Weekly Awards

Weekly Awards: Sir’Dominic Pointer and Baylor shine in a wild week of hoops

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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Sir’Dominic Pointer, St. John’s

Pointer was sensational this week as the Johnnies landed two critical wins that have punched their NCAA tournament ticket. In a win over Xavier on Monday, Pointer had 19 points, nine boards, six blocks, four steals and three assists, following that up with 24 points, 10 boards, two blocks and two assists in a double-digit win over Georgetown on Saturday.

The two wins this week completed a stretch of seven games where St. John’s won six out of seven, a stretch that has taken this team from NIT-bound to the NCAA tournament. At one point in time, the Johnnies were just 3-6 in Big East play, and without the energy that Pointer has brought to this team, they would not have made this turnaround. As good as Kris Dunn, D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and about half of Villanova’s roster has been, Pointer has been the best player in the Big East this year, and he’s proven it of late.

THE ALL ‘THEY WERE GOOD, TOO’ TEAM

  • Aaron White, Iowa: Iowa landed a pair of critical wins for their tournament resume, beating Illinois and winning at Penn State in overtime. White had 29 points and nine boards against Illinois and followed up with 21 points and 14 boards over the weekend.
  • Justise Winslow, Duke: Winslow was terrific this week for the Blue Devils, just as he has been terrific for them for the past month. After posting 15 and seven in the overtime win at Virginia Tech, he went for a career-high 23 points, nine boards and three blocks against Syracuse. When Winslow plays like this, Duke is much more dangerous.
  • Derrick Marks, Boise State: Marks went for 30 points, five boards and five assists in a win over New Mexico, following that up with 18 points to lead the Broncos to a win at San Diego State. The win may end up getting Boise State into the tournament.
  • Jarrell Martin, LSU: The Tigers kept themselves on the right side of the bubble with wins over Auburn and Ole Miss, and Martin starred in both, averaging 21.5 points and 12.0 boards.
  • Trey Lyles, Kentucky: Lyles scored 18 points in back-to-back games, giving Kentucky yet another player that can take over a game.
  • Notables: Obi Emegano (Oral Roberts), Nigel Johnson (Kansas State)

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Baylor Bears

source:
AP Photo

Baylor picked up one of the most impressive wins of the season on Wednesday night, as they went into Hilton Coliseum, one of the toughest road venues in the country, and knocked off Iowa State. They followed that up with an impressive win over a short-handed West Virginia team, putting Scott Drew’s team in a great position to land a top three seed when the brackets are released in two weeks. I still feel like I don’t really have a grasp on this team, but at some point, you have to respect a team that can get to the offensive glass and shoot the three the way that Baylor can.

THEY WERE GOOD, TOO

  • Kansas State: The Wildcats knocked off the two best teams in the Big 12 this week, picking off both Kansas and Iowa State in Manhattan. All of a sudden. Kansas State — despite having a 15-15 record — has a chance to go to the NCAA tournament.
  • BYU: The Cougars did what they needed to do in order to have a chance at earning an at-large bid, by going into Spokane and knocking off Gonzaga. They’re not a lock for the tournament yet, but they’re close.
  • Maryland: The Terps beat Michigan on Saturday, a win that followed up their upset of No. 5 Wisconsin on Tuesday night. Dez Wells and Melo Trimble were fantastic all week long.
  • Villanova: While the rest of the potential No. 1 sees seem to be limping their way into the NCAA tournament, Villanova is playing as well as they have all year long. They beat Providence by 28 points on Tuesday, following that up with a 12 point win at Xavier.
  • Wichita State: The Shockers smacked around Northern Iowa in Koch Arena on Saturday, a win that earned them the Missouri Valley regular season title.
  • Notables: Iowa, Arizona, Boise State

SET YOUR DVR

  • No. 16 Oklahoma at No. 12 Iowa State, Mon. 9:00 p.m.
  • No. 20 West Virginia at No. 8 Kansas, Tue. 9:00 p.m.
  • No. 9 Notre Dame at No. 17 Louisville, Wed. 7:00 p.m.
  • No. 8 Kansas at No. 16 Oklahoma, Sat. 4:00 p.m.
  • No. 2 Virginia at No. 17 Louisville, Sat. 6:30 p.m.
  • No. 4 Duke at No. 15 North Carolina, Sat. 9:00 p.m.

