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Liberty stuns Vandy on the road to remain unbeaten, Auburn survives Saint Louis

Credit: Liberty Flames

Forward Myo Baxter-Bell scored 18 points as visiting Liberty University (12-0) remained undefeated by upsetting Vanderbilt 61-56 in Nashville on Saturday night.  Liberty’s smothering defense limited the Commodores to 23 percent shooting in the second half.

Last night’s game was the first of five consecutive road games for the Flames, who play at Towson on Friday.

J’ Von McCormick scored a game-high 20 points as twelfth-ranked Auburn (9-0) also remained perfect on the season with a 67-61 win over Saint Louis (8-2) in the Michael L. Slive Invitational at the Legacy Arena in Birmingham. 

Junior Jordan Goodwin scored 15 points and snared a dozen rebounds for the Billikens, who jumped out to an early 8-0 lead.

Saint Louis could have come away with a win, but made only 8 of 19 shots from the charity stripe.

Auburn will put its season opening nine-game winning streak on the line when it hosts North Carolina State on Thursday.

Corey Kispert scored 18 points and Filip Petrusev chipped in 16 as sixth-ranked Gonzaga (11-1) held off a late rally by No. 15 Arizona (10-2) to defeat the Wildcats 84-80 in Tucson. 

Coming off his worst shooting performance of the season, junior guard Mason Jones erupted for a career-high 41 points as Arkansas (9-1), rebounding from an 86-79 loss at Western Kentucky last weekend, spanked visiting Tulsa 98-79 on Saturday. 

Sophomore guard Elijah Joiner led the Tulsa attack with 19 points.  With the loss, the Golden Hurricane dropped to 8-3.

West Virginia also improved to 9-1 on the season with a resounding 83-57 win over Nicholls State at the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown on Saturday.  Sophomore Derek Culver scored 16 points and grabbed 16 rebounds while freshman Oscar Tshiebwe added 15 points and grabbed 11 boards for the Mountaineers, who play at Youngstown State on Saturday before taking on undefeated Ohio State in the Cleveland Classic on Dec. 29.

Wichita State, also boasting a 9-1 mark, edged Oklahoma 80-75 at the Charles Koch Arena in Wichita on Saturday.  The Shockers were led by sophomore guard Erik Stevenson, who scored 16 points.  

Texas, too, improved to 9-1 with an 87-76 win over Central Michigan.  The Longhorns, who trailed by six at the break, have won five in a row since losing to Georgetown on Nov. 21.

Oscar da Silva scored 25 points — one shy of his career record — as Stanford also joined the 9-1 club with a relatively easy 78-58 victory over San Jose State.

Senior guard Jordan Ford scored a game-high 32 points and 6-8 junior forward Malik Fitts tallied 28 points as Saint Mary’s (9-2) defeated Cal 89-77 in Berkeley.  Sophomore forward Andre Kelly led the Golden Bears, who fell to 6-5, with a team-high 26 points.   

Senior point guard Payton Pritchard scored 23 points as tenth-ranked Oregon (8-2) defeated Michigan 71-70 in overtime at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor.  It was the second straight loss for the fifth-ranked Wolverines and the third in their past four games.  

It was raining threes at the Purcell Pavilion as Notre Dame (8-3) buried fifteen shots from beyond the arc in a 75-61 win over UCLA (7-4). 

Prentiss Hubb, who was one of four Notre Dame players to score in double figures, paced the Fighting Irish with 20 points, including five 3-pointers.  Hubb, a 6-3 sophomore guard, also had a game-high six assists.  Senior John Mooney, who posted an ACC-leading 11.2 rebounds per game last season, tallied fourteen points and hauled down a game-high thirteen boards.

Coming off the bench, junior Chris Smith led the otherwise-anemic UCLA offense with 10 points.  Redshirt freshman Shareef O’Neal — Shaquille O’Neal’s son — grabbed a team-high eleven rebounds and tallied eight points for the Bruins, who had won three out of four coming into Saturday’s contest.

Three players scored in double figures as No. 18 Butler improved to 10-1 on Saturday with an easy 66-41 victory over visiting Southern (3-8).  The unselfish Bulldogs forced eighteen turnovers in the game while limiting the Jaguars to 28 percent shooting from the field.

Nate Darling, a UAB transfer, scored a game-high 29 points but it was all for naught as Delaware (9-2) lost to No. 20 Villanova 78-70 in the second game of a doubleheader at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.  It was the second straight setback for the Fightin’ Blue Hens after opening the season with a program record nine straight victories to open the season.

Mississippi State rallied from behind to defeat Kansas State 67-61 in the first game of the doubleheader.

Lamar Stevens and Curtis Jones — the latter coming off the bench — scored 18 points apiece as Penn State (9-2), which knocked off previously unbeaten Maryland earlier this week, held off Alabama 73-71 in State College, Pa.  With the loss, the Tide dropped to 4-5.

Freshman Kevon Harris scored 17 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished off seven assists as Stephen F. Austin (8-2) won for the fourth time in its last five games by defeating UL-Monroe 66-59 at the William R. Johnson Coliseum in Nacogdoches, Texas.  The Lumberjacks forced eighteen turnovers in the game, which was tied at halftime.

Jalen Hodge paced ULM with 17 points.

In other Saturday action, second-ranked Kansas pummeled UMKC 98-57, Brigham Young (9-4) handed Utah State (10-2) its second loss of the season with a 68-64 victory over the Aggies in the Beehive Classic in Salt Lake City, Remy Martin scored 23 points as Arizona State (8-2) cruised past Georgia 79-59 and Jordan Lyons scored 26 points as Furman (10-2) beat Winthrop 80-73.  Trey Wertz hit a layup with three seconds remaining as Santa Clara (10-2) quietly won its tenth game of the season with a thrilling 60-58 win over Sacramento State and Rutgers (8-3) routed 22nd-ranked Seton Hall 68-48 — almost assuredly knocking the Pirates out of next week’s national rankings.

In Div. III action, Greenville University — the highest-scoring team in NCAA history — lost to Fontbonne University 142-129 yesterday afternoon in St. Louis.  Fontbonne’s Jalen Wadlington scored a game-high 36 points as no fewer than fourteen players from both teams scored in double figures during the track meet.  In their last meeting, George Barber’s Greenville Panthers scored an eye-popping 200 points against Fontbonne.

Darcy G. Richardson is a historian and the author of more than a dozen books. His latest is Loyola's Improbable Ramblers: 55 Years in the Making, available now on Amazon.

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