Coach Bryant arrived for Monday afternoon’s taping of episode two of The (New) Clint Bryant Show ready to tell about his experience at Saturday’s Clemson Basketball Reunion. An assistant coach for Clemson from 1977 to 1984, Bryant was one of more than ninety former Tigers in attendance for Saturday’s Military Appreciation Day game against ACC foe Miami. Episode one listeners will know the game held extra special meaning for Bryant, who also served as Miami’s Associate Head Coach from 1984 to 1988 before becoming the head coach and athletic director for Augusta University in 1988.
The Clemson-Miami game was one of six matchups between teams ranked in the AP Top 25 Poll Saturday, which was probably the most exciting day of the season so far.
Down goes No. 1
No. 1 Purdue fell to Indiana 79-74 in Assembly Hall, and the hysterical Hoosiers fans stormed the court in celebration. The game featured Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year favorite Zach Edey of Purdue, who scored 31 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, and fellow POY candidate Trayce Jackson-Davis, who scored 25 in the victory for Indiana. Indiana also got 16 points from true freshman Jalen Hood-Schifino, a former five star high school recruit.
Game of the day
I agree with Coach Bryant that Saturday’s 78-70 overtime win for Saint Mary’s over Gonzaga was the most thrilling game of the week. The Gaels sent their home crowd into a frenzy by battling back from a double-digit deficit to take their first lead of the game in overtime. True freshman Aidan Mahaney, who stands 6’2” and weighs all of 150 pounds, put on a show by scoring 16 of his team high 18 points after halftime.
The wins at home for Indiana and Saint Mary’s reinforce a theme Coach Bryant has repeated since the beginning of our project two weeks ago: the importance of home court advantage in college basketball. AP votes recognize the difficulty of winning on the road because Purdue remained No. 1 after losing to Indiana, who moved up three spots to No. 18 in this week’s poll. Gonzaga moved down four spots to No. 16 while Saint Mary’s moved up three to No. 15.
Virginia only fell two spots to No. 8 after losing on the road to their unranked rival Virginia Tech. Tennessee fell from No. 2 to No. 6 after losing at unranked Florida Wednesday. And despite losing four of its last six games, Kansas fell only one spot to No. 9 after losing on the road to No. 11 Iowa State.
Conversely, Texas defeated Kansas State on the road Saturday. The reward for the Longhorns was a No. 5 ranking, five spots higher than last week. And the punishment for losing at home for Kansas State was an identical five-spot move to No. 12.
(Monday night at the time of this submission, No. 5 Texas is trying to win at No. 9 Kansas to retain the top spot in the standings in the Big 12, the best conference in the country.)
Closer to home
The top 25 matchups that Coach Bryant and I were tracking last week were not contained only to the Division I field. No. 14 Augusta hosted No. 21 North Georgia Wednesday.
The home team prevailed to take the top spot in the Division II Peach Belt Conference standings. 7’1” senior center Tyshaun Crawford, a Bevo Francis Award (Small College Basketball Player of the Year) candidate led the Jaguars with 23 points in the victory. Crawford followed that effort with a career high 35 points Saturday in Augusta’s 86-61 home win over Georgia College. On Monday Crawford was named the Peach Belt Conference Player of the Week.
With six conference games remaining, Augusta (19-3, 10-2) will travel to Lander (16-6, 8-4) Wednesday before returning home to host Young Harris (17-4, 8-4) Saturday and USC Aiken (15-7, 8-4) the following Wednesday.