Weekly Awards: Darrun Hilliard stars for Villanova, San Diego State takes control out west

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Darrun Hilliard (AP Photo)

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Darrun Hilliard, Villanova

Villanova had a terrific week, winning a pair of road games against ranked teams. On Tuesday, the Wildcats went into Providence and knocked off the Friars, following that up by knocking off Butler in Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday. Hilliard was the star. In the win over the Friars, Hilliard finished with 16 points and three boards, but it was his performance against Butler that earned him this award. In Hinkle, Hilliard finished with 31 points and eight boards and hit eight threes, which included the game-winning three with just 1.4 seconds left on the clock.

Villanova’s week was huge for them, as it put them in the driver’s seat in the Big East title race. The Wildcats hold a two-game lead over Butler in the league standings and a three game lead over the rest of the field with six games remaining.

THE ALL ‘THEY WERE GOOD, TOO’ TEAM

  • Sir’Dominic Pointer, St. John’s: The Johnnies bounced back from a rough stretch with three straight wins. This week, as St. John’s beat DePaul and Xavier, Pointer averaged 19.5 points, 8.0 boards, 3.5 blocks and 2.5 steals.
  • Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky: Cauley-Stein has been the centerpiece of the Kentucky defense all season long, but this week, in wins over LSU and South Carolina, averaged 14.5 points.
  • Brian Sullivan, Davidson: The Wildcats picked up a pair of big wins this week, remaining a game back of the Atlantic 10 leaders, and Sullivan was the star. He averaged 23.5 points in the two games.
  • Tyus Jones, Duke: Duke won at Florida State and at Syracuse this week, and Jones was the best player for the Blue Devils. He averaged 13.5 points, 9.0 assists and 6.0 boards.
  • Schadrac Casimir, Iona: The Gaels won three games this week and four in an eight-day stretch to take control of the MAAC race. Casimir averaged 22.5 points in those four games, shooting 60.0 percent from the floor and 69.0 percent (20-for-29) from three.
  • Notables: Seth Tuttle (Northern Iowa), Dez Wells (Maryland)
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AP

TEAM OF THE WEEK: San Diego State Aztecs

The Aztecs breezed through the biggest week of their regular season. After knocking off a depleted Wyoming team on Tuesday, Steve Fisher’s club knocked off Colorado State at home in impressive fashion on Saturday night. The Aztecs are now 10-3 in the Mountain, all alone in first place and two games in front of the Rams. The two teams a game behind them are Wyoming, who is still playing without Larry Nance Jr., and Boise State, who still has to play at SDSU. The Aztecs are completely in the driver’s seat in the conference with just five games left in the regular season.

THEY WERE GOOD, TOO

  • Michigan State: The Spartans knocked off Northwestern in Chicago and followed that up by beating Ohio State in East Lansing. Denzel Valentine averaged 17.5 points and hit the game-winner against the Buckeyes.
  • UMass: The Minutemen have won six straight games and are now tied for first place in the Atlantic 10.
  • N.C. State: The Wolfpack picked up a massive win on Saturday, going into Louisville and knocking off the Cardinals in a win they desperately needed on their tournament profile.
  • Arkansas: The Razorbacks have now won seven of their last eight games and moved into sole possession of second place in the SEC with two road wins this week. On Saturday, they got revenge on Ole Miss by beating them in Oxford.
  • UCLA: The Bruins moved into a tie for third-place in the Pac-12 as they swept the Oregon schools at home this week. On Saturday, UCLA knocked off Oregon is a game that had all kinds of bubble implications. The Bruins have come all the way back and are now fully in the bubble conversation.

SET YOUR DVR

  • No. 8 Kansas at No. 21 West Virginia, Mon. 9:00 p.m.
  • Xavier at Cincinnati, Wed. 7:00 p.m.
  • No. 14 Iowa State at No. 21 Oklahoma State, Wed. 9:00 p.m.
  • No. 12 North Carolina at No. 4 Duke, Wed. 9:00 p.m.
  • No. 3 Gonzaga at St. Mary’s, Sat. 10:00 p.m.

