Tip Off Marathon Winners and Losers

The college basketball season officially began last Friday, but it unofficially began Monday night with the ESPN Tip-Off Marathon. The sprawling event concluded late Tuesday after over 29 hours of basketball. That is a lot to digest. To help you wrap your head around the action, we are going to break down the winners and losers from the Tip Off Marathon.




The Wildcats completely and utterly wiped the floor with Kansas, 72-40. UK blocked 11 field goal attempts, Kansas made 11 total field goals. KU was held to 11 of 56 shooting. The Jayhawks were just 3 of 22 on layups according to SCACC Hoops data. Karl-Anthony Towns and Marcus Lee each had 4 blocks. Kansas scored 0.65 points per possession.

Kentucky’s offense was decent at 1.12 points per possession, but the Wildcats missed a lot of open looks from three and were 16-26 from the line. They pulled in nearly 38 percent of their misses, most when the game was in doubt. The Wildcats were incredibly balanced on offense: Dakari Johnson led the way with 11 points and Andrew Harrison added 10. I don’t know how one would watch this game and not come away impressed with Kentucky. The Cats did that to Kansas. Kansas.

basketballDuke’s Offense

The defense had some issues: Michigan State hit 50 percent from the field, 25 of 40 on twos, and pulled in 40 percent of its misses, but that was more than overcome by the Blue Devil offense. The Dukies shot 54 percent from the field, hit 7 of their 14 triples, and went 20 of 26 from the foul line for good measure. Jahlil Okafor had a huge game with 17 points on 8 of 10 shooting. It was the guards who shined. Quinn Cook produced a game-high 19 on 7-12 FGs / 3-4 3-pointers / 2-2 FTs with 6 assists. Tyus Jones had 17 on a slash line of 4-5 / 2-3 / 7-7 with 4 assists. Neither guard had a turnover. Duke scored 1.22 points per possession. That’s kinda good.

The defense can be improved, but that offense is going to win Duke a lot of games.


The Bulldogs ripped SMU apart, 72-56, on the back of 45 percent shooting. The Bulldogs dropped in 10 three-pointers and pulled down 16 offensive rebounds. The offense was clicking with Kevin Pangos dropping 17 points and 7 assists with 0 turnovers, Domantas Sabonis adding 13 points and 9 rebounds off the bench, and former Kentucky role player Kyle Witljer chipping in with 10 points in his debut. The thing that was most impressive was the defense. Gonzaga held SMU to 31 percent shooting and forced 13 turnovers, 6 of which were steals. The Bulldogs denied the paint to SMU, which forced the Mustangs into bad shots. The free throw shooting – 8 of 20 – was the only issue of the night. This looked like a legit top-10 team.

Even the students were rolling:

basketballThe Angel Rodriguez Show

Miami topped Florida, 69-67, behind Rodriguez’s 24 points. He popped in 24 on 7 of 17 shooting, including 5 of 8 from 3. When Miami was down two in the final 30 seconds, there was no doubt who was settling in for the go-ahead shot:

This overshadowed a 21-point game on 8-9 shooting from Florida’s Eli Carter. It was the first big upset of the season. It was a huge statement for Miami, a team thought to be in the middle of the ACC slog. It was a hell of a performance from Rodriguez in his first big game in two years after transferring from Kansas State and sitting out the 2013-’14 season. Fun.

basketballWichita State’s Guards

Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker earned a lot of love in the build-up to the season. VanVleet was a first team All-American. The Shocker guards went out and put the smack down on Memphis, 71-56. Baker led the way with 21 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 steals and a block, while VanVleet threw in 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists with 0 turnovers and 4 steals.

Those two didn’t even make the flashiest play of the day. That would be Tekele Cotton when Cotton put Memphis’ Shaq Goodwin on a poster.

basketballIowa State’s Starters

The Cyclones rode their starters hard against Georgia State in an 81-58 victory, and for good reason. The starting five scored 76 of the team’s 81 points, had 34 of the 38 rebounds, and turned the ball over only 9 times. Fred Hoiberg played his guys heavy minutes, 38-38-36-34-26. That will catch up with the Cyclones in the future, but it did not on Monday night against a manageable opponent. All five starters had at least 10 points, and the group of starters had 22 assists on 29 made field goals.

basketballOhio State’s Offense

The Buckeyes topped Marquette, 74-63, behind 65-percent shooting. OSU struggled like hell on offense last season, finishing 128th in Ken Pom. Currently the Buckeyes rank 33rd. With their defense, that’s a killer combo. A bounce back offensively makes Ohio State a national threat. Shannon Scott had 14 assists as OSU assisted on 23 of its 32 field goals.

basketballManhattan’s Buzzer Beating Play

You won’t see much better than that one. However, Manhattan lost to Massachusetts in overtime, 77-68. Cady Lalanne put up 23 points and 16 boards for UMass. That should be mentioned.


