Rob Dauster

EUGENE, OR - DECEMBER 11: Dillon Brooks #24 of the Oregon Ducks shoots the ball over Ar'Mond Davis #22 of the Alabama Crimson Tide during the first half of the game at Matthew Knight Arena on December 11, 2016 in Eugene, Oregon.  (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
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Dorsey hits 8 3s as No. 15 Oregon routs Washington 83-61

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SEATTLE (AP) With every open look, every shot Tyler Dorsey dropped through the basket, the grin got a little bit bigger and a little more noticeable.

Dorsey had every reason to smile after his performance for No. 15 Oregon in its Pac-12 road opener.

“It was just one of those nights where the basket just feels wide and everything felt like it was going to go in and it did tonight,” Dorsey said.

Dorsey made eight 3-pointers and finished with 28 points, and Oregon overcame foul trouble to pull away in the second half for an 83-61 win over Washington on Wednesday night.

Playing in an opponent’s gym for only the second time this season, the Ducks shook off foul problems for its two leading scorers – Dillon Brooks and Chris Boucher – to easily take care of the Huskies. Oregon (14-2, 3-0 Pac-12) was 14 of 26 on 3-pointers, led by Dorsey going 8 of 12.

The sophomore set a career high with his eight 3s, the most for an Oregon player since Tajuan Porter set the school record with 10 in 2006 against Portland State. Dorsey finished one point off his career high of 29 set earlier this season against Savannah State.

“I’ve been waiting for Tyler,” Oregon teammate Jordan Bell said. “I’ve been talking to him that he’s a shooting guard – shoot it. Let it go.”

Bell, who left in the first half with an apparent left knee injury only to return just before halftime, was the only other Oregon player in double figures with 10 points. Bell said he was initially concerned he tore his ACL after colliding knees with another player, but it turned out to be just a scare.

Brooks, averaging 14.8 points per game, had only eight.

“We had a lot of guys make contributions and Tyler, we did a good job of running a couple of things for him and he hit shots,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “Guys found him in transition and he just had one of those games.”

Markelle Fultz led Washington (7-7, 0-2) with 22 points, but the Huskies shot just 4 of 16 on 3s. David Crisp added 14 points.

“There’s no way you should let anybody come in and hit eight 3s on us,” Crisp said.

Oregon’s only other true road game this season came in its second game, a 66-49 loss to undefeated Baylor. The Ducks dropped their opener at the Maui Invitational but have now won 12 straight after taking care of their northern neighbors.

The Ducks took control with a 12-0 run late in the first half, only to see Washington surge to start the second half, pulling to 42-39. That was answered by a seven-point run by the Ducks – with five of the points coming from Dorsey – as the lead remained near double figures.

Even Brooks picking up his fourth foul with 10 minutes remaining didn’t matter. Washington got as close as 55-47 with 11:55 to go, but a pair of 3-pointers by Dorsey and his pass to Casey Benson open for a corner 3 quickly pushed the lead back to 18.

BIG PICTURE

Oregon: The Ducks showed an ability to handle frontcourt issues, especially in the first half. Bell was helped off with 9:38 left in the half, Boucher picked up his second foul with 8:39 to go and Brooks got his third foul with 4:53 remaining. Yet the Ducks outscored Washington 25-15 during that stretch.

Washington: Fultz played after a whirlwind trip to the East Coast to attend the funeral of his great-grandmother. Fultz left the team following last Sunday’s loss to Washington State and arrived back in Seattle around 2 a.m. on Wednesday morning.

FUN WITH NUMBERS

Washington’s football team outscored its basketball team when facing Oregon in the regular season. The Huskies beat the Ducks 70-21 on the football field in October.

ONLY MEETING

Due to the Pac-12’s rotating schedules, this was the only meeting between the Ducks and Huskies in the regular season. Last season the teams met only once – at Oregon. It was the first time in 100 years the Ducks and Huskies did not play in Seattle.

UP NEXT

Oregon: The Ducks travel to Pullman to face Washington State on Saturday.

Washington: The Huskies host Oregon State on Saturday afternoon.

Dennis Smith Jr. records triple-double as N.C. State mollywhops No. 21 Virginia Tech

Dennis Smith Jr., courtesy N.C. State Athletics
N.C. State Athletics
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In a hectic night in the ACC, perhaps the most surprising scoreline came in Raleigh, where Dennis Smith Jr. posted the second triple-double in Wolfpack history as N.C. State dispatched No. 21 Virginia Tech, 104-78.