Weekly Awards: No. 18 Northern Iowa’s Seth Tuttle shines in win over Wichita State

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Seth Tuttle (AP Photo)

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Seth Tuttle, Northern Iowa

Northern Iowa became the first team in nearly two years to hand Wichita State a loss in Missouri Valley play, beating the Shockers 70-54 on Saturday afternoon in Cedar Falls. Seth Tuttle was the star for Ben Jacobson’s club, finishing with 29 points on 9-for-13 shooting as he continually beat slower Shocker big men off the dribble. Tuttle also scored 13 points in a win at Southern Illinois earlier in the week.

Tuttle is the best player on the Panthers, and if they end up winning the MVC regular season title, he’ll have a very strong argument for being the league’s Player of the Year over the likes of Ron Baker and Fred Van Vleet. The question now is whether or not UNI is the favorite to win the league. Saturday was quite the statement, but UNI has already lost a game in the MVC and still has to go to Wichita this season. Beating Wichita State at home in the biggest game of the year in the league is one thing. Winning on the road with the league title on the line is another.

THE ALL ‘THEY WERE GOOD, TOO’ TEAM

  • Sterling Gibbs, Seton Hall: Seton Hall bounced back from three straight losses to beat Marquette and Xavier this week. Gibbs averaged 23.0 points and 9.0 assists in the two games.
  • Dorian Finney-Smith, Florida: Finney-Smith finished with 16 points, nine boards and four assists as Florida picked up a critical win over Arkansas on Saturday, which followed his game-winning poster in a win at Alabama during the week.
  • Jared Terrell, Rhode Island: The Rams landed two key wins in the Atlantic 10 race this week, and Terrell was the star. He had 18 at Fordham and followed that up with 17 as URI beat George Washington.
  • Ty Greene, USC-Upstate: Greene scored 61 points in a pair of road wins for the Spartans. He had 39 points at North Florida.
  • Ryan Spangler, Oklahoma: The Sooners moved above .500 in the Big 12 with a pair of wins this week, including a road win against Oklahoma State. Spangler had 13 points, nine boards and six assists against the Pokes.
  • Notables: Derrick Marks (Boise State), Montrezl Harrell (Louisville)

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Richmond Spiders

Richmond landed a massive win over the weekend, as they went into the Siegel Center and knocked off their arch rival, VCU, 64-55. Kendall Anthony had 22 points in the win, which followed a 22-point win over Duquesne. The Spiders are not yet in the mix for an at-large berth, but the two wins this week did move them into a tie with four other teams with three losses in A-10 play, just two games behind VCU.

THEY WERE GOOD, TOO

  • Ohio State: The Buckeyes followed up a win over Indiana last weekend by blowing out Maryland at home on Thursday night. Thad Matta’s club looks like they may be the second-best team in the Big Ten right now.
  • UCLA: Is UCLA’s season finally on the right track? The Bruins swept the Mountain schools at home this weekend, blowing out Utah and knocking off Colorado.
  • Purdue: The Boilermakers are now 6-3 in the Big Ten thanks to wins over Indiana and at Northwestern.
  • Texas A&M: The Aggies have now won six straight games in the SEC after beating both Auburn and Vanderbilt this week. A&M is all alone in second place in the conference, two games behind Kentucky.
  • Louisville: The Cardinals won a pair of games this week, knocking off Boston College on the road and following that up with a come-from-behind, overtime win overtime win against North Carolina. The Cards erased an 18-point second half deficit.
  • Notables: SMU, Louisiana Tech

Weekly Awards: Marquette’s new addition, a shakeup in Pac-12’s power structure ?

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Luke Fischer (AP Photo)

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Luke Fischer, Marquette

Marquette may have found their season’s savior. Through the first eight games of the year, the Golden Eagles were 4-4, having lost to Nebraska-Omaha at home, barely hung on to beat NJIT and got pushed around by Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin. That was before Deonte Burton transferred out of the program. It looked pretty safe to say that Steve Wojciechowski’s first season in Milwaukee would be full-on rebuilding mode. It was bad enough that I had started just ignoring Marquette games when they popped up on the channel guide.

And then Luke Fischer got eligible.

The 6-foot-11 transfer from Indiana played his first game of the season against Arizona State last week, and he put on a show, finishing with 19 points, nine boards and five blocks. To follow that up, Fischer posted 22 points against Alabama A&M. In his two games this season, Fischer is shooting 17-for-19 from the floor, which, if you can’t tell, is pretty good. Will this turn the Golden Eagles into an NCAA tournament team? It’s probably too early to tell. But Fischer fills a gaping hope in Wojo’s lineup, which makes Marquette markedly better.

