College Basketball By The Tweets: A Big Weekend and #FreePJ In CameronPosted by David Harten on December 17th, 2013
With Saturday marking the first weekend where college football didn’t dominate the sports schedule, college basketball took full advantage, with some pivotal non-conference games on the docket, a few featuring Top 25 teams and some others that made an argument to be ranked.
If you’re starting with Top 25 teams, you have to begin with No. 18 Kentucky at No. 11 North Carolina on Saturday, where the Tar Heels kept their head-scratching narrative going with an 82-77 victory in the Dean Dome. Marcus Paige dropped 23 points, including a 10-of-10 performance from the free throw line. After losing to Belmont at home and UAB in Birmingham, UNC has now notched victories over several of the top teams in the nation, beating the AP’s top three preseason teams in America. As you’ll see, you can attribute their elevated play to hot shooting against elite defensive teams, but it’s pretty impressive that Roy Williams’ bunch is doing all this without P.J. Hairston in the lineup (more on him at the bottom).
Another game that really caught the public eye on Saturday was No. 1 Arizona heading to the Crisler Center to take on Michigan. The Wildcats came back late and held on to win to preserve their spot at the top of the polls. While Brandon Ashley led the Cats with a team-high 18 points, Aaron Gordon put up his own nice performance of 14 points, five rebounds and two assists, but saved his best for what he did defensively in the second half against a red-hot Glenn Robinson III.
A day later when Arizona arrived back in Tucson, the school unveiled renovation plans for the McKale Center that included some pretty awesome upgrades for an already thriving program.
A loop around the college basketball world showed a bunch of other good but less-hyped games, including Tennessee at Wichita State. The Shockers have great scoring balance among their starters, which are a mixture of upperclassmen and newcomers, but this game represented a taste of revenge for Wichita assistant coach Steve Forbes, who was let go when Bruce Pearl was fired at Tennessee.
On Sunday against St. John’s, C.J. Fair showed exactly what the benefits are of being patient at a program that has pumped out several NBA Draft picks ahead and around you. The senior finished tied with freshman Tyler Ennis for the team lead in points with 21 to go along with five rebounds, two assists and two steals.
So it was a solid weekend of hoops, but that didn’t end the fun. On Monday night, we all got the pleasure of watching Duke handle Gardner-Webb in Cameron Indoor Stadium. However, the game, at least temporarily, became the second most-interesting thing about the event. At some point in the second half, a couple of North Carolina fans yanked out some signs, displaying their support for PJ Hairston. A Duke fan behind them quickly captured one of the signs, but the bigger one remained, as evidence below. God bless college basketball.