hopkins

Jaron Hopkins’ improved production against Oregon State a welcome development for No. 20 Colorado

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With starting guard Askia Booker and Spencer Dinwiddie combining to shoot 5-for-19 from the field and reserve guard Tre’Shaun Fletcher out due to injury, there was room for another guard to step up for No. 20 Colorado in its’ Pac-12 opener against Oregon State on Thursday night. With the Beavers being led by high-scoring guard Roberto Nelson and welcoming back Eric Moreland, who was suspended for the first 12 games of the season, they represented quite the test for Tad Boyle’s team.

Fortunately for the Buffaloes, freshman guard Jaron Hopkins snapped out of a four-game slump to score 13 points in their 64-58 win. One of three Buffaloes to score 13 points on the night (Booker and Josh Scott being the others), Hopkins made five of his eight shots from the field while also blocking two shots. The game represented a departure from his production in the four games prior for Hopkins, as he shot a combined 4-for-16 from the field and scored ten points in the four games after his ten-point outing in a win over Colorado State on December 3.

Without Fletcher he and Xavier Talton, who had a key offensive rebound late in the second half, were the two perimeter reserves against Oregon State and Hopkins provided some much-needed production off the bench with both teams struggling offensively.

Colorado shot just 38.2% from the field but that was better than the Beavers, who made 37.5% of their attempts on the night. The combination of defense and an improved effort on the boards in the second half were major factors in Colorado’s victory, and looking ahead to their game against N0. 10 Oregon Hopkins’ output was key as well. Given the number of weapons that Oregon has on the perimeter, the Buffaloes will need their guards to be productive offensively while playing also well defensively if they’re to move to 2-0 in conference play.

“I’ve known that we’re capable of it,” Boyle said of his team’s defensive effort after Thursday’s game. “We just haven’t completely bought in, but tonight, we did and we’re going to need that kind of effort on Sunday again because Oregon is very explosive from a lot of
different positions. I think they’re the deepest team in our league in terms of talent, productive talent.”

Colorado isn’t as deep as Oregon, and that makes the production of a player like Hopkins even more important on Sunday. Hopkins’ point total against Oregon State may not look like a big deal, but if he can maintain that positive momentum it would be an important development for Colorado.

Illinois State ends No. 21 Wichita State’s 12-game win streak

Fred VanVleet
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
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Having won 12 straight games, No. 21 Wichita State entered the weekend one of the hottest teams in the country. And with a four-game lead atop the Missouri Valley standings, clinching the regular season title was more a matter of “when” as opposed to “if.” But none of that mattered Saturday night at Illinois State, as the Redbirds managed to hand the Shockers their first conference loss by the final score of 58-53.

In addition to the 12-game win streak, which was second to Stony Brook (15 straight wins), Wichita State also saw its 19-game win streak in Valley regular season games come to an end. Illinois State was the last Valley team to beat Wichita State, eliminating the Shockers in the Arch Madness semifinals last March, and they played with the confidence of a team that believed it could win.

And after a rough first half the Redbirds found a way to come back, erasing a 16-point second half deficit in the process.

Wichita State’s issue in the second half was the fact that they couldn’t make shots. The Shockers shot just 26.7 percent from the field and 1-for-14 from three in the second half, with Fred VanVleet going scoreless and Shaq Morris scoring just one point. And just two players, Ron Baker and Conner Frankamp, managed to make multiple field goals in the game’s final 20 minutes. Illinois State certainly deserves credit for that, as they took away the quality looks Wichita State was able to find in building its lead.

And on the other end of the floor Paris Lee took control of the game during Illinois State’s comeback, scoring 13 of his 19 points in the second half with Deontae Hawkins adding 11 second-half points. Illinois State was even worse from the field, finishing the game shooting just over 27 percent from the field. But they were able to attack the Wichita State defense and get to the foul line, outscoring the Shockers 22-9 from the charity stripe. And in a game in which neither team could get much going offensively, the ability to get points from the line proved to be the difference.

This defeat doesn’t help Wichita State, but did anything really change? Maybe the margin for error when it comes to an at-large bid gets a little smaller with the loss in the eyes of some. But when considering injuries to the likes of VanVleet and Anton Grady in non-conference play, those early season losses are understandable. Saturday was a rough night for Wichita State, but given the maturity and talent on at Gregg Marshall’s disposal the Shockers will be fine moving forward.

VIDEO: New Mexico loses game on blown call by officials

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Nothing like a nice, controversial finish to get the blood flowing.

New Mexico was on the receiving end of a rule misinterpretation on Saturday afternoon, and that interpretation likely cost the Lobos a win over San Diego State and, arguably, a shot at the MWC regular season title.

Here’s the situation: New Mexico is up by three with 12 seconds left and the ball under their own basket. Their allowed to run the baseline, so Craig Neal calls a play where the inbounder throws the ball to a player running out of bounds.

Totally league as long as the player establishes out of bounds before touching the ball. The referee rules that he doesn’t.

Here’s the video:

The problem?

According to the rules, Xavier Adams — the player receiving the pass from Cullen Neal — only needed one foot on the floor out of bounds in order to establish himself as an inbounder that was able to catch that ball. He got one foot down (see the picture above), but the referees appeared to rule that he needed to have both feet down.

That was incorrect, according to the Mountain West office.

“While this was a very close judgment call made at full speed, it has been determined after careful review of slow-motion video replays the call was in fact incorrect,” the league said in a release. “The New Mexico player did get one foot down (two feet are not required) out-of-bounds before receiving the ball, thus establishing his location in accordance NCAA Basketball Playing Rules 4.23.1.a and 7.1.1.  By rule, the officials were not permitted to go to the monitor during the game to review this play.”

And here’s the kicker: When SDSU got the ball back, they hit a three to send the game into overtime, where the Aztecs won. But if New Mexico had won this game, they’d be sitting at 8-2 in MWC play, one game behind SDSU in the loss column with a return game against them in The Pit.

Instead, they’re now three games back with seven to play, meaning that the race is effectively over.

It’s tough to blame the referees here — it was a bang-bang call that is only clear in slow-motion replay — but man, that’s a big call to miss.