THE ALL-THEY-WERE-GOOD-TOO TEAM

  • Terry Rozier, Louisville: Rozier scored 26 of his game-high 32 points after Montrezl Harrell was ejected on Saturday, ensuring that the Cardinals would not have their unbeaten season ended by Western Kentucky.
  • Troy Williams, Indiana: Williams played his best game as a Hoosier on Saturday, going for 22 points, 11 boards, three assists, two steals and two blocks in a win over Butler.
  • JayVaughn Pinkston, Villanova: Pinkston had 25 points and 10 boards, making a number of huge plays down the stretch as Villanova erased a 14-point second half deficit in an overtime win over Syracuse.
  • Rayvonte Rice, Illinois: Rice made sure Braggin’ Rights remained in Illinois, hitting this game-winning three to beat Missouri. He finished with 19 points.
  • Snoop White, Ole Miss: White scored 16 of his 26 points in the second half as Ole Miss came from 17 down to beat a good Coastal Carolina team. The win keep Ole Miss from playing for an NIT bid in the SEC.
  • Juwan Staten, West Virginia: A preseason all-american, Staten had his best game of the young season on Saturday, going for 24 points (on 10-for-17 shooting), six assists and two steals as WVU beat N.C. State in NYC.
source: Getty Images
Robert Upshaw (Getty Images)

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Washington Huskies

If anyone thought that struggling against Eastern Washington somehow proved that the Huskies weren’t “for real”, they squashed that theory on Saturday when they knocked off Oklahoma in Las Vegas, 69-67. Washington was up by as much as 20 in the first half, surviving late with a couple of critical defensive stops.

I don’t know if I’m ready to say that Washington is the second-best team in the Pac-12, not as long as Utah is still playing like a top 15 team. But the Huskies aren’t all that far behind. It starts with Robert Upshaw, a seven-footer that comes off the bench yet averages 4.5 blocks in less than 20 minutes per game. He changes to tone of what Washington can do on the defensive side of the ball. Throw in Nigel Williams-Goss, one of the nation’s most underrated point guard, and Andrew Andrews, and you have what may be Lorenzo Romar’s best team since the 2009 that featured Isaiah Thomas, Quincy Pondexter and Jon Brockman.

THEY WERE GOOD, TOO

  • Virginia: The Cavs took care of a pretty good Cleveland State team during the week before absolutely embarrassing Harvard on Sunday, beating them 76-27 and setting an NCAA record by allowing just one field goal in the first half.
  • Kentucky: The Wildcats had a better first half against UCLA than Virginia did against Harvard, jumping out to a 24-0 lead and heading into the break up 41-7 en route to an 83-44 win.
  • North Carolina: Marcus Paige still hasn’t busted out of his funk, but Brice Johnson and Kennedy Meeks are playing well, and Joel Berry is getting better, too. The Tar Heels won at UNC-Greensboro and knocked off Ohio State this week.
  • SMU: The Mustangs got two huge results this week: they won at Michigan, and they got Markus Kennedy back from his suspension.
  • Notre Dame: The Irish made a statement on Saturday. They beat Purdue 94-63, and they did it despite the fact that Jerian Grant was 3-for-13 from the floor.

SET YOUR DVR

  • No. 5 Wisconsin at Cal, Mon. 9:00 p.m.
  • Stanford at No. 9 Texas, Tue. 7:00 p.m.
  • Georgetown vs. Indiana, Sat. 12:00 p.m. (NYC)
  • No. 1 Kentucky at No. 4 Louisville, Sat. 2:00 p.m.
  • No. 8 Gonzaga at BYU, Sat. 6:00 p.m.

Weekly Awards: Kyle Wiltjer’s continued growth, and Kansas wins again

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Kyle Wiltjer (Getty Images)

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Kyle Wiltjer, Gonzaga

Gonzaga is in the Pac-12 portion of their schedule, as they knocked off Washington State and UCLA this past week after losing to Arizona in overtime last week. Wiltjer was Gonzaga’s leading scorer for the week, averaging 22.5 points and 5.0 boards while shooting 66.7 percent from the floor and 5-for-7 from three in the two wins.

