The young college basketball season rolls on with another jam-packed slate Friday.
We hope you had an enjoyable Thanksgiving and are ready to sit back with some leftovers and tune in on another full day of college hoops.
Below are three things you need to know.
Key mid-major matchups end in thrillers
Thursday was an exciting day in the world of college basketball. Western Kentucky picked up a nice win over Memphis behind Charles Bassey (more on that below). Saint Mary’s came back from a large deficit to stun Northern Iowa on Tommy Kuhse’s acrobatic finish. South Dakota State blitzed Utah State, Nevada beat Nebraska on Grant Sherfield’s late 3-pointer, and Liberty scored a comfortable win over Mississippi State. Not a bad day for teams outside the high-major leagues.
Gonzaga readies for second test
The story of the day was Gonzaga rolling past No. 6 Kansas. The Bulldogs looked all the part of a national title favorite with one of the better offensive showcases we have seen in quite some time. Three Zags scored at least 23 points, including Corey Kispert, Drew Timme and freshman Jalen Suggs.
It will be a quick turnaround for Gonzaga as the Bulldogs are slated to take on Auburn Friday morning. The notable headline here (in addition to the game) is that two role players are out due to COVID-19 protocols following the Kansas game. That will be a story to monitor but the game against the Tigers is expected to go on as scheduled.
Busy day in Sioux Falls
It will be another quadruple header in Sioux Falls, S.D., on Friday. Western Kentucky takes on West Virginia in a battle of 2-0 teams looking for another quality win on a neutral site. Keep an eye on Charles Bassey vs. West Virginia’s hefty frontcourt of Oscar Tshiebwe and Derek Culver. Saint Mary’s will also take on South Dakota State, which is coming off a blowout win over Utah State. Memphis will look to get back on the winning end of things against VCU and mid-major preseason favorites Northern Iowa and Utah State will continue to dig for their first win of the new campaign.
No. 1 Gonzaga 102, Kansas 90: See here
No. 3 Villanova 83, No. 18 Arizona State 74: Villanova looks as good as advertised. The Wildcats move to 2-0 with a comfortable win over Arizona State, thanks to Jeremiah Robinson-Earl dropping 28 points and eight rebounds. Jay Wright’s group led almost the whole way and by as many as 17 in the second half while ASU struggled to make the necessary stops to get back into striking distance. Remy Martin had a forgettable night, finishing with just five points off eight shot attempts. ASU freshman Josh Christopher, however, piled in 28 points in 32 minutes of action. A lacking physical presence down low was obvious in this one for the Sun Devils.
Xavier 51, Bradley 50: Bradley had its chances to come away with its second victory in as many days but a wild finish didn’t go the way the Braves had hoped. Our stats guru Andy Dieckhoff broke it down:
Terry Nolan Jr. was the hero on Wednesday with a game-winner against Toledo but badly missed the front end of a one-and-one that would have tied the game and given Bradley a chance to sneak away with the win.
Western Kentucky 75, Memphis 69: After a stifling performance in its opener, Memphis wasn’t able to seal the deal down the stretch against Western Kentucky in the Sioux Falls Crossover Classic. Charles Bassey was a dominant force inside, finishing with 21 points, 14 rebounds and seven blocks. This performance is the type of energy and production WKU needs to be a force in the C-USA race and at-large conversation. After Memphis looked so strong in its opener against Saint Mary’s, the Hilltoppers looked like the better team on Thursday.
Other notable scores:
Austin Peay 67, ETSU 66
Nevada 69, Nebraska 66
Auburn 96, Saint Joseph’s 91 (OT)
Saint Mary’s 66, Northern Iowa 64
Liberty 84, Mississippi State 73
Boston College 69, Rhode Island 64
South Dakota State 83, Utah State 59