Tag: Damian Jones

Kendall Pollard, Damian Jones
Associated Press

Second-half resurgence pushes Dayton past No. 21 Vanderbilt

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A renewed commitment to working the ball around for quality shots led to Dayton erasing an eight-point halftime deficit (they trailed by as much as 16 in the first half) to beat No. 21 Vanderbilt in Nashville, winning by the final score of 72-67.

Archie Miller’s Flyers shot 59.3 percent from the field in the second half, with improved shot selection being a key factor. After settling for perimeter shots against a team without its leading shot blocker in Luke Kornet in the first half, attempting ten three-pointers (making three), Dayton attempted just five three-pointers in the second half.

Instead the ball went inside on a more regular basis, with Dayton scoring 24 of their 40 paint points in the game’s final 20 minutes. Kendall Pollard, who hit a huge three-pointer in the game’s final minute, scored 12 of his game-high 21 points in the second half and redshirt freshman big man Steve McElvene (ten points, nine rebounds) chipped in with six points and five rebounds.

As a team Dayton outscored Vanderbilt 40-22 in the paint while also controlling the rebounding stats (38.5 percent offensive reb. percentage, 79.8 percent defensive reb. percentage), which led to their holding a 17-2 edge in second chance points.

While Damian Jones accounted for 18 points and eight rebounds, Vanderbilt didn’t get much production from their other front court players on a night when they needed them to step up. Dayton took advantage, and they managed to pick up a result that will look good on their résumé as the season wears on. Also of note is the fact that Dayton is now 12-3 in their last 15 games against SEC opponents.

Dayton has depth, experience and talent, attributes taken into consideration by voters when they were picked to win the Atlantic 10 in the league’s preseason media poll. Yet with an eye towards the future the play of McElvene may be the biggest takeaway for the Flyers. After accounting for 14 points, ten rebounds and four blocks in a win over North Florida the redshirt freshman followed it up with another solid outing, doing so against a big man projected to be a first round pick in June’s NBA Draft.

Dayton has players such as Pollard, point guard Scoochie Smith and forward Charles Cooke to lean on for key contributions. But if McElvene can continue to develop, at his size (6-foot-11) he gives Dayton a piece they’ve lacked in recent years. And with the suspended Dyshawn Pierre expected back at the end of the semester, an already deep Dayton squad will get deeper ahead of conference play.

Prince, Medford lead No. 25 Baylor past No. 16 Vanderbilt

Rico Gathers, Lester Medford
Associated Press
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Given the amount of interior talent on both teams, Sunday’s matchup between No. 16 Vanderbilt and No. 25 Baylor presented the 33 NBA scouts in attendance with a good opportunity to evaluate the likes of Vandy’s Damian Jones and Baylor’s Rico Gathers Sr. However it would be two Bears who spend a significant amount of time on the perimeter who had the greatest impact on the outcome, a 69-67 Baylor victory.

Versatile wing Taurean Prince scored 30 points to lead the way and Lester Medford added 11 of his 15 in the second half, three of which came on a critical three-pointer with 42 seconds remaining that produced the final margin.

Prince was one of the Big 12’s most improved players last season, and as a senior he’s expected by many to take another step forward for a team with Big 12 title aspirations. But leading into Sunday’s matchup his shooting percentages were lower than what he produced as a junior, shooting 37.3 percent from the field and 36.7 percent from three through six games.

That wasn’t an issue against Vanderbilt, as Prince shot 10-for-19 from the field and 4-for-7 from beyond the arc.

The senior carried Baylor offensively during a critical second-half stretch, as he scored seven points during a 13-0 run that erased a 52-39 Vanderbilt lead. Up until that point the Commodores, even with Damian Jones having a quiet night, appeared poised to run away with the game. Kevin Stallings’ team doesn’t lack for scoring options, and with sophomore guards Wade Baldwin IV (19 points, four assists) and Matthew Fisher-Davis (11 points, five rebounds) serving as the catalysts Vanderbilt established what appeared to be a comfortable margin.

But Prince and Medford, who assisted on three of the baskets scored during the run, turned the game around. And over the final 8:13 those two combined to score 14 of Baylor’s final 17 points, with a Johnathan Motley free throw and a Gathers Sr. (ten points, 13 rebounds) dunk accounting for the other three.

Prince’s effort was obviously critical, but given the questions asked by some of Baylor’s point guard play Medford’s second half may be the most important development moving forward. Entering Sunday the senior had a solid assist-to-turnover ratio, with 5.7 assists and 2.3 turnovers per game, but he was shooting just under 43 percent from the field.