Smith finished with a quiet 27 points, 11 boards, 11 assists and five steals, and I mean that sincerely. I watched the game. Smith played well, but it never felt like he was having this kind of performance. Maverick Rowan played really well, as did Terry Henderson. Abdul-Malik Abu finished with 20 points and 11 boards.

But he did. The only other N.C. State player to post a triple-double was Julius Hodge, and Hodge didn’t get his against an ACC opponent.

So good for Smith, and good for the Wolfpack.

They entered Wednesday night at something of a turning point in their season. They were coming off of an ugly loss at Miami in their ACC opener – a Miami team that got worked over Wednesday by Syracuse, who got blown out by Boston College over the weekend – and they were hosting a Hokie team fresh off of their own statement win against Duke.

The Wolfpack have quite a bit of talent. They have the look, on paper, of a team that can finish in the top six in the league and make a run at the second weekend of the NCAA tournament, even if it hasn’t really shown through in their performances to date. This game, at least from this writer’s point of view, is the kind of game that N.C. State has to win if they’re going to be that team.

And not only did they win it, they dominated from tip to buzzer.

While their potential top five pick posted a scoreline – 27, 11, 11 and 5 – that we have seen just once since 2010, when Elfrid Payton went for 34 points, 11 boards, 11 assists and five steals in a double-overtime win against Louisiana-Monroe in 2014.

VIDEO: Pitt overcomes Perrantes’ heroics, beats No. 11 Virginia

Virginia guard London Perrantes (32) reacts to a three pointer during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Charlottesville, Va., Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Virginia won the game 63-61. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
AP Photo/Steve Helber
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The least surprising thing in college basketball is London Perrantes hitting a clutch shot.

He did it again tonight:

But in the end, the shot didn’t matter, as the Pitt Panthers landed the biggest win of the Kevin Stallings era on Wednesday night, picking off the Cavaliers in overtime, 88-76.

Jamel Artis led the way with 24 points, eight boards and four assists while Michael Young chipped in with 19 points, six boards and five assists. Sheldon Jeter buried back-to-back threes to start the overtime period, finishing with 16 points of his own, as the Panthers shot 13-for-21 from beyond the arc in the win.

Virginia isn’t the Virginia team that we are used to seeing under Tony Bennett. They don’t have a Malcolm Brogdon or an Anthony Gill or a Joe Harris this season. As good as Perrantes is, he’s still at his best when he plays a facilitatory roll, but without Austin Nichols on the team, he’s forced into being the go-to guy.

The ‘Hoos are still a tournament team, and this is still an impressive win for Pitt, but at the end of the year it is going to look like a win over a middle-of-the-pack ACC program, not an ACC title contender.

VIDEO: Manu Lecomte bails out No. 2 Baylor against Iowa State

WACO, TX - DECEMBER 21:  Manu Lecomte #20 of the Baylor Bears drives to the basket against Derrick Griffin #23 of the Texas Southern Tigers in the first half at Ferrell Center on December 21, 2016 in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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Manu Lecomte has been one of the best newcomers in the Big 12 this season, but the point guard for No. 2 Baylor struggled on Wednesday night for the Bears.

Until the final possession of the game, when Lecomte hit this floater to beat Iowa State in Waco:

The Bears did not look like the No. 2 team in the country against Iowa State. The Cyclones were able to run offense, hitting 10 threes and turning the ball over just five times on the night.

One of the concerns with this Baylor team heading into league play was that their zone, which is different than what a lot of teams run, can be exploited by teams in the league that are used to seeing it. And Iowa State seemed like they were able to do just that. Think about it like this: Iowa State had a chance to hand Baylor their first loss of the season in Waco on a night where Monte Morris, Deonte Burton and Matt Thomas shot a combined 11-for-39 from the floor.

But it’s also important to note that Baylor did, in fact, win.

And they did it by using a 12-4 run in the final five minutes, by shutting down the Cyclones when they needed to.

If the Bears are really going to give Kansas a run for the Big 12 title, those are the things that they are going to have to do.

No. 18 Butler hands No. 1 Villanova their first loss of the season

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 04: Head coach Chris Holtmann of the Butler Bulldogs reacts in the first half of the game against the Villanova Wildcats at Hinkle Fieldhouse on January 4, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Andrew Chrabacsz had 13 points and seven boards to lead No. 18 Butler and Kethan Savage added 13 huge points off the bench before fouling out as the Bulldogs upset No. 1 Villanova, 66-58, on Wednesday night.

The loss is Villanova’s first of the season. Jalen Brunson scored 23 points to lead the way for the Wildcats, but the NBC Sports midseason Player of the Year, Josh Hart, played an unusually poor game.

