Around the Top 25 MBB: Saint Mary’s controls destiny in WCC; Upsets galore as February begins 


The calendar turned to February, and the games have gotten even crazier, with many upsets across all conferences. The rankings shook up a bit, and despite No. 1 Purdue losing on Saturday, they remain the top team in the NCAA. Let’s dive into this crazy past week of college basketball in this edition of Around the Top 25. 

Best Games 

No. 16 Xavier bests No. 17 Providence without Freemantle, 85-83 

This matchup lived up to the hype and more, despite star forward Zach Freemantle being out for Xavier. Jack Nunge, Souley Boum, and Colby Jones combined for 63 of the Musketeers’ 85 points. Jared Bynum attempted a 3-pointer that bounced off the rim as time expired. This overtime matchup, which was back-and-forth for the final 25 minutes of the game, may end up being the best game of the Big East season. 

No. 21 Indiana upsets No. 1 Purdue, 79-74 

It was a rivalry like no other, with the two best bigs in college basketball facing off in Bloomington. The Hoosiers pulled away late in the game after Purdue chipped away at their 13-point lead. Storming the court at Assembly Hall is a rare occurrence, but it happened after Indiana upset the No. 1 team in the country for the fourth time in the arena and the first since upsetting Michigan nearly a decade ago. 

No. 10 Texas completes comeback, edges No. 7 Kansas State, 69-66 

Despite Kansas State being the higher-ranked team and at home in this game, Texas was a one-point favorite to win this game. Frustrated by a scoreless first half, Christian Bishop scored all 14 of his points in the second half as he helped the Longhorns come back after being down as many as 14 points. Texas is currently in first place in the Big 12. 

No. 18 Saint Mary’s defeated No. 12 Gonzaga in overtime, 78-70 

As the headline states, Saint Mary’s now controls their destiny in the West Coast Conference after defeating Gonzaga at home to stay undefeated in the conference. Gonzaga led for most of the game until five minutes remained in regulation, where Aidan Mahaney, who scored 18 points in the win, led the Gaels to a thrilling eight-point victory over the Zags. 

No. 9 Kansas takes down No. 5 Texas, 88-80 

Gradey Dick, who led the Jayhawks with 21 points, said they needed to come out with energy to be portrayed as a scary team. They had that energy which they led by as many as 14 points against Texas on Monday night. Though the Longhorns cut into that lead, only for Kansas to put the game away. This game was a must-win for the Jayhawks, as they needed momentum on their side coming down the most important stretch of the college basketball regular season. 

Best Performances 

Mason Gillis, F, Purdue (vs. Penn State: 29 pts, 9 3pt) 

Gillis made nine of his ten field goals from long-range as he was one of two players on Purdue who scored double digits (the other being Edey). 29 points was a career-high for the New Castle, Indiana native, who is averaging just 6.5 points per game off the bench this season. He is the best 3-point shooter on the team at just under 40 percent. 

Jack Nunge, F, Xavier (vs. Providence: 23 pts, 14 reb, 2 blk) 

One of Nunge’s two blocks came in the final seconds of overtime to help push the Musketeers over Providence. With Freemantle out, Xavier needed more from the 7-foot senior. Nunge is averaging just under 15 points and under eight rebounds per game. It was the first 20-point double-double for Nunge since December 28, when he had 23 points and 12 rebounds at St. John’s. 

Ąžuolas Tubelis, F, Arizona (vs. Oregon: 40 pts 9 reb, 3 stl) 

Tubelis is one of the best players in college basketball and he has earned my pick for Pac-12 Player of the Year as of right now. This game was special for the star forward, as he played in front of his mother and sister, who came from Lithuania to see him. 40 points are the most scored by a player at Arizona in 28 years, and he was just a rebound short of a double-double. Arizona destroyed Oregon in the game, 91-76. 

Zach Edey, C, Purdue (at Indiana: 33 pts, 8 reb, 3 blk) 

This article wouldn’t be complete without mentioning a great performance by Edey, which is inevitable in every single game. Edey doesn’t lead the nation in points per game, but he is second in rebounds, averaging just over 13. It’s Edey’s sixth 30-point game of the season and his third-straight double-double. Can you believe this 7-foot-4 giant played hockey instead of basketball a few years ago? 

Trayce Jackson-Davis, F, Indiana (vs. Purdue: 25 pts, 7 reb, 5 blk) 

Jackson-Davis had quite the performance on Saturday, and probably would be the Big Ten Player of the Year if Edey didn’t exist. The 6-foot-9 senior averages just under 20 points per game, but is one of the only players who average a double-double in college basketball. 

Upcoming Games 

No. 21 UConn at No. 23 Creighton (Saturday, 2 p.m., FOX) 

Saturday’s matchup in Omaha will be a rematch of the early-January game in Storrs where the Huskies beat the Bluejays for the first time in program history. Creighton has been hot, looking like the team that was projected to win the Big East. The rivalry continues between UConn forward Adama Sanogo and Creighton big Ryan Kalkbrenner. Kalkbrenner and UConn guard Andre Jackson are the two Big East players on the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year watchlist. 

No. 3 Alabama at Auburn (Saturday, 2 p.m., ESPN) 

The Iron Bowl is known for its historical moments on the gridiron, but both teams are having good seasons on the hardwood this season. Auburn just dropped out of the top 25, but Wendell Green Jr. and the Tigers host the Crimson Tide on Saturday. Alabama is having possibly its best basketball season ever, led by star freshman Brandon Miller. 

No. 24 Rutgers at Illinois (Saturday, 2 p.m., FS1) 

Rutgers has been a tough and resilient team all season. Illinois started strong but began to struggle as December came around. They still have one of the Big Ten’s best guards in Terrence Shannon Jr., who needs to come up big at home against UConn alum and Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell and his squad. 

No. 14 Baylor at No. 17 TCU (Saturday, 4 p.m., ESPN2) 

Two of the Big 12’s best guards will face off on Saturday: Baylor star freshman Keyonte George and TCU’s Mike Miles Jr. It’s also a battle of two in-state foes that are just a drive on I-35E away from each other. 

No. 23 Creighton at No. 20 Providence (Tuesday, 7 p.m., FS1) 

It’s a battle between two of the better teams in the Big East. Creighton is the hottest team, while Providence has proven to be one of the best currently. Bryce Hopkins and Kalkbrenner on the same court is must-see TV. 

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