12/20 – College Hoops Week in Review: Upsets galore

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Game of the Week: Texas 78, UNC 76

We’ll get to Josh Selby and the exciting finish to the Kansas-USC game in a bit. And as terrific as that game was, the Longhorn’s win over UNC had an even better finish. Texas used an 18-8 surge in the first half to open up a 28-18 lead over the Heels, punishing them inside despite the fact that Tristan Thompson was out with two fouls. But the Heels didn’t fold, attacking the Longhorns off the bounce and using a 15-4 run over the final 7:30 of the half to take a 33-32 lead at the break.

In the second half, both teams came out on fire, but UNC, led by a career-high 18 points from Dexter Strickland, finally found their transition game. On three different occasions, Strickland was able go coast to coast for a layup — two of which came off of made baskets — and UNC was able to hold a two possession lead for much of the second half, pushing it to seven three times.

But, as UNC’s offense is wont to do, the Heels offense got bogged down for a string of three or four possessions late in the second half, and three straight Texas baskets gave the Horns a 70-69 lead with less than three minutes left. The teams would trade baskets before Thompson — who was an animal inside over the last four minutes of the game — got his second dunk in heavy traffic with 45 seconds left for a 74-73 lead. After two free throws from J’Covan Brown, UNC had the ball with 24 second left and down three points. Roy Williams called a time out, drew up a play for Harrison Barnes, and the freshman came off of a screen and drilled a three with 11.7 seconds left to tie the game. It set up this:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUt0eyN128I?fs]

With the loss, UNC drops to 7-4 on the season, although the team that took the floor Saturday afternoon looked much improved over the UNC we have seen earlier this season. The win for Texas was important for two reasons. First of all, the Longhorns are entering the most difficult part of their schedule. Their next two games are at Michigan State and at home against UConn before they start Big XII play. But, more importantly, it was a breakout game for freshman point guard Cory Joseph. Joseph had 21 points, and in contrast to the potential game-winner he threw over the back board against Pitt in MSG a month ago, the freshman buried UNC with a tough, turnaround against very good defense. When Joseph, Jordan Hamilton, Tristan Thompson, and J’Covan Brown are all clicking, Texas has a team with a lot of offensive weapons.

This needs mentioning: St. Bonaventure 112, Ohio 107 4OT

Ohio fought back from 10 down with 9:42 left in regulation to force the first overtime on a three from DJ Cooper with 22 seconds left. In the first overtime, the lead changed hands four times before Cooper once again tied the game on a driving layup with 17 seconds on the clock before the Bonnies missed two free throws. The second overtime saw Ohio grab a three point lead, but Michael Davenport once again tied the game with a three pointer. Only four points were scored in the third overtime before St. Bonaventure opened up a five point lead in the fourth OT, making 7-8 free throws (after going 6-18 from the charity stripe in the first three overtimes) to hold on to the win.

The box score read something like a game of NBA 2K11. Cooper had 43 points, 13 assists, 8 steals, and 8 rebounds while shooting 17-41 from the floor. Andrew Nicholson of St. Bonaventure had 44 points, 12 boards, and 5 assists. Five other players reached double figures. Ohio took 101 shots, 40 from three. St. Bonaventure shot 56.7% from the floor. Five players fouled out. Six played more than 50 minutes. Four of them were on St. Bonaventure, with Nicholson logging all 60 minutes of game time. But, perhaps the most incredible stat, the Bonnies only got six points from their bench in 60 minutes of basketball.

Player of the Week: Josh Selby, Kansas

I’m not giving this to him just because he had an impressive performance against USC. Sure, he had 21 points and hit two clutch threes — including the game-winner with 24 seconds left on the clock — as the Jayhawks knocked off a scrappy USC team. But if we were rating a player based on their performance alone, Selby probably did not live up to his potential on this night. He was hot from three, there is no question, but Selby’s not going to be going 5-8 from three every night. In fact, for a kid known for his slashing ability, Selby did strikingly little inside the arc. Fifteen of this 21 points came on threes, and he hit all three free throws when he was fouled shooting a three. He scored three points and took only three shots doing something other than spotting up while turning the ball over four times. Granted, that was a result of Selby being a good teammate and playing within the Kansas offense, but my point is that the Selby that is playing in the NCAA Tournament will be a different player than the one we saw on Saturday.

