College basketball games finally kicked off Friday after an offseason of scandal and drama.
Once the first ball was tossed into the air, all that took a back seat to the actual games, which provided a nice slice of insight into what we can expect this season.
Here are five takeaways from college basketball’s opening night:
1. No. 25 Texas A&M will be nasty once Robert Williams returns — Williams, a sophomore projected as a possible lottery pick in next year’s NBA Draft, was suspended for the Friday’s Armed Forces Classic game against No. 11 West Virginia in Germany. But his teammates picked up the slack, leading to an 88-65 win.
Center Tyler Davis was unstoppable in the paint, scoring 23 points on 10 of 12 shooting with 13 rebounds. Guard Admon Gilder added 23 points with nine rebounds and seven assists, but the most impressive player might have been DJ Hogg, a 6-9 small forward. Hogg displayed a deft shooting touch in transition and in the halfcourt en route to 19 points (4 of 6 from 3-point range) with seven rebounds and six assists. After falling behind early, Texas A&M stormed back by outscoring West Virginia 43-27 in the second half.
2. Archie Miller has his hands full in Bloomington, Ind. — The Hoosiers were destroyed by Indiana State in a 90-69 home loss in Miller’s first official game as Indiana’s head basketball coach. Miller might be checking to see if he purchased a two-way ticket back to Dayton after his team fell behind by 21 points at halftime, adding further misery to Indiana’s desperate fans.
Miller left Dayton for Indiana this offseason with hopes of re-establishing the Hoosiers among the Big Ten’s elite. While that may still happen, Friday’s lopsided result likely reminded Miller it won’t be an easy feat.
Indiana State beats Indiana, 90-69. Indiana State coach Greg Lansing makes $250K a year. Indiana coach Archie Miller makes $279K A MONTH.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) November 11, 2017
3. Cincinnati can actually score this year — Over the last few seasons, the Bearcats were known as a grind-it-out, win-ugly type team. They ranked 148th in offensive scoring last season, averaging just 74.3 points per game. But Mick Cronin has a more explosive team this season, and proved that Friday with a 107-77 win over Savannah State.
Jacob Evans III led Cincinnati’s balanced scoring attack with 19 points. Transfer Cane Broome added 17 points, and power forward Gary Clark had 13 points with 11 rebounds. Long in the frontcourt and explosive in the backcourt, this Bearcats team is set up for success this season.
4. Marvin Bagley III is the real deal — Bagley was a late signee after reclassifying from the 2018 class, and he made Duke fans very happy when he chose to spend at least one season with the Blue Devils. Bagley scored 25 points on 12-of-18 shooting with 10 rebounds in Friday’s 97-68 win over Elon.
At 6-11, 234 pounds, Bagley dominates near the basket with a vast array of post moves and length. He can also step outside to handle the ball and create his own shot. Duke started four five-star freshmen around Grayson Allen Friday, and Bagley stood out above them all.
5. The Spartans have the most versatile starting lineup in college basketball — It’s early, but Tom Izzo’s Spartans possess a gifted starting lineup filled with offensive and defensive studs. Miles Bridges scored 20 points with 10 rebounds in Friday’s 98-66 win over North Florida, making highlight-reel plays on a consistent basis.
Michigan State’s starting lineup also features point guard Cassius Winston, who had 12 points and eight assists. Freshman Jaren Jackson Jr., a 6-11 McDonald’s All-American, scored 13 points with 13 rebounds, center Nick Ward had 16 points on 6 of 6 shooting and Joshua Langford had 13 points and five rebounds. The second-ranked Spartans are deep at almost every position, but their starting group looks truly special ahead of Tuesday’s heavyweight matchup with No. 1 Duke.