NCAA Basketball: Arkansas at Kentucky

It was unofficially Reed Sheppard week in college basketball after Kentucky's star freshman turned in a heroic performance in Tuesday's victory at Mississippi State, rose in NBA mock drafts and drew in-depth national attention. But in an 111-102 win over Arkansas on Saturday, the No. 16 Wildcats showed what makes them dangerous as a team, and it's about more than just one player.

Sheppard turned in a steady 10-point, five-assist outing and was joined in double figures by six teammates as the Wildcats produced another stunning offensive performance. Most encouraging about the show was the production of Kentucky's duo of freshman centers Aaron Bradshaw and Zvonimir Ivišić. 

Bradshaw finished with 15 points and five rebounds and hit his first 3-pointer since Jan. 6. Ivišić chipped in 12 points and nine boards with a pair of blocks. The elder statesman of UK's frontcourt, Tre Mitchell, also returned and logged 16 minutes after missing the past four games due to injury. The dually strong showings of the two freshman bigs, combined with Mitchell's return, was a reminder of the depth and talent on this Kentucky team.

They weren't the only bigs on blue-blood teams standing out. Duke star Kyle Filipowski also turned in a sterling performance, finishing with a game-high 21 points in the No. 10 Blue Devils' 73-48 win over Virginia. His strong outing came just one week after he said he suffered a knee injury in the court-storming frenzy following a loss at Wake Forest.

Speaking of Wake Forest. Woof. Read on through Saturday's winners and losers for a concerning report on the Demon Deacons and all the other major happenings from a big day in college basketball.

Winner: Villanova wins a big bubble-battle

Villanova was hopelessly careening toward nowhere less than a month ago after falling to 12-11 (5-7 Big East) with a stretch of six losses in seven games. But after throttling Providence 71-60 in a Big East bubble battle, the Wildcats have evolved into one of the season's top turnaround stories. Both teams entered among the "First Four Out" in Jerry Palm's Bracketology. Against that backdrop, the Wildcats made it five wins in their last six games and took another step toward potentially reaching the Big Dance under second-year coach Kyle Neptune. Defense was the key as Nova rallied from a 37-34 halftime deficit by holding the Friars to 26.9% shooting in the second half. – David Cobb

Loser: Michigan State misses out on signature win

For the last two decades, Michigan State's name has been synonymous with the NCAA Tournament as the Spartans are riding a 25-season tournament streak dating back to 1997. While MSU's 80-74 loss to No. 2 Purdue isn't going to make or break its chances, a win would've gone a long way in extending that streak. The Spartans, who were a No. 9 seed in Palm's bracket but on the bubble, are going cold at the wrong time and have lost their last three games to Iowa, Ohio State and Purdue. If MSU doesn't want to be sweating an at-large bid on Selection Sunday, it would be a good idea to finish the season strong against Northwestern and Indiana next week before the Big Ten Tournament starts. – Cameron Salerno

Winner: Gonzaga stays alive

Before last month's win over Kentucky at Rupp Arena, Gonzaga had zero Quad 1 wins. This week alone, the Bulldogs have picked up two. Gonzaga improved to 14-2 against WCC competition and finished the season with two or fewer losses in conference play for the eighth consecutive year with a 70-57 win at Saint Mary's. Gonzaga, one of Palm's "Last Four In" before defeating the Gaels, hasn't missed the NCAA Tournament since 1998 and this win will go a long way in building its case as an at-large selection if it doesn't don't win the WCC Tournament. – Salerno

Loser: Kansas sets school record for Big 12 losses

No. 15 Baylor beat No. 7 Kansas 82-74 to hand KU its seventh Big 12 loss, which is the most league defeats the program has suffered since it went 6-8 as a member of the Big 8 in 1988-89. The outcome itself wasn't particularly stunning since the Jayhawks were underdogs on the road against an upper-tier conference foe. But it nonetheless underscored the shortcomings of the AP poll's preseason No. 1 team. Even with star wing Kevin McCullar Jr. in the lineup after nursing a knee injury in recent weeks, Kansas was noticeably lacking in defensive bite as the Bears shot 63% in the second half while building their lead to 13 points. Cobb

Winner: Kentucky's offense continues elite run

No. 16 Kentucky reached 100 points for the sixth time this season as it outran Arkansas 111-102 to stay in the mix for a double-bye at the SEC Tournament heading into the final week of the regular season. The defensive effort was concerning, per usual, for the Wildcats (21-8, 11-5 SEC). But with seven players reaching double figures, UK pulled away late after falling behind 92-91 with 4:59 remaining. Antonio Reeves led the way with 22 points on just 10 attempts from the field, and Robert Dillingham scored 13 of his 15 in the second half. The Wildcats also attempted more free throws (44) than they had in any game since shooting 46 in a win over Illinois State on Nov. 30, 2015. – Salerno

Loser: Wisconsin can't get right

Wisconsin's only two victories in the last 5+ weeks are at home against two teams in Ohio State and Maryland that are unlikely to reach the NCAA Tournament. The latest bit of Badger buzzkill came in the form of a 91-83 home loss to No. 13 Illinois as the Illini shot a scorching 56% in the second half while pulling away. Wisconsin simply had no answer for Marcus Domask, who scored 18 of his game-high in the second half for the Illini (22-7, 13-5 Big Ten). The Badgers (18-11, 10-8) entered as a projected as No. 5 seed in Jerry Palm's NCAA Tournament Bracketology but have now lost seven of their last nine with a road game at No. 2 Purdue still ahead after a date with Rutgers on Thursday. – Cobb