Here are four things to know after Butler’s win:

1. This was a huge win for Butler’s tournament profile: It shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that Butler was able to knock off Villanova in Hinkle Fieldhouse. And it shouldn’t be a surprise to you that Butler is a good basketball team. The Bulldogs are ranked in the top 20. They opened as 4.5 point favorites against the No. 1 and undefeated Wildcats. KenPom projected the final score to be 70-69. Playing in front of 9,100 riled up Bulldog fans in Hinkle, these two teams are, essentially, equals.

A loss wouldn’t have changed that, especially if it was a close loss.

A win really doesn’t, either. Villanova is still a national title contender. Butler is still a team that can win a game like this at home and lose to a team like St. John’s on the road. What this win does do, however, is gives the Wildcats something to hang their tournament résumé on, and I say that knowing just how impressive Butler’s profile already is. They won at Utah. They won a neutral court game against Arizona in Vegas, which means it wasn’t really all that neutral. They beat Indiana on a neutral. They beat Cincinnati. Their win over Northwestern keeps looking better and better.

And now they have a win over a team that will be, at worst, in the top ten of all metrics come Selection Sunday.

That’s big.

2. This is good news for everyone in the Big East: Because it means that the league title race isn’t quite over yet. There is only going to be one more game during Big East play where Villanova will enter as an underdog – at Xavier – and I’m not convinced they won’t be favored in that game by the time that lines close. Put another way, a win against Butler would mean that Villanova would be 3-0 in the league with victories in two of the three toughest games they are going to play.

Villanova is still the heavy favorite to win their fourth-straight regular season title. This is just their seventh conference loss since Josh Hart, a senior, enrolled in school. They hadn’t lost since March 12th, 2016, and hadn’t lost a regular season game since Feb. 24th. This win for Butler means that door is just a little bit more open for the Bulldogs, as well as Creighton and Xavier.

3. Kethan Savage made big plays down the stretch: Savage is a transfer from George Washington. A 6-foot-4, athletic combo-guard, Savage was a double-figure scorer for the Colonials, but he missed the first four games of the season and struggled to find his way into the rotation in non-conference play due to a mystery illness; could’ve been mold, could’ve been pneumonia, the doctors didn’t really seem to know.

But Savage is back now. He scored 10 points in each of the first two Big East games, and followed that up with 13 points in 21 minutes against Villanova. He scored three critical baskets late in the game, providing the spark that led to a game-changing, 11-2 run that put Butler up 58-52 with two minutes left. Butler doesn’t really have another guy like him – a big, athletic slasher that can create off the bounce – and his addition certainly changes their look for the better.

4. Does Villanova need a third option?: Jalen Brunson’s scoreline is going to look impressive – he finished with 23 points, but he didn’t play nearly as well as he did against Creighton. Josh Hart made a couple shots late, but he was, overall, not himself. He finished with 13 points, eight boards and three assists, but he was just 3-for-11 from the floor, battled foul trouble for most of the second half and committed an incredibly costly turnover in the final minute.

It seemed, at times, that Villanova’s offense would get bogged down. Much of that credit goes to Butler, who played well defensively, but it was a bit concerning that Villanova didn’t seem to have an answer down the stretch. Maybe I’m just making too much of this, and maybe it should be a good sign that Villanova could have those issues and still play a winnable game at Butler, but it’s something I’ll be monitoring moving forward.

 

College Basketball Midseason Awards: Josh Hart, Scott Drew head the list

VILLANOVA, PA - DECEMBER 03: Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats reacts in front of Lamarr Kimble #0 of the Saint Joseph's Hawks in the first half at The Pavilion on December 3, 2016 in Villanova, Pennsylvania. The Villanova Wildcats defeated the Saint Joseph's Hawks 88-57. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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MIDSEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Josh Hart, Villanova

Every week, we break down the Player of the Year race and who is the favorite to win the award. And at this point, Hart has put himself in a position to be more or less the consensus pick as the National Player of the Year should the season end today.

There are, essentially, three reasons for this:

  1. Let’s put the numbers – 20.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 3.5 apg, 41 percent 3PT – aside for a second: The most notable thing that Hart has done this year is carry Villanova in crunch time. It seems like every night he’s making big shots and taking over games in ‘winning time’. Those are the moments that people remember. Those are the plays that win you Player of the Year awards.
  2. Hart is not only the best player on the No. 1 team in the country, but he is the guy that makes Villanova’s style of play possible. Hart is a 6-foot-6 wing, but his versatility is almost unparalleled at the college level. He’s an elite defender that can hold his own against pretty much anyone in college, and when you add in his ability to rebound the ball, he’s the guy that lets Villanova play small-ball.
  3. Last season, Hart was an all-american. He entered this year as a preseason first-team all-american. We thought he was going to be good entering the year, but he’s proven to be better than anyone expected. He’s a better passer. He’s turned himself into one of the best shooters in the Big East. He’s working as the dribbler in ball-screen actions. He has, essentially, turned himself into a first round pick.

