Player of the Week: Tyler Haws, BYU
Haws has played well all season for the Cougars, embracing the role as Dave Rose’s go-to guy, but I’m not sure many people expected the Jimmeresque performance that Haws put on in BYU’s 97-71 win over Virginia Tech on Saturday. Haws finished with 42 points on 14-25 shooting, hitting 6-8 from beyond the arc. The 42 points were the most scored by anyone this season (Minnesota’s Andre Hollins had 41 against Memphis back in November) and allowed Haws to join his father amongst the ranks of the Cougars that have broken the 40 point plateau. His dad went for 40 in 1989.
What makes Haws’ performance all the more impressive is that he spent the past two years on a Mormon mission in the Philippines. Not only was he not playing basketball during his time abroad, he wasn’t really working out, either. Everyone knew the kid could play, but the fact that he’s playing at a level where he needs to be seriously considered as the WCC’s Player of the Year at this point in the season is increcible.
The All-They-Were-Good-Too Team
- G: Tracy Abrams, Illinois: The Illini struggled to beat Auburn on Saturday afternoon, but it was no fault of Abrams’. While Brandon Paul struggled to the tune of 3-12 shooting and six turnovers, Abrams was lighting up the Auburn defense. He finished with 27 points, eight boards and five assists, proving that Illinois can win without Paul shouldering the load. Whether they can beat teams better than Auburn with Paul having an off night is another story.
- G: Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga: Pangos has struggled a bit in the early parts of this season. He’s not shooting as well as he did last season, and with the emergence of Kelly Olynyk giving the Zags one of the biggest and most versatile front lines in the country, he’s not playing as big of a role in the Gonzaga offense, either. On Friday night, Pangos busted out of that slump in a win over Baylor, exploding for 31 points while shooting 10-13 from the field and 7-10 from three.
- F: Tucker Halpern, Brown: Providence isn’t exactly a powerhouse this season, but they are a Big East program (for now), and when a team from the Ivy League beats an in-state opponent out of the Big East, it’s a big deal. Halpern is the biggest reason that Brown notched the 69-68 win over the Friars. He had 28 points, hitting 8-15 from beyond the arc, including the game-winner.
- F: Jerelle Benimon, Towson: Benimon became the first player in the country to notch a 20-20 game this season as he finished with 20 points and 21 boards, six of which came on the offensive end of the floor, in a win in overtime at Oregon State. Benimon transferred to the Tigers after spending two years sitting on Georgetown’s bench.
- C: David and Travis Wear, UCLA: As much attention as Shabazz Muhammad and Larry Drew have gotten for their play of late for the Bruins, the reason that UCLA was able to be Missouri was the play of the Wear twins. Travis finished with 22 points on 11-20 shooting while David chipped in 16 points, hitting all seven of his field goal attempts. Their ability to spread the and get out in transition
Bench: Ryan Broekhoff (Valpo), John Brown (High Point), Seth Curry (Duke), Frankie Dobbs (Bryant), Cully Payne (Loyola IL), Russ Smith (Louisville)
GAME OF THE NIGHT: Utah at No. 16 Oregon, 4:00 p.m.
From Rob Dauster’s Weekend Preview:
Utah suffered one of the worst losses I’ve seen in a while on Thursday night, when Brandon Taylor, for some unknown reason, decided to foul an Oregon State player firing up a half court prayer at the buzzer. The Utes, who are arguably the second-best team in the Pac-12, will look to bounce-back on Sunday against the best team in the Pac-12, No. 16 Oregon at 4:00 p.m.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:
1. No. 12 SMU will attempt to stay atop the American standings as they travel to South Florida. While the Mustangs won the first matchup between these two teams at home by 14, they’ve dropped their last two games on the road.
2. A few more American contests are going down as East Carolina travels to UConn and Houston heads to Tulsa. The game between the Cougars and Golden Hurricane is especially interesting because both teams are sitting two games back of SMU and trying to make a move on the postseason.
3. No. 5 Iowa continues the soft part of the schedule as they face Illinois on the road. The Hawkeyes posted recent easy victories over Northwestern and Penn State and will be heavily favored again on Sunday.
4. Could be an intriguing game as No. 17 Miami travels to Georgia Tech. Although the Yellow Jackets aren’t a major contender in the ACC, they’ve been tough this season, especially at home. The Hurricanes fell victim to Georgia Tech last season while they were ranked by Marcus Georges-Hunt has to get back on track after a recent slump for that to happen.
5. There is an Atlantic 10 game that will be featured on NBCSN on Sunday: Saint Louis at St. Bonaventure (2:00 p.m.).
CLICK HERE to watch these games on NBC Sports Live Extra Sunday afternoon.
Having won 12 straight games, No. 21 Wichita State entered the weekend one of the hottest teams in the country. And with a four-game lead atop the Missouri Valley standings, clinching the regular season title was more a matter of “when” as opposed to “if.” But none of that mattered Saturday night at Illinois State, as the Redbirds managed to hand the Shockers their first conference loss by the final score of 58-53.
In addition to the 12-game win streak, which was second to Stony Brook (15 straight wins), Wichita State also saw its 19-game win streak in Valley regular season games come to an end. Illinois State was the last Valley team to beat Wichita State, eliminating the Shockers in the Arch Madness semifinals last March, and they played with the confidence of a team that believed it could win.
And after a rough first half the Redbirds found a way to come back, erasing a 16-point second half deficit in the process.
Wichita State’s issue in the second half was the fact that they couldn’t make shots. The Shockers shot just 26.7 percent from the field and 1-for-14 from three in the second half, with Fred VanVleet going scoreless and Shaq Morris scoring just one point. And just two players, Ron Baker and Conner Frankamp, managed to make multiple field goals in the game’s final 20 minutes. Illinois State certainly deserves credit for that, as they took away the quality looks Wichita State was able to find in building its lead.
And on the other end of the floor Paris Lee took control of the game during Illinois State’s comeback, scoring 13 of his 19 points in the second half with Deontae Hawkins adding 11 second-half points. Illinois State was even worse from the field, finishing the game shooting just over 27 percent from the field. But they were able to attack the Wichita State defense and get to the foul line, outscoring the Shockers 22-9 from the charity stripe. And in a game in which neither team could get much going offensively, the ability to get points from the line proved to be the difference.
This defeat doesn’t help Wichita State, but did anything really change? Maybe the margin for error when it comes to an at-large bid gets a little smaller with the loss in the eyes of some. But when considering injuries to the likes of VanVleet and Anton Grady in non-conference play, those early season losses are understandable. Saturday was a rough night for Wichita State, but given the maturity and talent on at Gregg Marshall’s disposal the Shockers will be fine moving forward.