Chaz Williams, Eric Mika

College Hoops Week in Review: Wisconsin’s for real, and so is Chaz Williams

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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Chaz Williams, UMass

UMass has been one of the nation’s most impressive teams this season, and the reason has been the emergence of guys like Raphiael Putney, Cady Lalanne and Sampson Carter. As good as those three have played, the MVP of this UMass team has been dynamic point guard Chaz Williams, a 5-foot-9 dynamo that ended the season’s first month averaging 17.5 points and 7.6 assists while shooting 43.6% from three and operating as the engine that drives the Minutemen’s high-octane offense.

Never was that on display more than it was on Saturday, as Williams went for 32 points and 15 assists — while committing just a single turnover and shooting 9-for-14 from the floor and 5-for-7 from three — in a 105-96 win over BYU. Williams’ 15 assists led directly to 35 points, meaning that Williams was responsible for 67 points in 34 minutes. There’s a chance that the Minutemen could end up being the best team in the A-10 this season, and while it’s ridiculous to expect Williams to play like he did on Saturday all season long, the fact that he’s able to produce like that on a given night should help Derek Kellogg sleep easy at night.

They were good, too:

  • Cameron Bairstow, New Mexico: Alex Kirk gets all the attention, but Bairstow has been fantastic this season. He averaged 22.0 points and 11.5 boards in wins at New Mexico State against Cincinnati.
  • Jordan Clarkson, Missouri: Clarkson led the Tigers to a 2-0 week in their first full week with Frank Haith running the show again. He averaged 23.5 points and 5.0 assists in wins over West Virginia and UCLA.
  • Maurice Creek, George Washington: Creek had 25 points and hit the game-winner against Maryland on Sunday to help the Colonials move to 8-1 this year.
  • Jonathon Loyd, Oregon: The Ducks played just one game this week, but Loyd had 23 points and 15 assists as Oregon won at Ole Miss in that one game. He’s been terrific this season, and Dominic Artis will have a fight for that starting spot on his hands.
  • Shabazz Napier, UConn: It seems like a long time ago now, but Napier hit the game-winner for UConn against Florida on Monday. He had 26 points on the night.
  • LaQuinton Ross, Ohio State: The Buckeyes need Ross to be a 15-17 ppg scorer this season. He averaged 21.5 points in two games this week.

source:  TEAM OF THE WEEK: Wisconsin Badgers

It’s time to start taking the Badgers seriously this season. That’s not to say that, from a national perspective, we aren’t. They’re a top ten team that will get heavy consideration for the top five this week. We have them No. 3. What I mean is that we should start talking about whether or not these Badgers are the best team in the Big Ten. Seriously. Michigan State is all kinds of beat up right now. Ohio State has issues offensively with LaQuinton Ross doing standard, inconsistent LaQuinton Ross things. Michigan looks lost without Trey Burke. Indiana desperately needs to find some of those Hoosier-state shooters. Iowa is good but not on the same level.

And here comes Wisconsin, rolling along and ripping off what is arguably the best resume in the country at this point. St. John’s, Florida, at Green Bay, St. Louis, and this week, at Virginia and against Marquette. Even wins over Oral Roberts, North Dakota and West Virginia are more impressive than you probably think. The story line of the Badgers becoming this uptempo team are inaccurate. They’re more opportunistic in transition this season — 8.7% of their possessions are coming via the fast break this year as opposed to 6.4% last season — but they still are 314th in tempo and 349th in average time per possession. What makes them good? Well, their three guards are all typical Wisconsin guards — smart, good shooters, don’t turn the ball over — and Sam Dekker’s an atypical Wisconsin star in that he’s the kind of talent that could thrive anywhere in the country.

Bo Ryan’s boys are legit this year, even if KenPom is “down” on them. Take notice.

