The Villanova Wildcats have gone unbeaten this season, but it wasn't until Tuesday night that they earned a win that solidified their spot in the top 4. The fourth-ranked Wildcats got a career-high 28 points from Mikal Bridges in an 88-72 rout of No. 12 Gonzaga at Madison Square Garden. Nova shot 51 percent from the field,including 47 percent from the three-point range in their Jimmy V Classic victory. Bridges shot 8-of-14 from the field with 12 of his points coming in the first half of what was Nova's 109th win since 2014. That ranks at the top of the NCAA in that time span. The Wildcats also got 11 first-half points from Phil Booth, who finished with 20, helping his team hold a 13-point lead at halftime. The Zags dropped their second game of the year despite Zach Norvell Jr.'s 22 points and Josh Perkins' 16. It was the defensive side of the ball that haunted Gonzaga, who allowed an opponent to shoot 50 percent from the floor for the first time in 65 games. Villanova had 10 three-pointers in the win, just one game after putting up a school-record 19 against Saint Joseph's. They will take their 9-0 record back home to host La Salle on Sunday, while Gonzaga moves on to take on Washington that same day.
Texas A&M, Notre Dame Fall in Upset Defeats
Two top-10 teams took tough losses at home to unranked teams on Tuesday night, which will always put a damper on the young season. First, No. 7 Texas A&M took their first loss of the season at the hands of Arizona on the road, 67-64. Deandre Ayton had 13 points and 10 rebounds, leading the Wildcats to their sixth win after they dropped from No. 3 to unranked with three straight losses a couple weeks back. They were coming off a win over UNLV last weekend, but had to hold off the Aggies late in the second half on Tuesday night, as they kept it close the entire way. Robert Williams missed on a three-pointer in the final seconds, sealing the upset win for Arizona, Tyler Davis finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Aggies, who dropped to 7-1. Meanwhile, Notre Dame's tough stretch continued as they fell at home to Ball State, 80-77. Tyler Person's three-pointer with 1.7 seconds left gave the Cardinals their fifth win, which sent the Fighting Irish to their second straight loss. It was a close affair the entire way, with Ball State leading by five at halftime, despite turning the ball over four more times on the night. Persons finished with 24 points, while Tahjai Teague added 13 in Ball State's first win over a ranked team since beating No. 4 UCLA in 2001. They led by as many as nine in the win, but the Irish came back to tie it on Matt Farrell's three-pointer with 20 seconds left in regulation. Farrell had 14 points and eight assists, while Bonzie Colson led Notre Dame with 26 points in the loss. After getting smacked around from the jump by Michigan State last week, the Irish are now expected to drop a good amount in next week AP rankings.
Beal's Career Night Helps Wizards Bounce Back
The Washington Wizards bounced back from an embarrassing loss in Utah on Monday night by turning to Bradley Beal in Portland. Beal put up a career-high 51 points on 21-of-37 shooting in the Wizards' 106-92 win over the Trail Blazers. Beal's big night helped the Wizards shoot 47 percent from the floor, including 44 percent from beyond the arc, just one night after putting up just 69 points in a 47-point loss to the Jazz. Washington led by as many as 23 behind Beal, who made five three-pointers, and put up the most points in Portland by an opposing player. That performance outshined Damian Lillard's 30 points, eight rebounds, and nine assists, as the Blazers dropped their third straight at home after an impressive 4-1 road trip. Portland also took a big blow when Jusuf Nurkic limped off the court with an apparent right ankle injury. Reports say that x-rays were negative. The big man had 15 points and nine rebounds in the loss. The Wizards were playing their sixth straight game without John Wall, which gave Beal more opportunities, especially in the second half, as he had just 19 points in the first 24 minutes. Portland tried to make things interesting in the third quarter by pulling within nine, but that is the closest the Blazers would get. Beal's previous career-best was 42 points against the Phoenix Suns on November 21st, 2016. He will look to stay hot when his Wizards visit those Suns tomorrow night. The Blazers will look to find their rhythm at home when they host the Houston Rockets on Saturday night.