NCAA Football

College basketball scores, winners and losers: Arizona stunned at home, UConn back in winner’s circle

College basketball scores, winners and losers: Arizona stunned at home, UConn back in winner’s circle

The first full Saturday of 2023 has produced a college basketball newsletter featuring everything we love about the sport. With conference play in full swing across the country, there were blowouts, thrilling finishes and stunning upsets.

No. 7 Alabama provided the most attractive explosion by defeating Kentucky 78-52and #25 Iowa State provided a thrilling finish with a 69-67 victory over No. 17 seed TCU. As for the stunning upset, there is a small question that belonged Washington State.

The Cougars knocked off No. 5 Arizona 74-61 on the road for the program’s first road win over a top-five opponent. The win was also the Cougars’ first win over a top-five team since 1983 and was especially stunning given WSU’s lackluster start to the season.

Arizona (14-2, 3-2 Pac-12) shot just 31.7% from the floor and got just two points from its bench, trailing by as many as 18 in the second half. Muhammed Guye led Washington State with 24 points, including 13 in the second half, as the Cougars improved to 7-10 (2-4).

Such a surprise result only cemented the fact that there are few truly dominant teams in college basketball this season. Of the top six teams in the AP Top 25, four lost games this week as the new calendar year began chaos in the sport.

Let’s dive a little deeper into Saturday’s events by taking a look at who won and who lost from across the country.

Winner: End back in the winner’s circle

Lotta’s men abandoned the UConn ship and sailed thousands of miles in the opposite direction after it dropped two straight games — both in Big East play — to Xavier then Providence to end the 2022 calendar year and open a new year. Now these people look pretty stupid. The No. 4 Huskies turned their business over to a fashionable contender Creighton 69-60 to end their two-game skid in a game that wasn’t all that close. The two teams traded blows in the second half, but UConn took control midway through the final frame and extended its lead to 12 before hanging on for a nine-point home victory.

After two straight league losses, UConn needed not only a win, but a win against a good team that could help put them back in the running for the regular season race. It accomplished just that, limiting the visiting Bluejays — third in 3-point shooting in the Big East — to an abysmal 2-of-16 from 3-point range. It was just the third time since Greg McDermott took over the program in 2010-11 that Creighton made two or fewer 3-pointers in a regular-season conference game.

“Our identity is an elite defense, a top-five defense,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said. “What makes teams special is they’re super efficient on both ends of the floor when our defense is in place.”

Underdog: Kentucky goes straight out on the road again

Kentucky suffered its second-most loss to an SEC opponent since John Calipari’s arrival in Lexington on Saturday when the Wildcats came from scratch before being annihilated in a 78-52 beatdown by Alabama. It doubled as the Crimson Tide’s biggest win over the Wildcats, breaking their previous record of 25 points, which had been held since 1990.

“It’s something I don’t know if I want to watch the tape,” Calipari said afterward. “We did what we wanted to do, but we missed every shot. You can’t have three of your starters going 3-for-27 — three of your starters that you count on to make baskets. We looked confused again as we all held onto the ball. Each caught it and then knocked back the first one. You have to give back [Alabama] loan”.

It was Kentucky’s third road loss of the season in as many outings after falling in a semi-away environment (not The Kennel, but not necessarily on a neutral court) vs. Gonzaga November 20, and then lost to Art Missouri before the very New Year. UK led a combined 23 seconds in both of those losses and never led against Gonzaga and Alabama.

Winner: State of MichiganThe yo-yo ride is on the rise

It’s still early January, and it looks like Michigan State has already been through the swings of the entire season. The Spartans, once ranked 12th, have been out of the polls for the last month after two upset defeats to Mother of God and Northwest November 30 and December 4. Since then, the Spartans have won six in a row. Although few of them came up against average opposition, the Spartans won comfortably and played strong defense. As a result of the victory over the rival 59-53 Michigan on Saturday, the Spartans held the Wolverines to just 34.5 percent shooting. While the win wasn’t a masterpiece, it improved Michigan State’s record to 11-4 (3-1 Big Ten) and could be enough to get Sparty back into the rankings on Monday.