Wiltjer has just about made the transition into Gonzaga’s go-to guy this season. Kevin Pangos is the engine that makes this team run, but it’s Wiltjer’s ability to shoot and score from the perimeter that has made them so tough to guard. If you put a smaller player on him, Wiltjer can go into the post and make you pay. If you use a bigger player on him, Gonzaga can put him in pick-and-roll actions with Kevin Pangos, which have proven to be lethal. If you decide to go zone, Wiltjer helps spread the floor for Domantas Sabonis and Przemek Karnowski in the paint, working in high-low passes.

Wiltjer is a much different player than Kelly Olynyk, but the impact the former Kentucky Wildcat is having on this team is the same.

THE ALL-THEY-WERE-GOOD, TOO TEAM

  • Ron Baker, Wichita State: In wins over Seton Hall and at Detroit, Baker averaged 20.5 points, 5.0 boards and 3.5 assists.
  • TaShawn Thomas, Oklahoma: Thomas played his best game as a Sooner on Saturday. He finished with 25 points on 9-for-12 shooting and added three blocks in a win over Tulsa, finally showing why everyone considered his waiver to be immediately eligible a season-changer.
  • Ty Wallace, Cal: Cal won a pair of close games this week, thanks in large part to Wallace, who finished with 40 points, 16 boards, eight assists and five steals in two games.
  • T.J. Price, Western Kentucky: The Hilltoppers went into Oxford and knocked off Ole Miss on Saturday, and Price led the way with 26 points, 10 boards and five assists.
  • Amida Brimah, UConn: UConn played just one game this week, and it was Brimah that was the star. The 7-foot Ghanaian finished with 40 points on 13-for-13 shooting from the floor and 14-for-16 shooting from the line in a win over Coppin State. He had 56 points on the season coming in.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Kansas Jayhawks

source:
Bill Self (AP Photo)

I wrote extensively on Kansas last week after seeing them go into the Verizon Center and knock off a good Georgetown team. You can read that here. If you don’t want to click, my point is essentially this: Kansas is nowhere near complete right now, yet they have already beating Utah, Michigan State, Florida and Tennessee and won at Georgetown. So what happens when they get to full strength?

Kelly Oubre is coming along nicely, as he’s starting to figure things out defensively and getting more aggressive — and a longer leash — offensively. Cliff Alexander is not going to be more than a effort guy that rebounds and dunks and defends this season, but he’s getting closer to being someone that can have a major impact in games. Wayne Selden and Frank Mason are getting more consistent.

It all seemed to be trending in the right direction … until Devonte’ Graham’s toe injury was announced. There’s speculation that he could miss the rest of the season, which would be a major, major blow. We know Kansas has point guard issues. They have for a long time now. And with Conner Frankamp transferring to Wichita State, Mason is now the only point guard on the team.

THEY WERE GOOD, TOO

  • Colorado State Rams: The Rams won a pair of games this week, but the notable one came on Wednesday when they went into Boulder and knocked off Colorado. CSU is still undefeated this season.
  • Iowa State Cyclones: Three games this week, three wins. UMKC and Southern are whatever, but the Cyclones also went into Carver-Hawkeye Arena and blew out Iowa on Friday night.
  • Saint Mary’s Gaels: The Gaels picked up a huge win on Saturday afternoon, going into Omaha and knocking off Creighton in overtime despite the fact that star big man Brad Waldow struggled and Kerry Carter fouling out in overtime.
  • Incarnate Word Cardinals: The Cardinals lost their first game of the season this week. They also went into Nebraska and knocked off the Cornhuskers. Ken Burmeister has himself a pretty good ball club.
  • Wofford Terriers: The Terriers are now 8-2 on the season after going into Raleigh and beating N.C. State. They got a bit lucky, but they also got the win, so who cares?

GAMES TO WATCH THIS WEEK:

  • UConn vs. No. 2 Duke, Thu. 8:00 p.m.
  • No. 3 Arizona at UTEP, Fri. 11:00 p.m.
  • Syracuse at No. 7 Villanova, Sat. 1:00 p.m.
  • No. 21 North Carolina vs. No. 12 Ohio State, Sat. 1:00 p.m.
  • No. 15 Butler vs. Indiana, Sat. 2:30 p.m.
  • UCLA vs. No. 1 Kentucky, Sat. 3:30 p.m.
  • No. 16 Oklahoma at No. 17 Washington, Sat. 9:00 p.m.
  • Harvard at No. 6 Virginia, Sun. 12:00 p.m.