Phil Knight’s takeaway: Purdue upsets Gonzaga to ruin Duke’s game against the Zaggs; UConn continues to get off to a hot start

Portland, Ore. It’s been a blast the last 48 hours here in Rose City. If you’re going to build crossbows, you better expect a bit of rags, and that’s exactly what the PK85 got you into.

The men’s eight-team tournament will not have chalk in Sunday’s finals. In the Phil Knight Invitational, Iowa, which upset No. 1 North Carolina 70-65 on Friday, will play No. 20 UConn. (The projected final game was UNC against Alabama, now a No. 3 affair.) And in the Phil Knight Legacy, No. 8 Duke will face No. 24 Purdue, blown 84-66 by No. 6 Gonzaga late Friday night. The Boilers played spoilers, negating Gonzaga’s chance against Duke, just as Arkansas did in this year’s NCAA Tournament.

The Duke vs. Burdue game will kick off at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday. Iowa vs. UConn will cap off a huge weekend of college basketball with a hint at 10 p.m. ET. Of the four remaining teams, only Duke has a loss. All four teams have gone 2-0 in the past two days by different means and paths. There is a lot to get to from Friday. Let’s start with Purdue.

Boilers were greatly devalued as the season approached

Zach Edey has become a point of national attention, but the truth is that Purdue’s play guard propelled the Boilermakers to an emphatic win. It was awesome. was a statement. With an unproven backcourt — two freshman starts — Purdue had some skeptics heading into November.

After Friday night, it’s hard to shake the feeling that Purdue will be in contention for the Big Ten title. Yes, Eddie is a huge worker (pun intended). The 7-foot-4 giant finds it all out, and we’re watching it happen with every game. Eddie Gonzaga All-American Drew Timme made it look 6-5 and occasionally outdid his way with the Gonzaga defense. Eddy finished with 23 points, seven rebounds and three blocks.

Purdue coach Matt Painter told CBS Sports that Eddie’s growth is supported by his great cardio ability. He has tremendous stamina for a player his size, something that’s always been there but wasn’t apparent as he split minutes earlier in his college career. Eddie is unique in college hoops, and at this point is one of the five most dominant players through nearly three weeks of the season. I’m not sure how Duke will handle it. It’s possible that Derek Lively and Kyle Filipowski could swap fees, but there’s absolutely no stopping him. He will eventually get a file. Up to this point, Eddie has averaged 22 and 12 with three blocks.

Eddie got in his docks and capitalized on his positions, but it was the Boilermaker’s new guards who were most responsible for spoiling the Blue Devils-Zags match that many wanted to see.

“At the start of the season, very few teams play a team goal,” Painter said.

he is right. This was on display a lot here in Portland. But his team played purposefully and in every game this young season. Freshman Braden Smith has something about him that gives confidence on offense. Smith finished with 14 points, seven assists, and five rebounds. New teammate Fletcher Lauer added another 14 points. Painter said that Smith is the type of guard “who can really screw up the defense with their eyes”.

As far as we can make this go for Gonzaga, Purdue’s dominance seems like the bigger story. Gonzaga will have a chance at some smaller redemption Sunday against Xavier’s team who lost chances to upset Duke. Gonzaga also still has more big games waiting in the next few weeks, and I’m not there yet to sell Final Four stock from Gonzaga. I need to see more from this team.

Purdue is the goods, though. Purdue won with its charts. It took up some of the space that Gonzaga thrives on. The painter told me that Smith’s play was not surprising at all. He knew that he would be an influential guard immediately. As in: Game1. He’s excited about it. It certainly looks like it.

“They listen to you,” said the painter of his young guards. “You talk about things and they want to know what the hell is going on. They want to understand. That’s all inclusive with our guys.”

Purdue finished at 1.25 points per possession on 10 three-pointers with just eight turnovers and 13 errors. Purdue has been a 4-seed or better in five straight championships, and that streak looks set to continue this season.

Duke kicks off a Legacy game for the title on Sunday

A quick history lesson: The last time Xavier played for Duke, and I don’t mean on a Friday afternoon, Sean Miller was coaching the Knights. He was in the final season of his first stint at the X. A guy named Jon Scheyer played for Duke. It was a top 10 match ever broadcast on CBS. Duke blew the doors off Xavier, holding a 31-point halftime lead before allowing Rahma to finish 82-64. Scheyer had a then-high 23 hits, on December 20, 2008.

I was on the field and next to Xavier’s bench for the first big game on Friday at the Moda Center. No blowout, but another Duke beat X with the same total points finish for the Knights as 14 years ago: 71-64. Miller’s team now isn’t as good as Miller’s team back then, but it used to be much better. If not for an extraordinarily bad shooting night for center Jack Nung (1 of 13 for 5 points). Xavier got a tough draw in this tournament; He’ll try to come away with a 2-1 record when he plays either Gonzaga or Purdue in the third-place match on Sunday.

Scheyer took Duke 6-1, and his only five-point loss in the Champions Classic was against Kansas. We’re still waiting for Dereck Lively, Dariq Whitehead and Tyrese Proctor to show up, but a 1-2 from Jeremy Roach and Kyle Filipowski is enough so far to get the job done. Roach was a game-changer for the Musketeers. He scored 21 goals on 9-of-15 shooting, had five assists, four boards and only one turnover. Duke hasn’t needed to play like a loaded team yet. Between Roach and Filipovski (good early, but finished with 12 points), it was one of two things The guy for Duke in each of its seven games. The third player to rise is new player Mark Mitchell (16 points) in 31 minutes. Xavier held one of the best offensive rebounding teams in college hoops to nine boards, but credit Duke’s defense for keeping the X balanced nearly the entire game.

