Things keep looking up for the Atlantic Sun.
Just days after Gardner-Webb stunned Kentucky in Lexington, the conference snagged two more marquee wins. Belmont, coming off its second-straight NCAA Tournament berth, ripped Cincinnati at home, while Mercer turned O.J. Mayo's USC debut into one big debacle in Los Angeles.
(Ignore Mayo's final point total. It includes three late field goals, he missed 15-of-27 shots and had four turnovers.)
It was a stark contrast to the other two high-profile freshman debuts on Friday. Kevin Love scored 22 points, grabbed 13 boards and was brutally efficient (1.66 PPWS). In short, he was exactly what the Bruins expected. Coach Ben Howland was pleased with the center's defense and his ferocity on the boards.
Kansas State freshman Michael Beasley may be the closest thing to this year's version of Kevin Durant, but few thought he'd pull off a Durant-like performance in the Wildcats' opener. Guess we can now raise expectations for Beasley, too.
With Memphis Derrick Rose already off to a fast start and Indiana's Eric Gordon set to make his debut, it's a bit surprising Mayo is already behind the fab freshman curve.
Then again, the season just started.
As if the players' debuts weren't enough, a bevy of coaches took to the court with new teams for the first time Friday, too.
Michigan breezed past Radford (not that Tommy Amaker's squads ever had much trouble during their non-conference schedule), Arkansas made it easy on John Pelphrey (no surprise considering the talent the Razorbacks return), while Mark Turgeon's Aggies shrugged off their early jitters for a blowout win of their win.
The three most interesting debuts took place in two games, though.
Colorado's Bz-Ball" stumbled out of the gate to Steve Alford's New Mexico Lobos. This was despite a horrid game from star J.R. Giddens. The Buffs, coming off years of Ricardo Patton, were "out of sync" and will probably continue to struggle. For another year at least.
Rick Majerus has his hands full in St. Louis. "You can see our size, athleticism, lack of depth, lack of practice, we've got a lot of problems," Majerus told the St. Louis Dispatch. The former Utah coach remains one of the game's premier X's and O's men, but even he will have a hard time ensuring the Billikens win more than 15 games this season.