It has been a chaotic week in college basketball, and it’s only Wednesday.
A pair of unranked teams knocked off top-five opponents again Wednesday, marking a great beginning to conference play across the country. Mississippi State fended off No. 5 Tennessee 77-72 in Starkville in what was the Bulldogs’ first win over a top-10 opponent since 2002. Then UCF grabbed its first conference win since joining the Big 12 when it knocked off No. 3 Kansas 65-60 in Orlando.
The upsets came one day after both No. 1 Purdue and No. 2 Houston lost to unranked opponents on Tuesday. Nebraska rolled past Purdue to grab a dominant, 16-point win in Lincoln, and Iowa State stunned No. 2 Houston in Ames. The Cougars were the last undefeated team in men’s Division I basketball.
The four losses should, at least in theory, pave the way for UConn to jump to No. 1 in the rankings on Monday. The Huskies, who are currently ranked No. 4, survived a scare against unranked Xavier on Wednesday night and grabbed a tight 80-75 road win.
Mississippi State fends off No. 5 Tennessee
Mississippi State and Tolu Smith got the job done Wednesday.
The Bulldogs, with Smith back in the starting lineup after an offseason injury, powered past the Vols at Humphrey Coliseum. They flew to a 15-point lead just before halftime while holding Tennessee to 33% shooting from the field in the first 20 minutes. The Volunteers’ 22 points in the first half marked their worst output of the season.
Although Tennessee tied it back up by the final media timeout and Dalton Knecht threw down a huge dunk to tie it once again with 34 seconds left on the clock, that was as close as the Vols got. Smith responded with an and-1 layup through a ton of contact, and then Cameron Matthews threw down a dunk of his own after forcing a turnover at the buzzer to seal the five-point win.
🏀 What a game for Mississippi State men’s basketball
The Bulldogs top 5-Tennessee, 77-72
It’s MSU’s first AP Top 10 win since 2002
MRA grad Josh Hubbard led with 25 points
Tolu Smith had 23
Here’s the wild ending: pic.twitter.com/4aQwtHjXlC
— David Edelstein 🌐 (@davidzedelstein) January 11, 2024
Knecht led Tennessee with 28 points and six rebounds in the loss while shooting 10-of-18 from the field. Zakai Zeigler had 26 points and seven assists. Those two combined for all eight of Tennessee’s 3-pointers on the night, and they were the only two to score in double figures. The loss was Tennessee’s fourth on the season, and it snapped a seven-game winning streak.
Josh Hubbard led Mississippi State with 25 points off the bench, thanks to five made 3-pointers. Smith added 23 points and shot 7-of-10 from the field. The Bulldogs are now 12-3 on the season and have won six of their past seven games.
UCF rallies to beat No. 3 Kansas
Kansas got out in front early Wednesday and seemed poised to cruise to an easy win in its first conference trip to Orlando. The Jayhawks picked up a 16-point lead near the end of the first half and had little issue shutting down the Knights early.
UCF, however, closed the first half on a 10-2 run to cut the game back to single digits at the break. Then the Knights limited Kansas to 23 points in the second half — and just three points in the final three minutes of the game. The Jayhawks’ only points down the stretch came from a 3-pointer from Hunter Dickinson with 17 seconds left on the clock, but it was too late. Darius Johnson hit a pair of free throws to push UCF’s lead back to five points, and the Knights got one last stop to secure the win — which sparked a big celebration at Addition Financial Arena.
That was only fitting, considering that it was the first Big 12 win in program history.
Kevin McCullar led Kansas with 16 points in the loss, and Dickinson was held to 12 points and four rebounds. K.J. Adams finished with 10 points and seven rebounds and was the only other Jayhawks player to hit double figures.
Jaylin Sellers led UCF with 18 points in the win after he shot 7-of-11 from the field. Johnson finished with 17 points and six assists, and Ibrahima Diallo added 13 points. UCF now sits at 10-4 on the season and entered Wednesday on the heels of a 25-point loss to Kansas State to kick off conference play last week. It marked the Knights’ first win over a ranked opponent this season, too, after they fell to Miami early.
While the win is undoubtedly huge for the program, the Knights won’t have much time to celebrate. They’ve got No. 18 BYU, No. 25 Texas and No. 2 Houston waiting in their next three games.
Welcome to the Big 12.
No. 9 Oklahoma, No. 11 Marquette fall to unranked teams, too
There were a few other notable upsets on Wednesday night, too.
TCU, after coming up just shy of beating Kansas on Saturday, flew past No. 9 Oklahoma to grab its first Big 12 win on Wednesday. The Horned Frogs, behind a 27-point performance from Emanuel Miller, rolled to a 80-71 win over the Sooners in Fort Worth.
After Oklahoma tied the game up not even a minute into the second half, TCU took off. The Horned Frogs quickly pushed back ahead to a double digit lead and sealed the nine-point win without much issue.
Miller had nine rebounds and shot 11-of-17 from the field while dropping a game-high 27 points, which pushed him over the 1,000-points mark in his career. Avery Anderson added 15 points, and Jameer Nelson finished with 13 points off the bench. Javian McCollum led Oklahoma with 17 points and six rebounds, and Milos Uzan added 13 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds.
The loss for Oklahoma really shouldn’t be that surprising. TCU, now 12-3 on the year, is off to a great start this season and looks very capable of holding its own in the best conference in the country. The Horned Frogs will get another chance to prove that on Saturday, too, when they host No. 2 Houston.
No. 11 Marquette, on the other hand, might be in trouble. The Golden Eagles, who lost to Seton Hall last week, stumbled in the second half on Wednesday in Milwaukee. Butler rallied out of a seven-point halftime hole to grab a big 69-62 upset win. It’s the Bulldogs’ first over a ranked team this season, and it snapped a three-game losing skid.
Pierre Brooks led the way with 14 points for Butler, and Landon Moore added 14 points off the bench. Butler, which shot 45.5% from behind the arc, still got the win despite making 18 turnovers as a team.
Kam Jones led Marquette with 20 points, but shot just 1-of-10 from the 3-point line. Oso Ighodaro added 12 points and Stevie Mitchell finished with 10 points. Marquette shot an awful 5-of-31 from behind the arc.