The race is far from over, but Hart has moved into the lead.

Baylor head coach Scott Drew smiles during practice at the NCAA college basketball tournament, Wednesday, March 18, 2015, in Jacksonville, Fla. Baylor plays Georgia State in the second round on Thursday. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Baylor head coach Scott Drew (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

MIDSEASON COACH OF THE YEAR: Scott Drew, Baylor

Baylor did not get a single vote in the AP preseason poll. As of today, they’re sitting at 14-0 and No. 2 in the AP poll, ahead of conference rival Kansas and behind only the reigning national champs.

This isn’t a fluke, either. Baylor has beaten, in order: Oregon by 17 points, Michigan State, VCU, Louisville despite being down by 22 points, Xavier by 15 points and Oklahoma, on the road, by 26.

Who saw this coming? If you say you did, I’m calling you a liar.

And the most impressive part of it all is that the Bears’ success this season is totally a result on development within the program. Baylor starts three guys that are 21 years old and two that are 22. None of them were five-star recruits or considered potential program-changing talents. Johnathan Motley was developed into an all-american caliber player. Manu Lecomte and Jo Lual-Acuil both improved during sit-out seasons last year. Ish Wainwright, Al Freeman, Terry Maston. These are guys that slowly-but-surely got better throughout their college careers.

The result is a team that looks to be the favorite to push Kansas for the Big 12 regular season title.

All from a guy who has been a long-standing joke in the college basketball community. Guess he’s not all bad…

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SIXTH-MAN OF THE YEAR: Aaron Holiday, UCLA

As a freshman, Holiday, the younger brother of NBA players Jrue and Justin, was a starter for the Bruins. He was “demoted” this season with Lonzo Ball arriving, but he’s been arguably the most important player on the UCLA roster this side of Ball. He can fill in for any of UCLA’s three starting perimeter players, he’s their best on-ball defender and he is not only a playmaker off the bounce but he’s a knock-down three-point shooter. Most importantly, however, he’s embraced being the sixth-man. Accepting that role is the hardest thing for a starter to do.

FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Lonzo Ball, UCLA

This is a loaded freshman class with a number of guys that have been playing out of their minds, but Ball is the guy that deserves this award. He’s the only freshman that earned a nod as a first-team all-american. Ball has completely changed the culture surrounding the UCLA program, which wasn’t an easy thing to do. He has hit a rough patch in the last couple of weeks, however, so it will be interesting to see how he bounces back.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky

This one was tough. The best defensive teams this season are great because of how well they work as a team; there isn’t really just one great individual defender on Virginia, or Louisville, or West Virginia. For me, it came down to Fox or Baylor’s Jo Lual-Acuil – who is second nationally in blocks-per-game and block percentage on the nation’s seventh-best defense, per KenPom – but I went with Fox. He’s one of, if not the best on-ball defender in college hoops and he’s the point man for a Kentucky defense that has been exploitable this season. Put another way, I think his presence as an on-ball defender disrupting offense is why only UCLA and North Carolina have been able to execute against the Wildcats. He covers up some of their flaws, and that’s before you consider his ability to turn defense into offense with his speed in transition.

LAWRENCE, KS - DECEMBER 03: Frank Mason III #0 of the Kansas Jayhawks is reacts after making a basket during the game against the Stanford Cardinal at Allen Fieldhouse on December 3, 2016 in Lawrence, Kansas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Frank Mason III (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

