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Posted at 8:36 AM ET, 02/ 9/2011

With John Wall watching, Kentucky spoils Bruce Pearl's return

By Eric Prisbell

What mattered Tuesday

George Mason 78, UNC Wilmington 63: At a time when several teams continue to stammer and stumble through league play, the Patriots are surging, now winners of 10 straight games. Andre Cornelius (25 points) made 7 of 10 three-point shots. The Seahawks closed to within six points with a little under six minutes to play, but I never felt they would win the game. Mason has reached 20 victories faster than any other team in school history. The Patriots are playing like a single-digit NCAA tournament seed. If they keep winning, perhaps they can avoid the dreaded 8/9 game.

Kentucky 73, Tennessee 61: John Wall was in Lexington to watch his Wildcats spoil the return of Vols Coach Bruce Pearl, who was back for the first time following the eight-game SEC suspension. Kentucky was the aggressor throughout and dominated the Vols on the boards, 38-28. "In the area [Kentucky] had to win, which I thought was the area of toughness and rebounding, I thought they did win," Pearl told reporters afterward.

Clemson 77, Boston College 69: The battle for fourth place in the ACC rages on. Both these teams remain in precarious position, and, in my view, both may be more likely to miss than make the NCAA tournament once Selection Sunday rolls around. Jerai Grant made 7 of 9 shots for Clemson, which earned its first top 50 win of the season.

What to watch for Wednesday:

Georgetown at Syracuse: The Orange has won 11 of the last 12 against the Hoyas in Syracuse. No team is hotter in the Big East than the Hoyas, who have won six straight games. Austin Freeman has averaged 22.2 points during the win streak. The Hoyas are in position to claim a No. 3 seed in the NCAA, but the Orange is not far behind. And positioning can change quickly in this brutal league.

North Carolina at Duke: This matchup looks a lot better than it did early in the season because the Tar Heels have straightened things out. They are climbing fast and are already in position to claim a top-five seed in the NCAAs. Freshman Harrison Barnes is starting to play like a standout. And fellow rookie Kendall Marshall is coming off a 16-assist effort. "Chemistry is at an all-time high," Dexter Strickland told reporters.

3) Louisville at Notre Dame: The Irish are 14-0 at home and are one win away from giving Coach Mike Brey his best start in his 11-year tenure in South Bend. Ten Louisville players have missed games this season, and leading scorer Preston Knowles missed Saturday's win over DePaul with a hamstring injury.

By Eric Prisbell  | February 9, 2011; 8:36 AM ET
 
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Next: NCAA tournament 2011: The curious case of St. John's

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