during the second round of the 2014 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at the First Niagara Center on March 20, 2014 in Buffalo, New York.
1. Frank Mason III, Kansas: The latest impressive performance from Mason came against Stanford, as he finished with 20 points, five assists and four boards in a 15-point win over the Cardinal. He’s the engine that makes that team go, averaging 19.6 points, 5.4 assists and 4.5 boards while shooting 56.1 percent from the floor and 48.4 percent from three, and he’s still the proud owner of the biggest shot of the season. Is anyone else fired up for when the Jayhawks head to Rupp Arena to take on Kentucky in January?
2. Josh Hart, Villanova: Last Tuesday, we talked about how Hart has improved his three-point shooting and has added the ability to operate in ball-screens to his offensive repertoire this season. Then he went out posted a triple-double in a win over Saint Joseph’s while averaging 9.5 assists in two games. Prior to last week, Hart had never averaged more than 1.9 assists in any season in college.
3. Lonzo Ball, UCLA: The value that Ball brings to this UCLA team goes well-beyond the numbers that he’s putting up, and his numbers are already quite impressive. He’s averaging 14.3 points, 5.0 boards, 1.3 blocks and 1.0 steals on the season, but it’s the nation’s-best 9.3 assists that he’s averaging that makes the difference. He, quite simply, makes everyone on the court around him better. It’s a cliché that’s used with point guards too often, but no one fits that mold better than Ball.
We saw it on Saturday against Kentucky. Ball struggled early in that game, committing five turnovers in the first 10 minutes as the Bruins dug themselves a 23-14 hole. When he finally turned it on, UCLA torched Kentucky’s defense, which is one of the best in all of college basketball. His unselfishness has permeated that roster. Watching the Bruins move the ball against a set defense is a thing of beauty. Draft Express posted a terrific breakdown of just what makes Ball’s passing so difficult to deal with last week.
4. De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky: The Wildcats ended up losing to UCLA on Saturday afternoon, but it was no fault of Fox, who finished with 20 points and nine assists while doing the heavy-lifting in keeping Lonzo Ball more-or-less in check. Fox is a terror in transition, nearly impossible to keep out of the paint, unselfish when he draws extra defenders and an elite on-ball defender. If he can find a way to become a consistently jump-shooter, he’s going to be very, very good.
5. Luke Kennard, Duke: Kennard has been Duke’s best player this season, and that did not change in the last seven days, with the return of Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden. He had 20 points in a win over Michigan State and followed that up with a career-high 35 points as the Blue Devils knocked off Maine. If Tatum turns out to be as good as advertised and Grayson Allen eventually returns to health, think about how scary a Duke back court is when Kennard is the third-best weapon offensively?
6. Markelle Fultz, Washington: Let’s put the numbers that Fultz is averaging this season – 22.7 points, 6.7 boards, 6.6 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.4 blocks – into perspective. No college basketball player since 1993 has averaged 22 points, six boards and six assists in a season before. Only 14 times in that time-frame has a player averaged 20 points, five boards and five assists, and only one of those 14 played at the high-major level – Evan Turner in 2009-10, when he averaged 20.4 points, 9.2 boards and 6.0 assists and won National Player of the Year.
Making those numbers even more impressive is that none of the 14 players on that list have A) averaged more than one block per game or B) come close to shooting 48.4 percent from three. It’s early, yes, and Fultz still hasn’t played any elite competition, but what he’s done this season is remarkable.
Washington, who is just 4-3 on the season, will get their first real test of the year when they square off with Gonzaga in Spokane on Wednesday.
7. Mo Watson, Creighton: For all the love that UCLA’s Lonzo Ball is getting this season, it’s worth noting that Watson is doing something similar for the Bluejays. He’s averaging 12.0 points and 9.0 assists, second nationally to Ball, for a Creighton team that is in the top ten and running one of the nation’s most high-powered offenses. He’s been terrific.
8. Joel Berry II, North Carolina: We saw Berry’s value last week when he struggled against Indiana in Assembly Hall and the Tar Heels played their worst game of the season to date. He’s now dealing with an ankle injury that could keep him out for the next two games. With freshman point guard Seventh Woods stepping into the starting lineup against Davidson on Wednesday, we should really get a feel for just how imporant he is to this team.
9. Jawun Evans, Oklahoma State: Evans was held in check for the most part in Oklahoma State’s loss at Maryland on Saturday and he still managed to finish with 16 points, five boards and five assists.
