How do you top a weekend where two of the top three teams in the country were upset on the road and a ridiculous fight broke out between Cincinnati and Xavier? Well, you don't. It was a much quieter week in college basketball, but there was still plenty to take away from the last week of action.
The Cyclones had most of the week off because of finals, but returned to the hardwood on Sunday to take on a pesky Central Michigan team in Ames. ISU triumphed 59-52 in an ugly encore following the domination of in-state rival iowa. The Cyclones jumped out to a big early lead and were up by nine at the half, but left any energy and intensity they had in the locker room and slogged through a frustrating second session.
Royce White led ISU with 14 points and 8 rebounds and Tyrus McGee and Melvin Ejim had solid contributions off the bench, but that's pretty much where the positives end in this one. There's plenty of excuses and reasons we can toss around as to why ISU struggled, and some may be valid, but at the end of the day, this team just didn't bring a good effort.
Now, I could waste a lot of space and point out all the flaws and inadequacies this team and coaching staff has, but there's no reason. ISU survived the scare, got the win and will have another chance to get better when they take on Lipscomb on Wednesday night.
One last thing before we move on, I love Royce White's hair. It looks like shit but who cares? Royce will do whatever the hell he wants and besides, do you have the balls to tell it looks ridiculous?
Next Game - As I touched on earlier, Iowa State hosts Lipscomb. The Bisons (that's not a typo, they pluralized a word that already has a plural meaning), travel to Memphis on Monday night and are 6-6 on the year.
The Big 12
The conference had a strong week, notching a few signature victories and Baylor sophomore Perry Jones III had a monster game at BYU.
- Speaking of Baylor, they held off a very good BYU team 86-83 in front of a reported 24,000 uncaffeinated, raucus Mormons in Provo. Jones III tallied 28 points and 8 boards and the Bears notched an impressive, resume-building win. The win moved the #7 Bears to 9-0 on the year.
- A year ago at this time, Kansas State was being labeled a major disappointment and Wildcats coach Frank Martin was dealing with off the court issues that kept stars Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly out of games. One year later, K-State has quietly improved their record to 7-1 after toppling #21 Alabama in a "neutral" site game in Kansas City. The 'Cats don't have a lot of star power, but few teams in the country play harder.
- After taking down Houston on Saturday, Lon Kruger has Oklahoma sitting at 8-1 in his first season as head coach. The Sooners haven't exactly played a tough schedule, but they're winning the games you're supposed to, and that's all you can ask from a program on the rebound.
- Staying in the state of Oklahoma, it might be a tough winter in Stillwater. Oklahoma State struggled throughout against New Mexico and lost 66-56. The 'Pokes don't have any bad losses, but the lack of a seasoned point guard and a true inside presence has been noticeable.
Around the Country
- Syracuse was a trendy Final Four pick with a lot of basketball pundits, and so far, they look the part. The #1 Orange staved off a salty North Carolina State team in Raleigh and have the depth to make a run at the title in March.
- Is Kentucky the best team in the SEC? I don't know after watching #13 Florida dominate #22 Texas A&M, 84-64 on Saturday. The Gators might have the best back court in the country as Kenny Boynton, Erving Walker and stud freshman Bradley Beal combined for 54 of the Gators' 84 points.
- Remember when Vanderbilt was ranked in the pre-season top ten and considered a dark horse for the Final Four? Yeah, about that. The Commodores fell to 6-4 after losing at home to Indiana State 61-55. On the flip side, how good has the Missouri Valley Conference been this year? After several lackluster years, the MVC might be the best non "BCS" league out there.