Northwestern State 85, Tulane 72(story) - Northwestern (Louisiana) State is the answer to a trivia question - who won the first NCAA Tournament 65-vs.-64 play-in game? (against Winthrop, 2001). They also beat Kentucky 16 years ago. Not known for their long-range accuracy, the Southland Conference's Demons sank 10 three-pointers on this night. They also hit 15 free throws in the final three minutes to stop their much more well-known in-state rivals from the C-USA.
Cornell 75, Lafayette 72(story) - Cornell ran away early, but a 14-2 Lafayette run in the fifth five minutes set up the big finish. The scrappy Leopards fought and clawed to stay in this game, but fell just short - Bilal Abdullah's three-point try went long as the buzzer sounded.
Columbia 75, Lehigh 61(story) - Yes, it was a crazy-in-a-bad-way night for the Patriot League against its Ivy foes. The 4-1 Lions scored the first 14 points of the game and never looked back. The defending PL champion Mountain Hawks lost for the first time at home in over a year before a "crowd" of 512. I guess it really is a wrestling school.
Metro Atlantic: Marist 82, Saint Peter's 76(story) - I suppose that if you're going to start your league a month early, you're going to get topsy-turvy results like this. St. Peter's scored only 16 points in the first half, including a 1-for-11 performance by 5-10 three-point whiz Keydren Clark, the reigning national scoring champ. The Peacocks put on a fierce rush at the end (Clark had 16 points in the final five minutes), but the lowly Red Foxes held them off. Marist's Will Whittington led all scorers with 22.
Speaking of general MAAC weirdness, Siena has built a reputation for slow starts, but this is ridiculous. Now they're off to the first 0-6 start in school history and wondering why.
The biggest off-court news in the college hoops world yesterday was the first coaching casualty of the new season. Southern California abruptly fired Mike Bibby just four games in. Was it the loss to LaSalle that did it?
Elite Eight team Xavier plays in the Atlantic 10, a conference that's a mid-major circuit one day and a power league the next, depending on who you're talking to. But center Will Caudle has found himself in the midst of a controversy you usually see at the big schools, as he's been accused of sucker-punching a man in a bar.
Let's not forget that they play basketball up north too, eh? Winnipeg's Wesmen Classic is coming up, and it's tradition for the host school's coach to sit on Santa's lap at the press conference and beg Kris Kringle for a win. Me, I'm picking the UC-Cariboo SunDemons to win it all this year.