— Our daily update on college basketball referee John Higgins:
January 24— Penn State @ Rutgers
January 25— Utah State @ San Diego State— Long plane ride for a back/back
January 26— Utah @ Oregon State
January 28— California @ Stanford
January 29— Michigan State @ Purdue— Day game after long plane ride.
January 30— Baylor @ Texas
January 31— Kansas State @ Kansas
February 1— Northern Iowa @ Drake- A double overtime game!!! Eight games in nine nights, and a double overtime game on the 9th night.
February 2— Wisconsin @ Ohio State— 9th game in 10 nights; Ohio State coach Holtmann was ejected with 0:27 left in first half, after a charging call. Buckeyes have lost eight of their last nine games; tensions are running high, with a month to go before the conference tournaments.
— If you like college basketball, I highly recommend getting ESPN+; tons of games on from all over the country, and they have other good stuff too. $99 for a year, it is a pretty good deal.
— ESPN+ has the Caribbean Series on this week; some good baseball, even if the announcers are speaking Spanish. It turns out I didn’t retain much knowledge from three years of high school Spanish I took 48 years ago, but the graphics they use are good and I like watching baseball, even with the announcers speaking a foreign language.
— Turned on the Oregon-Arizona game few minutes after the game started; Bill Walton was on a riff, talking about how the population of Lithuania had shrunk a lot since this whole Ukraine debacle started. People are fleeing the Russian border. Arizona’s best player, Azuolas Tubelis is from Lithuania, which is why Walton was talking about it.
Always learn stuff listening to Walton, but it usually is something other than basketball.
— UAB 86, Florida Atlantic 77— UAB got star guard Jordan Walker back from a foot injury; he got 13 points in 27:00 off the bench, as Blazers snapped FAU’s 20-game winning streak. UAB is an NCAA tournament-level team when Walker is healthy; they were 3-2 while he was out.
— Youngstown State 91, Wright State 89, 3OT— This was one of many games I watched on ESPN+ tonight; terrific game. Penguins scored 91 points despite going 6-31 on arc; they were down 55-48 with 6:22 left in regulation. Youngstown starts five seniors; this is their best chance to make the NCAA Tournament for the first tine (they made the D-II tournament nine times).
— Arizona 91, Oregon 76— Arizona played seven guys; they scored 1.3 points/possession, avenging an earlier loss to the Ducks. Azuolas Tubelis scored 40 points with his mother visiting from Lithuania— she is going to visit Las Vegas next, according to Bill Walton.
— Southern Mississippi 74, Troy 65— We don’t see enough Sun Belt games on TV; some good teams here. Southern Miss/Louisiana are tied for first place at 9-2, with Marshall a game behind. Southern Miss is 20-4 this season; the last three years, they were 24-65; this is a great rebuilding job by Jay Ladner.
I’m assuming they went the junior college route with their recruiting; their nine-man rotation has six juniors, three seniors.
— Drexel 70, Charleston 69— Cougars led by 13 early in second half, but coughed this game up and now they’ll need to win the CAA tournament to make the NCAA’s. Charleston lost its last two games by total of five points, after a 20-game winning streak.
— Eastern Washington 82, Sacramento State 63— Eagles are 11-0 in Big Sky Conference, have 2-game lead, but they’re another team that’ll have to win their conference tournament to get in the NCAA’s. EWU was 5-7 when conference play started; they’re 4-6 vs teams ranked in the top 200. Eagles are shooting 65.5% inside arc in conference games.
— Long Beach State 70, Fullerton 67— Long Beach is fun to watch; they play very fast, have won five games in a row, are 13-10, 7-4 in Big West, playing the #3 tempo in country.
Long Beach’s team nickname is “Beach”; they dumped 49ers few years ago; their eFG% is #296 in country, but they’re #21 in country on the offensive boards.
One of the announcers was talking about a player in this game, how he saw the kid score 30+ points in a high school game a few years ago. “What I really remember about that night was how after the game, I totaled my car.” Probably a little too much information.
— SE Missouri State 99, Little Rock 98— Redhawks won 7 of their last 8 games; they shot 14-27 on arc in this game, made 25-35 on foul line, and won by only one point. SE Missouri and Morehead State are tied for first place in the Ohio Valley Conference.
— Stanford 78, Utah 72— Cardinal has won five games in a row, after a 5-12 start; three of the five teams they’ve beaten are ranked outside the top 200- caution is advised.
— Saint Mary’s 68, San Francisco 59— Gaels host Gonzaga Saturday, the first of their two regular season meetings; Saint Mary’s is 9-0 in WCC, Zags are 8-1. Gaels have #9 eFG% defense in country; they’re #36 team on offensive boards, #3 on defensive end.
— Gonzaga 88, Santa Clara 70— Zags are shooting 57.5% inside arc (#9), 38.2% on arc (#19); Saturday figures to be a good contrast in styles.
— Kudos to AMC for showing the movie Groundhog Day multiple times Thursday; I hadn’t seen the movie in a long time, but it holds up.