College Basketball Nation: Nevada

The Morning After is our semi-daily recap post. Try not to make it awkward.

Clemson 83, North Carolina 64: Two conclusions. 1). North Carolina is, as of Jan. 14, not very good. 2). Clemson's basketball fan support is at an all-time high, and the Tigers are better for it.

On the first: This isn't exactly a shocker. After all, North Carolina came into Thursday night's game ranked No. 41 in Ken Pomeroy's adjusted efficiency ratings. They're merely OK defensively, and in past years this was fine, because the offense was otherworldy. That's not the case this year; UNC is 40th in points per possession, scoring about 1.1 points per trip. That's just ... meh. (And it doesn't help when you turn the ball over on 30 percent of your possessions, either.) It's certainly not what we've come to expect from Roy Williams' North Carolina teams, who have overwhelmed their opponents on the offensive end since the day Roy found a house in Chapel Hill. This team is young and new and not vintage UNC, and it shows. On nights like Wednesday, it shows badly.

Make no mistake, though, North Carolina wasn't merely bad on Wednesday. Saying so would be a disservice to Clemson and its fans. This is the second conclusion: Don't look now, but Clemson is starting to look like a pretty darn good ACC program. They've got the ability, sure. That's not entirely new; Oliver Purnell's teams have been playing at about this level for a few years now. But more than anything, Wednesday night showed just how far Clemson's fan base has come. It was this time last year that Clemson writers were aghast wondering why so many people were showing up to noon tip-offs at Littlejohn Coliseum. That was unlike Clemson fans, who typically prefer their football. (They're in South Carolina, after all. Don't fish prefer the water?) Newsflash: Clemson basketball has plenty of fans, too, and those fans are relishing the Tigers' stellar on-court product.* Chicken, meet egg.

*Speaking of on-court relish, this of course doesn't excuse the court-storming that went down on Wednesday night, which I'll get to in a later post. Here's a preview: Tsk-tsk, Clemson students. Tsk. Tsk.

Texas 90, Iowa State 83; Kansas 84, Nebraska 72; Missouri 94, Texas Tech 89: Well, it was fun while it lasted. Most of Wednesday's talk revolved around how well Big 12 teams had done at home in 2009-10; the conference was 112-1 going into Wednesday night's games. I said yesterday that that stat would be tested, and if it held up after Wednesday night's games, something seriously freaky was going on. Never mind. All three Big 12 road teams won on Wednesday night, even Missouri -- ostensibly rebuilding after an Elite Eight last year, but quietly 14-3 and 3-0 in conference -- at Texas Tech. I think we can rule out the supernatural.

Michigan State 60, Minnesota 53: Minnesota is almost good enough to be ranked. Almost. The Gophers have lost five of their last six games to ranked teams (that stat courtesy of the wonderful folks in the ESPN research department), including on Wednesday night, when they played Michigan State almost even for 40 minutes in East Lansing and only barely came up short. The Spartans, meanwhile, are starting to find their groove after some struggles in the early nonconference season. Sound familiar? (I meant that rhetorically. Of course it sounds familiar. The Spartans do this every year.)

Pittsburgh 67, Connecticut 57: Dana said it best last night: Pitt is legit. Simple, syntactically rhythmic and also, you know, true. Pittsburgh was supposed to rebuild in 2009-10. They were supposed to feel every pound of DEJuan Blair's body mass lifted from underneath the opponent's basket. (Which, by the way, note to every NBA GM that didn't take Blair in the late first or early second round: You are idiots. I'm not the first to tell you, but I'll gladly join the chorus. Letting Blair go to the Spurs in the late second round. Unbelievable.) Anyway, the point is, Pittsburgh isn't missing its big three nearly as much as we all thought. They're doing just fine, actually, perched quite neatly atop the Big East with wins at Syracuse , at Cincy and now at UConn. Jamie Dixon: coach of the year?

Everywhere else: Duke destroyed Boston College at Cameron, which: duh ... Syracuse dismantled Rutgers in New Jersey, which again: duh ... BYU had no problems with Air Force on its way to a 12th win in a row, and speaking of coach of the year candidates, Dave Rose, come on down ... Northwestern had a chance to notch a huge Big Ten win over Wisconsin but lost hold of the game in the closing minutes, losing 60-50 and taking another step toward a perpetual NCAA tourney-less existence ... Georgia plays hard, that's for sure; unfortunately the Bulldogs' best effort is often not quite good enough, and such was the case in yet another close loss to a ranked team Wednesday night ... Hey, wait a second. Is that Virginia? Beating Georgia Tech? Why yes, yes it is! More on this later in the day ... Utah State outlasted Nevada in a close overtime WAC win ... Vanderbilt barely escaped Alabama in Tuscaloosa ... and Xavier battled toward the top of the A-10 with a win over Charlotte.
Sometimes, college basketball yields weirdness beyond what anyone could normally conceive. Today is one of those days.

The story goes like this: Louisiana Tech was hosting Nevada Saturday at the Thomas Assembly Center, where Karl Malone Floor (Malone attended Louisiana Tech) adorns the playing surface. The floor was apparently surfaced in December. Nevada, as is frequent custom, brought its own chairs to the game and placed them in the middle of the floor in front of the Wolfpack bench for timeouts. According to varying reports, the Mailman was on hand, and the Mailman doesn't much like you scratching up his court.

Karl Malone wasn't particularly thrilled with Nevada bringing small folding chairs onto "his" court during the media timeouts of Saturday's Tech-Nevada basketball game at the Thomas Assembly Center. Bringing chairs or stools onto the court during timeouts is standard practice all around the country, but Malone voiced his displeasure, and the Nevada staff was told staff to keep the chairs off the floor (which was sanded and sealed in December). Nevada continued to use its chairs throughout the rest of the first half, and may or may not have antagonized Malone by using some extra oomph when setting the chairs on the hardwood.

So during halftime Malone grabbed Nevada's portable furniture and threw it in a dumpster outside the arena. Allegedly.

That's from Monroe (La.) News Star reporter Ethan Conley, who spoke with La. Tech deputy athletic director Bruce Van De Velde about the supposed altercation. Van De Velde says the story is "a little bit embellished." He also added that Karl "takes a lot of pride in the floor," but that he "didn't remove" any chairs. Other reports differ: Nevada athletic director Cary Groth said she couldn't confirm or deny whether the chairs were in fact delivered to the dumpster by Malone, only that when Nevada came back from halftime they were not there.

Whether Malone moved them or not, the mere mental picture of an angry, plaid-clad Karl Malone hauling plush sideline chairs out to the dumpster, muttering under his breath the whole way, is good enough for me. I'll never un-know this image, whether it actually ever existed or not. I am totally cool with that.

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