College basketball Saturday: Bad weeks get worse for Pittsburgh and Oklahoma State

Harry How

An AAC thriller between UConn and Memphis and a filthy dunk by Clemson's K.J. McDaniels have highlighted a loaded college basketball Saturday so far.

No. 24 Connecticut 86, No. 20 Memphis 81 (OT)

It's probably destined to be largely forgotten by the time the season comes to a close, but this AAC showdown was without a doubt one of the most competitive and entertaining tilts of 2013-14 so far.

Shabazz Napier may have taken the largest step of any of the candidates out there towards winning The American's Player of the Year award by posting a career-high 34 points, a total which included a three-pointer in overtime that all but put the game out of reach.

The result may have been more significant for Memphis, which likely lost out on any chance of contending for the AAC's regular season title. The Tigers and Huskies now both sit at 8-4 in the league standings, 3.5 games behind first-place Cincinnati. UConn's win also marks the first time that Memphis has been swept in conference play in 13 years.

For more on the thriller at the XL Center, be sure to check out Russell Steinberg's report from Storrs.

North Carolina 75, No. 25 Pittsburgh 71

It's safe to say that no team has had a worse week than the Pitt Panthers. Jamie Dixon's team followed up a heartbreaking loss to the No. 1 team in the country (who just so happens to be a bitter rival) with a 75-71 defeat at the hands of surging North Carolina.

The Panthers will head into the final stretch of the regular season with a sparkling record of 20-6 and a solid RPI of 30. They also have precisely zero wins over teams that would be in the field of 68 if the NCAA Tournament started today.

The bigger issue with Pittsburgh right now is that there's no longer the potential for a win over a team that's a lock to make the Big Dance. The Panthers have home games left against Florida State and NC State, and then hit the road at Boston College, Notre Dame and Clemson. Those five teams have a combined ACC record of 23-35.

So long as the team takes care of business over the final three weeks of the regular season, Pitt probably isn't going to find itself in a position where it's overly nervous come Selection Sunday. But when it comes to seeding, there might not be a team in the country with more to lose or more to gain during Championship Week.

No. 10 Cincinnati 73, Houston 62

Sean Kilpatrick, the chief rival to Shabazz Napier in the race for AAC POY, also had himself a day, scoring 19 of his game-high 28 points in the second half to help the Bearcats win their 23rd game of the season. It's safe to say the AAC layoff curse is over, with Cincinnati and Louisville both winning games this weekend despite being off for at least a week.

No. 17 Virginia 63, Clemson 58

Virginia might be the least-heralded 12-1 team in the history of the ACC. The 17th-ranked Cavaliers stayed one loss back of Syracuse in the league standings by winning their ninth straight, a gritty 63-58 triumph at Clemson.

Clemson gave itself a shot in the second half by holding the visitors to worse than 35 percent from the field, but once again didn't have the playmakers necessary down the stretch.

Despite that, the Tigers get some bonus points for K.J. McDaniels doing this:


They also got two real points, but yeah, like we already said, that wasn't enough.

No. 12 Saint Louis 64, VCU 62

The Billikens added to the longest win streak in program history (17) and grabbed even more of a stranglehold in the Atlantic 10 race by holding off VCU in the first of two meetings between the two teams. SLU now leads the second-place Rams by 2.5 games in the league standings, and is the first A-10 squad to start conference play 10-0 since George Washington ran the table in 2005-06.

The Billikens have a pair of quality losses (Wichita State and Wisconsin) and have a great shot at heading into the Big Dance with 30 wins, but the lack of a win over a Top 25 team is going to make it tough to crack through and make it onto one of the top three lines.

No. 16 Iowa 82, Penn State 70

I'll fully admit to watching precisely zero seconds of this game, so I'm going to let the always outstanding Black Heart Gold Pants do all of the heavy lifting here.

Iowa's big men were too much for Penn State to handle, and they were the difference-makers in a game where Roy Devyn Marble was uncharacteristically cold from the field (2-9 FG, 1-6 3-point). Melsahn Basabe was a maniac in the first half with 12 points, and his final line was a team-high 16 points, eight boards, four blocks and only two turnovers. Aaron White and Jarrod Uthoff each added seven rebounds, and the Hawkeyes swatted 10 PSU shots as a team. The centers didn't command much offense (though it was nice to see Adam Woodbury continue to confound the stereotype by going 7-8 at the line), and they didn't change Pat Chambers' game plan of getting to the rim (40 points there, per the PSU SID), but they altered enough shots that trying to control the paint was not a winning strategy for the Nittany Lions.

The vibe of the game probably would have been a lot different had Mike Gesell put in even a pedestrian (to say nothing of outright bad) performance from the arc, but instead Gesell was masterful, going 4-5 from downtown and pacing the Hawkeye offense when it needed a jolt time and time again. There are so many facets of Gesell's game that he excels at, and while he still needs work on putting them all together, he's so valuable at giving Iowa what it needs on any given night. He won't be an All-Big Ten point guard with the Great White Hope over there in Columbus, but he should be on a short list come next November.

All in all, not a perfect game by any stretch, but a 12-point win on the road in the Big Ten. Take it. Get prepped for Indiana on Tuesday. On and on.

Oklahoma 77, Oklahoma State 74

The tailspin continues in Stillwater, where the Cowboys have gone from a 15-2 Final Four contender to a team that seems destined to end its season with an early-round NIT loss. Meanwhile, the Sooners bounced back from a puzzling home loss to Texas Tech on Wednesday to win their fourth Big 12 road game of the season. Barring an absolute collapse over the next four weeks, OU should be dancing.

Providence 84, DePaul 61

DePaul lost.

Other Top 25 Scores:

No. 7 Kansas 95, TCU 65
No. 11 Iowa State 70, Texas Tech 64

Extracurriculars:

I think we all need to take just a second to pay tribute to James Madison's court.

An Auburn fan won a car by sinking a length of the court putt.


And finally, a large group of Missouri students won the day by forming a human wall to block an attempted Michael Sam protest by the Westboro Baptist Church.

More from SB Nation College Basketball

The First 68: The quest for perfection and the ACC's odd streak

Bracketology: Missouri slides in, Michigan moves up

Better Know a Conference | The Ivy League

C.J. Fair is Syracuse's unheralded hero | Watch Tyler Ennis' game-winner

Thon Maker and the difference between hype and hope

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