Double overtime thrillers and major upsets always make for a wild and fun weekend. One of the lowest ranked teams in the KenPom rankings being 2-0 is another cause for celebration. Being rivals in front of the hometown fans is always a plus, as well.
And there is potential for more excitement on Sunday. Stephen F. Austin hosts South Dakota State and Seattle hosts Idaho State at the Climate Pledge Arena. But here are the takeaways from Friday and Saturday night that stick out.
1 – Never Underestimate Jon Judkins and Dixie State
Like it was said on Friday night, Jon Judkins is the winningest coach in the state of Utah. And for good reason. On Friday night, Judkins and his Trailblazers picked up perhaps the biggest win in program history, beating Southern Utah in the Battle of I-15. Hunter Schofield had a game-high 29 points in the win in which Dixie State led most of the night. The Trailblazers had a 17-point lead at the break. And every time Southern Utah worked its way back into the game, the Trailblazers had a response.
Just for stat purposes, coming in Southern Utah had a KenPom ranking of 118. Dixie State was at 314. As of right now, the Trailblazers are not a sub-300 KenPom team. Pretty wild night for the Trailblazer faithful.
2 – ACU Offense Can Put Up Points in a Hurry
Abilene Christian is known for its defense. It is what led the Wildcats to an NCAA Tourney in 2020-21 and an upset win over Texas in the round of 64. But what the Wildcats showed on Friday night in College Station is they can score and score in bunches. In a wild, double OT thriller, the Wildcats kept pace with Texas A&M. Reggie Miller had a game-high 18 points and hit a monster step-back 3 in the second overtime. Mahki Morris had 15 points and three other Wildcats were in double figures. Coryon Mason also had 18 points in the contest. If the offense can be consistent to go along with that pressure defense, ACU will be very dangerous come January when WAC play begins.
3 – Savion Flagg Will Be A Star in the WAC
Sam Houston is kind of off the radar slightly among WAC teams right now. Had the Bearkats knocked off Nebraska on Friday night in Lincoln, that would have changed a bit. But one name everyone needs to remember is Savion Flagg. The Texas A&M transfer had a game-high 32 points as well as 11 rebounds in the loss to the Cornhuskers. Flagg was 12-22 from the field and 5-10 from deep. On Wednesday night in Sam Houston’s season opener, Flagg had 20 points and seven boards in just 24 minutes of court time. The Texas A&M transfer is a matchup nightmare and will be a star in the WAC.
4 – Tarleton Has Depth Issues
Disclaimer: I love what Tarleton does on the basketball floor. They get after teams. They are physical and put pressure on the perimeter. With its quickness and athleticism, Tarleton is not afraid to get dirty. I absolutely love it. However, there seems to be a depth problem for Billy Gillispie. On Friday, at Allen Fieldhouse against No. 3 Kansas, it caught up to the Texans late in the second half. The Jayhawks lead fluctuated between 10-15 points for most of the night until late. And, if we are being honest, it looked like the legs gave out for Tarleton. Three starters played nearly the entire game. Two starters did play all 40 minutes. Montre Gipson played 39 minutes. Shakur Daniel played 34 minutes. Freddie Hicks played 16 and Javontae Hopkins played 23. Pretty wild.
On Tuesday night in the season opener at Stanford, Gipson played 39 minutes. Shakur Daniel played 39 minutes and two others played 30-plus minutes. With the brutal schedule the Texans face to open the season, keep an eye on this. That is a lot of minutes to log. Could it be an issue come conference play in January?
5 – Chicago State is 2-0, BABY!
Yep, you read that right. it’s wild isn’t it? For the first time in seven years, Chicago State has won back-to-back games. The schedule gets more difficult, sure. Chicago State’s next four opponents are Loyola Chicago, UC Santa Barbara, Pacific and Bowling Green. So, yes, there is bound to be a drop back to Earth-type of moment. But, this team is fun to watch. Brandon Betson is a player and can attack the rim or hit a 3 at any moment. On Friday, it was Bryce Johnson that put on a shooting display as he was 4-6 from deep. Coreyoun Rushin is a big physical guard/forward combo that plays angry.
And there is a belief. Belief that they can win. Belief that, while still the underdog, they have nothing to lose. No, Chicago State won’t stay undefeated or win the WAC. But, give a little bit of credit to Gerald Gillion and Co. for the start they have had to this 2021-22 season.