The week of early season basketball tournaments continued in exciting fashion on Wednesday night with close games between Long Beach State-Pittsburgh and Oklahoma State-UT-San Antonio leading the way.
Take a look at IBTimes' review of last night's big games, John Calipari's reliance on his freshman, and a preview of tonight's biggest games.
Long Beach State Takes Down Pittsburgh
In the upset of the night, Long Beach State stunned perennial Big East power Pittsburgh, 86-76, at home. Long Beach State's Casper Ware led all scorers with a career-high 28 points in a signature win for Dan Monson's team. Monson is putting through his team through an absolute gauntlet to give it an outside chance of getting an at-large bid should it fail to win its league's championship.
The hope for Monson is to use the win as momentum with games against San Diego State, No. 7 Louisville, No. 11 Kansas, No. 1 North Carolina, and No. 14 Xavier all scheduled before the New Year.
I told 'em the first meeting of the year that playing this schedule is unacceptable, Monson told reporters after the game. It's time for this team to stop playing the toughest schedule and start competing against the toughest schedule.
The loss for Pittsburgh at home will be tough for coach Jamie Dixon to swallow, but it can't be completely unexpected. Dixon said at the Big East's media day that his team might be highly ranked more on reputation than on experience or roster strengths.
(We) actually look at it as a young team, but people just think they will be good no matter what, Dixon said.
Pittsburgh had won 80 straight home games in the months of November and December before Wednesday night's loss. Dixon will need the Big East's preseason player of the year, Ashton Gibbs, to exert some senior leadership and get some of the younger players to perform better.
Calipari Relying on Freshmen
If you watched any of Tuesday night's Kentucky-Kansas game at Madison Square Garden, you noticed that John Calipari has an abundance of talent, but will have his share of headaches with his youngsters. Calipari brought in the consensus No. 1 recruiting class in the nation last year with forwards Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Anthony Davis, Kyle Wiltjer, and guard Marquis Teague.
Calipari's freshman class showed incredible promise in the big win over No. 11 Kansas, but also executed the type of boneheaded plays that are sure to drive Cal up a wall.
We don't believe we have to truly play together yet, Calipari said after the 75-65 win. This is not a good team yet. We're not bad, but we aren't good yet.
If the freshmen can mesh well with sophomores Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb, there might not be a single team in the country that can compete with the Wildcats. But as Calipari mentioned in his postgame, the key will be getting the players to get out of that AAU basketball mindset and start running the offense.
Did they even look coached in the first half? he asked a group of reporters at Madison Square Garden/ I mean seriously. Someone yelled, 'Jeez, run a play! Coach, run something!' And I wanted to say, 'You tell them! I'm trying to tell them!' We are really young. Really young.
Other Games You Missed Last Night
Oklahoma State 90, UT-San Antonio 85
Long live Cezar Guerrero! At least that should be what Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford says after his freshman guard almost singlehandedly carried the Cowboys to the overtime win. Guerrero sank eight three-pointers, including a critical one when Oklahoma State was down three with 8.8 seconds left, to lead the team to the overtime victory over the upstart Road Runners.
The tremendous performance by Guerrero at the end of the game reminded some of Reggie Miller's legendary late game performance against the Knicks in 1995, but the future star hopes to create his own legacy.
People said I did a Reggie Miller on them, Guerrero told Yahoo Sports I just want to say I did the Cezar Guerrero on them.
North Carolina State 60, Princeton 58
North Carolina State managed to hold off Princeton after DeShawn Painter hit a game winning jumper with 4.2 seconds left. The Wolfpack, under first-year coach Mark Gottfried, trailed by nine points at the half and struggled to deal with Princeton's methodical style. NC State managed to come out with the win, but the struggles could prove to be an issue going forward.
We're in the infant stages with our team and hopefully building something great, Gottfried said. Sometimes you're going to have games like this where you have to dig down and overcome some obstacles.
Thursday's Must Watch Games
Maryland vs. No. 15 Alabama, 5 p.m. on ESPN2
Can Alabama live up to the lofty hype surrounding its basketball program this year? That's the biggest question headed into the school's matchup against a new-look Maryland Terrapins team. The Tide get Maryland at an opportune time, as first-year coach Mark Turgeon's squad is very shorthanded with only seven healthy scholarship players. Alabama will hope to get stars Tony Mitchell and JaMychal Green going early against an unproven Terps frontcourt.
No. 18 Texas A&M vs. Mississippi State, 7 p.m. on ESPN2
Without star forward Khris Middleton, all eyes will be on Texas A&M's tandem of Turners - forward Ray and guard Elston - to carry the scoring load for the Aggies. The Aggies come into the game as a 4.5-point favorite, but could have some issues handling Mississippi State's hefty forward, Renardo Sidney. Sidney's had his share of weight issues - most think he's more than 300 pounds now - but can be a dominant force when he goes all out.
Purdue vs. Iona, 1 p.m. on ESPNU
At first glance Purdue-Iona doesn't scream must watch television, but the game expects to be a delight for college basketball's dedicated fans. Purdue has a healthy Robbie Hummel ready to lead the way, while Iona counters with senior Mike Glover and Arizona transfer Momo Jones. Purdue comes in as the favorite, but Iona certainly has the firepower to keep up with Purdue in what could be the most entertaining game of the day.