NCAA Basketball Tournament - Murray State v Marquette

Isaiah Canaan thinks he’s the best player in the nation

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….And honestly, he’s got a pretty good case for it.

The Murray State senior point guard told USAToday’s Scott Gleeson that he believes he’s the best, based on a lot of things. One of those being that he’s “got a lot of wins under [his] belt.”

“I don’t like to toot my own horn, but honestly, I do feel that way, I think I’m the best. Physically, I know I’m stronger than most point guards. I’ve been around longer than most, I don’t back down from nobody. It’d be hard for me to say I’m not the best point guard in the country.”

The Biloxi, Miss. native came back after being projected as a second-round pick in the 2012 NBA Draft — an incredibly smart move — and has a lot to live up to after a 31-win season with the Racers last season, a team record.

Not that he’s not up to it, CBSSports.com ranks Canaan as the top point guard in their Top 50 list.

The crazy thing about Murray State — and the article says as much — is that Canaan is currently one of only two guys for Murray State that return as impact players. Gone are Jewuan Long, Ivan Aska and Dante Poole, with only forward Ed Daniel coming back. As of now, the jury is still out on the return of guard Zay Jackson after he basically ran two people over this summer. In fairness, seniors Latreze Mushatt, Stacey Wilson and Brandon Garrett return. The Trio all played in at least 32 of 33 games, with Mushatt starting nine.

Coach Steve Prohm has a definite chemistry with his roster. But will that, combined with the return of Canaan and Daniel, be able to be enough with a retooled roster that includes six freshman?

Well, according to Canaan, they’ve got the best player in the nation. So that’s a start.

David Harten is the editor of The Backboard Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.

VIDEO: Winthrop’s Keon Johnson goes coast-to-coast for buzzer-beater

Winthrop's Keon Johnson (5) shoots a layup while defended by Coastal Carolina's Warren Gillis during the first half of the Big South Conference Championship college basketball game Sunday, March 8, 2015, in Conway, S.C. Coastal Carolina won 81-70. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
(AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
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Winthop earned a Big South road win at Radford on Saturday afternoon as junior guard Keon Johnson raced coast-to-coast and buried the game-winner at the buzzer.

The 5-foot-7 Johnson erupted for 32 points in the win and he’s been one of the most potent mid-major scorers in the country this season. The win moves Winthrop to 18-7 on the season and their 10-4 mark in the Big South ties them with UNC Asheville atop the conference standings.

(H/T: LiveonASN)

After blowout of South Carolina, is No. 22 Kentucky a Final Four contender?

Kentucky guard Tyler Ulis (3) guards the ball after a rebound during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Auburn, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Auburn, Ala. Auburn won 75-70. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
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It only took 2:26 for official Doug Sirmons to plant two technical fouls on Kentucky head coach John Calipari, and that may have been the worst thing that could have happened to South Carolina.

He poked the bear, and the result was that a ticked off No. 22 Wildcat team proceeded to run the Gamecocks out of their own gym, 89-62.

The star of the show was interim head coach Tyler Ulis, who put together as dominating of a performance as you’ll ever see out of a player that stands 5-foot-9. Ulis finished with 27 points and 12 assists, hitting 4-for-8 from three and turning the ball over just once.

Marcus Lee added 11 points and 13 boards, including six on the offensive end, and Jamal Murray had his customary 26 points on 9-for-21 shooting, but the story of this game was Ulis.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seed a player under 6-foot capable of dominating a game the way that Ulis can dominate. Murray can take over with the best of them — we saw it against Florida and Ohio State — but when it comes to the NCAA tournament, this Kentucky team will go as far as Ulis carries them.

And based on the way that he’s played in the last six weeks, that could end up being pretty far. In SEC play, Ulis is averaging 19.4 points and 7.6 assists. He’s scored at least 17 points in 12 of the last 14 games and has notched as least five assists in all 14. He just orchestrated a total mollywhopping of a Frank Martin-coached team that was tied for first place in the SEC while playing without his head coach and on the road.

The issue with Kentucky is the same today as it was a month ago. They’re a two-man team with an inconsistent supporting cast. When their two studs play like this, they can beat anyone in the country. When they don’t, they can struggle against anyone.

But here’s the thing: When Ulis is playing the way that he’s played of late, they don’t really need all that much from their supporting cast. Derek Willis needs to be able to space the floor. Lee and Skal Labissiere need to be able to hold their own against opposing big men.

And when that happens?

Kentucky is clearly the best team in the SEC and good enough to be able to win four straight in the Big Dance and get to a Final Four.