No, I’m giving Selby the player of the week in large part because its so damn hard not to feel great for this kid after the performance he had. Kansas was undefeated, but they weren’t undefeated in impressive fashion, struggling to beat mediocre teams like Arizona and Memphis. The Jayhawk faithful, after seeing guys like Brandon Knight and Kyrie Irving play great basketball, had sky-high, almost unfair, expectations for the freshman. And, after sitting out nine games, Selby was debuting in a noon tip on a Saturday two hours before the college football bowl games were to start. There were a lot of eyes on this kid.

And not everyone was rooting for him to win. According to the NCAA, Selby is a cheater. He accepted $6,000 worth of illegal benefits and had a personnel relationship with Carmelo Anthony’s business manager that the NCAA determined bordered too closely on professional.

Me? I wanted to see this happen. I wanted Selby to succeed. Here’s a kid who grew up without the luxuries that many of us grow up with. He spent some time homeless as a kid when his single-mother lost her job. He lived in an area of Baltimore where violence was common. He saw his best-friend get pistol-whipped and had a cousin murdered when he was 15. I fail to see the sense in rooting against a kid that accepted what every recruit accepts and received advisement from a family friend that was illegal because of the job that friend holds.

I may in the minority here, but I want to see Selby succeed. And Hollywood couldn’t have scripted a better debut.

The All-they-were-good-too team

  • G: Marcus Jordan, Central Florida: Jordan scored 23 points on Saturday in a win over Miami. The win may have been costly, however, as Jordan looked like he injured his ankle at the end of the game.
  • G: Jon Diebler, Ohio State: Diebler put on one of the most impressive shooting performances of the season, knocking down nine straight threes en route to 29 points in a win over Florida Gulf Coast.
  • F: Khris Middleton, Texas A&M: Middleton scored a career high 31 points as the Aggies came from behind to knock off Arkansas on Saturday.
  • F: Kris Joseph, Syracuse: Joseph had 21 points, 7 boards, and 4 assists to lead the Orange as they held off a scrappy Iona team.
  • C: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State: The Buckeyes big man has to be considered the favorite to win the Big Ten player of the year award. He had 30 points and 19 rebounds on Saturday as OSU knocked off South Carolina 79-57.

Co-Teams of the Week: Florida Gators, UCLA Bruins, Gonzaga Bulldogs

We’ll get into it more in a bit, but this week was the week of the upset as seven ranked teams were knocked off by unranked opponents. Florida, UCLA, and Gonzaga were three of the unranked teams to do the knocking off, and while it is still too early in the season to say that anyone needs to “desperately” win a game, it is safe to say that the Gators, the Bruins, and the Zags all really, really, really needed their wins.

  • Florida put together one of the most impressive defensive performances of the season in their 57-44 win over Kansas State. The Gators didn’t score for the first seven minutes of the game and, with nine minutes left in the half, they found themselves down 20-8. From that point on, K-State managed to score just 24 points, and that included a stretch when the Wildcats missed 23 of 24 field goals, 17 of those misses coming in a row. Perhaps more important, however, was that Kenny Boynton hit three straight threes at the end of the game to put it out of reach. Boynton had been ice cold for about four straight games. The top four in the SEC East are clearly defined, but their order will change on a daily basis.
  • Talking about a tournament resume for UCLA at this point is a bit silly. Barring a miraculous turnaround, this team is not making the NCAA Tournament. That said, if they are going to make that turnaround, the Bruins, more than anything, seemed like they needed a boost of confidence. After beating BYU 86-79 in Southern California, the Bruins got it. I’ve said all along, there is talent on this UCLA roster, the issue is figuring out how to use that talent and being able to defend. Their defense was still relatively subpar on Saturday, but Reeves Nelson and Josh Smith dominated the Cougars in the paint offensively, and with Tyler Honeycutt and Zeke Jones hitting jumpers, UCLA was clicking. Can this win be a jumping off point for the Bruins?
  • Gonzaga does not have a bad loss of their resume, but regardless of the stretch of your schedule, there’s a point where you need to win something. Otherwise, teams like Oakland and Arkansas-Pine Bluff would be getting at-large bids every year. Gonzaga did just that on Saturday, knocking off Baylor 68-64. More impressive, however, was that the Zags did it with Steven Gray missing the entire second half with back spasms and Elias Harris in foul trouble throughout. He fouled out with more than six minutes left and the game tied. On Saturday, it was Robert Sacre (17 points), Marquise Carter (13 points and two big threes), Kelly Olynyk (the go-ahed three with a minute left), and Sam Dower that made the difference. Gonzaga still has Xavier, Oklahoma State, and Memphis in the non-conference. This team can still earn an at-large bid.

