Tuesday night was the sort of evening college hoops junkies spend the summer months daydreaming about. There was a competitive early slate of games to keep everyone's focus, and then a heavyweight slugfest in the second set that had everyone buzzing up until midnight.
Heed my advice, young hoops fans: do not burn out, 'tis only Dec. 7.
No. 3 Syracuse 62, Marshall 56
No. 4 North Carolina 97, Evansville 48
No. 10 Missouri 81, Villanova 71
No. 11 Marquette 79, Washington 77
No. 13 Kansas 88, Long Beach State 80
No. 15 Pittsburgh 97, VMI 70
No. 21 Memphis 71, Miami 54
GAME OF THE NIGHT: Marquette 79, Washington 77
The Huskies and Golden Eagles might not have the plethora of next-level talent that Kentucky and North Carolina showcased last Saturday, but they did their damnedest to put on an equally entertaining show. The pair went blow-for-blow over the game's final seven minutes before Jae Crowder's three-pointer with 6.3 seconds left ultimately won it for Marquette.
Washington finally displayed the team talent that had some believing before the season that it could win the Pac-12, and Marquette showed why its unbeaten and deserving of a top ten national rankings. The Golden Eagles consistently attacked the rim, and as a result attempted 27 free-throws to the Huskies' ten. Washington made up for that by holding a 46-32 advantage on the glass, a mark that should be at least partially credited to the fact that MU lost center Chris O'Tule to a left knee sprain in the game's opening minutes.
At the end, however, it came down to making plays and the Golden Eagles simply made one more than the Huskies.
UPSET OF THE NIGHT: Texas State 81, Houston 78
On the day it received an all-sports invitation from arguably the top conference in college basketball, Houston gave the Big East a preview of things to come with...a three-point loss to the Texas State Bobcats. The good news for both parties is that help is coming for the Cougars next year in the form of top 100 recruits Danuel House and Danrad "Chicken" Knowles. They should be more-suited to compete once 2013-2014 rolls around.
PLAYER OF THE NIGHT: Thomas Robinson, Kansas
Robinson notched his seventh double-double of the season by scoring 26 points and bringing down 11 rebounds in an 88-80 win over Long Beach State. The most encouraging thing for Jayhawk fans has to be that this was a game Robinson should have dominated, and that's exactly what he did. The big man doing more than just going through the motions on an evening where that's all he needed to do in order to post a respectable stat line is a very positive sign for the future.
Will Barton, Memphis - Barton took over what was just a one-point game at the half, scoring 27 points and snaring 14 rebounds in a 71-54 win over Miami.
Marcus Denmon, Missouri - Continued his stellar senior season with a 28-point performance inside Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.
Anthony Raffa, Coastal Carolina - The senior guard scored 28 points on 13-of-19 shooting to go with five steals and four assists. Coastal continued to roll with an 80-58 romp of The Citadel.
Keith Rendleman, UNC-Wilmington - Grabbed 11 rebounds and scored 29 points on 12-of-19 shooting in the Seahawks' 77-68 victory over Liberty.
Herb Pope, Seton Hall - Totaled 25 points, six boards, four assists and two steals in the Pirates' blowout of NJIT. If Seton Hall can make any sort of noise in the Big East then Pope will start to receive some national love. He's having a great season.
NUMBER OF THE NIGHT: 1
The number of wins for Monmouth and the number of losses for Tulane after Tuesday night. The Green Wave suffered a puzzling 11-point loss to Wofford, while Monmouth went on the road and beat Navy by two. Just 14 unbeatens now remain in Division-I.
IMAGE OF THE DAY:
This could be part of the reason Evansville lost to North Carolina by 49. You've gotta guard the dude with the ball, especially when he's extremely close to your basket. I can't stress that last part enough.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT:
Terrence Ross: slightly more athletic than you.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: "He’ll probably let you know on Twitter that he won’t be able to play until July." --North Carolina head coach Roy Williams on the status of freshman guard P.J. Hairston's sprained ankle. Hairston drew the ire of Williams when he tweeted - without the permission of his head coach - last week that the injury would be keeping him out of the Kentucky game. He ended up playing 14 minutes in the Tar Heels' one-point loss.
FIVE TO END:
1. Pittsburgh grabbed a school-record 60 rebounds in its 97-70 win over VMI. The Keydets are going to let it fly whether or not the shots are falling, so I guess this is what happens when they only score 70.
2. Missouri is best known for its guard-play, but forward Ricardo Ratliffe is beginning to attract some attention, and deservedly so. The 6-8 senior is averaging a hair under 14 points per game and has made 30 of his last 32 field goal attempts. For the season, Ratliffe is 37-of-44 (84%) from the floor. That's absurd.
3. Columbia shot just 24.6% from the field on Tuesday night...and the Lions beat Holy Cross, 46-45.
4. I caught the first ten minutes of North Carolina's dismantling of Evansville, and it appeared to be the first time the Tar Heels have come out and right away gone for the throat of a lesser opponent. Seeing and playing against Kentucky so early in the season may end up being the best thing that ever happened to UNC.
5. Northern Iowa trailed Iowa by ten in the first half and ended up winning the game by 20. I'm telling you, you're going to want to call in sick that first Thursday of Championship Week because the Missouri Valley Tournament quarterfinals are going to be spectacular.