BY JEFF BORZELLO
FOXSports.com Stud of the Night: Yancy Gates has shown flashes of his potential throughout his three seasons at Cincinnati, but he has never been able to put it together for an entire campaign. We’ll see if his performance against Xavier last night is the start of a great stretch. Gates had 22 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Bearcats to an easy win. Cincinnati is still undefeated and Gates’ play down low is a major reason for the 15-0 start.
Dud: It might be time to stop mentioning Northwestern breaking its streak of never making the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats were absolutely dominated at Illinois last night, 88-63. It was their third straight loss to start the Big Ten campaign, and the fourth loss in their last five games. Although the conference schedule gets easier, the Wildcats are simply not playing like an NCAA Tournament team; they have allowed at least 82 points in three of their last five games.
Mid-Major Stud: Despite Oakland’s brutal non-conference struggles, the Golden Grizzlies are no lock to win the Summit. Back-to-back wins over Oral Roberts and now IUPUI, though, give them some breathing room. Last night, Reggie Hamilton went for 28 points and seven assists, hitting seven 3-pointers. Five first-half 3-pointers helped Oakland jump out to a 19-point halftime lead.
Stat of the Night: When’s the last time a team shot better from the field than the free-throw line – especially when the free-throw percentage was 68 percent? Illinois was absolutely on fire all night against Northwestern, shooting 71 percent from the field (81.8 in the first half) and 64 percent from 3-point land. Moreover, the Fighting Illini had an eye-popping 25 assists on 31 field goals. Simply put, it was an unbelievable offensive performance from Illinois.
On Tap: One game stands out on the Friday docket. Butler, coming off a surprising 24-point loss to Milwaukee earlier this week, will face 15-1 Cleveland State. The Bulldogs are 2-1 in the conference, while the Vikings have a 1.5-game lead at 4-0. The key match-up will be Shelvin Mack against Norris Cole. Mack had just three points against Milwaukee.