Iowa State 72, Northern Illinois 63 — Be fooled not by the margin of victory! NIU was hanging close throughout the game, but they were always four, five, six points away from tying it up. At one point it was 44-44 in the second half, and they had a better shot at winning this one than NIU did claiming victory at Ames in football this year. And, wouldn't you know it. DeMarcus Grady played in both games. But Xavier Silas, who finished with 18 points, had some help from everybody. Norse freshman Aksel Bolin finished with a solid 10 points and Tim Toler brought down 10 rebounds (exactly as many as NIU outrebounded the Cyclones) Northern Illinois' next game: Saturday, 1/8 vs. Ball State
Akron 84, Oral Roberts 80 — This is what you call distributin' the magic. Six players had double figures. No time to mention them all! So we'll pick out the key dudes. Nikola Cvetinovic led the pack with 17 points and six rebounds. Zeke Marshall was the bruiser inside with 12 points and four blocks. Nobody really rebounded … in fact, UA was out-boarded 37-14, which really makes you wonder how the Zips won a game yet let the other team shoot 59.2%. Oh, maybe it was the turnovers! ORU gave it up 21 times to Akron's six. You'll take turnovers over rebounds on days like this. Akron's next game: Saturday, 1/8 vs. Kent State
Buffalo 78, Cornell 66 — Perhaps a MAC's best win in the nonconference to go on the road and beat a team one year removed from the Sweet 16. But the Big Red is SO not the team you saw last year advance through the brackets. Now sitting at 3-10, Cornell is going to struggle to make it to 10 wins, and likely won't win the Ivy League. Still! This was a neat road win, and the recalculated UB is winning games they oughta.
It was a very Buffalo game: They shot well (53.2% FG), they defended (33.3% FG for Cornell), and they turned it over a little (15 turnovers, but 10 in the first half). Byron Mulkey hounded the Big Red with 16 points, eight rebounds, six assists, and two steals. Zach Filzen led the Bluebulls with 17. It was everything you wanted to see heading into conference shenanigans. Buffalo's next game: Saturday, 1/8 vs. Bowling Green
Ball State 76, SIU-Edwardsville 46 — I've actually been to Edwardsville on business before, and honestly I can't remember a lick about it. I think Route 66 passes through it … there's your landmark. (Speak up and defend your Edwardsville, Edwardsvillians!) I also don't have much to say about the challenge they posed for Ball State, who remains perfect at home. As the more powerful team, the Cardinals got to the line 37 times (to SIUE's 10) and Jarrod Jones put up a double-double, getting 19 points and 11 rebounds. Jesse Berry quietly mustered 19 points, and the MAC West, at this point, is theirs to lose. Ball State's next game: Saturday, 1/8 at Northern Illinois
Alabama 83, Toledo 41 — It was rough enough to finish the nonconference swing by going to an SEC arena (that didn't belong to Auburn, natch). But the Rockets were outnumbered from the onset: coach Tod Kowalczyk DNP-CDed leading scorer Malcolm Griffin, hustle forward Reese Holliday and emerging guard J.T. Thomas. That left UT playing only six regulars and two guys out of the rotation. Jay Shunnar topped the Rockets with 13 points (3-of-8 3-pointers) and seven rebounds. But 25 turnovers, spread across the board, made everyone's numbers look a little rusty. Apart from getting doubled up. Toledo's next game: Saturday, 1/8 vs. Eastern Michigan
Today's lone MAC game, then nothing until Sunday:
7 p.m. ET — Ferris State (Division II) at Eastern Michigan