Rob Dauster

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) celebrates at a timeout during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor in Lawrence, Kan., Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016. Seldon scored 24 points in the game. Kansas defeated Baylor 102-74. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

NEW PODCAST: Kansas-Kentucky, Buddy Hield was awesome again and a weekend recap

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Raphielle Johnson hopped back on the podcast with me this week to talk about a terrific weekend in college basketball.

We start with a discussion on why Wayne Selden’s performance was so important and continue that into whether or not we’re buying Kentucky. We also try to offer up some perspective on just how good Buddy Hield has been this season and theorize a way where someone could potentially overtake him in the Player of the Year race.

I also think I provided the only justifiable reason to hate Cam Newton at this point.

As always, you can listen to the podcast by clicking “play” on the Soundcloud player embedded below. Or you can do so through either iTunes or Stitcher if you so choose. Thanks for listening!

VIDEO: Kobe Bryant reached out to Emmanuel Omogbo

Colorado State's forward Emmanuel Omogbo celebrates a 74-66 win over San Jose State after an NCAA college basketball game in Fort Collins, Colo., Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016. (Austin Humphreys/The Coloradoan via AP)
(Austin Humphreys/The Coloradoan via AP)
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People around the country have reached out to Colorado State forward Emmanuel Omogbo, including a GoFundMe page that has nearly reached $100,000, after Omogbo’s parents and his two-year old twin niece and nephew were tragically killed in a house fire two weeks ago.

One of the people that reached out was Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who sent Omogbo a video telling him what you tell anyone in that situation: stay strong, keep your head up and keep inspiring. Omogbo posted the video to his twitter page:

Last week, when Omogbo returned to the Colorado State lineup for the first time since the fire, he received a prolonged standing ovation from the Moby Arena crowd.

WEEKLY AWARDS: Buddy Hield stars again, Oregon’s big week.

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) drives to the basket as LSU guard Antonio Blakeney (2) defends in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)
(AP Photo/Bill Feig)
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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Buddy Hield, Oklahoma

Saturday was arguably the best day of college basketball that we’ve seen this season and no player shined brighter than Hield. He had 32 points for the No. 1 Sooners, hitting five straight threes down the stretch in a come-from-behind win over Ben Simmons and LSU. That followed up a performance against a scrappy Texas Tech team where Hield popped off for 30 points on just 12 shots from the floor.

This was peak-Buddy, and to get an idea of just how good peak-Buddy is, think about it like this: offensive rating is a metric used at KenPom to determine just how efficient a player is with the possessions that he uses. Usage rate is a statistic that determines what percentage of possessions end with that player — shots taken, turnovers, fouls drawn, etc. No one in KenPom’s database, which dates back 13 seasons, has posted a higher offensive rating than Hield’s 127.8 with a usage rate above 28.0 percent. Not J.J. Redick or Adam Morrison in 2006. Not Stephen Curry in any of his three seasons. Not Jimmer Fredette in 2011. Not Doug McDermott. Not Frank Kaminsky. Not anyone.

There’s more: He’s now averaging 26.2 points for the nation’s No. 1 team while shooting 52.4 percent from three and taking more than eight threes per game! 

After this week, the question is no longer whether or not Hield can win the National Player of the Year award. Now you have to ask yourself just what kind of magic Kris Dunn or Ben Simmons will have to pull off in order to catch Hield.

THE ‘ALL THEY WERE GOOD, TOO’ TEAM

  • Fred VanVleet, Wichita State: The Shockers took firm control of the Missouri Valley this week, most notably as they won in dominating fashion at Evansville, who many believed was the one team that could push them this season. VanVleet finished with a career-high 32 points at Evansville.
  • Wayne Selden, Kansas: Selden struggled in the loss at Iowa State on Monday night, but he more than made up for it with his 33-point performance in the overtime win over Kentucky on Saturday night.
  • Prince Ibeh, Texas: Ibeh is making Texas fans forget about Cameron Ridley. He averaged 15.0 points, 10.5 boards and 3.5 blocks in wins over Vanderbilt TCU, which followed up his seven points, seven boards and seven blocks against Kansas last weekend.
  • Henry Ellenson, Marquette: Ellenson went for 32 points, 10 boards and six blocks in a key win over Butler.
  • Michael Carrera, South Carolina: Carrera averaging 27.0 points and 13.0 boards in a pair of wins this week for the Gamecocks.
(AP Photo/Chris Pietsch)

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Oregon Ducks

To put in perspective what Oregon did this week, you first need to understand that Pac-12 teams just don’t win in the McKale Center. It’s not a thing that happens, at least not in the last four seasons. The last time that Arizona lost at home in Pac-12 play was back in 2012-13, when they lost to UCLA.

