Mann led the Bruins to two massive wins this week, scoring 23 points as Rick Byrd’s club came from 16 points down to beat Indiana State at home. That’s the same Indiana State team that went into Notre Dame and beat the Fighting Irish by 13. He followed up that performance by scoring 28 — including three threes in the final minute — as Belmont knocked off then-No. 12 North Carolina 83-80.
Belmont wasn’t exactly expected to put together wins like this this season, not when they lost Kerron Johnson and Ian Clark, their starting back court from a season ago. Clark is now with the Utah Jazz. The program has proven to be impressively resilient, however. It doesn’t matter who they lose, there’s always someone else in line.
They were good, too:
Perry Ellis, Kansas: While the freshmen dominated the conversation, Ellis finished with 24 points, nine boards and three steals in the Jayhawk win over Duke in the Champions Classic.
Shabazz Napier, UConn: Napier’s been the best player in the American this season, leading UConn with 13.5 points, 9.8 boards and 7.5 assists. He had a triple-double against Yale.
Treveon Graham, VCU: Graham went for 22 points, leading VCU in their win at Virginia. He also hit the game-winning three with 1.1 seconds left. He followed that up with a double-double against Winthrop.
Brad Waldow, St. Mary’s: Waldow averaged 16.3 points, 8.3 boards and 3.3 blocks in three wins this week, including 18 points, 10 boards, five assists and three blocks against North Dakota State.
Roberto Nelson, Oregon State: Playing in front of the First Family, Nelson went for 31 points and seven assists to lead the Beavers to a win at Maryland. He had 24 points and seven assists against Portland as well.
TEAM OF THE WEEK: Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State looked absolutely dominant on the defensive end of the floor in their 52-35 win over a good Marquette team in the Bradley Center on Saturday afternoon. The win becomes all the more impressive when you consider that LaQuinton Ross, the guy that everyone thought would be filling Deshaun Thomas’ role as leading scorer, didn’t score a single point. If Shannon Scott and Sam Thompson can be as good as they were on Saturday on a consistent basis, the Buckeyes have a chance to win the Big Ten.
They were good, too:
Belmont Bruins: Coming from 16 down to beat Indiana State and winning at North Carolina is a pretty good week for anyone, let alone a school in the Ohio Valley.
Kansas Jayhawks: Their one win this week? Duke at the United Center.
Michigan State Spartans: Tom Izzo’s club knocked off Kentucky in the Champions Classic and barely avoided a letdown game against Columbia on Friday.
VCU Rams: The Rams went 2-0 this week with their most impressive win coming at Virginia during the Tip-Off Marathon.
Wisconsin Badgers: The Badgers have three terrific wins this season: St. John’s, Florida and at UW-Green Bay.
UMass Minutemen: UMass knocked off LSU during the Marathon and followed that up with a win over Youngstown State. Chaz Williams and Cady Lalanne are a really good 1-2 punch.
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.