College basketball opening night – Duke-Kentucky meet for men, South Carolina-NC State battle on the women’s side


Welcome to the start of the 2021 college basketball season.

November brings the return of basketball to college campuses across the country, and there is a lot to look forward to Tuesday. On the men’s side, No. 9 Duke and No. 10 Kentucky will start the season against each other in an AP top-10 matchup, along with No. 1 Gonzaga beginning its journey back to the Final Four.

On the women’s side, No. 1 South Carolina has a top-five matchup with No. 5 NC State to kick off the year, and 16 other ranked teams take the floor.

Opening night in college hoops brings the return of home-court advantage. With fans back in the stands again, there will be more noise and storming of the courts this season.

Here are some of the best moments from opening night:

Honoring legends

Duke Basketball honored Mike Krzyzewski ahead of the first game of his last season as the head coach of the men’s team. Coach K was given a plaque filled with all of his accomplishments since he was named head coach of the Blue Devils in 1980.

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Mike Krzyzewski receives a standing ovation as he is honored before coaching Duke for the 11th and final time at the Champions Classic.

Duke has won five titles under Coach K, whose overall record as head coach is 1,170-361. In June, Krzyzewski — the winningest coach in Division I men’s basketball history — announced the 2021-22 season would be his last.

Kentucky player Keion Brooks Jr. paid tribute to his late teammate Terrence Clarke on Tuesday.

In Brooks’ locker ahead of the Wildcats’s season-opening game against Duke was a shirt with Clarke’s SLAM Magazine cover on it. Clarke played just one season at Kentucky as a freshman when he tragically died at the age of 19 following a car accident in April. Clarke had declared for the NBA Draft when he died in Los Angeles.

DePaul University had a special guest in attendance for its second women’s game of the season — newly crowned WNBA champion Allie Quigley. The current Chicago Sky guard played for the Blue Demons from 2004 to ’08. DePaul designated Tuesday’s game as “Allie Quigley Night” to honor its alumna and celebrate her “special brand of true grit,” according to the team’s website.

Block party

The South Carolina Gamecocks women’s basketball team had a big test to start the year, as it faced NC State. Even though the game was competitive throughout, the Gamecocks were too much for the Wolfpack. Aliyah Boston put in work on both ends of the floor (just look at her stat line). The junior forward put up eight points, six rebounds and two assists in the contest, but her effort on the defensive end is what got her recognition from a high-profile player.

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Aliyah Boston puts on a stellar defensive performance as she records five blocks in South Carolina’s season-opening win on the road against NC State.

Scott blocked five shots in the season opener, asserting herself as a threat in the paint. WNBA star Layshia Clarendon took notice of Boston’s block party and shouted her out on Twitter.

High-flying hoopers

Quinnipiac guard Matt Balanc threw down one of the best posterizing dunks of the young college basketball season with a monstrous slam in his team’s game against Maryland.

The junior guard then stared down University of Maryland guard Fatts Russell. Russell stood little chance against Balanc — he’s 5 feet,11 inches, compared to the Qunnipiac guard who stands at 6 feet, 4 inches. Although the dunk was ferocious, it hasn’t translated into a lead for the Bobcats, as they trail the Terrapins in the second half.

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Quinnipiac guard Matt Balanc throws down a vicious posterizer on Maryland guard Fatts Russell and stares him down afterward.

In the game between Indiana and Eastern Michigan, Jordan Geronimo got things off to a booming start. He took a lob from Hoosier teammate Trayce Jackson-Davis and threw in a powerful alley-oop. Looking at the replay, Geronimo skied to slam home this dunk.

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Trayce Jackson-Davis lofts one up to Jordan Geronimo for an alley-oop for Indiana.

No. 7 Purdue convincingly defeated Bellarmine Tuesday, and Jaden Ivey had a play to emphasize that point. He picked off an incoming pass and proceeded to throw down a vicious windmill dunk on the fastbreak. The steal was impressive, and the dunk was put down with authority.

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Jaden Ivey picks off a pass and gets creative with his finish on the other end as Purdue routs Bellarmine.

Buzzer beater

The Ohio State Buckeyes got the win in their season opener against the Akron Zips in dramatic fashion. Down by two with seconds left on the clock, Zed Key took the ball in the lane and scored as time expired against Akron. His late-game bucket helped Ohio State escape with a victory and avoid an early-season upset.

From way downtown

UMBC women’s basketball team is having its way against Gettysburg and it extended its lead before the half with an amazing shot. Jatarrikah Settle of the Retrievers scooped up the ball with less than two seconds left and heaved up a shot from half court. The bucket went in, giving UMBC a 43-14 lead heading into the break.

First game, fresh kicks:

Nothing says you are ready to hoop like wearing a perfect pair of kicks. Duke women’s basketball might not be ranked in the AP top 25 yet, but Vanessa de Jesus, Celeste Taylor and Miela Goodchild should earn a top ranking for the shoes they showed up in ahead of their season-opening game against the Winthrop Eagles.

The Blue Devils are a Nike-sponsored team, so it’s no surprise that these women showed up rocking some of the freshest Nike and Jordan shoes out there. Take a look. From the Air Jordan 1 High OG “UNC to Chicago” to the Off-White Jordan 4s, these are shoes to be desired.

The problem isn’t solved

At the start of the 2021-22 season, 34 of the 61 newly hired men’s Division I head coaches are Black. After taking replacements and firings into account, that means a net gain of 14 Black coaches. There are now 110 Black head coaches, up from 95 last season.

The Undefeated’s Jesse Washington writes that even though there was an increase in Black coaches from last season, it’s still not worth celebrating. Only 31% of the 358 coaches in men’s Division I basketball are Black — even though more than half of the players are Black.





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