While he did struggle in the Bears’ loss at No. 15 Oregon in mid-November, Medford’s two best offensive outings of the season have come in Baylor’s best wins. There was Medford’s 13-point, nine-assist game in a blowout win over Stephen F. Austin in the season opener, and Sunday night against Vanderbilt he accounted for 15 points, five assists and just one turnover. Baylor has one of the nation’s best front courts, and their ability to both keep Jones (nine points, eight rebounds) and Luke Kornet (seven points, four rebounds) in check and rebound 46.5 percent of their team’s missed shots (Gathers Sr. and Prince had 12 of Baylor’s 20 offensive rebounds) serves as evidence in the affirmative.

But if Baylor is to compete with the likes of Kansas, Iowa State and Oklahoma atop the Big 12 their perimeter play will be key. Medford stepped forward to assist Prince Sunday night, and that will need to be the case on a consistent basis when conference play begins next month.

The top 15 most improved players in college basketball

Ty Wallace (AP Photo)
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Ty Wallace (AP Photo)

 MORE: The rest of our New Year’s Resolutions | Midseason catchups

Ty Wallace, Cal: I’m firmly entrenched on the Ty Wallace bandwagon, having said repeatedly that there is no player in the country as underrated as Cal’s star point guard. Look at this stat line: 19.3 points, 8.8 boards, 4.2 assists and 46.9 percent shooting from three.

Justin Anderson, Virginia: Anderson’s emergence into Virginia’s leading scorer has been the biggest surprise of the season for me. Always known as a great athlete and teammate, Anderson is now averaging 15.1 points and shooting 60.0 percent from three. He’s not a go-to guy, but he’s been Tony Bennett’s most valuable weapon thus far.

Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky: Cauley-Stein is starting to live up to his potential this season, becoming the nation’s most versatile defender while anchoring on college basketball’s best defense. A 7-foot-1 center, he can switch ball-screens and has been tasked with stopping an opponent’s best wing scorer at times this season.

source: Getty Images
Robert Upshaw (Getty Images)

Robert Upshaw, Washington: Washington’s emergence as a top three team in the Pac-12 can almost entirely be credited to Upshaw, who has become the nation’s premiere shot-blocking presence. He’s averaging 4.6 blocks in just 20 minutes and has completely changed the way that Washington is able to defend. I’d argue he’s one of the ten most valuable players in the country right now.

Christian Wood, UNLV: Wood is playing like a first round draft pick, averaging 13.9 points, 9.6 boards and 3.0 blocks for the Rebels. He had 24 points and 10 boards in UNLV’s win over No. 3 Arizona on Tuesday night.

Terry Rozier, Louisville: Rozier has done much of what was expected of him this season. His scoring is up to 16.5 points from 7.0 as a freshman, and while he’s not shooting quite as well from the perimeter this season, his percentages are up overhaul and he’s turned into one of the nation’s best, and most important, secondary options.

Rakeem Christmas, Syracuse: Someone had to become a scorer for Syracuse this season, and thus far in the year it’s been the senior big man that’s done it. He’s averaging 16.5 points and 8.7 boards, a bright spot in an otherwise frustrating season for the Orange.

Zach Auguste, Notre Dame: Auguste has always had the potential to be a big-time scorer in the paint for the Irish, and he’s finally reaching it this year. Auguste’s averaging 14.8 points through the first month, although it will be interesting to see what happens when the Irish start to play some tougher competition.

Levi Randolph, Alabama: Randolph has become a go-to guy for Alabama as a senior, as he’s now posting some impressive numbers: 16.5 points, 4.9 boards and 3.1 assists for the 8-3 Tide.

Dylan Ennis, Villanova: Who saw this coming from Ennis? He’s Villanova’s leading scorer, their most dangerous three-point shooter and one of the best defenders on the roster.

Stefan Nastic, Stanford: With so much of Stanford’s front line graduating, Nastic’s role has been dramatically increased this year, and it’s paying off. Nastic is averaging 14.5 points and has become one of the better low-post scorers on the west coast.

Justin Moss, Buffalo: As a sophomore, Moss averaged 3.8 points and 3.2 boards playing behind Javon McCrea. As a junior, those numbers have bumped up to 17.3 points and 10.2 boards. Oh, and he did this.

Malcolm Hill, Illinois: Hill started a handful of games as a freshman, but as a sophomore he’s moved into a major role for John Groce. His scoring has bumped up to 12.8 points this year, as the Illini look like they could contend for a spot in the NCAA tournament.

Damian Jones, Vanderbilt: Jones has developed into the star we expected him to be as a sophomore, averaging 16.5 points and 7.1 boards.

Denzel Valentine, Michigan State: The Spartans have been a disappointment through the season’s first month, but Valentine has been terrific. These numbers are nothing to joke about: 14.5 points, 5.5 boards, 4.3 assists, 50.0 percent from three.