Rob Dauster

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Marquette’s Markus Howard ties Big East record with 52 points in road win

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Markus Howard put together one of the most impressive individual scoring performances that you will ever see in the college ranks on Wednesday night.

Marquette’s 6-foot-1 sophomore scored 52 points in a critical, 95-90 overtime win at Providence in a game that will assuredly help the Golden Eagles’ NCAA tournament profile in two months. Those 52 points tied a Big East record that was set by former Providence guard Marshon Brooks back in 2011 and set a record for a program that includes the likes of Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler and Jae Crowder as alumni.

Howard finished the night shooting 17-for-29 from the floor and 11-for-19 from three. He made all seven free throws he shot, meaning he still has not missed from the charity stripe this season. He’s unequivocally one of the best shooters in all of college basketball – he made 54.9 percent of his triples last season – but Howard has been in something of a slump this year. Prior to Wednesday’s performance, he was hitting just 37.7 percent from beyond the arc, although that dip in efficiency can justifiably be attributed to the fact that he’s shooting nearly twice as many threes per game this year.

But here’s the most impressive part of what Howard did: At halftime, he had 10 points and was just 2-for-6 from three. In the second half alone, he popped off for 32 points and seven threes, not to mention the 10 points – including another pair of triples – that he knocked down in the overtime period.

I think it’s safe to say that his slump is over.

Michael Porter Jr. on chances he returns this year: ‘It’s too early to tell’

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Speaking to the media for the first time since having surgery on his back, Michael Porter Jr. did lend any clarity to the discussion of whether or not he will be able to return to a basketball court for Missouri this season.

“Right now it’s too early to tell,” he said. “This is the type of injury where I’ll feel good before I’m allowed to play because a lot of healing starts to occur.”

“Everybody’s different with this injury, their recovery time,” Porter added. “So I’m doing everything I can to recover as quick as I can. I’ll feel 100 percent before my back really is 100 percent. Eventually I’ll be 150 percent because I’ll be playing without the pain and limitations I had before.”

Porter said he initially suffered the injury two years ago during a practice with the Mo-Kan elite AAU team that he and Trae Young played for. He went up for a dunk and got knocked off balance, landing flat on his back. He’s been playing in pain ever since, which is part of the reason that the family opted to do this surgery.

“I kind of forgot what it’s like to play normal,” Porter said.

Missouri head coach Cuonzo Martin said he was not aware of the injury when Porter arrived on campus in large part due to the fact that he did not recruit Porter all that heavily out of high school. Martin got the Missouri job around the same time that Lorenzo Romar was fired at Washington and the Porters reopened their recruitment.

Porter underwent a microdiscectomy of the L3-L4 spinal discs on Nov. 22nd.

VIDEO: Chris Beard, Texas Tech celebrate win at Allen Fieldhouse

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Texas Tech went into Allen Fieldhouse and knocked off No. 10 Kansas last night, putting the Red Raiders squarely in the mix as the best team in the Big 12.

After the game, after Beard spoke with ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla live on Sportscenter and returned to his locker room with this message for his team:

If you didn’t catch that, he said: “‘You grew up your whole life wanting to be live on Sportscenter.’ I said, ‘no, Fran, I grew up my whole life wanting to be in a locker room like this.'”

I’m ready to run through a wall for him now.

No. 18 Texas Tech picks off No. 10 Kansas in Phog Allen Fieldhouse

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It feels like we go through this every year.

At some point during the season, maybe after an unexpected loss in non-conference play or an ugly start to the Big 12 schedule, we ask whether or not this is the year where the streak will end, where the Kansas run of 13 straight conference regular season titles will cease.

That point is tonight.

No. 10 Kansas trailed for 40 minutes on Tuesday night, falling behind No. 18 Texas Tech 23-7 within the first ten minutes and never getting closer than six points the rest of the way.

Keenan Evans, who is Texas Tech’s best player, led the way with 15 points and three assists, although he shot just 4-for-16 from the floor. As a team, the Red Raiders were 6-for-24 from three. This wasn’t a case of a team walking into Allen Fieldhouse and shooting the lights out. Texas Tech was the tougher team. They got to the glass, they executed their game-plan better and they were the first to every loose ball. Chris Beard’s club was, quite simply, better, and it wasn’t all that close.

