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January 21, 2008

Weekend Rewind: Underdogs steal the show

Two top-five teams looked vulnerable Saturday against teams that appeared to be struggling.

Previously undefeated and top-ranked North Carolina fell at home to Maryland, 82-80. Maryland dropped its first two ACC games and lost to the likes of American and Ohio on its home court.

UCLA also lost at home, falling to rival USC 72-63. The Bruins were riding a nine-game winning streak and were off to a 4-0 start in Pac-10 play. The Trojans lost their first three league games.

Those shocking upsets overshadowed some remarkable developments in the Big East.

West Virginia, Cincinnati and DePaul each moved to 4-2 and into a tie for second place in the league standings after wins on Saturday.

It's a strange sight considering all three of those teams were supposed to be closer to the bottom than the top. The Mountaineers were picked to finish in 10th in the league's preseason media poll, followed by the Blue Demons at 11th and the Bearcats at 12th.

The Bearcats, who were just 2-14 in the Big East last season, pulled off a 62-59 upset over No. 16 Pittsburgh for their third win in four games. It was their second win over a top-25 team (they upset Villanova last week) in eight days.

The Mountaineers are now riding a three-game winning streak after a 69-52 win at South Florida.

The Blue Demons put together a late comeback to beat visiting Rutgers 75-73.

Team of the Weekend: USC

Maryland's upset of North Carolina may have been more surprising, but the Trojans' performance at Pauley Pavilion was more impressive. The Trojans had the second-highest field goal percentage of a Bruin opponent since Ben Howland took over the program five years ago, shooting 60.9 percent (28 of 46). The Trojans were also superb on defense, holding the Bruins to just 33.3 percent (22 of 66).

The Trojans played unselfishly throughout, racking up 20 assists. Much of the credit must go to freshman forward Davon Jefferson, who played his best game yet. Jefferson scored a game-high 25 points on a series of mid-range jumpers and explosive drives to the basket.

What you might have missed
[li] Virginia Tech freshman Jeff Allen was ejected from the Hokies' 81-70 loss to Georgia Tech with 4:32 left for arguing with officials after fouling out. Allen finished with 13 points and six rebounds.

[li] UNC-Asheville 7-foot-7 center Kenny George played just 12.9 seconds against VMI, but scored the winning basket in the Bulldogs' 90-87 triumph in overtime. George came into the game with 12.9 seconds left, immediately caught an inbounds pass and laid it in to put the Bulldogs up 88-87. UNC-Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach kept George out because he felt the big man needed rest.

[li] Kansas State announced that senior forward David Hoskins will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. Hoskins, who suffered the injury in the preseason, averaged 14.9 ppg and 5.9 rpg last season.

[li] Eddie Sutton picked up career win No. 799 when San Francisco came away with a 60-59 win at Portland. Sutton came out of retirement to fill in for former Dons coach Jessie Evans on an interim basis. Sutton will look for No. 800 when the Dons travel to Gonzaga on Tuesday.

Breakouts & Breakdowns

Breakout: The NCAA record for most 3-pointers taken and made without a miss in a single game now belongs to a little-known guard from a mid-major conference. George Mason's Dre Smith went 10 of 10 from beyond the arc in the Patriots' 96-75 win over James Madison. Three different players had gone 9-for-9. Smith, a junior from Houston, finished with a career-high 34 points. That was more than three times his season average of 11.1 ppg.

Breakout: Kansas State rolled to a 75-54 upset of Texas A&M despite star Michael Beasley being stuck on the bench for most of the first half with foul trouble. Redshirt freshman Bill Walker carried the Wildcats offense while Beasley was sitting. Walker hit a career-high five 3-pointers (on 10 attempts) and finished with 19 points.

Breakdown: Roy Williams' last-minute Xs and Os. The sight of Tyler Hansbrough missing a 3-pointer as time expired in the Tar Heels' loss to Maryland was a bewildering sight. Hansbrough had missed all three of his attempts from 3-point range heading into the game. There should have been a more concentrated effort to get the ball in the hands of Wayne Ellington or Ty Lawson.

Breakout: Auburn guards Frank Tolbert and Dewayne Reed. Each player in this unheralded duo had the best game of his career against Ole Miss, sparking an 80-77 upset of the Rebels. Tolbert went 9-for-11 from the field (81.8 percent) and scored a career-high 29 points. Reed made four of seven 3-pointers (57.1 percent) and scored a career-high 21 points.

Breakout: Connecticut's offense. Five Huskies scored in double figures in UConn's 89-73 upset of Marquette. That included guard Craig Austrie, who came off the bench to score 15 points. The Huskies attempted a season-high 39 free throws and made 33 (84.6 percent).

Breakdown: Clemson and South Florida's free-throw shooting. Clemson's failures from the charity stripe continue to prove costly. The Tigers made just 10 of 23 (43.5 percent) in a 93-80 loss at Duke. South Florida was even worse in its loss to the Mountaineers, going 4-for-15 (26.6 percent). The main culprit was center Kentrell Gransberry, who was 2-for-11 (18.1 percent).

Breakdown: Syracuse star freshman Donte Greene went to the bench early in the second half against Villanova after picking up his fourth foul. Orange coach Jim Boeheim then gambled, inserting Greene with 9:30 left and the Wildcats up 57-53. Greene barely lasted three minutes, fouling out with 5:25 to go after unwisely trying to take a charge. Without Greene for the final minutes, Syracuse allowed the Wildcats to pull away for an 81-71 win.

Breakout: The most shocking individual performance of the weekend came from Georgia Tech guard Matt Causey, who came off the bench to score a career-high 30 points in 22 minutes in Georgia Tech's 81-70 win over Virginia Tech. Causey, whose previous career high was 11 points, was 7-for-12 (58.3 percent) from 3-point range.

Breakdown: Pittsburgh freshman DeJuan Blair was a non-factor in the Panthers' surprising loss to Cincinnati. Blair, who missed most of the second half due to foul trouble, did not make a single field goal (0-of-2) and was held to a season-low four points and three rebounds.

Top Performers
Scottie Reynolds, Villanova
25 points, six rebounds, four steals in Wildcats' 81-71 win at Syracuse
Set a season-high for steals and went 9-for-10 from the free-throw line.
Stephen Curry, Davidson
37 points, four steals in the Wildcats' 85-58 win over Chattanooga
Curry did most of his damage from 3-point range, knocking down eight of 14 attempts (57.1 percent) from beyond the arc.
Matt Causey, Georgia Tech
30 points in Georgia Tech's 81-70 win over Virginia Tech
Nearly tripled his previous career high (11 points) in just 22 minutes.
Nick Calathes, Florida
24 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in Florida's 81-70 win over Kentucky in overtime
This freshman led the Gators in points, rebounds and assists.
Brook Lopez, Stanford
19 points, 16 rebounds in the Cardinal's 67-52 win over Arizona State
Lopez's double-double sent the Sun Devils to their first Pac-10 loss.

Andrew Skwara is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at askwara@rivals.com.

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