FIRST TEAM ALL-AMERICA

  • Frank Mason III, Kansas: Mason’s case for National Player of the Year has been severely underrated at this point. He’s averaging 19.8 points, 5.9 assists, 4.6 boards and just 2.2 turnovers while shooting 56.9 percent on 2’s and 48.2 percent on 3’s, posting an offensive rating of 130.9 as the go-to guy, leader and most important player on a top five team. He made the biggest shot of the season to date as well, beating Duke in Madison Square Gardon in the Champions Classic.
  • Lonzo Ball, UCLA: Ball has been phenomenal, and while his numbers alone are impressive – he’s averaging 14.3 points, second-nationally averaging 8.1 assists while shooting 43.4 percent from three – it’s the impact he’s had on UCLA has a whole that earns him this spot. Not only does his presence bump everyone into their more natural position, but he’s turned them into one of the nation’s most entertaining and unselfish basketball teams.
  • Luke Kennard, Duke: Kennard has been the best player for Duke this season, and frankly, it’s not all that close. He’s been their best player in every one of their biggest games, he was the guy that kept them from losing to Elon and Tennessee State, and he was the only player that showed up against Virginia Tech. It’s weird to think about it like this, but on a team with four potential first round draft picks, the Blue Devils would be in serious trouble if it wasn’t for Kennard.
  • Josh Hart, Villanova: He’s our pick for Player of the Year. Of course he’s a first-team all-american.
  • Caleb Swanigan, Purdue: Swanigan has been the best big man in college basketball this season, and it’s not all that close. He’s averaging 18.1 points and 13.0 boards at this point, and he’s already posted four games with at least 20 points and 20 boards. He draws 6.6 fouls-per-40 minutes – second on his team to Isaac Haas, who is at 8.1 fouls – and his ability to pass, out of double-teams and in high-low actions, is part of what makes Purdue’s offense so good this year.
LEXINGTON, KY - DECEMBER 07: John Calipari the head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats gives instructions to De'Aaron Fox #0 and Malik Monk #5 during the game against the Valparaiso Crusaders at Rupp Arena on December 7, 2016 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

SECOND TEAM ALL-AMERICA

  • Maurice Watson Jr., Creighton: Watson is the engine that makes Creighton’s high-powered offense run. He leads the nation in assists and he’s the reason why guys like Marcus Foster, Khyri Thomas and Cole Huff consistently get so many good looks from three.
  • De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky: We also talked about what Fox brings defensively, but he’s also averaging 15.8 points and 6.8 assists with a nearly 3:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. If only he was shooting better than 14.3 percent from three.
  • Malik Monk, Kentucky: Monk is the most electrifying scorer in the country. He’s had the iconic performance of the season to date, popping off for 47 points in the win over North Carolina, but he also went for 34 points at Ole Miss in his first-ever SEC game. He’s averaging a ridiculous 22.4 points this year.
  • Kelan Martin, Butler: Martin is averaging 18.1 points and 5.8 boards as the most dangerous scorer on a Butler team that has proven to be quite dangerous this season. He’s the reason the Bulldogs have a chance to make some noise in March this year, and yet there are so many people that have no idea he exists.
  • Jonathan Motley, Baylor: Motley has been the best player on Baylor, the still-undefeated No. 2 team in the country. His development into an all-american from a guy that was an afterthought on an AAU team with the Harrison twins has been impressive to watch. He’s the posterboy in Scott Drew’s career-defining coaching performance.
Maryland guard Melo Trimble (AP Photo/Matt Hazlett)
Maryland guard Melo Trimble (AP Photo/Matt Hazlett)

THIRD TEAM ALL-AMERICA

  • Matt Farrell, Notre Dame: It’s tough to pick between Bonzie Colson and Farrell for this spot, but I lean towards Farrell. Notre Dame’s offense has always operated around having a point guard that can handle being the focal point of an offense, and Farrell’s ability to be able to do that was the biggest question mark entering the year.
  • Melo Trimble, Maryland: The collapse against Nebraska aside, Trimble has been a terrific leader for a very young Maryland team. They’re 13-2 on the season and, now, 6-1 in games decided by six points or less. Trimble has the winning points in the final minute of four of those games. The Terps are 26-6 in games decided by six points or less in his Terp career.
  • Markelle Fultz, Washington: Fultz may be the best player in college basketball this season. Until Fultz showed up at Washington, no one since 1993 – which is as far back as I can find stats – has averaged 22 points, six boards and six assists. Fultz is averaging 22.3 points, 6.7 assists and 6.4 boards as well as 1.6 blocks and 1.4 steals while shooting 45.5 percent from three. It’s too bad Washington is horrible, which is why Fultz is on our third team. If you can’t get your team into the NCAA tournament, I can’t really consider you for first or second team all-american.
  • Lauri Markkanen, Arizona: Despite playing on a team whose point guard is somewhere between mediocre and injured, Markkanen is averaging a team-high 15.8 points, 7.3 boards and shooting better than 44 percent from three. He’s been the consistent presence for a team that, to date, has been overachieving.
  • Yante Maten, Georgia: Maten is the best player in the SEC that doesn’t reside in Lexington, but it looks like the Bulldogs are going to be headed to the NIT. So like Fultz, Maten is locked into being a third-teamer.
SPOKANE, WA - DECEMBER 07: Markelle Fultz #20 of the Washington Huskies controls a rebound against the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the second half at McCarthey Athletic Center on December 7, 2016 in Spokane, Washington. Gonzaga defeated Washington 98-71. (Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images)
Markelle Fultz (Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images)