After the loss, Miller told me he’s been trying to work on some defensive designs with his team that keep failing. These concepts will be abandoned for the rest of the season and the staff will implement simpler concepts to achieve better results.

Conversely, Scheyer’s players hooked up on defense and managed to win with slow approach, size and length. Not pretty, but they find their way. Purdue matching assignment would be great. It would also be X-and-O’s biggest challenge so far in his young coaching career.

UConn is off to its best start under Dan Hurley

Hurley got off to the best start of his career. He never started 7-0 while coaching at college hoops. He’s also enjoying his longest winning streak since becoming Huskies coach in 2018. The 20th-ranked Huskies ran away from 18th-ranked Alabama 82-67. This was the Crimson Tide’s first defeat of the season. For me, UConn has played better in 80 minutes/two days here in Portland. (Purdue and Iowa State are up there, though.) In the larger scene of college hoops, UConn has a top 10 finish as well.

“The whole mentality of this team this year is, we’ve been competing the last couple of years, but we’re trying to go from competitor to champion,” Hurley said.

It starts with Big East Preseason Player of the Year Adama Sanogo, who is an All-American now. Sanogo scored a game-high 25 points. After experiencing a 3-pointer in his first two seasons, he’s been 7-for-13 this season, including 1-of-4 on Friday. But this 3-make guy was the game-winning bucket and put UConn out of reach for Alabama down the stretch.

“He’s a gym rat, blue collar, who lives in the gym, who keeps his life simple,” Hurley said of Sanogo. “Like, it’s school and basketball. The thing about it is self-confidence and faith. He banged his first three. … A lot of guys who don’t make a lot of 3s wouldn’t take a fourth one, but that was the killing shot.”

Jordan Hawkins scored 16 points and Alex Karaban added another 12 points. UConn has never looked as reliable and smooth under Hurley as it does now. Inspiration last 48 hours for this collection.

“We have great confidence in where our program is,” said Hurley. “Mars didn’t go the way we would have liked.”

Victory in such a tournament may be a harbinger of March. UConn fans know that all too well. Look all over the country and there is no shortage of top seeded teams that aren’t playing up to potential. It does not apply to huskies who peck at both ends and are nine deep.

No. 1 UNC ousted by Iowa

The loudest hit of the day has its own story. To see my extended excerpt, as well as quotes from the top-ranked Tar Heels’ 70-65 loss to Iowa State, go to: Head here.

On Sunday, Iowa State will play the PKI title game against UConn. UNC 18 will face Alabama for third place in the PKI category.

“The good thing about losing to UConn is you get to face the number one team in the country in two days,” Alabama coach Nate Oates said sarcastically after suffering the loss.

The Crimson Tide would be a great match for a UNC team that has a lot to prove.

Villanova got off to its worst start since 1997

On Thursday, I got an encouraging tip from the Villanova crowd for a loss to Iowa State. Sub-.500 through five games, yes, but it’s competitive in its losses. A shorthanded team trying to get discovered after losing their Hall of Fame coach. Understandable bumps.

But there’s no turningover going 4-2 with two losses to the mid-major teams. The Wildcats lost 83-71 to Portland on Friday and allowed the Flyers to score at 1.20 points per possession segment. For first-year Villanova head coach Kyle Neptune, not having Cam Whitmore and Justin Moore at his disposal is a downright hurdle. At this point, even with plenty of ways left in the regular season, a 2-4 start has put Villanova’s NCAA Tournament prospects in some doubt. Villanova will almost certainly need to be one of the top three teams in the Big East standings in March in order to guarantee their return to the Big Dance. The Wildcats’ wins to date have come against La Salle and Delaware State.

Maybe it’s a good thing, maybe it’s a bad thing: If Michigan State loses to Oregon later today, Villanova will get a rematch nine days after falling by two to MSU.

A big shout out to Portland coach Shantae Legans by the way. He’s got the Flyers well on their way to being in the top half of the Senior World Cup this season. This program has been 7-61 in four seasons under Terry Porter. Now it’s about to enter KenPom.com’s Top 100 List. This is a huge accomplishment for a program that last made the NCAA Tournament in 1996 and it’s no coincidence how this team played the last two days after handing Portland UNC a true Thanksgiving scare.

Friday leftovers

Some ideas are still on the table after two days and 16 games in Portland.

Drew Thiem had 22 points against Bordeaux but Gonzaga’s keeper play remains a major concern.
Florida dodged a resume rock by not being nice to Oregon. The Gators won 81-68 and scored nearly 30 more points than Duke on the Beavers.
West Virginia has no problems with Portland State. The Mountaineers will go home 2-1 to take on Florida Sunday night. WVU has had a quiet run here thus far.
Shorthanded Michigan State still found a way to beat Oregon, avoiding a fall to . 500 thanks to Joey Hauser and Tyson Walker’s 36-point combined. Now an annoying Portland awaits Sunday.
– Either Oregon or Villanova will leave Portland 0-3. Both teams are 2-4 overall. The loser will have to smash the panic button and face a massive climb to build NCAA Tournament status over the next three months.

Phil Knight call arc

Phil Knight Legacy arc


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