Upsets of top-10 teams this year have not been surprising. Tuesday night featured two more with (5) Xavier and (8) Michigan State being upset by Creighton, and (18) Purdue, respectively.
The Musketeers faced off against the 16-9 Creighton Bluejays and were beaten by 13, 70-56. This game was not pretty. Creighton was able to pull off an upset because of Maurice Watson Jr.’s huge game. Watson put up 32 points total and 22 in the second half. The junior from Philly added in seven rebounds, five assists, and two steals. Outside of Watson, however, the Jays shot a combined percentage of 33.3% from the field, and 62.5% from the foul line.
For Xavier, they wouldn’t have been able to throw the ball in the ocean. Only mustering 56 points, 24 less than their season average, Xavier shot 16 more attempts than Creighton, but only made one more FG than them. They shot 30% as a team (22-70) including a horrendous 1-21 mark from behind the arc. Xavier’s starters shot a combined 9-46 (19.5%), and Jaylen Reynolds led the way with 17. The Musketeers now fall to 9-3 in Big East play.
The second upset of the night came by Purdue against Michigan State, but it was a fantastic game for both teams. MSU has been shaky ever since conference play started and dropped their fifth against a conference opponent on Tuesday. Purdue’s defense was the leading factor in their win. Outside of Valentine, no other Spartan was able to get it going. Purdue senior Rapheal Davis did an excellent job defending MSU’s guards; especially Bryn Forbes, who shot 3-11 and only registered seven points. Fellow senior A.J. Hammons was relentless on the boards, and a solid rim protector — grabbing 13 rebounds and swatting eight shots.
Wooden Award candidate Denzel Valentine had himself another great game. The senior tallied 27 points, with 15 coming in the second half/OT, and dished out a game-high ten assists. It, unfortunately, wasn’t enough, and MSU’s poor shooting played a part in their defeat. Along with their mediocre shooting, the Spartans couldn’t stop fouling and Purdue finished the game with 22 free throw makes on 29 attempts.
Both teams run the risk of falling out of the top-10 by the time Monday’s polls come out.
*Photo credit: Michael Conroy / AP Photo*