Close calls are starting to wear on No. 1 Massachusetts.
For the third time in nine games, Massachusetts had to go to overtime Sunday to remain the only unbeaten major college team. A 78-74 Atlantic 10 Conference victory over Xavier of Ohio at Cincinnati left the Minutemen thankful.
"We move on," Coach John Calipari said, sounding more relieved than satisfied. "I'm just happy we're leaving now."
Xavier, 9-9 overall and 5-3 in the Atlantic 10, made up for its lack of height by turning a gritty full-court press loose on the Minutemen (21-0, 9-0) and attacking their front line.
With 2:47 to play, Xavier was up, 67-62, and already celebrating.
"I thought we had 'em," said T.J. Johnson, who scored 16 points.
But they didn't.
Edgar Padilla, suffering through a two-for-12 shooting game, made a three-point shot with 15 seconds left to tie the score, 68-68, in regulation. Massachusetts never trailed in overtime, and Padilla sealed the win by making a steal before Xavier had a chance to tie or go ahead in the closing seconds.
No. 3 Kansas 72, Kansas State 62--Raef LaFrentz scored 24 points for Kansas (18-1, 6-0) and Paul Pierce had 12 of his 14 points in the second half of a Big Eight game at Lawrence, Kan.
It was their first meeting since the Jayhawks beat the Wildcats (14-6, 5-3) by 45 points in last year's Big Eight tournament.
In the first half, Kansas State was able to compete inside with Kansas' big front line, and they actually led, 34-30, at halftime.
But Kansas pulled away late in the second half.
No. 5 Cincinnati 79, South Florida 60--Danny Fortson scored seven points during a 16-1 run late in the second half as the Bearcats overcame a slow start in a Conference USA game at Cincinnati.
Fortson finished with 20 points and 17 rebounds.
Darnell Burton added 19 points for the Cincinnati (17-1, 6-1), while Damon Flint had 17.
James Harper led South Florida (8-10, 0-7) with 21 points.
No. 18 Syracuse 81, Alabama 68--Otis Hill scored eight of his 17 points during a key second-half run as the Orangemen recovered after nearly wasting all of a 22-point lead at Syracuse, N.Y.
Syracuse (16-6) led by 16 at halftime and was still leading, 58-44, with 13:44 to play when Alabama (11-7) went on a 13-2 run to close within 60-57. That was as close as the Crimson Tidecould get.
Mississippi State 78, No. 22 Auburn 75--Darryl Wilson scored 11 points in overtime to lift the Bulldogs (14-5, 6-4) past the Tigers (15-6, 3-5) in a Southeastern Conference game at Auburn, Ala.
Brian Evans scored 27 points to lead Indiana to a 95-61 Big Ten Conference victory over Northwestern at Bloomington, Ind. Indiana (13-8, 6-3) dealt Northwestern (6-12, 1-8) its worst loss of the season. . . . Jerald Honeycutt had 27 points as Tulane (12-6, 4-3) held off Marquette (13-5, 4-3) for a 75-74 Conference USA victory at New Orleans. . . . Anthony Parker scored 24 points and Bradley (14-5, 9-2) came back from an 18-point deficit to beat Tulsa (13-5, 7-4), 85-67, in overtime at Peoria, Ill., take sole possession of the Missouri Valley Conference lead.
College Basketball Notes
Colgate's Adonal Foyle, the Patriot League's leading scorer, was released from a hospital after receiving a concussion in Saturday's game against Siena.