CHARLESTON, S.C. -- It's Monday, which means no cutesy-cutesy, no how-do-ya-do, no warm-up act jokes. Nearly every one of the 245 teams in Hoops Nation
played over the weekend, and we're totally committed to mention at least two percent of those. It's all basketball today. Drake.
No leading scorer? No problem. With 16-point scorer Josh Young
on the bench with a sprained ankle, the Bulldogs won a school-record 13th in a row, pulling away from Missouri State late, 65-54. Klayton Korver
picked up the slack, scoring 19 on 7-for-10 shooting, including five of the 3's that Young usually contributes. Drake is now 14-1 (5-0 in the Valley), has an RPI of 15, and is building a cushiony lead in our State Of The Other 22 index.
Drake may end up losing a game or two without Young (two out of their next three are tough roadies at Bradley and Creighton), but this isn't a team that's going to go in the tank when its head is temporarily lopped off. This is a team-team, one which builds victories with lots of good individual performances, not a squad with a leading scorer that the rest of the team just stands around and watches. Wait 'til you see them. You'll be impressed too. High Point.
One point can be a lot more than one point, if you know what I mean. Last year, Arizona Reid's last-second 10-foot jumper rimmed out, denying the Panthers a signature home win over NCAA-bound Winthrop -- after a 64-63
Eagle victory on Jan. 25, 2007, Winthrop went on to Notre Dame-beating greatness and High Point became just another forgotten team. In a near-mirror image of that game on Saturday, Winthrop's Antwon Harris missed a bunny in the lane, which sealed a 62-61
High Point win. Reid got all Brandi Chastain on that, and tore his jersey off.
That single high point also unsealed the invisible barrier between fans and court -- many of the over 2,100 in attendance at High Point's "black out" stormed the court. It was Winthrop's first loss in 22 Big South games. Changing of the guard? Conference undefeateds.
After a rough road in December, A-Sun conference-favorite Jacksonville is a perfect 4-0 after a nice win at Mercer, 72-70
. Cleveland State wasn't picked to win anything, but they're the only 5-0 in the Horizon since pulling off a huge 65-63 win
at defending champs Wright State. South Alabama, a/k/a "Team USA," is 5-0 with a nine-game win streak after rocking New Orleans 97-88.
The MAC race is still shaking out, but Kent and Akron are both 2-0 there.
Wagner head coach Mike Deane buckles up
for completely different reasons, but his Seahawks had a bumpy 60-59
drive against Saint Francis (Pa.) on Saturday, to go 5-0 in the NEC. Davidson and Chattanooga both lead their respective SoCon divisions with no losses, a status which should hold up until next Saturday's titanclash. You don't have to wait until then to see two "and-oh" teams go at it, though... IUPUI and Oral Roberts will battle for Badlands Conference supremacy on Thursday. Awooo, twang!
But slightly more surprising than any is 5-0 Delaware, which continued its domination of the CAA's Virginia power center by beating ODU 81-74
on Saturday. Can the Bluecocks keep it up against VCU on Wednesday? I can't believe I just typed that, you'd think I was trying to pander to the Deadspin crowd.
Illinois State? You know, that other 5-0 team in the MVC. The Redbirds are on an eight-game win streak of their own, having dispatched perpetually hapless Evansville 74-66
at home on Saturday. If Drake wins at Bradley, and Illinois can defend home court against Wichita on Wednesday, we'll have that tasty 6-0 Valley Saturday showdown-throwdown in Des Moines we've been eyeing for a couple weeks now.
And while we're at it, How 'Bout™
this Atlantic 14 race? Dayton, Xavier and Saint Joe's are all 2-0, as somewhat expected. The Flyers have a 13-game win streak, just like Drake, even though they allowed Saint Louis to nearly triple their scoring output
from their previous 20-point outing. We'd also like to point out that Phil Martelli's SJU Hawks are averaging 89.5 PF in their conference games. They won't face either of the other two current unbeatens until a date on Feb. 10 at the X, so that figure may stay up in that area.
Also, How 'Bout™
these intraconference upsets? Maine took down high-flying UMBC (11-6, 3-1), giving the Retrievers their first loss on Saturday, 77-74
. Lafayette shocked overwhelming favorite Holy Cross 60-52
in the Patriot League opener for both teams.
Oh, and How 'Bout™
those Western mids? Northern Arizona (12-6, 4-1) is leading the Big Sky with an impressive 76.2 point average. Cal State Northridge continues to roll in the Big West -- now 4-0 after dismantling Pacific at home, 78-61.
In the wild wild WAC, where we'll be off to later this week, Utah State is on a seven-game tear after beating holding troubled New Mexico State to 35 percent shooting in the All-Aggie Clash
, 74-62. Don't worry, NMSU, you've got Herb Pope back
! Until something else happens.
Lastly, How 'Bout™
Siena? After serving notice at co-leader Niagara on Friday in the G!O!T!N! with a decisive 94-84 win
, the Saints (10-6, 5-1) destroyed Canisius 72-44
, making their Buffalo swing a sweep success. Totally different team with key rebounder Alex Franklin
, I tell you. He's playing sparingly since returning from a back injury, but his game-high nine boards on Sunday showed how dominant this team can be when he's in the lineup.
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