A mask-wearing McNeese State hooper. A Memphis participant attempting — and bless his coronary heart, failing in spectacular vogue — to start out the season together with his jersey on backwards. A scheduled recreation being referred to as off simply hours earlier than tipoff due to constructive COVID-19 exams.
The 2020-21 faculty basketball season obtained underway Wednesday, however very like the remainder of the bumpy yr that’s 2020, it was something however an unusual opening day.
Listed here are the highs, lows and highlights from the opening-day motion because the season will get off to its begin.
Cade Cunningham leads OSU to shut win
It wasn’t fairly, at the least not for Oklahoma State, however Cade Cunningham’s Cowboys obtained it completed on the street Wednesday with a 75-68 win over UT Arlington to open their season. Cunningham, the No. 1 general nationwide recruit in final yr’s recruiting cycle and the favourite to go No. 1 general within the 2021 NBA Draft, scored 21 factors and added 10 rebounds and three assists within the effort. He was considered one of three Pokes who reached double figures in scoring, together with Keylan Boone (10) and Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe (11).
Coming off a monster junior season by which he completed second in Nationwide Participant of the Yr voting and earned consensus All-American honors, Iowa large man Luka Garza picked up proper the place he left off. The 6-foot-11 Garza paced Iowa in its 97-67 win over North Carolina Central with 26 factors, 10 rebounds and three blocks … in solely 24 minutes of motion in a recreation that was effectively in hand.
A few dramatic finishes
Opening day introduced a number of dramatic finishes, together with a buzzer-beater from Loyola Marymount’s Justin Anderson. The true freshman taking part in in his first faculty recreation hit a fallaway jumper from the baseline on the ultimate horn to elevate the Lions to an 85-83 win over Southern Utah.
A game-winner by South Alabama’s Michael Flowers was not technically a buzzer-beater. However the senior switch from Western Michigan lifted the Jaguars to a 68-66 win over Florida Atlantic together with his contested step-back 3-pointer that hit nothing however web with one second left. The second was particularly important for Flowers as a result of it got here the day after his father’s dying, in response to South Alabama coach Richie Riley.
“He missed a couple of week to go be there for his dad,” Riley stated. “I bear in mind telling him that he has to placed on a present for his dad. I do know his dad was smiling down and he was pleased with him tonight. It reveals what sort of particular person he’s for him to have the ability to play how he did tonight.”
4 freshman begin for Kentucky in straightforward win
It seems the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class featured some fairly good gamers. Or at the least it certain appeared that method as No. 10 Kentucky cruised to an 81-45 win over Morehead State. The Wildcats began 4 freshmen, they usually mixed for 46 factors. Brandon Boston Jr. led the way in which with 15 factors. Devin Askew and Terrence Clarke every contributed 12 factors, whereas Isaiah Jackson contributed 9 factors and two blocks.
A dominant win was anticipated contemplating that Morehead State opened the season ranked No. 320 at KenPom. But it surely was an encouraging signal nonetheless for a Kentucky workforce that didn’t use a single participant who performed important minutes for this system final season.
St. Francis (Pa.) shocks Pittsburgh
St. Francis (Pa.) got here inside a recreation of profitable the Northeast Convention Match in Pittsburgh final season earlier than the Pink Flash’s finest marketing campaign since 1991 ended with a loss to Robert Morris.
This system started the brand new season again within the Metal Metropolis on Wednesday and picked up a win that will have been much more historic than the one it missed out within the Northeast Convention championship recreation again in March. The Pink Flash knocked off Pittsburgh 80-70 within the season-opener for each groups. St. Francis pressured Pittsburgh into 23 turnovers and held the Panthers to only 6-of-24 capturing from 3-point vary. The Pink Flash is now 1-29 all-time in opposition to Pittsburgh.
Illinois reveals off its depth, star energy
In the event you took heed to my preseason recommendation — and why would not you might have?! — then you will have gotten in on Illinois earlier than it is too late with 15-1 nationwide title odds. Wednesday was about pretty much as good because it may’ve been for the Illini. Returning star Ayo Dosunmu scored a career-high 28 factors and made a career-high 5 3-pointers, however maybe extra impressively, freshman Adam Miller added 28 factors of his personal and knocked down six of his eight 3-point makes an attempt.
We already knew primarily based off final season and the returning gamers this season that Dosunmu and large man Kofi Cockburn — who had 18 factors and 10 boards — could be a drive. However Miller’s scoring skill is a game-changing expertise that may elevate this Illini workforce from excellent to probably nice. We need not crown this workforce but, in fact — North Carolina A&T got here in at No. 338 on Matt Norlander’s preseason rankings of each workforce within the sport — however circle this recreation. It is likely to be an indication of larger issues to return in Champaign.
DJ Jeffries with the Doug Gottlieb out of the gate
Are you able to consider any single image that higher sums up 2020? Bueller? Bueller? That is proper. You may’t.
Eerily reminiscent to Doug Gottlieb’s notorious backwards-shorts outing in opposition to Kansas. And it was a foreshadowing of how the sport would go for Jeffries, sadly, as he completed 2-of-10 capturing for 4 factors. Memphis obtained the 73-56 win over Saint Mary’s, although, and Jeffries managed so as to add a team-high 9 boards.
Shouts to this mask-wearing McNeese State hooper
McNeese State guard Ra’Shawn Langston wore a masks whereas balling the heck out within the Cowboys’ opener, main the workforce in assists (3) and ending second in scoring (10) in a powerful off the bench displaying.
He was the one participant on the ground to put on a masks, however you already know someplace Dr. Anthony Fauci is smiling with delight. Signal of the occasions.
Virginia star switch addition shines in debut
Marquette star-turned Virginia star Sam Hauser scored 19 factors on 7-of-9 capturing on Wednesday in his debut with the fourth-ranked Cavaliers, together with an ideal 3-for-3 mark from the 3-point line. His 19 factors had been simply shy of a team-high 21 from Trey Murphy III, and his eight rebounds was tops on the workforce as UVA opened its season with a blistering 89-54 beatdown of Towson. Towson missed practically twice as many photographs because it made within the recreation (18-of-49).