Inside the NCAA | Major conference matchups clear up late season picture
Published: Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 12:02
Another week of conference play meant another week of higher stakes as the calendar turns to February. While some teams were completing a climb back to the top, others were continuing to fall. It seems as though no one can hold onto the No. 1 spot for more than a week, with a new team taking the mantle after each of the last four weeks of play.
Here’s what Week 13 brought us:
Indiana earns back top spot after victory over Michigan
After two tough losses to unranked opponents earlier in the season, the Indiana Hoosiers have returned to form, defeating the then-No. 1 Michigan Wolverines in a home game on Saturday, 81-73.
The new rankings validated Indiana’s return to the top with its new No. 1 ranking, a position it had held for the first seven weeks of the season. The game was a team effort, with all five Hoosiers starters in the double-figures and forwards Christian Watford and Cody Zeller finishing with 10 rebounds apiece as well. Zeller was unquestionably the star, as his 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting helped to propel the Hoosiers to a lead they would sustain for much of the game.
With the exception of sophomore point guard and leading National Player of the Year candidate Trey Burke, the Wolverines struggled to get into their rhythm offensively the whole night and instead found themselves chasing the Hoosiers until the final buzzer. Indiana will resume play Thursday on the road at Illinois before a trip to Columbus, Ohio to take on the No. 10 Ohio State University on Sunday afternoon.
Pittsburgh tops ’Cuse yet again
Syracuse had lost eight out of their last 10 games against the Pittsburgh Panthers going into Saturday. And things didn’t get better, as the Orange shot an ugly 36.7 percent from the floor while only making 3-of-14 attempted 3-point shots, numbers that contributed to yet another loss, this time 65-55. The loss marked the first time Syracuse has lost consecutive games in nearly two years.
Led by an unwavering defensive intensity and Tray Woodall’s 13 points, the Panthers improved to 18-5 on the season and an impressive 13-1 against Top 10 teams at home for the last decade.
While C.J. Fair of Syracuse led both teams with 20 points, Michael Carter-Williams, the standout sophomore who leads the nation with over eight assists per game, only dished out two, as Syracuse lost its second Big East game and slipped into a tie for first in the loss column with Marquette.
The Orange will be back home at the Carrier Dome to take on St. John’s after a win over No. 25 Notre Dame on Monday, while Pittsburgh, now No. 23 in the country, has winnable games against Seton Hall and No. 17 Cincinnati later this week.
Oklahoma State takes down Kansas in biggest Big 12 upset of the season
When Travis Ford’s Oklahoma State squad dropped three of its first five games to open up 2013, analysts started to believe the Cowboys would be an afterthought yet again in the Big 12 this season.
However, that chatter was quickly put to rest Saturday when junior guard Markel Brown and freshman standout point guard Marcus Smart combined for 53 points on 17-for-34 shooting to take down the No. 2 Kansas Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence. With the win, the Cowboys snapped both the Jayhawks’ overall 18-game win streak and its 33-game home winning streak in Phog Allen Fieldhouse.
Brown especially was terrific, nailing seven of his 10 3-pointers to keep the Cowboys in the game against such an impressive opponent from beginning to end. With his performance, Smart now becomes arguably the best freshman point guard in college basketball and is a potential top-five overall pick come this summer’s NBA draft. Freshman Ben McLemore led the way for the Jayhawks, finishing with 23 points and scoring double figures for the 19th time on the year.
No. 5 Kansas will play two unranked opponents this week before heading home to face No. 13 Kansas State on Monday, while Oklahoma State will take the court again tonight against Baylor.
Miami Hurricanes jump up six spots in Top 25 after close win against N.C. State
Despite a double-double from Wolfpack big man C.J. Leslie, N.C. State was unable to hold off the No. 8 Miami Hurricanes, who remain undefeated in the ACC at 8-0 with impressive wins over powerhouse No. 4 Duke and now N.C. State.
Down one point with just over 10 seconds left in regulation, the Hurricanes ran a play to sophomore Shane Larken, who proceeded to pull up from the right side with time ticking away. Larken missed the mid-range jumper, but senior center Reggie Johnson was there for the save, as he tipped in the shot with 0.8 seconds left to seal the win for Miami.
The Hurricanes were led by senior guard Durand Scott, who tied Leslie for a game-high score of 18 points and will look to continue their in-conference win streak when they host North Carolina later this week.