At the bottom of the Top 25, Wednesday was a disaster. Five teams lost in conference, but the biggest flop was in Nashville.
Vanderbilt 94 Alabama 73 - Junior Forward Shan Foster led the way with 27 points, including 5 3-pointers, as Vandy put a real hurt on #10 Crimson Tide. The 12-6 (2-2 SEC) Commodores are a real enigma, with wins over 'Bama, Tennessee and Georgia Tech, but losses to no-names such as Appalachian State and Furman. They do know how to dish, however, as they produced 27 assists in the win last night and have six players on the roster averaging more than 2 assists per game. Yes, they can dish the rock, but can they finish the dance? Vandy better be dandy for the rest of January with road games at Kentucky, LSU and Florida scheduled.
Auburn 83 Tennessee 80 - The Vols let this one slip away. Leading by 14 points with 10 minutes left, they allowed Auburn to chip away and win it on the foul line in the closing seconds. #22 Tennessee is now 1-2 in conference and their chances of staying ranked - after losing to Ohio State and now here on the road - are slim. Look for a Big East team (Syracuse) to take their spot on Monday.
Villanova 102 Notre Dame 87 - The 20th-ranked Irish fell behind early and could never get any closer than 7, as the Wildcats just kept hitting from everywhere. Villanova shot 57% and the two teams combined for 25 3-pointers (15 by Notre Dame). Scottie Reynolds topped the scoring chart with 27, going 8-12 from the floor. Villanova also outrebounded the Irish, 40-26. The loss dropped Notre Dame to 3-2 in the Big East with both losses coming on the road. No defense, no rebounding... sounds like a quick exit is in store for Notre Dame if they keep playing that brand of hoops.
North Carolina 77 Clemson 55 - This wasn't really a surprise as the #4 Tar Heels rebounded off their loss at Virginia Tech on Saturday. Carolina solved their shooting woes, hitting 31-60 from the floor while cutting down on 3-point attempts. They shot 8 and made 3. The Tar Heels have to cut down on the turnovers, however. Despite their 17 assists, the 22 turnovers don't look good. Still, an ACC road win is big. Watch the name Trevor Booker. Clemson's 6'7" frosh swatted 8 shots.
Florida State 82 Virginia Tech 73 - OK, the ACC is upside-down. After beating Duke and North Carolina in succession, the Hokies went South for their first conference loss. How do you shoot 56% and lose? Send the opposition to the foul line 34 times. That's what happened, and the Seminoles only missed 3 times on their home hardwood. The Hokies had their chances, but hit only 17-26 charity tosses. Plus, actually guarding senior Al Thornton or soph Toney Douglas might have helped. The duo scored 27 and 22, respectively and together accounted for 19 of Florida State's 31 made free throws.
The Seminoles are a team to watch, though. They now have a win in the ACC (1-3), but this is the team that beat Florida 70-66 in December, but also has losses to Pitt, Wisconsin, Clemson, North Carolina and Georgia Tech - some quality teams, and all but the Clemson loss were on the road. These guys could put a run together, do some damage in the ACC tournament and conceivably make life miserable for a few foes in the big dance. Keep an eye out for them.
Winners on Wednesday: #2 Wisconsin, 69-64 over Purdue; #7 Ohio State, 73-41 over Northwestern; #16 LSU, 62-55 over Mississippi; #18 Butler, 67-39 over Youngstown State. All Top 25 wins were on home courts except #4 North Carolina's win at Clemson.
Thursday action will be late, as most games are out on the coast. Arizona, UCLA, Oregon and Nevada play. #14 Duke is home for Wake Forest.
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