VCU’s 87-78 victory over Toledo came at the hands of the Rams’ pressure defense. Toledo was simply gassed late and couldn’t hang onto the ball – the Rockets committed 21 turnovers, 16 of which were steals. This was a fun back and forth game until VCU put the clamps down. It’s a nice win for Shaka Smart’s crew.

basketballWofford – Potential Cinderella

The Terriers put a 16-point second-half smackdown on Iona in a 13-point victory in a pretty entertaining game for 7 a.m. in South Carolina. Wofford should be the Southern Conference’s top dogs, pun intended. The Terriers have taken a loss at Stanford, but they have a good squad that could do something if they make it to the Dance.

basketballJohn Brown

High Point’s best player, one of the small-conference all-stars in college basketball, shined in his early-morning window. Brown delivered a 19-point effort as his Panthers topped Hawaii. Brown connected on 9 of 18 field goals and pulled down 6 rebounds. The event has a couple of huge showcases for the prominent teams in the nation, but one of its strengths is that players like Brown get a chance to be on TV when they would never be afforded that opportunity under any other circumstance.


basketballThe American

The American had its second- and third-place preseason projected finishers featured in the showcase. SMU and Memphis got featured butt-kickings. The thing that stands out for both squads is that the problems they had in these Tip-Off Marathon games are huge problems they are going to face all season. Markus Kennedy of SMU is suspended for the first semester. The offense badly missed him inside against Gonzaga, going 13 of 45 on twos.

Memphis has a problem with its backcourt. That problem was exploited to the tune of 14 turnovers to 2 assists against Wichita State. A ratio of 14 turnovers to 13 points dogged Avery Woodson (10 points, fouled out). The turnover bug also hounded Kedren Johnson (5 turnovers in 12 minutes), Pookie Powell (4 turnovers in 17 minutes) and Markel Crawford. Wichita State clamped down on Shaq Goodwin and Austin Nichols, holding them to 9 field goal attempts (2 for Goodwin) and 8 rebounds. The Tigers simply had nothing to make up for that deficiency. An exhibition game loss the previous week exposed a major flaw that Josh Pastner has to get fixed in a hurry.

The AAC was disrespected by the selection committee seed-wise and selection-wise last March. The league did not put its best foot forward in the slightest.

basketballAesthetically Pleasing Basketball

San Diego State’s 53-49 victory over Utah is a very good win for the Aztecs. It’s certainly a win to hang their hat on in March. This game was, however, horrible to watch. It was 18-17 (Utah) at the half. Utah had 18 turnovers to 16 made field goals. Both teams shot 32 percent. Both teams hit under 70 percent from the free throw line. San Diego State was able to turn up the defense a little more and hold off a very late Ute charge. Great result, horrible process.

basketballAuburn’s Offense

With 12:41 left in regulation (at nearly 12:41 a.m Tuesday morning in Boulder, Colorado), Auburn trailed Colorado, 51-46. The Tigers had held the lead for only 14 seconds of the game before this point, but things were close. Auburn answered every Colorado run with a response to keep things snug. Until the 12:41 mark.

That’s when things went to hell in a handbasket. The Tigers’ next points came at the 5:28 mark, well after a 24-0 run by the Buffaloes. There are going to be growing pains on the Plains for Bruce Pearl — he’s not going to fix everything in one season.

basketballHome Court Winning Streaks

Stephen F. Austin’s 34-game home win streak – GONE!

Florida’s 33-game home win streak – GONE!

basketballThe Word Platoon

If we could pack this word into a cannon and blast it off into space, along with anyone who dares mention it during a Kentucky game, I would be fine with that.

basketballYour Age

Yeah, that WAS Juwan Howard’s son on Detroit. He’s a senior! You are so old!

Header Photo via Pat Lovell-USA Today Sports via UK Athletics

About Scott

I write Bearcats Blog and also on the Student Section.