They were good, too:

  • Baylor: Baylor’s win over Colorado is looking more impressive by the day. The Bears also happened to beat some team from Kentucky on Friday as well.
  • Colorado: The Buffaloes beat their in-state rival Colorado State and followed that up with a buzzer-beating win over Kansas.
  • Missouri: Wins over West Virginia and UCLA are impressive, but both came at home. Love the Tiger’s perimeter, but still am not sold on them. Getting closer, though.
  • North Carolina: The Tar Heels went into East Lansing and knocked off then-No. 1 Michigan State. That’s impressive.
  • Syracuse: Their second half dominance in a 69-52 win over Indiana was something impressive. The back court of Trevor Cooney and Tyler Ennis has been sensational.
  • Texas: The Longhorns beat Vanderbilt and Temple this week. Not overly impressive, but UT now sits at 8-1. Hadn’t we all written this group off this year?

UT-Arlington dominates, upsets No. 12 St. Mary’s

Texas-Arlington's Kevin Hervey, left, reacts to a 73-68 NCAA college basketball game win as Ohio State's Jae'Sean Tate looks on  in Columbus, Ohio, Friday, Nov. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)
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UT-Arlington made a statement on Thursday night, completely dominating No. 12 Saint Mary’s in a 65-51 upset win in a true road game in Moraga.

Back in October, I ranked both the Gaels and the Mavericks in the top-5 of my Mid-Major Power Rankings. Saint Mary’s was the obvious top choice, one of the nation’s most efficient offenses that returned Emmett Naar and Jock Landale. UT-Arlington, ranked fifth, served as a dangerous opponent. The Mavs had defeated Ohio State and Memphis in 2015, but their season was derailed once Kevin Hervey, a player with serious pro potential, tore his ACL.

With five starters back, including Hervey, who is just now getting back to 100 percent, UT-Arlington looks every bit the part of a March Cinderella.

The Mavericks jumped out to an early lead and forced the Gaels to play out of character. Saint Mary’s had only committed a season-high 14 turnovers before the midway point of the second half. The Gaels, who entered shooting 40 percent from three as a team, was held to 8-of-27 (30 percent) from beyond the arc.

UT-Arlington did an incredible job of closing out on shooters. And it didn’t matter the matchup, at times we saw Hervey, a 6-foot-9 junior, come out and run a guard off the 3-point line. While those statistics mentioned above show up in the box score, the amount of deflections don’t. The Mavericks used its length and athleticism to get their hands everywhere on the defensive end of the floor, making it difficult to find good looks.

In the first half, UT-Arlington controlled the glass. Saint Mary’s found more success in that department after halftime, as Kevin Clark’s offensive putback capped an 11-2 run, which cut the deficit to 52-41. However, the Mavs were able to counter each time the Gaels threatened, never letting the lead get to single digits.

Aside from the struggles the typically-efficient Saint Mary’s offense had, the Gaels struggled to keep UT-Arlington guards Erick Neal and Kaelon Wilson out of the lane, whether it be on a high ball screen or a handoff. Saint Mary’s never seemed to have a help-side defender there to protect the rim. Neal had 13 points and eight assists (five turnovers), while Wilson had 10 points off the bench. Hervey had a game-high 15 points and seven rebounds.

UT-Arlington is winners of eight straight after losing three straight. One of those wins includes a double-digit win over Texas in Austin. The Mavericks are the clear-cut favorite to win the Sun Belt. Come Selection Sunday, I’d say plenty of at-large teams would not like to be paired up with Scott Cross’ team.

Iowa cruises past No. 25 Iowa State

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20:  Head coach Fran McCaffery of the Iowa Hawkeyes reacts in the first half against the Villanova Wildcats during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Barclays Center on March 20, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Iowa picked up a major win on Thursday night, defeating in-state rival No. 25 Iowa State, 78-64, in a contest the Hawkeyes thoroughly dominated.

Let’s put it this way: the Hawkeyes have played four top-100 teams, according to kenpom. In those games, all losses by the way, their defense has surrendered 91 points to Seton Hall, 74 points to a Virginia team that plays at the slowest tempo in the country, 100 points to Memphis and 92 points to Notre Dame.

