Two games last week showed the power of sixth-ranked Saint Joseph's.
First, the Hawks dismantled Fordham by 44 points Tuesday and "they could have won by 70 or 80 points," according to Dereck Whittenburg, Fordham's first-year coach, who was a standout guard for North Carolina State's 1983 NCAA championship team.
Then, the Hawks defeated Xavier, 81-73, on Saturday, their first victory over the Musketeers at Cincinnati since Feb. 17, 1973, and their 15th in a row to start the season.
Delonte West made all 12 of his shots and all six of his free throws en route to 33 points, a career best. His 12 for 12 shooting set school and Atlantic 10 Conference records.
"He was unbelievable," Xavier guard Lionel Chalmers said after the Musketeers' fourth loss in 51 games at the Cintas Center. "If you take 12 layups, you might miss one. He had it going. Twelve for 12 -- I don't think he'll do that again."
Jameer Nelson had 28 points on 11-for-18 shooting as the St. Joseph's backcourt accounted for all but 20 of the team's 81 points.
"I've never seen a show like those two put on, from the standpoint of when and where they hit them," said Thad Matta, Xavier's coach. "One time when the shot clock was winding down, West penetrated and we grabbed his arm and he still made it. I don't know what else you can do. They were responsible for everything that happened today. That's what great players do."
Is Pitt Really It?
Ben Howland left Pittsburgh for UCLA last year, and most everyone figured the Panthers would suffer a letdown under 38-year-old Jamie Dixon, whose only head coaching experience was in New Zealand.
Dixon, handpicked by Howland to succeed him, has led Pittsburgh to an 18-0 record and a No. 13 ranking. The Panthers' latest victim was Rutgers, which fell, 59-49, in a Big East game at Pittsburgh.
Dixon's record is the third-best start by a rookie coach in Division I history, according to research released by Pittsburgh. Bill Hodges of Indiana State -- aided by a guy named Larry Bird -- went 33-0 (before Michigan State and that Magic Johnson fellow defeated the Sycamores) in 1978-79, and Norman Shepard had a 26-0 start for North Carolina in 1923-24.
"With Coach Dixon, you never see any kind of worries or anything," point guard Carl Krauser said. "No anger. He's not anxious. He's just out there real calm and that helps us because we're bouncing around the room, ready to play, and Coach is just sitting there like, "Everybody calm down, relax.' "
Pittsburgh has won 37 consecutive home games, the nation's longest home winning streak. The Panthers also have a 10-game Big East winning streak going into Monday's game against Connecticut, which was top-ranked before losing Saturday to No. 9 North Carolina.
Two weeks after P.J. Tucker's layup gave No. 18 Texas a last-second victory over Providence, Royal Ivey made a 16-foot jumper from the wing with 2.4 seconds left to give the Longhorns a 63-61 victory Saturday over Nebraska.
Nail-biters have been good for Texas, which also has been strong in games with wider margins of victory. The Longhorns upset No. 4 Wake Forest, 94-81, earlier in the week.
"You're going to be in situations like this," Ivey said after Texas improved to 11-2, 2-0 in the Big 12. "It's going to be good for us come March. It's good to have games like this to have confidence come crunch time."
The unpredictable nature of the Big 12 Conference also could help toughen the Longhorns for March Madness because, as Coach Rick Barnes said, "In this league there are no gimmes."
Oklahoma was supposed to be almost as good on the basketball court as on the football field this season. Missouri was supposed to have opponents quaking in their high tops.
Instead, the Big 12 teams haven't frightened anyone recently.
When they played at Norman, Okla., one team was bound to feel better about a season that's failed to meet expectations.
Give the edge to Missouri, a 79-75 winner over No. 11 Oklahoma after rallying from a 12-point deficit in the second half. The Tigers then scored the first seven points of overtime and earned their second conference victory in three games.
"If we play that way and we don't win, you might cry," Missouri Coach Quin Snyder said. "This would have been a devastating game to lose."
Kentucky had won 19 consecutive Southeastern Conference regular season games. Then Georgia went to Rupp Arena and put an end to all that, taking a 65-57 victory over the No. 5 Wildcats.
The Bulldogs, who also upset then-No. 3 Georgia Tech in double overtime Jan. 3, trailed only once against Kentucky.
"This was one of those moments we should embrace," Georgia Coach Dennis Felton said after the Bulldogs denied Kentucky Coach Tubby Smith his 300th career victory.
Air Force defeated New Mexico at Albuquerque for the first time since Feb. 7, 1962 in a 68-42 victory Air Force ended a 27-game road losing streak in conference play when it defeated Colorado State, 65-57, on Monday at Ft. Collins.
The Falcons, 11-2 overall and 2-0 in the Mountain West Conference, have also won a school record nine in a row.
Tougher tests will come later in the season for Air Force, when the Falcons face traditional powers Brigham Young and Utah.
Times wire services contributed to this report.