By Andrew Kahn
It was a weekend of near upsets in college basketball, as several top teams narrowly escaped against unranked foes. Iowa State was not one of them, falling to Texas Tech on Saturday, but the other favorites held on for victory.
No. 5 Duke trailed St. John’s 61-51 coming out of a timeout with 8:32 left yesterday at Madison Square Garden. St. John’s looked like the team playing for a milestone victory, getting far more 50/50 balls and playing aggressive defense. But the Blue Devils flipped the switch, converting three straight and-one baskets and a three-pointer to start an 18-2 run and come away with a 77-68 win. It was Mike Krzyzewski’s 1000th career victory, the most in Division I men’s basketball history. Jim Boeheim is second with 962. Jahlil Okafor went 7 of 10 from the field, surely impressing Knicks president Phil Jackson, and guards Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook stepped up down the stretch. St. John’s squandered a change for a signature win that would have boosted its NCAA Tournament résumé.
Derrick Walton hit a three-pointer with 1.3 seconds left to send Michigan to overtime against No. 6 Wisconsin in Ann Arbor on Saturday night. The Badgers converted three-point plays on consecutive possessions to start overtime and Michigan never recovered, falling 69-64. Michigan hung in the game—that’s really the best way to put it—overcoming Wisconsin’s strong start and finish to the first half and a brief double-digit second half deficit. The Wolverines had their best offensive performance of the season if you consider the opponent. In the end, Player of the Year candidate Frank Kaminsky—8 of 13 for 22 points—was too much, and he outscored Michigan by himself in overtime.
Tip-in for Terps
Moving from the best team in the Big Ten to the second best, No. 13 Maryland had its own troubles last night, even more surprising given the Terps hosted Northwestern. Maryland trailed by 11 at half and 63-52 with 3:46 left. Northwestern started to crumble under full-court defensive pressure, and Maryland’s talented backcourt of freshman Melo Trimble and senior Dez Wells came alive. It looked like their comeback effort might go to waste when Northwestern hit a jumper to take a one-point lead with 13 seconds left. Trimble raced down the court and attempted a contested three that rattled out, but Wells grabbed the rebound and, before landing, put back the miss off the glass. Northwestern’s final heave came after the buzzer. Trimble and Wells finished 44 of Maryland’s 68 points and could be a very scary duo come March. For Northwestern, it was simply more heartbreak. The Wildcats are 1-6 in the Big Ten but have lost their last three by two points or fewer; before that, they fell to Michigan State in overtime.
Still perfect, barely
Virginia’s unbeaten season looked like it was coming to an end yesterday afternoon at Virginia Tech. The No. 2 Cavaliers trailed 45-38 and couldn’t get much anything going offensively. Guards London Perrantes and Justin Anderson kept cool and propelled a 12-0 run to keep the perfect season intact. Anderson hit two threes and caught an alley-oop during that stretch, all on assists from Perrantes. Virginia’s signature defensive smothered Virginia Tech late, and the Hokies missed two potential game-tying threes in the final seconds. The Hokies fell to 0-6 in in Buzz Williams’ first year in the ACC.
Madness in Morgantown
In the craziest finish of all, No. 18 West Virginia beat TCU 86-85 in Morgantown on Saturday. The Mountaineers scored in the final seconds to send the game to overtime and hit a three to put them up one with 11 seconds left. TCU answered with a short jumper to take the lead with 1.8 seconds left, and West Virginia had no timeouts. Two West Virginia freshmen showed unbelievable poise, as Daxter Miles hit Jevon Carter with a long inbounds pass that led to a foul on a lay-up attempt. Carter made both to win it.
Andrew Kahn is a regular contributor to CBS Local who also writes for Newsday and The Wall Street Journal. He writes about college basketball and other sports at AndrewJKahn.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @AndrewKahn.