James Michael McAdoo, J.J. Mann

College Hoops Week in Review: J.J. ‘Manns’ Belmont’s great week, Ohio State shines

Leave a comment

source:

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: J.J. Mann, Belmont

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.

source:  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.

Johnson, Paige help No. 9 Tar Heels roll past Panthers 85-64

North Carolina's Isaiah Hicks (4) dunks against Pittsburgh during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Chapel Hill, N.C., Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
AP Photo/Gerry Broome
Leave a comment

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) Brice Johnson scored 19 points to lead a dominating offensive performance that helped No. 9 North Carolina beat Pittsburgh 85-64 on Sunday.

Marcus Paige added 15 points for the Tar Heels (21-4, 10-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who shot 59 percent to stay atop the league ahead of the next renewal of their fierce rivalry with Duke.

UNC had plenty of balance, shared the ball and got out in transition in arguably their best performance in weeks, using a 13-0 second-half burst to blow the game open. UNC finished with 26 assists on 32 baskets, 24 points off turnovers and scored 16 fast-break points after managing a combined five in the past two games.

Michael Young and James Robinson each scored 15 points to lead Pitt (17-7, 6-6). But the Panthers shot 37 percent and committed 19 turnovers, and a strong effort on the glass did little to offset their troubles.

The Tar Heels were playing their first home game in two weeks after a difficult three-game road trip that started with losses at Louisville and Notre Dame. Then came Tuesday’s game at Boston College, where the Tar Heels struggled against a winless league team then had a scare when Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams briefly collapsed in a second-half huddle after an attack of vertigo and had to leave the sideline for the rest of the game.

Williams was back in the office on Wednesday’s off day, returned to practice Thursday and told reporters Friday he was fine and even cracked jokes about a two-decade history with vertigo dating to his Kansas years.

Getting back home certainly helped everyone feel better. After wrestling with shooting struggles for much of the past month, UNC’s offense kicked back into an efficient and balanced gear, while Paige – the player the Tar Heels are practically begging to jolt free from a prolonged shooting slump – looked more like his old self against the Panthers.

That included one second-half play in which he caught a crosscourt pass from Theo Pinson in transition and made sure to step back behind the arc before burying a 3-pointer.

The Panthers had lost three of four since a 5-2 league start coming in, including 65-63 on a late tip-in at No. 12 Miami on Tuesday. And Pitt again had trouble getting their offense going, failing to crack 70 points for the third straight game.

TIP-INS

Pittsburgh: Second-leading scorer Jamel Artis scored five points on 2-for-8 shooting. … Pitt finished with a 41-29 rebounding advantage. … Pitt made 9 of 21 3-point attempts.

UNC: Justin Jackson scored 14 points. … UNC made 8 of 15 shots from 3-point range and 13 of 15 free throws. … Jackson and Pinson had six assists each. … UNC managed just one offensive rebound.

UP NEXT

Pittsburgh hosts Wake Forest on Tuesday.

UNC hosts Duke on Wednesday.

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap and the AP’s college basketball site at http://collegebasketball.ap.org

Denzel Valentine dominant as No. 8 Michigan State whips Indiana

Michigan State's Denzel Valentine (45) shoots over Indiana's Kevin Yogi Ferrell during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
AP Photo/Al Goldis
Leave a comment

Trailing by one point at the half, Indiana appeared to be in good shape at No. 8 Michigan State. However the fact that they were unable to slow down Denzel Valentine, who scored 15 first-half points, was a major concern for Tom Crean’s Hoosiers. Sure enough the national Player of the Year candidate continued on his tour de force in the second half, scoring another 15 points and dishing out seven assists as the Spartans rolled to an 88-69 victory.

For the game Valentine finished with 30 points, five rebounds, 13 assists and just one turnover. Of Michigan State’s 48 second half points, Valentine had a hand in 29 of them with all seven of his assists resulting in Michigan State layups. It was a dominant performance from one of the nation’s best players, a versatile guard whose four games missed due to injury may have led to some overlooking him when it comes to those national Player of the Year conversations.

When Valentine’s on everything else flows smoothly for Tom Izzo’s team, as his ability to both score and create results in quality looks for teammates who would struggle if they had to get that part of the job done themselves.

The biggest beneficiary Sunday afternoon was forward Matt Costello, who finished the game with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Of Costello’s ten made field goals (10-for-12 FG) five were assisted by Valentine, and he accounted for 13 points and seven rebounds in the second half. As a team Michigan State shot 63.3 percent from the field and assisted on 16 of their 19 made field goals in the second half, turning a tight contest into a blowout.

Tum Tum Nairn returned the court for the first time in seven games, but he played just two minutes and his time on the court will be managed carefully by Izzo moving forward. For many teams not having your point guard at full strength would represent a crippling blow, but that hasn’t been the case for Michigan State thanks in large part to Valentine. Michigan State went 4-3 in those seven games without Nairn, but the three losses were by a total of three points.

Valentine’s ability to make his teammates better will be a key factor down the stretch for Michigan State, and that skill was what led to the Spartans blowing out Indiana on Sunday.