The last time that a team landed a sweep of the Arizona schools on the road? You have to go back another year, when Oregon won at Arizona State and Arizona on Jan. 12th and 14th of 2012.

That’s the most difficult road trip in the conference to make, yet Oregon passed that test with flying colors this week, getting 24 points from Dillon Brooks in the win at Arizona and, on Sunday night, getting 26 points, 10 boards and seven blocks out of center Chris Boucher. The Ducks now sit all alone in first place in the conference, and while there are four teams sitting within a game of first place, it really does feel like this will be Oregon’s league to lose at this point.

THEY WERE GOOD, TOO

  • Xavier: Not that you really needed the proof, but the Musketeers showed themselves to be a real Final Four contender during the week when they went into the Dunkin Donuts Center and knocked off Providence.
  • Virginia: The Cavaliers had struggled on the road all season, and they struggled on the road on Tuesday when they very nearly lost to Wake Forest — thanks, Darius Thompson — but they availed themselves on Saturday by mollywhopping Louisville in the Yum! Center.
  • USC: The Trojans defended their home court this week, beating Washington State on Thursday and following that up with a win over then-league leaders Washington on Saturday.
  • Kentucky: We all had our doubts about Kentucky, but the Wildcats looked terrific when they took Kansas to overtime in Phog Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday. Remember, when Oklahoma took Kansas to overtime, we realized that the Sooners were actually pretty good. Is that what will happened with Kentucky now?
  • Maryland: The Terps picked up a huge win over Iowa on Thursday night. I explained why it was so important here.

SET YOUR DVR

No. 2 North Carolina at No. 16 Louisville, Mon. 7:00 p.m.
No. 9 West Virginia at No. 14 Iowa State, Tue. 9:00 p.m.
No. 25 Notre Dame at No. 15 Miami (FL), Wed. 7:00 p.m.
No. 6 Villanova at No. 10 Providence, Sat. 2:30 p.m.
No. 21 Purdue at No. 8 Maryland, Sat. 4:00 p.m.
No. 17 Baylor at No. 9 West Virginia, Sat. 8:00 p.m.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL TALK TOP 25: Oklahoma remains at No. 1

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) drives to the basket as LSU guard Antonio Blakeney (2) defends in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)
(AP Photo/Bill Feig)
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1. Oklahoma (18-2, LW: No. 1): The Sooners have beaten Villanova, Iowa State, Baylor and West Virginia already this season and their two losses came on the road by a combined eight points in the two toughest environments they’ll see in the conference. They blew out Baylor in Waco and, over the weekend, went into Baton Rouge and came from 13 points down to knock off Ben Simmons and LSU. That’s why …

2. North Carolina (19-2, LW: No. 2): … I just can’t see anyway to justify North Carolina being ranked No. 1 over Oklahoma at this point in the season. The Tar Heels do have that win over Maryland, but other than that, the best team that they’ve played this season has been … Texas (who they lost to)? Syracuse? They also lost to Northern Iowa, a loss that looks worse by the games. I still have the Tar Heels winning the national title, but I don’t think they deserve to be ranked above Oklahoma, not right now.

3. Iowa (17-4, LW: No. 3): Iowa lost at Maryland by six points on a night where Jarrod Uthoff shot 2-for-13 from the floor. It’s going to take a lot more than that to get me off of the bandwagon.

4. Kansas (17-4, LW: No. 4): On paper, you might think that it would be concerning that this Kansas team was taken to overtime by the Kentucky team that lost at Auburn, but there are a lot of positives to take out of what was a thrilling game to watch. Namely: Wayne Selden. He was terrific.