10. Caleb Swanigan, Purdue: Swanigan had a rough outing against Louisville last week. His finished with 14 points and 13 boards, but he also committed six turnovers and was one of the reasons that the Boilermakers had so much trouble on the offensive end of the floor in the first half.
JUST MISSED THE CUT
Melo Trimble, Maryland
Malik Monk, Kentucky
Alec Peters, Valparaiso
James Blackmon Jr., Indiana
Marcus Foster, Creighton
Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame
Yante Maten, Georgia
Johnathan Motley, Baylor
Jock Landale, Saint Mary’s
Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie is trying to treat Thursday’s game against Elon like any other. That might not be so easy, because McCallie’s daughter, Maddie, plays for the Phoenix.
“I’ve always known the game was on the schedule, but it always seemed so far off. Well, now it’s here,” the coach said.
“Elon’s a great school. Elon’s a little mini Duke,” she added. “We pay them money and that helps their program, so it made sense. I felt it was the right thing.”
But the rarity of coaching against her daughter, a reserve guard at Elon, wasn’t lost on McCallie.
“It’s a good story,” she said. “I feel honored for my family. I also have two nieces who play Division I basketball.”
Maddie McCallie is just excited for the chance to play at No. 21 Duke in its famous home building, Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“It’s going to be a great atmosphere and a lot of fun to play in Cameron,” Maddie McCallie said. “It’s a little weird seeing my mom right there on the sideline, but overall it’s another game.”
As much as the McCallies downplayed their mother-daughter matchup, it is definitely unusual. Cal State Bakersfield coach Greg McCall has gone against his daughter, Erica, twice over the last two seasons when his team played Stanford.
Although college players often play for their coaching parents, McCallie was happy her daughter chose Elon after transferring from Miami, Ohio, a few years ago.
“I’m really proud of her and she’s at the right place for her,” McCallie said. “I think it’s unique. One thing it speaks to, as much as I’d like Maddie on my team and she could have been, it’s really important to let your kids do their own thing. It would be fun; I didn’t think it was something that would help her develop. A lot of parents don’t know how to step away, and try to over-coach their kids. The best thing you can do is love them and step away and let other people coach them.”
Elon is only about 45 minutes from Duke, so McCallie has gone to see her daughter play a few times this year. Because the teams are scheduled to face each other, she had Maddie ask Elon coach Charlotte Smith for permission to attend.
Maddie had both her parents in the stands on Sunday. Hours after Duke upset No. 3 South Carolina, they were cheering on Elon against North Carolina.
“They have five seniors this year and are a terrific team,” McCallie said. “We talk often, but mostly not about basketball. It’s mostly about family. She’s really proud of her team. She was a starter last year and comes off the bench now. I’m really proud of her.”
While mother and daughter both know where they will be on Thursday, a big question will be where Joanne McCallie’s husband, John, sits and who he supports.
“I have a feeling that my dad will support me,” Maddie McCallie said, laughing. “Both ways are kind of weird to think about and both ways are kind of exciting. My dad will probably be supporting the Elon team and be sitting behind our bench.”
John McCallie, an economics professor at North Carolina, said it’s going to be a very tough choice.
“I haven’t decided on what to wear or where to sit yet,” he said in a phone interview Monday. “Definitely going to have both colors on.”
As far as which team he’ll be rooting for, that one was easy.
“I’m definitely pulling for a Duke win,” he said. “After all, we just got ranked and would like to keep that. It is going to be exciting, though. I’m really proud of Maddie and what she’s done forging her own path.”
Nicholls State coach DoBee Plaisance knows what the McCallies will be going through. She faced her daughter, Theresa, in 2010 when she was a freshman at LSU. The game was billed as a mother-daughter matchup, and the coach got LSU to take the hour-long trip to Thibodaux, Louisiana.
Six years later, Coach Plaisance still gets emotional talking about it.
“I remember the game like it was yesterday,” she said. “It was for me a very emotional, passionate struggle. There was a struggle from the onset. Scheduling the game, I didn’t want to do it. It was emotional for me for a while. Did I do right for the team? Did I show both teams respect?”
Her daughter had eight points, five rebounds and three assists in the 88-35 victory by LSU. The Nicholls State coach has a framed photo of a postgame hug with her daughter in her office, a constant reminder of a special day.
