Mid-Continent: Missouri-Kansas City 77, IUPUI 61(story) - If anyone's going to catch Oral Roberts in the Mid-Con this year it's IUPUI, who made a name for themselves (errr, make that an acronym for themselves) by going to the Tournament in 2003, then coming five points short last year. UMKC, whose only recent accomplishment is adopting a ridiculous new mascot with uneven arm lengths, came into their first conference game with a 0-7 pre-league record. But after a closely fought first half, the visiting Kangaroos bounded out to a 7-0 run after halftime, scored 46 second-half points, and ended up shooting a blistering 58% (30 for 52) on the game. Wiry sophomore guard Quinton Day was the Jaguars' main nemesis, leading UMKC with 21.
Metro Atlantic: Rider 95, Saint Peter's 86(story) - The SPC Peacocks are known around their league as the Keydren Clark Show. But on nights when the nation's defending scoring champ can only manage about half his average (14 tonight) and can't connect on threes (0-for-12), their other shooters can pick up the slack: Ron Yates had 23 here. Their problem is defense - they've allowed almost 90 a game in their three MAAC contests. And is it time to start the Rider watch yet? They're 3-0 in conference so far, had six players score in double figures on this night, and they put Saint Peter's away with a scorching 15-2 late run. The Broncs will find out where they really stand when they play Fairfield and Niagara in mid-January.
Atlantic Sun: Florida Atlantic 104, Mercer 101 (3OT)(story) - FAU (2-6, 2-1 ASun) was pounded in the Sunshine State's unofficial late-year round-robin; Mercer's Bears (6-3, 2-1 ASun) only lost twice in non-conference play, self-fulfilling prophecies against Ohio State and Maryland. Mercer even had aspirations of noise-making in the suddenly even-keeled league. The two clubs are mirror images on the court as well - the Owls play big and Mercer is guard-heavy. The two opposing and countervailing forces held even for fifty action-packed minutes, but it came down to free throws - FAU made 'em, Mercer didn't. Bear guard James Odoms dropped 30 points' worth of bombs, and FAU's 6-9 widebody Mike Bell had 29 points and 15 rebounds.
Lost in all the Bucknell hub-bub was an avalanche of slightly odd Mid-American scores from Sunday. Mid-Majority MAC pick Kent State was upended by resurgent Ball State 76-67, leading this reporter to stroke his chin and imagine these two teams clashing in Cleveland two months hence for a Dance ticket. Six and two Bowling Green, whose only TMM mention so far was in relation to their early-season 12-point victory over Bradley, surprised Buffalo 95-88. And it was revenge of the lightly-regarded directional schools from Michigan: Central beat struggling Marshall (2-8, 0-2 MAC) 88-83, and Eastern picked up a five-point win against a bunch of Toledo Rockets (3-5, 0-1 MAC) who played up to tougher pre-conference competition but lost to teams they should have beaten. So is this just early-season stumbling or a full-blown parity party? Stay tuned!
Bluefield describes itself as "a Christ-centered college located in the beautiful mountains of southwestern Virginia." To the best of my knowledge and recollection, their basketballers are also the first members of the sub-NCAA National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (better known as the NAIA) to beat an NCAA Division I school this season, as they topped Big South club Elon65-63. Bluefield's Cedric Brown was the hero, grabbing a key last-second rebound off a free throw that would have given the Phoenix a tie, and hitting one of his two free throws after being fouled.