The Week of the Upset: As I mentioned before, seven ranked teams lost to unranked opponents last week. Considering the limited number of games that took place this week, the percentage of ranked teams that lost to their unranked opponents was incredibly high:

  • Tennessee: The Volunteers, coming off of a huge win over Pitt in Pitt, proceeded to blow a 13 point lead and lose to Oakland 89-82 before struggling to find any semblence of an offense in a 49-48 loss at Charlotte. With Bruce Pearl’s looming suspension, now is not a good time for Tennessee to be lacking leadership and an identity.
  • Louisville: The Cardinals dropped a 52-46 decision to a Drexel team that absolutely dominated them inside. If you can force Louisville to play a half court game, they simply don’t have the talent or size on the interior to score or rebound.
  • UNLV: The Rebels lost 68-62 to UC Santa Barbara in a game that the Gauchos ran a zone the majority of the time. UNLV shot 29% on the game and just 6-29 from three. That will do it.
  • BYU: The Bruins lost to UCLA 86-79 in LA. Am I the only one that think Jimmer Fredette is a bit overrated? I know the kid can blow up for 40 on any given night, but he plays no defense and turns the ball over too much. I’m not saying he isn’t an all-american, but putting him in the conversation with guys like Kemba Walker, Jared Sullinger, or (healthy) Kyrie Irving is a stretch to me.
  • Kansas State: So when is it time to panic for Kansas State fans? Scoring is a serious issue for this team, as is point guard play and low post play. In fact, about the only thing that this team is going well right now is rebounding and defending.
  • Baylor: After losing to Gonzaga, the Bears still haven’t won a game outside of Waco. This is also the first game that Baylor has played outside of Waco, and it was still in the state of Texas. I like this team, but there are still questions to be answered.
  • Illinois: The Illini dropped a 57-54 decision to Illinois-Chicago — a 4-7 team in the Horizon League — on Saturday afternoon. Apparently, Illinois is just as inconsistent as they were last season. The Illini better be careful, as this kind of performance against Missouri on Tuesday will result in an embarrassing loss. Isn’t it ironic, however, that the kid that was the hero for UIC on Saturday was named Darrin Williams?

Matchups of the Week:

  • 12/21 – 7:00 pm: USC @ Tennessee
  • 12/21 – 9:00 pm: UNLV vs. Kansas State
  • 12/22 – 3:00 pm: Washington State vs. Mississippi State
  • 12/22 – 7:00 pm: Dayton @ Seton Hall
  • 12/22 – 7:00 pm: Texas @ Michigan State
  • 12/22 – 9:00 pm: Missouri vs. Illinois
  • 12/22 – 11:00 pm: Kansas @ Cal
  • 12/22 – 11:00 pm: Xavier @ Gonzaga
  • 12/23 – 8:00 pm: Georgetown @ Memphis

Three Things To Know: Memphis embarrassed; Luka Garza shows out again

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The story of the night in hoops was Zion Williamson’s return to the basketball court.

But there was plenty of action in the college ranks that is worthy of talking about.

Here are the three things that you need to know:

1. No. 20 MEMPHIS LOST BY 40 TO TULSA

That is not a typo.

The 20th-ranked team in the country went into Tulsa, Okla., and lost to the Golden Hurricane, 80-40. Tulsa was up 40-17 at halftime. This was a butt-whooping that was so bad that all Tulsa needed to do was score a single point in the second half and they would have been able to get the win.

