Chalk up a big one for Doug Wojcik, in his first season at College of Charleston. His Cougars went into Waco and pounced on the Baylor Bears, coming away with a huge 63-59 road win that will resound for both teams come tournament time.
Junior forward Willis Hall had his first double-figure game of the young season for C of C, scoring 12 points and grabbing six rebounds as part of a balanced effort by the Cougars. British Olympian Andrew Lawrence kicked in 10 points and seven assists, and guard Anthony Stitt (10 points) and forward Anthony Thomas (11 points) made it four players in the low double figures for the visiting team. Starting center Adjehi Baru did his part, scoring eight to go with 15 huge rebounds against what should have been an overpowering Baylor front line.
Baylor’s Pierre Jackson led all scorers with 21 points, and had five rebounds and five assists as well. The Bears got 12 points out of young Ike Austin, but no other Baylor player even caught a whiff of double figures. Brady Heslip, who recently poured in a career-high 29 points in a win over St. John’s, did not play. The Canadian sharpshooter had his appendix removed on Tuesday.
Charleston pulled away at the end of the first half, and went into the locker room with a 31-26 lead. Baylor roared back to lead 46-42 with just over 10 minutes left in the game, but lost the advantage and never held it again. The game ended in a flurry of missed shots by the Bears and made free throws by the Cougars.
This loss will once again raise the question that has dogged Baylor coach Scott Drew in recent seasons: sure he can recruit, but can he really coach? Can he pull disparate parts together into a single-minded team? It’s something the 4-2 Bears will want to figure out quickly. Their next opponent is No. 6 Kentucky – a team that thrives on reinventing itself in thrilling fashion every, single, season.
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.
Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.
After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.
Video credit: Wyoming Athletics
Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.
Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.
Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.
Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.
Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.
But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.