It was the most beautiful poster of the week: a duel between two teams ranked in the Top 25 of the Associated Press, on the floor of the most legendary hall: Texas (#2) against Illinois (#17), at Madison Square Garden.
And as often with the university meetings held at the “MSG”, the spectacle and the suspense were there: the Fighting Illini, after extension, indeed signed an “upset” by beating the Longhorns (85-78), who had been unbeaten since the start of the season (6-0, notable successes against Gonzaga and Creighton).
However, it was off to a bad start for Brad Underwood’s men, who after a solid first half (37-34) gradually lost track of the match after the break. Indeed, one minute from the end of regulation time, Texas led by five points (68-63), and seemed totally in control thanks to its defense.
But nothing is ever taken for granted in the madness of college basketball, and Illinois, thanks to five consecutive points from the “freshman” Jayden Epps (an award-winning shot then two decisive free throws after a defensive stop), picked up the score in time, sending the game into overtime.
An extension that the teammates of a very good Matthew Mayer (21 points, 2 rebounds and 3 blocks) then easily dominated (17-10), largely thanks to the “takeover” of the talented Terrence Shannon Jr. (16 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals), author of 12 of his 16 points during this period of additional play.
On the Texas side, the pair of backs Tyrese Hunter – Marcus Carr, usually so sharp in attack since the start of the season, went through (19 points at 7/25 on cumulative shots). Only the winger Timmy Allen (21 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists) held its rank among the holders, well supported by an effective production of the bench (33 points). It was unfortunately insufficient, against this more realistic Illinois team in the moments that mattered most.
Indeed, despite 17 lost balls and 10 missed free throws, Illinois got away with a life-saving awakening in the hottest moments of the game. It’s definitely a landmark victory for Fighting Ilini, the seventh in nine games, which will bring it closer to the top 10 in the next Associated Press Top 25, published on Monday.
London victory for Kentucky against Michigan
Alternating between hot and (very) cold since the start of the season, John Calipari’s Wildcats (#19 of the Top 25 this week) have finally offered themselves a benchmark success at the start of the season: a narrow victory late in the game but no less convincing (73-69), against Juwan Howard’s Wolverines.
A match held at the O2 Arena in London, initially scheduled for 2020 but postponed due to the health crisis.
After 39 minutes, which were hotly contested but difficult to read as to who seemed to hold the rope, everything was decided in the last minute. Especially when the “freshman” Cason Wallace (14 points at 4/4 from behind the arc, 8 rebounds and 5 assists) scored a decisive award-winning shot to put five points ahead of Kentucky (66-61). An advance that Michigan couldn’t catch up, despite a final award-winning shot from the winger Jett Howard (16 points and 4 rebounds), and several scares from the men of “Coach Cal”, who missed three free throws in a row in the last moments.
” We avoided the worst » summed up John Calipari, annoyed that his Wildcats missed 10 free throws (!). ” [Les lancers ratés] were the reason for our loss to Michigan State [en début de saison]. »
Overall, Kentucky, except for these free throw problems, had a very good game on offense: 47% on shots including 60% from 3-pointers (9/15), and the five holders who exceeded 10 points scored . Notably Oscar Tshiebwe, Player Of The Year unanimously last season, long embarrassed by faults in the second half, but still author of a consistent double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds.
Fred Hoiberg and Nebraska offer Creighton!
Native of Lincoln, city in which the campus of the fac’ de Nebraska, Fred Hoiberg has been trying since 2019, and his dismissal from the Bulls, to inject a positive dynamic into the program, which has been struggling for several seasons.
These first three exercises as a “head coach” were very complicated: 24 wins for 67 losses.
But this 2022/23 season, his fourth at the helm, finally seems to be that of a big step forward. And this magnificent reference victory against Creighton (63-53), ranked 7th in the Top 25 before the meeting and especially a rival in the state of Nebraska, is clear proof of this.
” Winning a reference victory like this is huge [pour notre programme] “Thus appreciated the 50-year-old technician, turned upside down at a press conference after this superb success, the first for Nebraska against Creighton since 2018. While he was logically starting to be in the hot seat after three years without much relief, Fred Hoiberg wears thus the Cornhuskers towards a solid start to the season, with 5 wins in 7 games before attacking the Big Ten conference games.
Imperials in defense, limiting the Bluejays to 31% shooting success and in particular their star point guard Ryan Nembhard at 6 points at 3/13, the Cornhuskers also ensured in attack, converting 48% of their shots. Driven from behind Sam Grieselnative of Lincoln like his coach, grandiose with 18 points, 12 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 steals, and winger Derrick Walkerwho compiled 22 points and 8 rebounds.
Trayce Jackson-Davis, a triple-double, the win and his name in Hoosiers history
If the victory ofIndiana versus Nebraska (81-65) was the most important thing to remember collectively for the Hoosiers (7 wins in 8 games, 14th in the Top 25), their star pivot, Trayce Jackson Daviswas also able to savor individual accomplishment.
With 12 points (on just 6 shots), 11 rebounds and 10 assists, “TJD” effectively became only the third player in program history to achieve a triple-double. A major accomplishment, given the immense and rich history of this mythical Indiana college.
” Honestly, this kind of evening justifies and reinforces my decision to come back this year » then declared the kingpin, “senior” this year. ” I came back to do great things, not just individually. We aspire to great things collectively. […] So times like this are special for me, and it’s a reminder that I made the right choice to come back. »
The Hoosiers star continues, unsurprisingly, to assert himself as one of the best players in the country this season.