The Sharpest Tool in the Shed!! For the second time this season, a player has cracked the 60-point barrier in a single game. First was Ben Woodside from North Dakota St. with 60 pts in December; tonight Ryan Toolson of Utah Valley St. blew up for 63 in a quadruple-overtime victory over Chicago St (who put two players at 40+). Toolson, a 6-4 senior, shot 18-31 from the field, 7-11 from three, 20-21 from the line, and he even found time to grab twelve boards and dish six assists while playing all sixty minutes. Toolson raised his scoring average +2.3 pts (from 22.3 ppg to 24.6 ppg) in one night, and talk about a comeback game – he had a season-low 5 pts on 1-10 shooting in his last outing, a win on Saturday against Savannah St. For those of you who aren’t mathemagicians, that’s an incredible 58 pt difference between games. No matter what else happened tonight, Toolson deserves top billing. Ice that arm, buddy.
Upset of the Night. Washington St. 65, Arizona St. 55. What a strange game. Wazzu hasn’t shown much of anything this season, especially against any team worth a damn. Then tonight a freshman guard by the name of Klay Thompson decided to drop eight of ten threes against one of the better three-point defensive teams in the nation on their home floor. WSU also got 22/9 from Aron Baynes, but only three other players even scored. ASU was even more sporadic, with James Harden struggling to get his 26/4 on 8-20 from the field. Amazingly, as bad as Washington St. has looked, and with this win, Wazzu has crawled back into the Pac-10 race at 4-4, only two games behind the leaders UCLA and Washington.
Patty Mills’ Injured Wrist Ended St. Mary’s Winning Streak. Gonzaga 69, St. Mary’s 62. This was far and away the most anticipated game of the night at the RTC compound. It’s just a shame that we didn’t get to see what would happen when both teams were at full strength. Well, we sorta did, at least for a half. In the first half, St. Mary’s came out firing on all cylinders behind all-everything guard Patty Mills. His six first-half threes led the Gaels to a six-pt halftime lead in front of the hostile Gonzaga crowd. But when he fell and injured his right wrist, the wheels came off for SMC, as they only scored 23 pts the rest of the way without their team leader on the floor. Let’s really hope that it’s only sprained, and not broken, because given the intensity and level of skill exhibited by both teams in the first half, we can’t wait for the rematch in late February in Moraga. Matt Bouldin led the way for the Zags in a balanced attack that saw four starters reach double figures.
VT Will Regret Losing This One. Clemson 86, Virginia Tech 82. With just under 17 minutes remaining, Va Tech looked totally in control of this game and on its way to its fifth conference win. An 18-0 run over the next six minutes by Clemson (on the road, mind you) totally changed the complexion of this game, and the Tigers were able to hold on to a slight lead down the stretch to get a huge road win in the ACC. KC Rivers had 27 on 7-10 shooting from three to counter Malcolm Delaney’s 37 on 6-10 from three (including the 60-footer below), but it was Trevor Booker’s 21/13 that made all the difference for Clemson, as it seemed he made big play after big play when they needed it most. Now, as it stands, both of these teams are tied with UNC in third place in the conference.
This is Why We Can’t Watch the Big 10. Minnesota 59, Illinois 36. Minnesota’s stifling defense held every Illinois player to single figures and 29% shooting from the field (13% from three) in a defensive exhibition that broke a 20-game losing streak to the Illini. Freshman center Ralph Sampson III has really been coming on of late for the Gophers, and he had another nice outing tonight, with 10/7. More importantly, Minnesota now sits at 6-3 in the Big 10 and is still well positioned to finish in the top half of the conference and nail down an NCAA bid. As for Illinois, they’ve now lost their last three road games, and not looked particularly good in any of them.
Pac-10 Thursday. We’re having trouble figuring out this conference. ASU laid an egg at home and Arizona finally showed up.
- Arizona 106, Washington 97. Just days after taking over the lead in the conference, Washington gave it right back in a high-scoring affair in the desert. These two teams combined for an absurd 128 pts in the second half, but it was Arizona who seemed to find their confidence scoring seemingly at will, whether it was Nic Wise (29/8 assts), Chase Budinger (25/8/4 assts) or Jordan Hill (18/9). On the UW side of things, Jon Brockman had 27/16 and Justin Dentmon had 23 in the losing effort, but it was Arizona’s FT shooting (41-51) that made the difference in this game – the Wildcats made 21 more FTs than the Huskies even attempted (20). SEVEN Washington players had 4+ fouls in this game. The good news for Arizona fans was that Jamelle Horne was nowhere near the final play of this one, but the bad news is that the Cats are still a long way from becoming relevant again despite this impressive win.
- UCLA 81, California 66. UCLA bullied the visiting Golden Bears tonight, holding Cal’s top two scorers (Patrick Christopher and Jerome Randle) to a combined 17 pts on 6-18 shooting. Darren Collison led the Bruin attack with 18/5 assts, as five UCLA players got to double figures. An early second-half run by UCLA finished off the Bears, who were playing catchup the rest of the way. This win, combined with the Washington loss, put UCLA into a tie for first place in the Pac-10, while Cal fell into a third-place tie with Arizona St. and USC one game behind the two.
- USC 70, Stanford 69. In a game between two teams that we just don’t believe are all that good, USC withstood a Lawrence Hill shot at the buzzer that rimmed out to get the victory. USC now sits at 5-3 in the conference, with three of those wins coming by 2 pts or less. We suppose it’s a good thing to be able to win close games, but to us, it suggests more that USC isn’t elite – they’re just able to sneak by inferior competition.
Other Games While You Were Watching The Office/30 Rock.
- Arkansas 89, Alabama 80. Arkansas got its first SEC win against new Alabama interim coach Philip Pearson.
- Utah St. 72, Nevada 61. USU contines to roll in the WAC, now 8-0 and a full two games ahead of Nevada after tonight’s win.
- Michigan St. 71, Iowa 56. MSU moved to 7-1 in the Big 10 behind Kalin Lucas’ 24 and Durrell Summers’ 21 tonight.
- Evansville 65, Drake 62. Neither of these teams are going anywhere this year, but what a great finish!