Memphis steals résumé-building win from Gonzaga; more Saturday hoops
No. 24 Memphis 60, No. 23 Gonzaga 54: Early February is usually reserved for tight conference contests and the shuffling of league standings. Memphis’ spot in the American Athletic Conference is probably at the top of coach Josh Pastner’s priority list, but don’t tell that to the Tigers. On Saturday night, they looked like a team trying to make a statement against a tough non-conference foe.
No. 24 Memphis added a big piece to its tournament résumé with its 60-54 win over No. 23 Gonzaga, and the Tigers showed off some toughness and resiliency along the way.
Gonzaga built a 12-point lead early in the second half after Sam Dower sunk a layup to give the Zags a 42-30 lead with under 15 minutes to play. The Tigers then staged a 12-2 run to climb within a bucket, 44-42, on two Joe Jackson free throws.
Coach Mark Few’s team wouldn’t let up, however, and Kevin Pangos connected on a jumper with 3:20 to play to give the Bulldogs a 54-50 lead with just over three minutes left.
That’s when Memphis turned on its energy at both ends, and Pangos’ shot would be the last points scored by Gonzaga on the night. The Tigers reeled off the game’s next 10 points to seal the win.
Memphis got a little bit of help from everybody in the victory. The 6-foot-1 Jackson sparked some life into his teammates with a timely swat of 7-1 Przemek Karnowski midway through the second half. Michael Dixon Jr. came off the bench to score all 11 points in the second half, including the go-ahead layup at 1:12. In all, the Tigers managed to escape with a strong victory despite shooting 35 percent from the field.
The win over Gonzaga obviously had no bearing on Memphis’ spot in the AAC, but there’s never anything wrong with a résumé-building win. That holds especially true when your program rallies from a double-digit deficit to claim that win. This is the type of game that the selection committee will look favorably upon come March.
Texas Tech 65, No. 19 Oklahoma State 61: Oklahoma State’s downward spiral continued on Saturday night in more ways than one. The Cowboys turned the ball over 15 times and registered only five assists as the Red Raiders handed Oklahoma State its fourth loss in a row and fifth in six games. At one point this season, this Cowboys squad boasted a 15-2 record. Now the same roster might have a tough time making the NCAA tournament without a big-time turnaround.
The bigger storyline, however, was Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart. The sophomore hasn’t played his best basketball during the Cowboys’ recent skid, but that frustration boiled over against Texas Tech. After Smart fouled Jaye Crockett on a dunk attempt with six second left to play, Smart fell in front of the stands below the goal. He then exchanged words with an older male fan before shoving the fan on camera. Smart was issued a technical foul, but no word was available on any impending punishment for Smart. But Smart’s actions added insult to injury for a slumping Oklahoma State team.
No. 11 Duke 89, Boston College 68: When Jabari Parker exited Duke’s game against Boston College with a few minutes left to play on Saturday, his walk off the court told viewers all we needed to know about his day: He got a hug from Coach K.
The hug was a nod to a job well done for Parker, who dismantled the Eagles with a career-high 29 points and 16 rebounds. The first-year player extended his Duke freshman record of 14 straight games with at least 20 points. Boston College, meanwhile, dropped its 10th game in 12 tries.
No. 16 Iowa State 84, TCU 69: The most astounding performance of the season now belongs to Melvin Ejim. The Iowa State senior poured in 48 points — which ties for the most in an NCAA game this season — along with a career-high 18 rebounds. Meanwhile, the Cyclones won for the fourth time in five games.
No. 21 Oklahoma 88, Baylor 72: Oklahoma found its hot hand from downtown, and it paid off against Baylor. The Sooners knocked down a season-high 14 3-pointers, including five treys from Buddy Hield. In a conference as competitive as the Big 12 right now, Oklahoma couldn’t afford to lose to a Bears squad that had lost six of seven coming into Saturday.
No. 8 Kansas 83, West Virginia 69: Kansas again looked like the dominant team in the Big 12 against West Virginia, especially from a depth perspective. Reserve players like Tarik Black (11) provided a spark on Saturday for the Jayhawks. Now Kansas enjoys a two-game league in the conference, and if the offense keeps running on all cylinders, it’s hard to see that changing anytime soon.
No. 13 Saint Louis 65, La Salle 63: Jordair Jett hit a driving layup with four seconds to play to lift Saint Louis over La Salle and preserve the school’s win streak, which extended to 16 games with the victory. The Billikens shook off a sorry effort from the perimeter (2-of-13) and losing the battle of the boards (32-26) to hold off the Explorers.