UNC, Temple and Oregon fall as the ranks of unbeaten teams continue to dwindle
Turkey wasn’t the only thing being carved up on Thursday. The ranks of college basketball’s remaining undefeated Div. I teams were also sliced by three as North Carolina, Temple and Oregon all went down to defeat in afternoon games on Thanksgiving day.
Eli Brooks tallied 24 points, tying his career best, as Michigan (6-0) knocked sixth-ranked North Carolina (5-1) from the ranks of the nation’s undefeated teams with a 73-64 victory in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis in Paradise Island in the Bahamas earlier this afternoon.
It was the sixth straight win for first-year head coach Juwan Howard, a 19-year NBA veteran and former member of the 1991 Fab Five — believed by many to be the greatest recruiting class in college basketball history.
The Wolverines, who scored nineteen unanswered points in the second half, advance to tomorrow’s championship game against eighth-ranked Gonzaga (8-0) while the Tar Heels will play once-beaten Oregon (6-1) in the third-place game.
In a battle of unbeaten teams in the Battle 4 Atlantis second semifinal game, Gonzaga (8-0) narrowly defeated Oregon 73-72 overtime. Oregon, which rallied from a 19-point deficit to defeat Seton Hall 71-69 on Wednesday to advance to this afternoon’s semifinals, mounted a second straight furious comeback by rallying from seventeen points down to send the game into overtime.
Overcoming a sluggish start, fifth-ranked Maryland (6-0) defeated previously undefeated Temple 76-69 in the opening game of the Orlando Invitational.
Senior Anthony Cowan, Jr., scored a career-high 30 points for the Terrapins, including twenty in the second half, while Temple’s Alani Moore II tallied a team-high 22 points. Moore, a 5-10 senior from Washington, D.C.’s Friendship Collegiate Academy, made a career-high six of ten shots from beyond the arc in the losing effort.
With the victory, Maryland advances to Friday’s semifinals against Ivy League preseason favorite Harvard (5-2) — a 62-51 winner over Texas A&M — while Temple (4-1) faces Texas A&M (3-2) in the consolation bracket.
Harvard’s Justin Bassey, a 6-5 senior guard from Denver, led four players in double figures with a season-high 16 points in leading the Crimson into tomorrow’s semifinal matchup against highly-touted Maryland.
Three other undefeated teams will put their early season perfect records on the line later tonight when Texas Tech (5-0) plays once-beaten Iowa (4-1) and San Diego State (6-0) meets Creighton (4-1) in the Las Vegas Invitational while fourteenth-ranked Arizona (6-0) plays potentially pesky Pepperdine (3-4) — a squad coming off hard-fought back-to-back losses to USC and undefeated Sacramento State — in a late-night matchup in the Wooden Legacy at the Anaheim Convention Center.
In other afternoon games, Penny Hardaway’s sixteenth-ranked Memphis Tigers (6-1) built a commanding 55-39 halftime lead and held off slow-starting North Carolina State 83-78 at the Barclay’s Center Classic in Brooklyn.
Freshman guard Boogie Ellis paced the once-beaten Tigers with 21 points while North Carolina State’s Markell Johnson led all scorers with a game-high 22 points and six assists.
USC (6-1), rebounding from a nine-point loss to Temple last weekend, defeated Fairfield 54-47 in the Orlando Invitational, Long Beach State (3-4) overcame a nine-point halftime deficit to edge Providence in a 66-65 thriller at the Wooden Legacy, and Matthew Driscoll’s UNF Ospreys (5-3), coming off back-to-back losses to Iowa and Creighton in last weekend’s opening rounds, outran LIU 95-92 in the consolation bracket of the Las Vegas Holiday Invitational.