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No. 12 Louisville played their first game without Quentin Snider of Thursday night and it looked like they should play every game without Quentin Snider.
The Cardinals shook off an early nine-point deficit with a 29-10 run to close the first, eventually pounding Clemson into submission in a 92-60 win in the Yum! Center.
Donovan Mitchell led the way for the Cardinals, scoring all 18 of his points in the first half. Deng Adel added 18 points of is own while VJ King, who started in place of the injured Snider, finished with 14, the most he’s scored in ACC play. Perhaps more importantly, that trio finished 7-for-15 from beyond the arc in the win.
Perimeter scoring and perimeter shooting has been an issue for the Cardinals all season long. King is the only one of Louisville’s top five perimeter options that shoots better than 38 percent from the floor, and without Snider available, he’s the only one that shoots better than 34 percent from three. Snider is also the team’s sole point guard, and there were real concern about how this team was going to perform without him.
On Thursday, they did just fine.
Saturday will be a different story.
The Cardinals will square off with No. 10 Florida State, who just forced 18 turnovers against Notre Dame on Tuesday. The Irish are seventh-nationally in protecting the ball, meaning that we are going to get a much better feel for whether or not those point guard issues are real.
Oregon defeated Cal on Thursday. The score was 86-63. That hardly matters, though, considering what else occurred in Eugene.
Ducks star Dillon Brooks left the game with a “lower left leg injury,” which is particularly ominous considering it was a surgically repaired left foot that sidelined Brooks all summer and kept him from joining Oregon on the floor until mid-November.
As of Thursday evening, there was no specific clarification, leaving only questions not only about Brooks’ health but what Oregon will have to potentially do without him.
The Ducks can win without Brooks. They went 8-1 before Brooks ever logged 30 minutes in a game and blasted Washington State in Pullman when Brooks got ejected after just seven minutes. They didn’t need him to dismantle the Bears, shooting 58 percent from the floor for the game and 54.2 percent without him in the second half. Jordan Bell made 11 of 12 shots for a career-best 26 points, and three other Ducks scored in double figures.
It wouldn’t be ideal, but Oregon could tread water to a high seed with him missing a chunk of time as they’ve shown at different times throughout this season. The Ducks only have one matchup left with both UCLA and Arizona, coming back-to-back in the first week of February.
But if it’s a serious injury, it necessitates a recalibration of expectation for Oregon.
Brooks scored 23 and had the game-winner as the Ducks handled No. 3 UCLA its lone loss this season and had 28 points when they blew out then-No. 22 USC to end December. Brooks is too talented, too versatile and too important for a prolonged absence to be meaningfully weathered. The NCAA tournament just too often demands too much from teams to be without a player of Brooks’ caliber.
For Oregon to reach the heights that many predicted for it since last spring, Brooks has to be on the floor.
The wait for the diagnosis and prognosis, not just for Brooks but for Oregon’s season, is on.
Maryland, after an 84-76 win at Iowa, now stands at 5-1 in the Big Ten. The Terps are the only team in the league with five conference wins and are tied with Wisconsin in the loss column atop the Big Ten.
Is it time to start taking them seriously as Big Ten title contenders?
It just might be, less so for who Maryland is proving to be but, in part, for how the schedule lays out for the Terps.
The resume right now isn’t overly impressive, other than sheer volume of wins at 16. There’s the loss at home to Nebraska for one thing, but they haven’t been overly convincing in a win since their opener against Illinois.
Many of their issues were on display against the Hawkeyes, a team that has lodged a number of good wins but still shows loads of inconsistency with a roster heavily dependent upon freshmen. Maryland led by 15 in the first half and held a double-digit lead well into the second half. Then, as carelessness set in, it was gone with just over 6 minutes to play and the Terps trailed with as little as 3 minutes left.
Turnovers were nearly the Terps’ undoing. They committed 21 of them that led to 30 points for the Hawkeyes, who are hardly known for turning opponents over. Maryland, though, has consistently failed to take care of the ball with a turnover rate hovering around 20 percent.
What saved them against Iowa was, what (or who) else, than Melo Trimble. One of the game’s most clutch players, Trimble hit back-to-back 3s after Maryland fell behind to turn a three-point disadvantage into a three-point lead that the Terps wouldn’t hand back to a feisty Iowa squad. Trimble finished with 20 points, five rebounds and five assists.
So, 21 turnovers and a blown lead salvaged only by Trimble’s heroics doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in a team with as many question marks as Maryland, even if it came on the road.
The Terps, though, do keep winning and while close games do invite luck and chance into the equation, Trimble’s presence and Maryland’s track record suggests it may be able to survive the variance.
Then you’ve got to look at that schedule. They’ve got Rutgers at home before a tricky Minnesota-Ohio State road trip. Then of the Big Ten teams currently with two losses or less, Maryland gets Purdue and Michigan State at home and has just one game apiece against Wisconsin and Northwestern, though both are away from College Park.
So while it may be hard to fully buy in to Maryland given its so-so offense and unremarkable defense, the Terps have made it nearly to the end of January with just two losses and have a manageable road ahead.
That’s something that has to be taken into account, just like Maryland in the Big Ten.
The MAC race just took a turn, as Ohio’s star forward Antonio Campbell will miss the rest of the season with a broken bone in his foot.
Campbell, who was the best player in the conference, was averaging 16.4 points and 8.9 boards.
“We feel awful for Tony,” said head coach Saul Phillips. “Sick to our stomach. We wish him nothing but a speedy and full recovery. We are proud of all that he’s accomplished while wearing a Bobcat uniform and thank him for his many contributions to our program.”
Ohio is 11-5 on the season and 3-2 in the MAC.
The exact extent and specific diagnosis of the injury suffered by Indiana sophomore OG Anunoby isn’t yet public, but the Hoosiers offered a brief update Thursday.
“OG sustained a knee injury this past Wednesday night’s game against Penn State and is in the midst of ongoing medical evaluations,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said in a statement released by the school. “He will be out indefinitely.”
Anunoby went down clutching his knee late in the first half against the Nittany Lions and did not return, with many fearing the severity of the injury after Crean delivered an emotional post-game interview following Indiana’s three-point win.
The 6-foot-8 forward has largely been considered a potential lottery pick in this June’s NBA draft. He’s averaged 11.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game this season.
Indiana’s first game back is Saturday at home against Michigan State followed by road games against Michigan and Northwestern the following week. The Hoosiers are 13-6 overall and 3-3 in the Big Ten.