By Sean Kennedy
Pennsylvania 85, Niagara 66
On a night where the nation’s leading scorer took the floor, it was Penn’s Tony Hicks who stole the show. Hicks dropped a career-high 33 points to go with 5 assists, doing so in an efficient manner, finishing 12-20 from the field and 9-10 from the foul line. He scored 20 in the first half as the Quakers jumped out to a double-digit lead that they would stretch to as much as 29 points in the final 20 minutes.
As for the spawn of former NBA baller Anthony Mason, Antoine Mason finished the game right on his 31 ppg pace. However, Penn made him work for it, as Mason shot just 9-25 and also turned it over 5 times. Even with the Quaker defense concentrated on him, no other Purple Eagle scored double-digits on the night. The Quakers will travel to Lafayette Saturday to take on a winless Leopards team. It will be interesting to see if Hicks can build off his best outing of the season in that contest.
Drexel (3-1, 0-0) @ Arizona (5-0, 0-0 Pac-12) [neutral site] – ESPNU
Thanks to wins over Elon and Rutgers last week, the Dragons have advanced to the semifinal of the NIT Season Tip-Off tournament in Madison Square Garden. Drexel will be up against a 4th-ranked Arizona team who is their toughest opponent to date, which really says something given Drexel’s difficult early-season schedule. The Wildcats have steamrolled teams through their first five games, including a victory on the road against a tough San Diego State squad. The eyes of many scouts and fans in attendance and across the nation will be concentrating on 6’9″ stud freshman Aaron Gordon, projected by many to go in the top 5 of the upcoming NBA draft. Gordon draws a lot of comparisons to Blake Griffin, perhaps slightly less athletic, but possessing a better overall floor game with good range and handle for a big man. Thus far in his freshman season, Gordon is averaging 13.0 points and 9.0 rebounds, and has even hit 4 of 8 three-point attempts. While he hasn’t received the hype of Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, and Julius Randle, the Arizona big man will be a worthy franchise centerpiece for some professional organization.
However, for a team 6th in the nation in field goal percentage, the Wildcats are by no means a one-man show. Junior guard Nick Johnson actually leads the team in scoring at 16.8 ppg. Point guard T.J. McConnell is 13th in the nation at 6.8 assists per game, and sophomore forward Brandon Ashley averages 12.0 points and 7.2 rebounds, while sitting 18th in the nation shooting 69.7% from the field. Arizona is stacked at every position and it would be a huge surprise if Drexel faces a better team this entire season. The Dragons showed their meddle in a close road defeat to UCLA and a convincing win over Rutgers in their house. But even as well as the Dragons have played, I think their NIT Tip-Off tournament run ends tonight.