A top ten showdown, a bounceback (sort of) performance by Duke and one of the best quotes of the year from oregon's Dana Altman highlighted the Thursday night that was in college hoops.
Take my hand. We'll talk about North Dakota State, I swear.
Top 25 Scores
No. 3 Duke 73, Georgia Tech 57
The Blue Devils gave a "how bad are these guys without Ryan Kelly?" performance in the first half, shooting just 27.3 percent and heading into the break trailing by a point. In the second half it was Seth Curry - who's battling an injury (ankle) of his own - who put the team on his back and carried them to a convincing win. Curry drilled 6 of his 7 three-point attempts on his way to finishing with a game-high 24 points.
Despite the second half performance and the convincing final score, this is a Duke team that looks far more vulnerable right now than it did two weeks ago. They'll get six days off before back-to-back big games against Miami and Maryland. Those two tilts should tell us a little bit more about what life without Kelly is going to look like.
No. 5 Michigan 83, No. 9 Minnesota 75
The Wolverines were back to their old selves, getting up and down the floor and scoring at will on their way to a big time 83-75 at Minnesota. The win - the Wolverines' first over a top 10 opponent since beating Duke in 1996 - followed an understandable, but still out-of-character performance at Ohio State where UM looked timid and scored just 53 points.
Michigan imposed its will on their hosts, and it showed up clearly in the postgame box score. The Wolverines scored 22 points off of turnovers, compared to just three for the Golden Gophers. Star guards Tim Hardaway Jr and Trey Burke combined for 39 points to lead the impressive performance.
This was a "we are who you thought we were" statement from John Beilein's team. Despite the performance in Columbus last weekend, Michigan looks like the class of the Big Ten after two weeks...which doesn't really mean anything, but it's still true.
No. 8 Gonzaga 71, Portland 49
The 'Zags hit eight three-pointers in the first half to help build a 36-26 halftime lead, then let big man Kelly Olynyk take care of the second 20 minutes. Olynyk, who attempted just one field goal in the first half and played just 19 total minutes, scored 19 of his game-high 21 points in the second to put away the Pilots.
No. 10 Florida 68, Texas A&M 47
Mike Rosario led three Gators in double-figures with 19 points and four three-pointers, as Florida had no trouble with Texas A&M. Patric Young added 18 points and seven rebounds, while Erik Murphy chipped in 16 and seven. Murphy also took the opportunity to talk a little smack to Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel on Twitter after the game.
Manziel read the tweet while sitting courtside at an NBA game for the 31st time since the end of the Aggies' season.
No. 21 Oregon 76, USC 74
Playing in its first game under interim coach Bob Cantu, USC nearly pulled off a miracle comeback. The Trojans trailed by 10 with three minutes to play before staging a furious rally that ended with three missed shots before the final horn.
Dana Altman, your thoughts?
"Well, we didn't mean to do that."
Oregon is 4-0 in conference play for the first time in 39 years. USC, meanwhile, lost its 39th nationally televised game this season. I'm full of hyperbole this morning. But the Oregon thing is true.
No. 22 VCU 92, Saint Joseph's 86 (OT)
The game of the night took place in Richmond, where Saint Joseph's did just about everything right for 39 minutes and 45 seconds before failing to close the deal. The Hawks turned the ball over three times in the game's final 15 seconds, allowing VCU to erase a four-point deficit and force overtime.
Treveon Graham posted 25 points and seven rebounds to lead the way for VCU (15-3, 3-0), which extended its winning streak to 12 games.
Northwestern 68, No. 23 Illinois 54
It might be too early to call Illinois a fraud, but the evidence is certainly stacking up.
A Northwestern team that is still struggling to find itself since the loss of leading scorer Drew Crawford to an ACL tear came into Assembly Hall and absolutely dominated their in-state rivals. Reggie Hearn dropped 22 to spearhead the upset.
After starting the season 12-0, Illinois has now dropped five of its last seven and is just 1-4 in Big Ten play. Their last three defeats have all been by double digits. Not a comforting sequence of events for a fan base that remembers all too well watching last year's Illini team lose 12 of its last 14 games after starting the season 15-3.
No. 24 UCLA 74, Oregon State 64
The Bruins have won 10 straight and are 5-0 in the Pac-12 for the first time since 2004, but we still don't know all that much about them. Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson appear to be hitting their stride, but again, a lot of players would be hitting their stride against the competition UCLA has faced over the past month.
That's all about to change though. On Saturday, the Bruins begin a three-game stretch in which they'll face perhaps the three other best teams in the conference in Oregon, Arizona and Arizona State. Until then, keep UCLA in your peripheral, but don't look directly at them.
Other Scores of Note
Valparaiso 89, Detroit 88
In a showdown of what are probably the two best teams in the Horizon League (here comes the Wright State hate email), Valpo erased an 18-point halftime deficit to eek out a victory over the defending conference tournament champs. The Crusaders actually trailed by 11 with just 3:01 to play, but held Detroit scoreless for the remainder of the game.
The tilt also featured an outstanding pair of individual performances. Detroit's Nick Minnerath dropped 36 points, while Valpo's Kevin Van Wijk netted 31 on 13-for-15 shooting.
Belmont 83, Eastern Kentucky 76
Newcomer Belmont staked its claim as the OVC's best by knocking off EKU in a battle of league unbeatens. Ian Clark scored 22 points and Blake Jenkins added 21 for the Bruins, who join Tennessee State as the only 5-0 teams in the conference.
Rutgers 70, South Florida 67
The Scarlet Knights stopped allowing USF to dictate the pace of the game in the second half and ran to a three-point win over the visiting Bulls. Rutgers is 3-2 in the Big East for just the third time ever and the first time since 2000. On the other side of things, a South Florida team that won two NCAA Tournament games last season is now 0-4 in the league.
North Dakota State 78, IUPUI 40
Keep an eye on NDSU. Not a big eye, but sort of an "oh yeah, that guy was talking about them" eye. The Bison are 16-3 overall, 7-0 in the Summit League, and on Thursday they notched their most lopsided road victory since joining Division-I.
Bryant 79, Mount Saint Mary's 78 (OT)
In a turnaround that rivals Towson's, a Bryant team which won only two games all of last season improved to 5-0 in the NEC with an overtime win over Mount Saint Mary's.
New Mexico State 64, Utah State 51
Utah State (14-2, 5-1) trailed by as many as 21 and suffered its first loss in WAC play while also watching its 13-game winning streak fall by the wayside. Stew Morrill looks like a horse. All statements made in this blurb are facts.