#1 Tennessee 69 #18 Vanderbilt 72
Chris Lofton couldn't hit a three-pointer late in the game, but his teammates only managed one for the whole game.
Just one day after reaching the #1 ranking for the first time in school history, the Tennessee Volunteers suffered a letdown following their upset of Memphis on Saturday and fell to SEC East rival Vanderbilt. Lofton scored 25 points, hitting 6 of 15 treys, but his last three were all misses, as the Vols could not overcome Shan Foster's 32 points.
Foster put the Commodores on his back and led them to a huge win, hitting 9-of-13 from the field, including 6-of-9 3-pointers and 8-of-11 from the foul line.
Tennessee's shooters were off all night, shooting just 32% for the game. Besides Lofton, the Vols hit only 1 of 11 from beyond the arc, by JaJuan Smith, who finished with 9 points.
Despite the horrible shooting, Tennessee (11-2, 25-3) kept the game close. It was only their second SEC loss, the other coming against Kentucky. The Vols beat Vanderbilt (9-4, 24-4), 80-60, back on January 17 and host Kentucky, with a chance to avenge their earlier loss, on Sunday.
A win over the Wildcats would all but secure the best record in the conference, the SEC East title, the top seed in the SEC tourney and a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Kentucky is 9-3 in the conference and hosts Mississippi tonight.
Ohio St. 69 #12 Indiana 72
Once again, the Buckeyes came up just short. Ohio State (17-11, 8-7) has now lost three straight and five of their last seven, placing them in an iffy, bubbelicious position for the NCAA tourney.
Hoosier Armon Bassett led the scoring with 23 points. Stalwart scorers Eric Gordon and D.J. White had 17 and 16, respectively.
This was the first home game for Dan Dakich, who replaced disgraced Kelvin Sampson, who retired on Friday amid a swirl of recruiting violation allegations and NCAA sanctions. Dakich was greeted warmly by the home crowd as Indiana (13-2, 24-4) won for the second straight time with Dakich as coach and has racked up four straight overall.
#15 Connecticut 79 Rutgers 61
The Huskies got back to business after losing to Villanova on Saturday, crushing an undermanned Rutgers team that was thoroughly outplayed by taller, faster UConn players. The Huskies outshot the Scarlet Knights, 52-42%, and outrebounded them, 41-24.
It was the 8th straight loss for Rutgers, which fell to the bottom of the Big East, at 2-14 and 10-19 overall.
The Huskies (11-4, 22-6) still trail 12-3 Louisville and Georgetown by one game in the Big east standings. Sandwiched in between is Notre Dame at 11-3. All the teams have three regular season games left, except the Irish, which has four.
UConn doesn't play any of the top three, but Louisville has both Notre Dame and Georgetown on the schedule. The Hoyas will have to contend not only with Louisville, but also with Marquette (11-5, 21-6). Notre Dame may just sneak in a win the Big East title. Following the tilt at Louisville Thursday night, they play at DePaul, host St. John's and finish at South Florida. Those three teams are a combined 11-32 in conference play.
#20 Drake 83 Missouri St. 86
The Missouri Valley conference is one of the best in the nation, top to bottom. Ample proof of that statement was made by Missouri State last night, knocking off top dog Drake in a game that was anything but a fluke. The Bears of Missouri State are 8th (of 10) in the conference standings with a 7-10 record, but are 15-15 overall and have already posted wins over Bradley, Indiana St., Southern Illinois and Northern Iowa, all teams ahead of them in the standings.
Drake, the only team from the conference ranked, has already wrapped up the MVC title, though they've now lost three of their last four in the conference. The upcoming conference tournament should produce a winner other than the Bulldogs and the second entrant to the NCAAs. The conference could easily place four solid teams into the field of 65.
Correction: In a post last week, I mistakenly mentioned that Selection Sunday was March 9. It is actually March 16, which means the championship game will be held on Monday, April 7.