Missouri Valley: Evansville 63, Creighton 61(story) - The first Valley game for both teams offered a glimpse of the red-hot action this ten-deep league will offer. A seesaw second half culminated in a buzzer-beating jumper by Evansville guard Kyle Anslinger, the only Ace starter who didn't post double figures. Creighton has lost three of four after a seven-game win streak, and Evansville has put together a 7-2 record despite early-season legal distractions.
Bucknell 76, Niagara 74(story) - The consensus MAAC favorite Purple Eagles have been difficult to figure out early on. They pushed Providence to the limit in the Preseason NIT and lead the nation with 90 points per game, but they've taken red-faced road losses at Loyola (Md.) and Bucknell. The Bison were able to keep the country's second-leading scorer Juan Mendez (26 ppg) in check, holding him to 18 points in 23 minutes and fouling him out with six to go in the game. More buzzer-beating thrills here: Abe Badmus, one of TMM's favorite point guards, rose up high to get a rebound with seconds to go; out of a timeout, swingman Charles Lee hit an open long-range jumper as time expired. [corr., credit to attendee Chris]
Old Dominion 66, St. Joseph's 62(story) - They're wearing uniforms this year that say "OLD DOMINION" and "MONARCHS" on the front in large blocky text, 'cause they don't want there to be any doubt in your mind about who they are. They're now 11-1 after ripping into the tattered remains of last year's Elite Eight club. Homestanding ODU was up by 10 with five minutes to go, but the Hawks cut into the lead with threes before being put down by a free throw barrage. Both teams shot over 50%, but the Joes turned the ball over 23 times.
Iona 77, Virginia Commonwealth 72(story) - Nick George, VCU's emotional leader, turned an ankle just before halftime, and the defending Colonial champs weren't the same after that. After a nip/tuck first half in New Rochelle, the MAAC's Gaels (3-5) held the hobbling George to two points in nine minutes, and turned back a late Ram rally to win. Greg Jenkins gave Iona a ton of inside muscle with 23 points and 11 boards.
And nothing says "holiday season" quite like allowing your mind to leave for Christmas break before the rest of you does. When you play for a Division I basketball team, however, the consequences of doing so may include dropping an embarrassing decision to a provisional D1. Coaching staffs at Tennessee State (82-80 loss to South Dakota State) and Texas State (86-82 loss to Northern Colorado) will likely be leaving their players some extra coal-lumps in their stockings, or enclosing "invitations" to perform some extra laps with their Christmas cards.
Alabama 76, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 54(story) - Hey now, hey now, don't dream it's over. They hung around with the Tide for twenty minutes, but the Islanders' chances to crash the Tournament as an independent are all but gone after nine second-half minutes without a bucket. The national media will likely be exploring the undersides of other rocks ::cough::missourivalley::cough:: for mid-major darlings to write puff-pieces about, but rest assured that The Mid-Majority will continue to be your trusty source for periodic TAMCC updates. 'Cause that's what we're here for.