Winner: South Carolina stays alive in SEC title race

No. 18 South Carolina improved its chances of winning its first SEC regular season championship since 2009 with a comeback 82-76 win over No. 24 Florida at home. The Gamecocks trailed by 10 points in the second half before star guard Meechie Johnson took over. Johnson scored a game-high 25 points and drilled a go-ahead 3-pointer with 43.4 seconds remaining as South Carolina improved to 7-0 against Quad 2 competition. The SEC title race is down to four teams (Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina and Kentucky) heading into the final week. – Salerno

Loser: Oregon misses its chance

A trip to No. 6 Arizona marked Oregon's last guaranteed chance to do something that could move the needle on Selection Sunday. The Ducks entered as one of the "Last Four Out" of the projected NCAA Tournament field in Palm's Bracketology and could have turned some heads by upsetting the Wildcats. But after losing 103-83 and falling to 19-10 (11-7 Pac-12), they are guaranteed to be sweating over the next couple weeks. Jermaine Couisnard certainly did his part with a career-high 39 points on 14-of-24 shooting. But the Ducks had no answer for the Kylan Boswell, Caleb Love, Pelle Larsson and Keshad Johnson, who each scored between 19 and 22 points for Arizona (23-6, 14-4) Likely Quad 2 home games against Colorado and Utah next week will be absolute must-wins for the Ducks to keep alive any hope of an at-large bid. Salerno

Winner: USF clinches AAC title 

One of the best stories in college basketball is happening at South Florida and it could be far from over at this rate. The Bulls are the AAC champions, winning their first regular-season conference championship in program history with a 76-61 win over Charlotte on the road. The first title in the 53-year history of the program comes in Year 1 of the Amir Abdur-Rahim era. The former Kennesaw State coach has helped guide USF to new heights, and the Bulls could be heading toward their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2012. – Salerno

Winner: Double Creighton double-doubles

No. 12 Creighton had not one but two players post double-doubles in its 89-75 win over No. 5 Marquette. Baylor Scheierman led the way with 26 points and 16 rebounds while Trey Alexander pitched in 18 points and 11 assists as the Bluejays picked up their sixth win in the last seven games. Marquette was playing without stars Tyler Kolek (oblique injury) and Oso Ighodaro (illness), which left the Golden Eagles painfully light on depth. But Marquette hung around deep into the second half before Creighton closed on a 20-8 run that featured three clutch 3-pointers from Scheierman. Salerno

Loser: Virginia's ugly slide continues

Virginia's slide in the wrong direction continued in an ugly way as the Cavaliers fell 73-48 at No. 10 Duke for their fourth loss in the last six games. The Cavaliers (21-9, 12-7 ACC) entered as a projected No. 10 seed in Jerry Palm's Bracketology but considered to be "on the bubble." Less than a month ago, UVa had won eight straight and was in the thick of the ACC title race. Now, it could be destined for a nerve-wracking Selection Sunday. The win keeps Duke squarely in the ACC title hunt. Kyle Filipowski led the way with 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting, which included a windmill dunk. – Salerno

Winner: Western Michigan wins in MAC thriller

With just 1.6 seconds remaining in overtime and the game tied at 76-76, Western Michigan heaved a full-court pass attempt at Ball State in an attempt to get some sort of miraculous last-second shot attempt off before the final horn to avoid a second overtime period.

Mission accomplished, but the word "miraculous" might be an undersell.

The Broncos in-bounder launched a one-handed rocket across the entirety of the court, and the ball slipped past a Ball State defender before bouncing in the hands of Anthony Crump – who almost looked shocked before gathering it and laying it in for the game-winner and a 78-76 win for Western Michigan. – Kyle Boone

Loser: Wake takes ugly L when it needed it most

After winning consecutive ACC games at home vs. Pitt and Duke, Wake Forest hammered its way into the NCAA Tournament picture – only to come crashing with a quickness right out of it in the span of a few days. The Demon Deacons fell earlier this week at Notre Dame in a game it should have won, then turned around and gagged one away at Virginia Tech. Wake led by as many as 15 and wound up falling 87-76 after being outscored 50-30 in the second half. It entered the day among the "First Four Out" in Palm's bracket – and an ugly road loss to a team below .500 in league play likely won't help its cause to earning an at-large. – Kyle Boone

Winner: USC's Isaiah Collier takes over against UW

USC's season has been filled with disappointment, but an 82-75 road win over Washington offered a bright spot. Trojans star freshman Isaiah Collier scored a career-high 31 points as the former five-star recruit hit a handful of clutch buckets down the stretch when UW started to mount a comeback attempt. Heading into the final week of the regular season, USC sits in 11th place (just behind Oregon State) in the Pac-12 standings with a 6-12 conference record. – Salerno

Winner: Central Connecticut State gets a title

After 10 straight losing seasons in NEC play, this season was guaranteed to go down as a milestone campaign for Central Connecticut State, regardless of what happened Saturday. But after CCSU's 79-67 win over Stonehill and Merrimack's 89-85 loss to Sacred Heart, it's officially a banner season for the Blue Devils. The results gave CCSU a share of the NEC title and the No. 1 seed in the upcoming conference tournament. When third-year coach Patrick Sellers took over, the Blue Devils were 13-40 over their previous two seasons. Now, they have a legitimate chance to make the NCAA Tournament. – Cobb