“They have good players and they’re experienced so I would say that helped but I look out there and I see two freshmen wearing us out just as much as the seniors were,” Bill Self said Tuesday night. “Age is irrelevant when it comes to competing and trying.”

Texas Tech is the real deal.

The Red Raiders aren’t a basketball powerhouse so it might take awhile for this to catch on, but they could very well be the best team in the conference. Beard has amassed a roster that has some ridiculous athletes, size all over the roster, a killer at the point in Evans and a team that is just as hungry to prove themselves as Beard is. There are some vagabonds on this roster. There are some underrecruited freshmen on this roster. There are holdovers from the Tubby Smith era that have fully bought into what Beard is selling.

The truth is this: Beard’s club is just good enough offensively that they are going to be able to win a lot of games with their defense. They force turnovers as well as just about anyone. They run opponents off the three-point line as well as just about anyone. They have enough big bodies in the paint – and they rotate well enough defensively – that open looks at the rim are not going to be easy to come by when those opponents do get run off the three-point line.

And that just so happened to matchup perfectly with a Kansas team that wants to spend 40 minutes zipping the ball around the perimeter and hoisting up threes.

I’m not sure I am quite ready to dub Texas Tech the best team in the Big 12, not when Trae Young exists, not when West Virginia is just now hitting their stride and getting Esa Ahmad back in two weeks. Hell, I’m not going to completely write off a Kansas team that added Sam Cunliffe, is still adding Silvio De Dousa and could also end up getting Billy Preston eligible.

That trio, combined with Devonte’ Graham and the Phog, would put the Jayhawks right back in the mix.

But as of today, it is officially time to say that the Jayhawks are no longer the favorite to win the Big 12, and there are a couple of reasons to say that.

For starters, the Phog is not the fortress that it has been in the past. Arizona State walked in and whipped up on Kansas in that building. Texas Tech did the same. Part of the reason that the Jayhawks have been able to keep this streak going as long as they have is that they are damn near unbeatable in their building. When you are locked into nine wins in an 18 game league schedule because the Phog is the Phog, it’s hard for anyone to keep pace.

In a conference where the margins are going to be fine, Texas Tech landing a road win in Lawrence immediately gives them an edge.

Because the league is ridiculous this season.

TCU was undefeated and ranked No. 10 in the country last week and they may be the fifth-best team in the league at this point.

Road wins, particularly those against the top of the league, are not going to be easy to come by.

But the bigger issue is that Kansas just is not all that good.

We’ve talked about the lack of talent on the roster. We’ve talked about their issues on the defensive end of the floor. We’ve talked about the fact that there really is only one player that can create a shot that isn’t a three – Devonte’ Graham – and that he isn’t a guy that loves creating off the dribble.

Everything that I wrote in this ‘What’s Wrong With Kansas?’ story from three weeks ago still holds true today.

But the biggest issue is No. 2 on that list: There is not enough toughness of leadership on this roster.

Frank Mason and Josh Jackson were alphas. They were pitbulls. Competitors. Whatever the cliché du jour is, they were.

“Let’s just call it like it is,” Self said last month. “You’re replacing Frank with somebody who’s not near as competitive as Frank. You’re replacing Josh with somebody who’s not near as competitive as Josh. And you’re replacing Landen with somebody that doesn’t know how to be competitive yet. Those aren’t negatives. Those are just facts. I mean, we had two-and-a-half dogs last year, and Landen was close to being a full one.”

With those two gone, Kansas doesn’t have that guy, and it showed in the body language of the guys on the roster in the second half. By the 10 minute mark, it was clear Kansas was never going to seriously mount a comeback attempt, and the bad news for Jayhawk fans is that none of Preston, De Sousa or Cunliffe are the answer to that problem.

What that means is that whoever the actual favorite to win the Big 12 is, it is not Kansas.

Not this year.

