(PhatzRadio Sports / USA Today Sports / AP) — With conference play in full swing midway through the month of January, two showdowns in the Big 12 Conference and one in the Big East highlight that games we are watching this weekend in college basketball.
A breakdown of the top five matchups:
Saturday, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN
The Big 12 is shaping up as the deepest conference in the country. If the Mountaineers can separate themselves further from the tough field with a road win, the next couple of months in Morgantown could be very interesting indeed. The Red Raiders sustained their first league loss at Oklahoma after an eye-opening victory at Kansas but are still among the conference’s pleasant surprises.
Saturday, 1 p.m. ET, ESPNU
Speaking of pleasant surprises. … Everybody in Norman knew about Trae Young’s stellar high school career, but he rapidly played himself into the national player of the year conversation. He’ll look to keep it going against the Horned Frogs, who’ve run into some tough luck since being one of the last teams to taste defeat this season. TCU has now dropped three of its four conference games by a total of six points, including Wednesday night’s double-overtime setback at Texas when a last-second layup somehow rimmed out.
Saturday, 2 p.m. ET, Fox
No team in the country is happier than the Musketeers to be coming home. That’s especially true of Xavier’s leading scorer Trevon Bluiett, who struggled mightily in losses at Providence and Villanova. The Blue Jays come into Cincinnati on a four-game winning streak.
Saturday, noon ET, Fox
Since a brief elevation to No. 1, the Spartans have been crunched by Ohio State then needed a late rally to escape Rutgers in overtime. The Wolverines get another opportunity for a resume builder after coming up just short against Purdue earlier in the week.
Saturday, 3 p.m. ET, ESPNU
The Tigers are also glad to be home after a quick turnaround from their late Thursday contest at N.C. State. The Hurricanes, in action for the first time since Sunday’s home win against Florida State, should be better rested but still face a tough challenge on the road.
MEN’S THURSDAY NIGHT ROUNDUP:
GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Rauno Nurger scored 14 points and fifth-ranked Wichita State shook off a slow start to roll past East Carolina 95-60 on Thursday night.
Shaquille Morris added 12 points for the Shockers (14-2), who improved to 4-0 in their first season in the American Athletic Conference.
Wichita State trailed 14-9 early after a 3-for-12 shooting start, but the Shockers quickly settled in to take complete control. Wichita State went ahead for good on a 15-0 run, part of a 36-9 avalanche to close the first half and drain the fight out of a once-feisty Minges Coliseum crowd.
B.J. Tyson scored 16 points for the Pirates (7-9, 1-4).
OREGON 76, No. 11 ARIZONA STATE 72
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Payton Pritchard scored 18 points and hit two free throws with 13.8 seconds left for Oregon.
Oregon (12-5, 2-2 Pac-12) used a late spurt to go up eight points and hit four free throws in the final 32 seconds to earn its biggest win of the season.
The Ducks dominated the paint, outscoring Arizona State 38-16 inside and scoring 15 second-chance points on 15 offensive rebounds. Elijah Brown had 18 points and hit two free throws with 32 seconds left for Oregon.
Kodi Justice had 21 points and Shannon Evans II added 19 for Arizona State (13-3, 1-3).
No. 15 GONZAGA 103, PORTLAND 57
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Silas Melson scored a career-high 23 points, making seven 3-pointers, for Gonzaga.
Rui Hachimura added 20 points for Gonzaga (15-3, 5-0 West Coast Conference).
Marcus Shaver Jr. scored 16 points for Portland (6-12, 0-5), which has dropped five games in a row.
Melson hit 7 of 12 from 3-point range and the Zags finished with 13 3s in the game.
No. 17 ARIZONA 62, OREGON STATE 53
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Allonzo Trier scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half and Arizona pulled away from a sluggish, close game in the final 7 1/2 minutes.
Deandre Ayton had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Rawle Alkins scored 11 points, nine in the second half, for the Wildcats (13-4, 3-1 Pac-12), coming off a loss Saturday at Colorado.
Tres Tinkle scored 18 points and Stephen Thompson Jr. had 14 for the Beavers (10-6, 2-2), who have won just once in Tucson in the last 35 years (2010).
NORTH CAROLINA STATE 78, No. 19 CLEMSON 77
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Omer Yurtseven scored a career-high 29 points, and North Carolina State held on to beat Clemson after Gabe DeVoe missed the third of three free throws with 0.2 seconds left that would have forced overtime.
Allerik Freeman finished with 14 points for the short-handed Wolfpack (12-5, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who blew nearly all of a 12-point lead with less than 90 seconds remaining but held on to claim their second home win over a Top 25 opponent in six nights after knocking off then-No. 2 Duke on Saturday night.
Marcquise Reed scored 17 points, Donte Grantham added 16 and Mark Donnal finished with a season-high 13 for Clemson (14-2, 3-1), which had its 10-game winning streak end.
Sam Hunt fouled DeVoe as he flung up a 3-pointer from the corner. DeVoe hit the first two free throws, and after N.C. State coach Kevin Keatts called a timeout, the Clemson guard bounced his last attempt off the left iron.