The NFL has celebrated wild finishes to playoff games in the wild-card and divisional rounds. That literally describes at least one game every night in college basketball.
Sunday, Jan. 10: South Florida lost to Cincinnati 54-51 after Nehemias Morillo missed a 3-pointer with 2 seconds left.
Monday: Western Carolina guard Rhett Harrelson's 3-pointer with 34 seconds left sent the Catamounts' game against UNC Greensboro to overtime, and WCU went on to win 83-77.
Tuesday: Providence guard Kris Dunn drilled a step-back jumper as time expired to lift the Friars past Creighton 50-48.
Thursday: Rider’s Teddy Okereafor made a layup with one second left to force overtime against Marist. Marist's Khallid Hart then made two free throws with three seconds left to force a second OT, before Rider emerged with a 102-100 win.
Saturday: Khadeem Lattin’s tip-in with one second left lifted Oklahoma to a 70-68 win over West Virginia.
Your weekly campus tour into what is and what was in college hoops begins now:
Coach of the week
The only thing for Clemson fans to get excited about entering ACC play was that their football team was in the College Football Playoff.
Crowds in their temporary home in Greenville, South Carolina, where they will play while Littlejohn Coliseum undergoes a $63 million renovation, hovered around 6,000. The only exception was a capacity crowd for the Tigers' rivalry game against South Carolina.
The Tigers had not, in seven nonconference wins, beaten a team with a winning record. And two of their losses came to teams (Massachusetts and Minnesota) that currently have losing records.
In spite of all that, Clemson coach Brad Brownell never lost his team. And now the Tigers are making believers out of everyone else after the week he just guided them through.
Clemson revealed its winning numbers with victories over No. 16 Louisville (66-62), No. 9 Duke (68-63) and No. 8 Miami (76-65) -- the first time in program history it has had three consecutive wins over ranked teams.
“You’ve seen Avry [Holmes] and Jordan [Roper] are playing better together,” Brownell told reporters after the Miami game. “Jordan Roper’s game has improved throughout the course of the year. We’ve done a better job of utilizing him.”
Forward Jaron Blossomgame leads the team in scoring, but North Carolina coach Roy Williams said it was indeed the Tigers’ perimeter that was making the difference.
“Now all their guys on the perimeter can make 3-point shots, so you have to go out and guard them,” Williams said. “That gives [center Landry Nnoko] and all those other guys more space inside. They still guard extremely well, but they have more firepower. Those guys are confident.”
Player of the week
West Virginia’s Jaysean Paige added his name to the list of junior college players to thrive under Bob Huggins. The 6-foot-2 senior guard has averaged 18.8 points in the Mountaineers’ last seven games and is second on the team with a 13.7 scoring average.
Paige has started only one game this season, but he’s one of the best reserves in the nation. He came off the bench for a game-high 18 points -- even outscoring Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield -- as the Mountaineers fell just short in a 70-68 loss to the Sooners.
Paige scored a career-high 26 points to lead the Mountaineers’ 74-63 upset of No. 1 Kansas. He entered the game just a 63 percent free throw shooter, but made 14 of his 17 attempts. To put that in perspective, he had attempted only 47 free throws combined in the 15 games prior.
The place to be
Hilton Coliseum, Ames, Iowa. Did Baylor erase all the “Hilton Magic” in its 94-89 win at Iowa State on Jan. 9, or did that simply mean the Bears are the only team that seems to have immunity? The Cyclones welcome No. 2 -- and soon to be No. 1 -- Oklahoma to town on Monday. Baylor is the only team to beat the Cyclones on their home floor in the past 33 games (and the Bears have done it twice).
While the Sooners are deserving of the No. 1 spot in the polls, they haven’t exactly been dominant. OU eked out a pair of two-point wins this past week over Oklahoma State and West Virginia.
Iowa State players believe they should have won the first meeting with OU on Jan. 2. The Cyclones led for most of the second half before falling behind. Guard Monte Morris had a chance to tie the game but missed a runner in the lane with five seconds left. In the comfy confines of Hilton, the Cyclones will be confident from the tip.
Number to know
20. SMU, the lone unbeaten remaining in Division I college basketball, goes for win No. 17 on Sunday at Tulane, and the Mustangs are inching ever so close to tying the best win streak in program history. They’ve already surpassed the best start to a season they’ve ever had. (That was just 10-0 back in 1997-98.) SMU’s current streak marks only the second time it has ever produced a winning streak of 15 or more games in program history. If the Mustangs can notch five more consecutive wins, they’ll break the mark set by the 1955-56 Mustangs under coach Doc Hayes, which won 20 straight en route to the program’s lone Final Four appearance before losing to eventual champion San Francisco.