The College Basketball Notebook

December 23, 2010 7:15 AM

Big 12 Trumps The Big Ten

MissouriIllinois.jpgIt was a good night for the Big 12 on Wednesday, as they won two big non-conference showcases with the Big Ten. Missouri and Illinois renewed their Border War, played on neutral ground in St. Louis and the Tigers posted a 75-64 win. Illinois did the job rebounding the ball, with Mike Davis and Mike Tisdale combining for 21 rebounds, but Missouri countered by getting to the free throw line and converting and getting quality bench play. The Tigers outscored the Illini 19-5 from the charity stripe and guard Michael Dixon came off the bench to score ten points and dish six assists. He was joined by forward Justin Stafford who chipped in 11 in a reserve role.

Texas went to Michigan State and beat the reeling Spartans by holding the hosts to 29 percent shooting and forcing 16 turnovers. It was enough to negate Michigan State's 45-39 advantage on the boards. And the Longhorn frontcourt was infinitely more productive than Sparty's when it came to producing points. Michigan State's starting frontcourt trio combined for 11 points, while Texas' more finesse combination of swingman Jordan Hamilton, plus forwards and Tristan Thompson and Gary Johnson combined for 52. Hamilton seems to be emerging as a star, scoring 21 points and grabbing eight rebounds. Thompson was a force last night, with a 17/15 line. Beating North Carolina and Michigan State on the road might not be as a big a deal this year as it would have been in 2009, when those two programs reached the national final, but it's still clear evidence that whatever Texas' struggles from last year, they aren't a declining power.

Gonzaga came up with a solid 64-54 win over Xavier in the late night ESPN2 slot, rebounding well and getting to the line in front of the home fans. Robert Sacre has definitely established himself as one of the steady post players in the country and he scored 22 last night, including a perfect 10-for-10 on the line. Elias Harris helped the cause with 11 rebounds. It was enough for the Zags to overcome 26 points by Musketeer guard Tu Holloway. The win marks Gonzaga's second straight over a quality opponent, including last Saturday over Baylor.

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Dan Flaherty is the editor of the Sports Notebook Family, published through the Real Clear Sports Blog Network, offering daily commentary in the NFL, coverage of college basketball.  and bowl commentary in college football. He is the author of The Last New Year's, a book that revisits the historic high points of college football's New Year's Day bowl games.

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