5. Villanova (18-3, LW: No. 5): For my money, Villanova is still the team to beat in the Big East. That’s their league to win until they’re no longer the champions. That said …

6. Xavier (19-2, LW: No. 6): … Xavier is the Big East team that is best built to make a run to the Final Four. Why? Because they’re a complete basketball team.

7. Maryland (18-3, LW: No. 7): The win over Iowa at home was important for a couple of reasons: On the one hand, this is the first really good win that the Terps have on their résumé. On the other hand, they won the game playing a way we haven’t seen them play too much this season. Explanations needed?

8. Texas A&M (18-3, LW: No. 8): The Aggies landed a critical win over Iowa State at home on Saturday afternoon … just three days after they lost at Arkansas.

9. Michigan State (18-4, LW: No. 11): I think the Spartans are back, as they followed up their win over Maryland by making light work of Northwestern and Rutgers. It’s Northwestern and Rutgers, I know, but the Spartans won by an average of 30 points.

10. Providence (18-4, LW: No. 12): Providence lost at home when Xavier turned into a buzzsaw on Tuesday night, but they did follow that up with yet another win on the road at Georgetown. Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil have both been great this season, but will the adjustment that Ed Cooley made in Saturday’s game stick?

11. SMU (20-1, LW: No. 10)
12. West Virginia (17-4, LW: No. 9)
13. Virginia (17-4, LW: No. 14)
14. Miami (16-4, LW: No. 13)
15. Baylor (17-4, LW: No. 15)
16. Iowa State (16-5, LW: No. 16)
17. Kentucky (16-5, LW: No. 21)
18. Oregon (18-4, LW: No. 22)
19. Purdue (19-4, LW: No. 19)
20. Wichita State (16-5, LW: No. 23)
21. USC (17-5, LW: No. 24)
22. Louisville (17-4, LW: No. 17)
23. Utah (18-5, LW: UR)
24. Indiana (18-4, LW: No. 20)
25. Saint Mary’s (18-2, LW: UR)

DROPPED OUT: No. 18 Arizona, No. 25 Duke
NEW ADDITION: No. 23 Utah, No. 25 Saint Mary’s

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Wichita State’s big Missouri Valley test

Associated Press
Associated Press
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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 22 Wichita State at Evansville, 4:00 p.m.

The Shockers have been rolling ever since Fred VanVleet returned from the hamstring injury that cost him the tournament in Orlando. They’ll get their toughest test of the Missouri Valley season this afternoon, as they pay a visit to Evansville, who is the only team in the conference with a one-two punch that approaches Gregg Marshall’s. Can D.J. Balentine and Egidijus Mockevicius pull off the upset?

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

  1. No. 8 Maryland pays a visit to Ohio State at 1:00 p.m. The Terps won this game by 35 points in college Park earlier this month.
  2. No. 25 Notre Dame got smoked without Demetrius Jackson at Syracuse. Can they avoid another let down against Wake Forest today?
  3. No. 3 Iowa is coming off of a loss to Maryland on Thursday night. They’ll look to bounce back against Northwestern at home this afternoon.
  4. It feels like we can say this about every game in the Pac-12 the rest of the season, but Cal at Colorado will be an important bubble game for both teams.
  5. Can No. 23 Oregon remain all alone in first place in the Pac-12? They’ll have to win at Arizona State to do it.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 6 Villanova at St. John’s, 12:00 p.m.
  • Rutgers at No. 12 Michigan State, 5:15 p.m.

Kris Dunn, Ben Bentil lead No. 10 Providence to win at Georgetown

Providence guard Kris Dunn, center, goes to the basket against Georgetown center Bradley Hayes (42) and guard Kaleb Johnson (32 ) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
(AP Photo/Nick Wass)
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WASHINGTON, D.C. — No matter how glaring their biggest weakness is, saying that the No. 10 Providence Friars have a fatal flaw probably isn’t a fair thing to do.