Underdog: TCU’s home-court advantage

TCU lost at home for its second loss of the season and fell to 13-2 when Iowa State came into Fort Worth with a 69-67 win, and the Cyclones appeared to cause trouble with very little resistance in front of TCU’s home crowd, which looked sparse and empty at best.

Of course, TCU fans may have something else in mind — the Horned Frogs are playing in the Student football The national championship playoffs are Monday, which makes for a dream season — but it’s still frustrating to see a 13-1 team (now 13-2) play in such a home crowd.

Winner: Providence on fire

Providence improved to 6-0 in Big East play for the first time in program history, but not without some drama. The Friars had the lead at one point before hanging on for dear life in an 83-80 victory against. Saint John. The Friars were picked to finish fifth in the league but are looking to get off to another strong start after being over-the-top in similar fashion last season. The Friars were picked to finish seventh in the Big East in 2021-22, but ended up winning the league. Veteran coach Ed Cooley lost five of that team’s top six scorers, but has proven once again to be the wizard of the transfer portal. All five players hit double figures for Providence against the Red Storm, who are off to a 1-5 league start.

Loser: Vilanova misses a chance for a quality win

You can consider Xavier the weekend winner in the same category as Big East counterpart Providence, but I’d argue that its win isn’t nearly as significant and impactful as Villanova’s loss. An 88-80 loss at home dropped them to 2-3 in conference play and killed a quality opportunity to get a Quad 1 win on their home court. The Wildcats have been up and down throughout the season in their first year under new coach Kyle Neptune, and while it’s too early to write off any team one week into the calendar year, it appears to be teetering closer and closer to become a NIT team than an NCAA tournament team. She had just one win against the team that played the field all season Jerry Palm’s final bracket: Oklahomawhich narrowly projects into the field of 68. Nova should come alive and put together wins in Big East play in short order.

Loser: Wisconsin misses a chance to capture the Big Ten

Illinois moved to No. 14 Wisconsin after going 0-3 in Big Ten play and losing a key freshman guard Sky Clark, who left the program for personal reasons. Wisconsin started 3-0 league play and had a chance to come out of the day as the only Big Ten team still undefeated in conference play. The Badgers squandered that opportunity with some porous defense as the Illini rolled to a 79-69 victory with 49 second-half points. Wisconsin came in allowing opponents to shoot just 30.8% from three-point range, but Illinois made 10 of 19 shots from beyond the arc to hand the Badgers their first league loss.

Alabama made the biggest statement of the day in the SEC by taking down Kentucky. But if there’s such a thing as an “impressive” win over lowly South Carolina, No. 8 Tennessee found it. The Volunteers defeated the Gamecocks 85-42 on the road to improve to 3-0 in the SEC. The Volunteers held South Carolina to a ridiculous 25% shooting and held star freshman GG Jackson scoreless. Tennessee’s two conference wins have come by more than 30 points.

Loser: duke luck is needed at the end of the game

No. 16 Duke won 65-64 Boston College making just 1 of his last 14 field goal attempts. The Blue Devils led 52-38 in the second half, but nearly gave the game away late. Fortunately, Duke made 17 of 19 free throws to help the Blue Devils overcome 15 turnovers and 29.2% shooting in the second half. A win is a win, especially on the road. But after losing 84-60 at NC State there was nothing particularly inspiring about duke’s game on wednesday.

Winner: FAU wins 13th in a row

Florida Atlantic nearly blew a 20-point lead Charlotte, but the Owls held on for a 71-67 victory to extend their winning streak to 13 games. The Owls are ranked No. 12 in the NET, and while they have yet to garner any respect from the AP’s top 25 pollsters, there’s no doubt that something special is brewing in Boca Raton. The winning streak is the longest in program history, and the Owls could find themselves in consideration for a second NCAA Tournament bid if it continues.

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