An inside look at some of Thursday's top performances:
1. Arizona's Derrick Williams had a career-high 31 points (including 19 in the second half), as the Wildcats held off Cal 73-71. The sophomore broke his own school record by attempting 22 free throws, of which he made 16. Averaging 9.5 attempts per game, Williams gets to the line more than any other power conference player. In fact, Rice’s Arsalan Kazemi (9.7) is the only player in the nation who spends more time at the line. If Williams keeps up this rate, he’d be the first Pac-10 player since Leon Powe in 2005 to average nine or more free throw attempts per game. Just how important is his performance at the line? Williams is shooting 81.9 percent from the charity stripe in Arizona’s wins, but just 52.0 percent in losses.
2. Illinois set a school-record by shooting 70.5 percent from the field in its 88-63 win against Northwestern. It topped a 1985 game in which the Illini shot 69.1 percent. The Big Ten hasn’t seen a conference game like this since 2004, when Michigan State shot 73.3 percent against Ohio State in 2004. Thursday’s performance also marked the second-highest field goal percentage in a game this season behind SMU’s 72.3 percent against Lamar in November. The Illini hit 18 of their first 22 shots (81.8 pct) to take a 23-point halftime lead. Through three Big Ten games, Illinois is shooting 64.7 percent from the field and 63.6 percent from 3-point range.
3. Northern Arizona avoided an 0-3 start to its Big Sky schedule with an 82-80 overtime win against Idaho State. Cameron Jones was the hero with 31 of his career-high 37 points coming after halftime. However, the more interesting scoring line came from teammate Stallon Saldivar. The sophomore point guard handed out a career-high 13 assists, but didn’t score a single point. It’s the most assists in a scoreless game since Charlotte’s DiJuan Harris had 15 back in 2009. Saldivar also didn’t have a turnover in this one, giving him the most assists without a turnover in a game this season. While several players have matched his 13, the last player to put up more assists without a turnover was UTEP’s Filiberto Rivera with 18 in 2005. On the season, Saldivar has a 3.54 assist-to-turnover ratio, sixth-best in the nation.
4. Boise State needed four overtimes to top San Jose State 102-101, a game that resulted in a bevy of fun facts. It marked the Broncos' longest-ever game, and matched a record set in 1985 for SJSU. The Spartans scored more than 100 points for the first time since 1979, a stretch of 914 games. San Jose State’s Justin Graham played all 60 minutes and matched his career-high with 29 points. The Spartans played all of the extra frames without Adrian Oliver, the nation’s third-leading scorer. Boise State’s marathon man was Paul Noonan, who finished with 20 points and nine rebounds in 57 minutes. The Broncos missed six of 10 free throws in the final two minutes of regulation, but then hit 12 of 14 in the overtimes.
5. Imagine your starting lineup scoring only 15 points. Now imagine actually winning that game. That’s what happened in Alabama State’s 50-47 victory against Grambling State. The Hornets starters combined to shoot 4-for-18 from the field and 6-for-17 from the line. The 15 points from the starters is fewest in a win since last season when St. John’s beat Cincinnati despite just 13 points out of its starting lineup. Alabama State is the lowest-scoring team in the nation (52.9 ppg), and its starters only average 25.9 ppg, the fewest in the nation. At just 8.0 ppg, Kenderek Washington is the leading scorer for the Hornets, a team that made the NCAA tournament in 2009.