“The look on my face was a relief that it was over with,” said DoBee Plaisance, a court coach for McCallie at USA Basketball in 2006. “I hope Joanne has the same relief when her game is done.”
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TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) Arizona point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright will miss about eight weeks with a high-ankle sprain, Wildcats coach Sean Miller said on Monday.
Jackson-Cartwright was injured last Wednesday in No. 20 Arizona’s home win over Texas Southern and did not play in the Wildcats’ loss to No. 8 Gonzaga in Los Angeles on Saturday.
The loss of Jackson leaves Arizona with its top distributor – 5.3 assists per game – and its roster even thinner.
The Wildcats lost forward Ray Smith to a season-ending knee injury during an exhibition game and Allonzo Trier has yet to play this season due to unspecified reasons.
North Carolina announced that Joel Berry II, the team’s star point guard, will be out for Wednesday night’s game against Davidson.
Berry suffered the injury in the second half of Sunday’s win over Radford. The school listed him as questionable for Sunday’s game against Tennessee.
Berry is averaged 14.8 points, 4.7 assists and 3.8 boards on the season while shooting 41.9 percent from three. His absence puts the Tar Heels on upset alert, as they’ll be starting true freshman Seventh Woods at the point against a good Davidson team that features Jack Gibbs, one of the nation’s most lethal scorers.
AMES, Iowa (AP) Iowa State moved the ball and yet again played strong defense.
The result was a surprisingly satisfying win on the heels of two tough losses.
Deonte Burton scored 20 points and the 25th-ranked Cyclones pummeled Nebraska-Omaha 91-47 on Monday night, snapping a two-game losing streak.
Donovan Jackson had 15 for the Cyclones (6-2), who hit 15 of 29 3-pointers and rolled to their third win of 40 or more points this season.
“I thought we did some things better,” Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said. “Pace of play. Sharing the basketball, moving the basketball, the ball moving side to side. And defensively, for the majority of the game, I thought we competed.”
Iowa State knew it had to take the Mavericks (4-5) seriously after they stunned Iowa on Saturday. The Cyclones never let Omaha think it had a chance, storming ahead 36-9 after just 12 minutes – with Burton scoring their first 13 points.
“I just took what they were giving me, and it was falling,” Burton said.
Iowa State, which fell six spots in Monday’s AP Top 25 poll but remained ranked for the 61st week in a row, held the Mavs to 28 percent shooting.
The Cyclones, not typically known for their defense, have held three of their last four opponents to 56 points or less.
“We play in a really good league,” Prohm said, looking ahead to Big 12 play. “You better guard, and you better play the right way.”
Tra-Deon Hollins had 13 points to lead the Mavs.
THE BIG PICTURE
Iowa State: One of the big issues for Iowa State this season was inconsistent ball movement. That was clearly a focus for coach Steve Prohm in practice after last week’s 55-54 home loss to Cincinnati, and the Cyclones had the ball flying around the perimeter from the opening tip. Iowa State had 10 assists on its first 16 baskets.
Omaha: The Mavericks crossed the Missouri River for a road trip against Iowa and Iowa State. They split, having beaten the Hawkeyes 98-89 on Saturday. That’s a result any Summit League program would take.
Ranked teams are supposed to beat low-major teams handily at home. How the Cyclones look in Iowa City will determine if their streak reaches 62 weeks.
Darrell Bowie scored 12 points, including a pair of 3s, for Iowa State. Naz Mitrou-Long had 11 points, five rebounds and three assists and Monte Morris had seven points and nine assists. … Omaha hit just 5 of 22 from 3-point range. … Solomon Young returned from a hand injury and scored six points and five rebounds off the bench. His size will be crucial against Iowa, which has depth along its frontline.
Jackson, a junior college transfer, was expected to be Iowa State’s starting point guard this season – but Morris somewhat unexpectedly returned for his senior season. Jackson was spotty at times as a rotation guard, averaging just 3.9 points in his first seven games. Jackson got 23 minutes and made the most of them Monday, adding three assists, three rebounds and a steal without a turnover. “I don’t care who we were playing…he made open shots. He made right decisions,” Prohm said. “He bounced back, but that’s what good players do.”
HE SAID IT
“I think I’m gaining more confidence by the day,” Jackson said.
The Cyclones hit the road to face Iowa on Thursday. The Hawkeyes haven’t looked as bad as they’ve looked this season in years, but those rivalry games tend to be close and intense.
Omaha hosts Montana State on Saturday.
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