1. Of the nine remaining unbeaten teams, Illinois’ had perhaps the weakest resume. And now they have a loss. Bruce Weber’s offense has been a work in progress, and had failed to score a point per possession against SIU Edwardsville (0.96) and St Bonaventure (0.81). The problems were lack of three point shooting (214th nationally) and an inability to get to the line (232nd). Against UNLV on Saturday the wheels came off. The Illini only managed 48 points in 72 possessions (0.67). They shot 7-25 on 3s (28%), and though the raw FTAs look solid (18), this was off 63 shot attempts so it was lower than their already low season average. Complicating the matter they only made nine. Illinois also only converted 9-38 (24%) on 2s.
2. Miami got big man Reggie Johnson back and needed every bit of him to overcome Florida Atlantic 93-90 in a double OT 78 possession game. Johnson finished with 15 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 blocks. But the Owls were carried by the heroics of freshman Omari Grier who canned 7-12 3s on his way to 27 points. This was his first start, and he hit a three to force overtime and another one to force the 2nd overtime. Grier is now shooting 47.8% from deep on the season. Jim Larranaga’s defense has now given up 389 points in 349 possessions over its past five games. Allowing 1.11 a trip isn’t going to get them far in the ACC.
3. Oakland’s Reggie Hamilton did everything against Valparaiso, including knocking down a deep two at the buzzer for the victory. Hamilton was 9-14 on 2s, 5-10 on 3s and 8-11 from the line on his way to a career high 41 points. He also had 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals and 4 turnovers. In short, he was everywhere. Oakland is now 8-4 and looks to be one of the contenders in the very deep Summit League.
4. Baylor did what few non-conference teams have been able to do: they went into the Marriott Center and came away with a 86-83 win over BYU to remain undefeated. Baylor struggled early, scoring 24 points in its first 29 possessions (0.83 per trip), but then reeled off 62 over the final 47 possessions (1.32). For the night they averaged 1.13, which was the 2nd most scored against BYU this season. The Cougars had no answer for the inside game of Perry Jones III who got off shots at will and scored 28 points. Matt Carlino did his best Jimmer impersonation trying to keep BYU in the game and finished 4-8 from deep and scored 18 points.
5. Through their first eight games Vanderbilt went 5-3. Every announcer was full of winks and shrugs pointing out that Festus Ezeli wasn’t playing and that the Commodores would be a completely different team once he returned. And while they may be true, it didn’t look that way yesterday. Up eight, with 6:32 to go, Vanderbilt went 8 consecutive possessions without scoring and saw their lead turn into a 4-point deficit. After Vanderbilt finally scored, Indiana State’s Jake Odum iced the game with a bucket. Vanderbilt is now 6-4 with a showdown against Marquette on the 29th which will be their last opportunity to improve their resume out of conference.