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Florida A&M stuns Iowa State 70-68, No. 18 Butler nips St. John’s

In the only major surprise in college hoops on New Year’s Eve, road-weary Florida A&M (2-9) rallied from a 12-point second-half deficit to stun Iowa State 70-68 before a crowd of 13,411 in Ames, Iowa.  

Coming off a 71-57 win at Seattle on Saturday — their first win of the season — while not playing a single home game yet this season, the Rattlers were paced by senior guard Rod Melton, Jr., who scored 20 points.  Melton connected on 9 of 13 shots, scoring fifteen of his twenty points in the final twenty minutes.

Despite a sluggish start, Wisconsin (8-5) made 13 of 31 shots from beyond the arc in smothering Rider 65-37 in Madison.  The Broncs (7-4), who never found their shooting touch, were limited to a season-low eleven points in the first half.

The three nationally-ranked teams in action on Tuesday survived unscathed.  Freshman Matthew Hurt scored a season-high 25 points as second-ranked Duke (12-1) cruised past Boston College 88-49 in Durham, Christian David hit a clutch 3-pointer with 43 seconds remaining to lift No. 11 Butler (13-1) past St. John’s (11-3), and 18th-ranked Florida State (12-2) was able to grind out a 70-58 victory over Georgia Tech.  The Seminoles blocked nine shots and forced 20 turnovers, including eleven steals, in the latter contest.

In other New Year’s Eve action, Temple’s Quinton Rose scored 16 points and had six rebounds and three assists as the Owls improved to 9-3 with a hard-fought 62-58 victory over UCF (9-4) in Orlando in an American Athletic Conference opener for both teams.  It was Temple’s first conference opening win since 2015-16.

Providence (8-6) jumped out to an overwhelming 54-23 halftime advantage in beating Georgetown 76-60.  The Friars had four players in double figures, including a game-high 20 points by 6-7 senior Alpha Diallo, tying his season best.  The loss snapped the Hoyas’ (10-4) six-game winning streak.

D.J. Vasiljevic buried a 3-pointer with 59 seconds left in overtime as the Miami Hurricanes (9-3) defeated Clemson 73-68.  Chris Lykes scored a game-high 27 points for Miami, which won on the road for the third time this season after dropping all eleven true road games in 2018-19.  With the loss, host Clemson fell to 6-7 and 0-3 in the ACC.

Northern Iowa (11-2) blew a 10-point halftime lead and lost for just the second time this season as it fell to Illinois State 76-70 in a Missouri Valley Conference tilt.  D. J. Horne scored a season-high 22 points for the Redbirds, who scored 56 second-half points while improving to 6-7 overall.

Leading by only five points with just under five minutes to play, Bowling Green (9-4) used a 14-6 spurt down the stretch to defeat visiting Hartford 81-68 on New Year’s Eve.  The Falcons were led by 6-4 junior Justin Turner, who scored a game-high 22 points.  Hartford’s Malik Ellison, a 6-6 Pitt grad transfer, posted a double-double — his third in the past five games — with 21 points and 14 rebounds as the Hawks fell to 7-8.

Bowling Green, which hasn’t appeared in the NCAA Tournament since 1968, hosts Kent State in its MAC opener on Friday while Hartford plays at home against New Hampshire on Saturday.

Seniors Ryan Swan scored a season-high 25 points and Caleb Morris chipped in 22 as Air Force (7-7) routed UC Riverside 105-56 in Colorado Springs.

Senior forward Anthony Lamb scored 23 points and junior guard Stef Smith added 19 as host Vermont (9-5) — the America East preseason favorite — rolled past cold-shooting George Washington 76-51.

Playing in just his third game of the season, 6-7 forward Lamine Diane, who dominated the Big West last season, averaging 24.8 points and 11.2 rebounds per game, scored 34 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as Cal State Northridge (4-11) raced past visiting Morgan State 93-82.

In other games, Bradley (10-4) won its ninth consecutive home game with an 80-72 victory over Drake (10-4) and Missouri State (7-7) downed Evansville 65-52.

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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