This was college basketball’s lost weekend as several teams in the Associated Press’ Top 25 poll were on the losing end.
It began on Saturday as No. 4 Syracuse was drilled by No. 12 Virginia, 75-56, No. 5 Kansas was knocked off by unranked Oklahoma State, 72-65, No. 7 Louisville was edged by No. 21 Memphis, 72-66, No. 9 Creighton was pushed aside by unranked Xavier, 75-69, and No. 10 St. Louis was shredded by unranked Virginia Commonwealth, 67-56.
It continued as No. 11 Cincinnati was sideswiped by unranked Connecticut, 51-45, No. 15 Iowa State was tripped by unranked Kansas State, 80-73, No. 17 Kentucky was nipped by unranked South Carolina, 72-67, No. 18 Michigan State was beaten by unranked Illinois, 53-46, No. 24 Texas was hammered by unranked Oklahoma, 77-65, and on Sunday No. 22 Ohio State was clipped by unranked Indiana, 72-64.
Two highlights emerged as No. 2 Wichita State worked through the regular season undefeated at 31-0 after pounding unranked Missouri State, 68-45, and No. 8 Villanova creamed unranked Marquette, 73-56, in a Big East match and set the school mark for wins during the regular season.
The Wildcats, who won their only NCAA basketball title in 1985 under Head Coach Rollie Massimino, led for much of the contest against the visiting Golden Eagles (17-12 and 9-7 in conference).
Villanova junior guard Darrun Hilliard tallied a career-best 26 points and handed out four assists with three rebounds.
It was Hilliard’s three-pointer as the buzzer sounded that capped the opening half and pushed the Wildcats ahead 36-25, as he scored 18 first-half points.
“This might not be the best Villanova team [Head Coach] Jay Wright has had,’’ said Greg Anthony, CBS’ lead college basketball analyst, “but it’s his most versatile. There are no superstars. They can all play and contribute. No one’s going to jump out at you and scare you with their talent.”
Villanova (26-3 and 14-2 in conference) took a 45-27 lead with 15:49 left after freshman forward Kris Jenkins (five points) landed a three-pointer. The Wildcats’ lead became 51-38 with 11:41 showing and 68-49 with 3:55 left.
The Wildcats forged a 20-14 lead with 7:54 left in the opening half, and led 27-16 with 6:31 showing after senior guard Tony Chennault (five points) scored and then added a free throw, and pulled ahead 29-18 with 3:46 on the clock.
The host Hoosiers (17-12 and 7-9 in conference) recovered after trailing 7-2 with 14:57 left, 11-9 with 11:22 showing, and 19-12 with 7:54 left, but when Ohio State senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. (19 points) made one of two free throws, it was tied at 20-20 with 4:57 remaining.
When Indiana sophomore guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell (game-best 20 points with four assists) drilled a three-pointer and 3:44 showing, the Hoosiers were in front 28-20 in this Big Ten clash, however, Ohio State junior guard Shannon Scott (seven points) responded with a hoop that made it 28-22 and 3:07 left.
The Hoosiers, who had senior forward Will Sheehey add 19 points, closed the half with a 5-3 spurt.
Ohio State senior point guard Aaron Craft (seven points) had a steal and layup with 17:11 left that cut the gap to 35-31, and the Buckeyes (22-8 and 9-8 in conference) came within 46-41 when junior forward La Quinton Ross (19 points) canned two free throws as 11:39 remained.
Indiana held a 54-49 lead with 7:14 left, were ahead 56-51 on Smith’s bucket with 5:20 on the clock, and 66-60 after Smith’s layup with 51.4 seconds left.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.