Basketball teams don’t win 18 of their first 22 games if they have a fatal flaw. They don’t beat Arizona and they don’t sweep Butler and they don’t win at Villanova, what may end up being one of the five best wins of the entire college basketball season when we’re all said and done, if they have a fatal flaw. A lot can be overcome when the nation’s best point guard (Kris Dunn) shares the floor with the Big East’s leading scorer (Ben Bentil). Both stars had 26 points in Saturday night’s 73-69 win at Georgetown.

That said, the Friars do have one glaring weakness:

Entering Saturday night, the Friars were shooting 30.6 percent from three on the season, which is good for 320th nationally out of 351 teams. That’s bad, but not quite as bad as the 27.8 percent they were shooting from beyond the arc in league play. Only seven teams in high-major leagues (Tulane, Rutgers, Northwestern, Missouri, South Carolina, Stanford, North Carolina) shot that poorly from beyond the arc in conference play. Of those seven, only UNC has a real shot of doing more than scrapping their way into a double-digit seed, and the Tar Heels are only shooting that poorly because Marcus Paige had been mired in a 1-for-22 shooting slump from beyond the arc.

Long story short, Providence cannot shoot.

“If you watched us the last four or five games you saw some missiles being fired,” head coach Ed Cooley said.

He’s not wrong.

The Friars have fired up some of the most hideous jumpers that you’ll see from a really good team this season. The backboards of the Dunkin Donuts center must be made from bullet-proof glass, and while Dunn has been the culprit on couple of different occasions, for the most part, the kid whose shooting ability has been knocked by just about everyone has been terrific. In league play, he’s shooting 45.2 percent from beyond the arc himself, which means that, entering Saturday, the rest of Dunn’s team was knocking down a paltry 23.0 percent of the threes the shot.

Those teammates were shooting 19 threes per game.

That’s not exactly a recipe for success, which is why we’ve seen Providence lose to the likes of Marquette and Seton Hall, and why Creighton took this team to within one banked-in Dunn jumper from beating them in Omaha.

It’s also by design.

Dunn is not exactly a secret at this point. Everyone in the conference — everyone in the country — knows how good he is and how difficult he is to stop when he’s allowed to turn a corner and get downhill. So opposing defenses pack the paint, forcing Dunn into a decision: Try to go one-on-two or three, or make the smart pass to an open teammate. More often than not, it’s the latter.

“We’ve been played every imaginable way with him. Zone, man, two on the ball. He’s in a crowd every game,” Cooley said. “We see that every game. That’s where the third and fourth guys have to step up and make plays.”

We’ve talked about this quite a bit this season, how the Friars will go as far as Dunn’s supporting cast will carry him. Generally speaking, that conversation has usually centered around whether or not the likes of Kyron Cartwright, Junior Lomomba and Rodney Bullock are actually hitting their threes on that night, but that changed on Saturday night in the Verizon Center. Providence shot just 11 threes against the Hoyas, by far the fewest triples they’ve taken in Big East play the first time since their three-point rate — the percentage of field goals attempted that came from beyond the arc — was that low in a game since Dec. 5th.

“That was our plan,” Cooley said. He’s not dumb. He saw what the rest of us saw. He knew those shooting percentages better than anyone. He knew he team needed to stop settling and attack the rim. “We wanted to make some adjustments out of that. We wanted to go, go, go, go. And it paid big dividends.”

Dunn still did Kris Dunn things, including one three-possession stretch late in the first half when he scored on a ridiculous drive to the rim off of a ball-screen (video below), dribbled through traffic and found Bentil for a dunk, and followed that up with another tough, driving layup.

And while those three plays are what will stick in the mind of people watching the game, it was really the only point in the game where he was able to use the dribble to break down a set Georgetown defense.

“They did a really good job, it’s just that he scored in transition, he made two threes,” Cooley said. “He controls the game.”

In other words, it was business as usual for teams trying to slow down Dunn, but on Saturday, when he would find his open teammates on the perimeter, instead of simply settling for semi-open jumpers, they were putting the ball on the floor and trying to get into the paint. Providence eventually shot 5-for-11 from three, getting to the line 33 times.

And it made a difference.

The Friars landed their sixth-straight win on the road and will held into February just two games behind Villanova in the Big East regular season title race.