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.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.