On Saturday, on the same floor Iowa demolished the Cyclones, its defense allowed 98 points in a loss to Nebraska Omaha.

This is exactly the sort of win Fran McCaffery and Co. needed to right the ship as we inch closer and closer to conference play.

When the Cyclones went to their bench in the first half, Nick Baer sparked a 10-0 run which helped set the tone for the remainder of the half. Iowa State went without a field goal for more than six minutes during that span.

Iowa kept Iowa State from getting out and running, holding the Cyclones to zero fast break points through the first 20 minutes and limiting them to only 36 percent from the floor as a team. Iowa, on the other hand, shot 47 percent, including 59 percent in the first half, which led to a 15-point halftime lead.

Peter Jok torched Iowa State to the tune of 23 points (4-of-7 from distance).

Monte Morris was held in check with 10 points, while Naz Mitrou-Long and Matt Thomas shot a combined 4-of-13 from three (they each hit a three with less than three minutes to play and the outcome all but decided).

Iowa State’s offense is becoming a bigger concern. Just like against Gonzaga, the Cyclones dug a first-half hole they could shoot out their way of. And like last week’s overtime loss to Cincinnati, they struggled from beyond the arc.

Iowa landed a marquee win it needed, while its rival headed home with questions to answer after losing three of four.

 

Alabama wing sidelined due to weight loss

ORLANDO, FL - NOVEMBER 29: Head coach Avery Johnson of the Alabama Crimson Tide during the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at HP Field House on November 29, 2015 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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Alabama junior wing Nick King will not be with the team for Sunday evening’s matchup against No. 24 Oregon in Eugene.

According to Rainer Sabin of the AL.com, Alabama head coach Avery Johnson said King undergoing a series of tests after losing more than 10 pounds in less than a week and a half.

Johnson told reporters that he is “very concerned” and estimates that as of now King will be sidelined for “a week or two.”

King, who played his first two seasons at Memphis, has appeared in all seven games for the Crimson Tide, averaging 3.3 points and 2.9 rebounds in 12.7 minutes per game.

Damonte Dodd out with MCL sprain

COLLEGE PARK, MD - FEBRUARY 13: Melo Trimble #2 and Damonte Dodd #35 of the Maryland Terrapins react to a call as Alex Illikainen #25 of the Wisconsin Badgers looks on in the second half at Xfinity Center on February 13, 2016 in College Park, Maryland. Wisconsin won 70-57.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Maryland could be without the services of starting center Damonte Dodd for the remainder of the non-conference slate, the team announced on Wednesday.

Dodd suffered a MCL sprain in his left knee during practice earlier this week. The injury caused him to miss Wednesday’s 76-56 win over Howard. He will not be available for matchups with St. Peter’s and Jacksonville State. The Terrapins then close out the non-conference slate at Charlotte on Dec. 20 before opening up Big Ten play a week later.

Dodd has started in six of seven games he’s appeared in this season. He’s averaging 5.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. Michael Cekovsky started in place of Dodd on Wednesday night. Ivan Bender, who returned to the lineup against Howard after missing the previous contest, should also see an increase in minutes with Dodd sidelined.

Federico Mussini goes coast-to-coast, beats buzzer with and-1

CINCINNATI, OH - FEBRUARY 03:  Chris Mullin the head coach of the St. John's Red Storm gives instructions to Federico Mussini #4 during the game against the  Xavier Musketeersat Cintas Center on February 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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St. John’s capped the first half with a 6-0 run.

Sophomore guard Federico Mussini went coast-to-coast to beat the buzzer, and draw the foul, as the Johnnies went into the break up 42-33 on city rival Fordham.

The 6-foot-4 guard had gone cold during a five-game stretch, but since Thanksgiving he’s scored in double figures in four consecutive games, including on Thursday night.