their first win over a ranked opponent, and they did it for their conference. The Big East has been heralded as the best thing since sliced bread, but in a season already one third the way through, expectations have hardly been met.

By prevailing against Memphis, Georgetown added to the Big East’s small quality win total, and that’s only if you count Syracuse beating Florida and Kansas, Marquette and UConn topping Wisconsin, and the Huskies also knocking off Miami.

But the Big East can’t be completely thrown under the bus. Consider that the top teams from the 16-team league haven’t faced the best from the ACC and Big 12.

Notre Dame and Villanova represented against Texas; the Irish’s folly against North Carolina is something to forget. Games to truly judge the conference come when UConn faces Gonzaga and Louisville gets undefeated Minnesota and a surging Kentucky team before conference play begins.

After that, the country will have to wait until March when it could be too late to get a record number of teams into the NCAA Tournament. Then try to tell the likes of Cincinnati, West Virginia, St. John’s and Seton Hall—all potential bubble teams—that November and December aren’t worth a darn.

No. 10 Xavier 76, Cincinnati 66

Six things happened in the Crosstown Shootout that should be left for the gloss and glamour of the NBA, and that’s the six technical fouls incurred between Xavier and Cincinnati.

The worst part about the outcome of this game was that anyone gets a point in the win column.

Credit Cincinnati for coming back from 17 down in the second half, but fault the Bearcats for picking up two T’s in the process. And Xavier? They held off their in-town rival, separated by only three and a half miles, but did it while obtaining the majority of the technical fouls.

Sean Miller and Mick Cronin are great coaches and excellent disciplinarians, but blame the two of them for letting this contest get out of control.

Expect emotion from a rivalry, but you don’t see six technicals every time Louisville and Kentucky meet, and the Hansbrough fight against Duke was an isolated incident, limited to one game.

Weekend Highlights

Happy Holidays, Temple

A game removed from Tennessee’s first ever triple-double, Tyler Smith shot only 6/16 from the field in an 88-72 loss to Temple.  Dominated by Dionte Christmas’s 35 points and Bill Raftery’s holiday innuendo, it was the atmosphere in the Liacouras Center that pushed the home team over the top.

Another for the Atlantic 10

How the mighty have fallen—or in the case of Kansas’s final shot against UMass, not fallen. Using the same play that last season sent the National Championship Game to overtime, Kansas’s Sherron Collin’s had his shot partially blocked and fully missed the rim to give the Jayhawks their second home loss of the year.

On the Horizon

Ohio State coach Thad Matta held off his alma mater and former team 54-51, but Butler has a good future ahead. The Bulldogs showed the ability to score (forming a 21-12 run in the final 15 minutes) and play defense (allowing only four points in the last 6:49) to make an easy visit to the NCAA Tournament.


Streak Stoppers

Some teams fall back down to Earth after a stunning loss. Western Kentucky took a dive through the surface and plunged to rock bottom Saturday, losing to the Evansville Aces 72-40. The Hilltoppers had a four-game winning streak going that included the likes of Louisville and Georgia, but now moves into conference play with two embarrassing losses—the other a 27-pointer to Murray State.


Devendorf? Present

Eric Devendorf isn’t getting Mike Vick press for his alleged incident involving physically assaulting a young girl, and he shouldn’t. Whatever happened to “innocent until proven guilty?” Devendorf’s negative publicity didn’t hurt his performance—the Syracuse senior scored 13 in a 79-55 rout of Long Beach State, pushing the Orange to 9-0.

The 10-0 Milestone

So they did it against UMBC, but you can’t fault Pittsburgh for reaching 10-0 for the sixth straight year. It’s sad to say, but Siena will be the biggest test the Panthers have faced when they meet on Wednesday.

The Almost-Shocker

It took everything Arizona Statehad to beat visiting IUPUI 59-58 in overtime on Sunday. Behind the three-point shooting of Rihards Kuksiks (6 for 18 points), the Sun Devils rallied from a 34-18 halftime deficit. Conference play means doing more than playing down to competition—a lesson Arizona State could soon learn.

The Shocker

Coming away from a 69-64 loss to Arizona, it was evident that Gonzaga didn’t play that badly. The Wildcats simply played the best game they could have, shooting seven of ten on three-pointers and turning the ball over only ten times. As a result, Gonzaga shouldn’t fall down too far in the polls, similar to what happened to Duke after an away loss to Michigan last weekend.

Player of the Weekend: Luke Harangody

Sometimes Luke Harangody is all Notre Dame has, and that was evident Saturday night in a come-from-behind victory over Boston University. The Irish trailed with as few as four minutes left, but Harangody’s 23 points and 15 rebounds lifted Notre Dame to a seven-point win.