BYU has one of the nation’s best perimeter scoring tandems in Tyler Haws and Matt Carlino, with both capable of putting together highly productive nights on a consistent basis. They score in different ways, with Carlino being the more aggressive of the two when it comes to hunting for his shots and that can get him into trouble at times. But it works for the Cougars, who are off to a 6-2 start and are expected by many to be Gonzaga’s biggest threat in the WCC.
Against Utah State on Saturday night the Cougars needed more than those two to beat the Aggies, and three players stepped up to the plate in BYU’s 85-74 win at the Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City. Eric Mika, who just over a week ago suffered an eye abrasion in a loss to Iowa State, tallied 15 points and nine rebounds as he more than held his own with Utah State’s Jarred Shaw (12 points, 13 rebounds). Mika’s helped BYU account for the graduation of Brandon Davies, and while the freshman isn’t required to score at the same rate as Davies his 13.1 points per game has given the Cougars a credible interior threat on the offensive end of the floor.
The other two players who stepped up against Utah State were guards Frank Bartley IV and Kyle Collinsworth. Collinsworth (seven points, 13 rebounds and eight assists) had his fingerprints all over this game, and his ability as a primary ball-handler and distributor allows Carlino to aggressively look for his shots. That was a role head coach Dave Rose envisioned for Collinsworth prior to the start of the season, and the guard has performed well through seven games.
As for Bartley he’s proven to be a valuable reserve for the Cougars along with wing Anson Winder, and he accounted for 14 points and five rebounds against Utah State. It was Bartley who sparked the BYU rally that allowed the Cougars to take control of the game in the second half, as he scored ten of his 14 points during a 29-11 stretch that gave BYU a 12-point lead with 3:39 remaining.
Mika, Collinsworth and Bartley won’t be primary scorers for BYU and that’s fine due to the presence of Carlino and Haws. But in order for the Cougars to be at their best that supplementary trio will need to be productive, especially in games like Saturday’s. And on Saturday night, they showed that they’re more than capable of helping to carry the load.
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.