Our quick thoughts on Monday's results:
Teams have found it next to impossible to win on the road in the Big XII this season, and top-ranked Texas was no exception on Monday night. The Longhorns struggled mightily on offense all night against an inspired Kansas State squad, shooting 37 percent from the field and committing 18 turnovers in a 71-62 loss. The Wildcats dominated the flow of the game for the entire first half, and held Damion James and Avery Bradley to a combined 8-of-24 shooting for the game. Offensively, Jamar Samuels and Curtis Kelly turned in perhaps their best games of the season for Kansas State, combining for 37 points and 20 rebounds. Those numbers more than made up for the fact that Denis Clemente finished with just five points and that Jacob Pullen shot 2-for-15. The victory gives Kansas State five top 50 wins for the year, which is two more than Texas has and one more than Kansas has. If they can avoid a letdown and beat Oklahoma State at home on Saturday, they'll make a very strong case to move to the top of the 3 line and maybe even the end of the 2 line. Texas' fate in next week's bracket will be determined by how they fare in another tricky road game in Storrs this weekend.
As much as we would have loved to see a court rush, give the Kansas State crowd credit for it's "act like we've been here before" attitude at the end of the game. The student section was tremendous throughout the game (we loved the Pullen beards, all the purple, and the gigantic player heads) and refusing to rush, even after beating an unbeaten No. 1, was a nice, unexpected touch.
(The only person who took issue with the Kansas State crowd was none other than Bobby Knight, who complained several times during the telecast that the students' chants of "over-rated" and "we own Texas" should be replaced by "nice job" or "thank you" and directed at the home team, not the visitors. This advice, of course, comes from someone whose definition of acceptable behavior includes screaming at refs, throwing chairs, and hitting players. We're a little confused, Coach...but we digress.)
In their first game back as a 1 seed, Syracuse was able to get past Notre Dame in South Bend. It was an all-around solid performance for the Orange as they shot 49% from the field and 47% from three. With the way Syracuse has been playing lately and given the how their schedule plays out over the next few weeks, it's tough to see them dropping from that 1 line for quite awhile. Once again, Luke Harangody was able to put up big numbers (31 points, 14 boards) for Notre Dame in a losing effort. The Irish will be out of the discussion for a few weeks with the loss, but given their relatively easy conference schedule over the next month, we wouldn't be surprised to see them sitting at 9-4 or 8-5 and right in the mix going into their last few Big East games.
Virginia certainly didn't play like a tournament team against UNC-Wilmington on Monday night, needing a Sylven Landesberg jumper with 2.2 seconds left pull out a 69-67 win at home. The Cavaliers built up a 15-point second-half lead against the Seahawks, but then went without a field goal for over seven minutes and trailed by four with three minutes left. They'll have to play a whole lot better if they are going to win at Wake Forest this weekend.
Of note: Virginia Tech destroyed North Carolina-Central at home (and killed their RPI in the process); Siena beat Manhattan at home; Western Kentucky lost at Middle Tennessee; Morgan State won at Winston-Salem; Jackson State lost to Texas Southern at home.