Player of the Year Power Rankings: The Trae Young Show rolls on

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1. TRAE YOUNG, Oklahoma: This isn’t exactly breaking news, but Trae Young is having a pretty ridiculous season for the Sooners as a freshman.

As we discussed on the podcast on Tuesday morning, Young might actually be having the best season that we have ever seen out of a guard at the college level. At the very least, he’s the best since Steph Curry graced the court at Davidson.

The most ridiculous part of his year, however, is that he someone keeps managing to one-up himself. The craziest part of the 39 points and 14 assists that he put up on Saturday wasn’t that it came on the road against an undefeated top ten team in his first Big 12 game; or that he managed to score 17 points and hand out four assists in the final 9:45, including the game-winning free throws with 7.9 seconds left; or that it felt like Young didn’t actually play all that well, shooting 9-for-23 from the floor with seven turnovers.

The most ridiculous part is that this felt … normal.

Every time Young has stepped on the floor the last five games have been progressively more mind-blowing: He had 29 points and nine assists in Los Angeles in a win over USC. He followed that up with 29 points and 10 assists in a win at Wichita State in which he had 21 points and seven assists in a first half where he made the Shockers defense look like it had gone through a combine harvester. Then he went for 26 points and an NCAA-record 22 assists against Northwestern State before posting 25 points and 10 assists in the first half against Northwestern.

That was the last game he played before Saturday’s trip to TCU.

It’s also worth noting at this point that Young has the highest usage rate of any player in the 16 years that KenPom has data for at 39.3 percent of Oklahoma’s possessions and he’s still the most efficient high-usage player in the database:

2. MARVIN BAGLEY III, Duke: Bagley had a ridiculous 32 points and 21 boards in Duke’s win over No. 24 Florida State on Saturday, with 11 of those rebounds coming on the offensive end. Bagley is now averaging 21.9 points and 11.6 boards on the season, but I discussed on the podcast this week (the 7:18 mark below) why I think he might be somewhat overvalued as an NBA prospect.

3. DEANDRE AYTON, Arizona: Like Young and Bagley, Ayton put together a ridiculous performance in a big game on Saturday. He finished with 23 points, 19 boards, three assists and three blocks as the Sun Devils had absolutely no answer on the interior for the Big Bahamian. Given the defensive issues that keep popping up for the Wildcats, being able to overwhelm teams in the paint is going to be what carries Arizona to … a Pac-12 title? A Final Four? A national title?

4. TRA HOLDER, Arizona State: Holder’s Arizona State team lost on Saturday at Arizona. Holder had 31 points. He’s averaging 22 pints, 5.1 boards and 4.5 assists for the No. 4 team in the country. He’s had a phenomenal season and nearly led the Wildcats to a win on the road against their in-state rivals.

5. JALEN BRUNSON, Villanova: Villanova lost to Butler on the road on Saturday, giving up 101 points to a team that is not exactly known as an offensive juggernaut. Brunson, however, finished with 31 points and five assists. He did, however, miss two critical free throws in the middle of Villanova’s attempted comeback.

6. JEVON CARTER, West Virginia
7. TREVON BLUIETT, Villanova
8. BONZIE COLSON, Notre Dame
9. JORDAN MURPHY, Minnesota


CBT Podcast: Monday Overreactions Podcast!

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In today’s podcast, Rob Dauster rolls through everything that happened in a wild weekend of college basketball, from Villanova losing to Butler to Arizona playing Arizona State on a channel no one can watch to Duke’s win, Texas A&M’s loss and Louisville’s embarrassment of a performance.

Here are the timecodes for each topic:

  • Open: with a discussion about why Villanova, Michigan State and Duke all have a claim on the No. 1 spot in the rankings.
  • 9:53: This story I wrote about Seton Hall’s seniors and why they are one of the best things about college basketball this season.
  • 18:16: Kentucky’s obliteration of Louisville on Friday.
  • 23:03: Arizona-Arizona State, and why the Pac-12 missed a massive opportunity with this game.
  • 25:40: Is Trae Young the best guard in the history of college guards?
  • 28:14: Why Alabama locked up a tournament spot.