The Billikens were the team that many picked to win the Atlantic 10 this season, but they didn’t exactly start their season out on the right foot. After losing three of their first six games, Jim Crews’ club watched a nine-game winning streak evaporate when they lost at Temple and then dropped a home game in OT to conference bottom-feeder Rhode Island. 1-2 wasn’t exactly the way St. Louis wanted to start in arguably the deepest conference in the country.
But they bounced back, picking up tough road games at Duquense and St. Bonaventure, before making a statement this week. It started with a beatdown of Butler, where the Billikens forced 17 first half turnovers and brought home a 17 point win over the No. 9 Bulldogs. Then on Saturday, St. Louis thoroughly embarrassed a good Dayton team, dispatching them with a 29 point win.
St. Louis is now just a half-game back — tied in the loss column — of first place VCU in the At-10.
Teams that deserve a shout out:
Air Force: The Falcons picked up a pair of wins at home this week, knocking off Fresno State and No. 22 San Diego State, to extend their winning streak to five games and move into a tie for second-place in the Mountain West standings. The win over SDSU was just the third time in 81 tries the Falcons have beaten a ranked team. Air Force has had a bit of a friendly schedule in league play; we’ll get a real sense of just how good this team is when they visit the Pit on Wednesday to take on first-place New Mexico.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys picked up a pair of massive wins this week, beating Iowa State on a Marcus Smart bucket with three seconds left and following that up by knocking off Kansas at Kansas. How big of a win was that? It’s only the second time in the last 104 games that the Jayhawks have lost at Phog Allen Fieldhouse. The last time? The day after Thomas Robinson’s mother passed away.
Miami: The Hurricanes notched a pair of big wins on the road this week. They came-from-behind to beat Virginia Tech in Blacksburg and followed that up with a thrilling win at NC State. More importantly, the Hurricanes are now sitting at 8-0 in the ACC with a two-game lead on Duke and a three-game lead on everyone else.
Indiana: The Hoosiers picked up a pair of huge wins, blowing out Purdue on the road by 37 points and following that up with a win over No. 1 Michigan at home. That’s a big deal for Indiana because they took over a one-game lead in the Big Ten race, which gives them a bit of cushion with their tough, road-heavy schedule down the stretch.
Stanford: Stanford thrust themselves back into the conversation in the Pac-12 with a pair of wins over the Oregon schools this week, including a 24 point victory against the No. 10 Ducks. Most importantly, Chasson Randle and Aaron Bright, who haven’t hit a shot all season long, are now a combined 15-25 from three over the last three games.
Louisville: The Cardinals bounced back from their three game losing streak with a vengeance, beating Pitt at home on Big Monday and following that up with a fairly dominating win over Marquette on Sunday.
Bassett will require surgery in his right foot and his projected recovery time will be four-to-six months. The injury will force Bassett to redshirt the 2016-17 season.
A three-star recruit coming out of Oldsmar Christian in Florida, the 6-foot-9 forward wasn’t expected to be a big contributor during his first year with the Gators, but his loss does hurt some of the team’s frontcourt depth. With John Egbunu, Devin Robinson, Justin Leon and Kevarrius Hayes all returning, the Gators should have plenty of players to use in the frontcourt this season without Bassett.
Once Bassett is healthy and able to play next season he showed good athleticism and an ability to hit the glass hard while he was in high school. Bassett should be able to join Florida’s rotation as an energy defender and rebounder right away.
Iowa State lands four-star Class of 2017 guard Lindell Wigginton
Iowa State has its point guard of the future as four-star Class of 2017 prospect Lindell Wigginton pledged to the Cyclones on Friday.
The 6-foot-1 Wigginton is regarded as the No. 40 overall prospect on Rivals.com as the Canadian has spent the last few seasons at powerhouse Oak Hill Academy. With an ability to play both guard spots and defend a few spots, Wigginton is a valuable addition to head coach Steve Prohm’s ballclub as Wigginton could help replace Monte Morris after he exhausts his eligibility.
Wigginton is going to need to improve his consistency on his perimeter jumper, but he’s a good pull-up scorer who can make plays for himself or others off the bounce. Iowa State’s Class of 2017 recruiting haul now includes Wigginton, four-star wing Terrence Lewis and three-star guard Darius McNeill.
This commitment is huge for Prohm as Wigginton is the most highly-regarded recruit that he has landed with the Cyclones. With Prohm’s point guard history with guys like Isaiah Canaan at Murray State and Monte Morris now with Iowa State, Prohm did a nice job of finding his next young guard to mold for the future.
Davidson star Jack Gibbs to miss a few weeks with shoulder injury
Davidson senior guard Jack Gibbs is one of the most under-the-radar players in college basketball as he will be among the nation’s leading offensive threats this season if he’s healthy.
But health is going to be a question for the 6-foot-1 guard as Gibbs is dealing with a shoulder injury that will sideline him for 2-to-3 weeks, according to head coach Bob McKillop. McKillop told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman that tests came back negative for Gibbs and he’s expected to be back for the Wildcats’ season-opener. The injury for Gibbs occurred during Thursday’s Davidson practice.
As a junior, Gibbs averaged 23.5 points, 4.9 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game as he became one of the nation’s premier offensive players. Gibbs is going to be a huge key for Davidson this season as he needs to be healthy in order for the Wildcats to make it back to the NCAA tournament.
VIDEO: Dennis Smith Jr. electrifies N.C. State fans at team’s scrimmage
N.C. State freshman point guard Dennis Smith Jr. excited fans with some absurd plays at the team’s Primetime with the Pack event last night.
The highly-touted, five-star prospect is the most electric prospect to come to the Wolfpack in years and Smith had the crowd buzzing with some highlight-reel dunks during the team’s 20-minute scrimmage.
Smith made one teammate look silly by putting it between his legs and throwing down a vicious dunk during one play while he also threw an alley-oop to himself to finish another break.
Kentucky freshman guard Malik Monk is going to be one of the newcomers to keep an eye on this season as the 6-foot-3 Arkansas native is an explosive scorer who packs vicious athleticism.
Monk showed Big Blue Nation some of what they can expect to see during Friday night’s Blue/White Scrimmage as he unleashed a ferocious dunk in some traffic and also had another good dunk in transition. While Monk has great lift off the floor, he also isn’t afraid to cock the ball back and put some authority on his dunks. He’s going to be a ton of fun to watch this season.