Big Games Abound on a Showdown Saturday
There are eight games scheduled throughout the day Saturday, including key rivalry matchups for Saint Joseph's, Fordham and St. Bonaventure, an A-10 doubleheader at Madison Square Garden and a showdown at the Hall of Fame for UMass.
LA SALLE Explorers (4-4)
vs. STONY BROOK Seawolves (6-3)
11:00 am | Madison Square Garden
MSG Holiday Festival | CSN-Philly | MSG Network
FORDHAM Rams (4-2)
at ST. JOHN’S Red Storm (5-2)
1:30 pm | Madison Square Garden
MSG Holiday Festival | MSG Network
No. 21/22 MASSACHUSETTS Minutemen (7-0)
vs. BYU Cougars (7-2)
1:30 pm | MassMutual Center
Hall of Fame Holiday Classic | CBS Sports Network
RICHMOND Spiders (7-2)
at WAKE FOREST Demon Deacons (7-2)
2:00 pm | Joel Coliseum
ST. BONAVENTURE Bonnies (6-2)
at BUFFALO Bulls (3-2)
2:00 pm | Alumni Arena
No. 14/19 VILLANOVA Wildcats (8-0)
at SAINT JOSEPH’S Hawks (4-3)
6:00 pm | Michael J. Hagan ‘85 Arena
CBS Sports Network
No. 25/RV DAYTON Flyers (7-1)
at ILLINOIS STATE Redbirds (4-4)
8:00 pm | Redbird Arena
Time Warner Cable Sportschannel
SAINT LOUIS Billikens (7-2)
at VALPARAISO Crusaders (6-4)
8:00 pm | Athletics-Recreation Center
>>The A-10 has six teams with seven wins. Only the Big 10 (seven teams) has more teams with seven or more wins. The ACC matches the A-10 with six teams at seven or more wins. A-10 teams have also registered four wins over ranked teams this season and nine wins against the five big BCS Conferences.
>>The Atlantic 10 is one of only three conferences (Big 12, Big East), and the only league with more than 10 members, where all of its basketball programs are at .500 or better.
>>Yes, its early for the various RPI numbers to matter, but UMass is ranked No. 1 by the ESPN Insider RPI, the CBS Sports RPI, RealTimeRPI.com, No. 2 by Stat Sheet, No. 22 by Jeff Sagarin and No. 26 by Ken Pomeroy. The Minutemen’s strength of schedule is No. 1 by ESPN, No. 2 by Stat Sheet, and No. 3 by CBS and RealTime RPI.
>>Fordham has the highest scoring backcourt in NCAA Division I. Freshman Jon Severe (22.3 ppg) and senior guard Branden Frazier (18.8 ppg) are the highest scoring backcourt in NCAA Division I and second highest scoring teammates in nation.
>>The Hawks are 0-1 in the Big 5 heading into this City Series game after Wednesday’s loss at Temple. Saint Joseph’s will play at Penn on Jan. 18 and face La Salle twice this season, with SJU’s home game on March 9 counting in the Big 5 standings. Saint Joseph’s has won 20 Big 5 titles (9 outright/11 shared), which is third all-time.
>>St. Bonaventure makes the short trip north to play its second Big 4 game of the season when it visits the University at Buffalo. The St. Bonaventure – Buffalo Series: St. Bonaventure leads, 6-1, and has won all three meetings since the series resumed in 2010. Since Mark Schmidt took over as head coach, the Bonnies’ record vs. the Big 4 teams is a combined 9-7. The series vs. each school: Buffalo: 3-0 | Canisius: 4-3 | Niagara: 2-4
>>Saint Louis is in the midst of a busy schedule. Including Saturday’s game against Valpo, SLU will have played seven games in 17 days. After the Valpo game, the Billikens have a week off for exams and resume action Saturday, Dec. 14, against Wofford at Chaifetz Arena.
>>Shooting 3-pointers on A-10 teams is difficult, especially if you’re playing Fordham, Richmond or Saint Louis. The Rams rank second in the nation in 3-pointer defense, limiting opponents to just 18.9 percent from long range. The Spiders are fifth at 22.7 percent and the Billikens are 23rd at 26.2 percent.
VCU 71, EASTERN KENTUCKY 68 (OT)
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Rob Brandenburg hit an early 3-pointer and Melvin Johnson had a critical free throw with 14.2 seconds to go, and Virginia Commonwealth held off Eastern Kentucky 71-68 on Thursday night.
Treveon Graham led the Rams (7-2) with 15 points, freshman JeQuan Lewis had 13 and Johnson and Brandenburg scored 12 each as VCU battled back after falling behind for much of the second half.
Corey Walden led the Colonels (6-3) with 19 points, Glenn Cosey had 17 and Marcus Lewis 15, and the three guards also gave the Rams fits with their ability to handle VCU's trademark pressure.
Brandenburg's 3 came 28 seconds into the overtime and was the only points until Johnson, whose floater in the lane tied the game at 66 and forced the overtime, made 1 of 2 free throws with 14.2 seconds to go. Walden made a layup for the Colonels, and Briante Weber's free throw produced the final score.
A desperation 3-point try by Cosey came after the buzzer and was way off.
PROVIDENCE 50, RHODE ISLAND 49
KINGSTON, R.I. (AP) - Kadeem Batts broke a 49-49 tie with a free throw with 22.1 seconds left and Providence held on for a 50-49 victory over intra-state rival Rhode Island Thursday night.
After Batts hit only 1 of 2 free throws, the Rams (6-4) set up for a last shot, but freshman E.C. Matthews shot an air ball on a fade-away jumper as time expired.
Bryce Cotton of the Friars (8-2) led all scorers with 15 points, but it was two offensive rebounds and scores by Tyler Harris that wound up as the difference.
Gilvydas Biruta led URI with 13 points and seven rebounds.