Memphis shot 28 percent from the floor. They were 2-for-21 from three. They finished the night with more turnovers (20) and fouls (22) than field goals (16). This was the worst loss that a top 25 team has suffered against a ranked team in 27 years, since UConn beat then-No. 12 Virginia by 41 points.

For Tulsa, this is a massive, massive win. They are currently sitting all alone in first place in the American standings, a half-game up on Houston.

So good for Frank Haith.

But the story here is Memphis, because the Tigers, considered title contenders before the season began, look anything-but right now.

“We let our defense dictate our offense,” head coach Penny Hardaway told reporters after the game. “We didn’t play any defense today. I think today was the first day we’ve done that ll year. I don’t know if guys overlooked Tulsa because of the name. We did our due diligence as a coaching staff to let them know what was going to happen with the matchup zone and how hard they play.

“It’s pretty embarrassing.”

2. LUKA GARZA WENT NUTS AGAIN

If it seems like Garza is putting up monster numbers every games, it’s because he is.

On Wednesday night, the Hawkeyes welcomed newly-ranked Rutgers to campus and sent them home with an entertaining, hard-fought, 85-80 win. And Garza was the star of the show. He finished with 28 points, 13 boards, four blocks and two steals in the win, anchoring the paint as Iowa out-scored Rutgers 47-37 in the second half.

The big fella is now averaging 23 points and 10.5 boards.

Iowa has now won four straight games to move into a tie for third in the Big Ten standings — with Rutgers, among others — and they have won eight straight games in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. They are a third of the way through a three-game homestand as well.

3. VIRGINIA TECH TAKES DOWN NORTH CAROLINA

Virginia Tech kept up their push to finish as the fourth-best team in the ACC with a 79-77 double-overtime win over North Carolina.

The Hokies are now 14-5 overall and 5-3 in the ACC, but the more interesting story might actually be the Tar Heels.

They are 8-10 on the season and 1-6 in the ACC. They have been a disaster for the last month, but there may be some reinforcements on the way in the shape of Cole Anthony. If he returns and the Tar Heels, who are 2-7 in his absence but have wins over Alabama and Oregon with him, get things back on the right track, they are likely going to find themselves in an incredibly awkward situation on Selection Sunday.

Big 12 hands down Kansas-Kansas State fight suspensions

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The Big 12 handed down suspensions to four Kansas and Kansas State players for their role in the fight that occurred in Phog Allen Fieldhouse on Tuesday night.

Silvio De Sousa, who tried to fight three different Kansas State players and picked up a stool during the melee, received a 12 game suspension from the conference. David McCormack, who went into the stands to confront James Love III, received a two game suspension. Love was given eight games for part in the fight, while Antonio Gordon, the freshman that turned a messy situation into a fight, was hit with a three game suspension.

“This kind of behavior cannot be tolerated and these suspensions reflect the severity of last evening’s events,” said Commissioner Bob Bowlsby.  “I am appreciative of the cooperation of both institutions in resolving this matter.”

In the final seconds on Tuesday night, after DaJuan Gordon stole the ball from him at halfcourt, De Sousa blocked Gordon’s shot and towered over him. That sparked an incident that turned into a full-fledged brawl, as De Sousa threw punches at three different players on Kansas State before picking up a stool as the fight spilled into the handicapped section of Kansas seating.

Self called the fight “an embarrassment” after the game, adding on Wednesday that “we are disappointed in [De Sousa’s] actions and there is no place in the game for that behavior.”

McCormack will be eligible to return for Kansas on Feb. 1st when they play Texas Tech at home. De Sousa will be available to play in the final game of the regular season at Texas Tech. Gordon can return on Feb. 3rd, when the Wildcats host Baylor, while Love will be out until late February. But he has played just one game and two minutes on the season, so there is no clear indication of when he will actually put on a Kansas State jersey again.

The four most important questions after Kansas-Kansas State fight

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Very other sport can treat brawls like comedy, and I think it’s about time that we did the same for basketball.

So let’s take a look at the four funniest moments from last night’s Kansas-Kansas State fight. Shouts to Jomboy:

1. IS THE KANSAS MASCOT OK?

Throughout the entire fight, the mascot is just in utter disbelief. He cannot believe what he just saw, and he certainly cannot be consoled:

2. CAN JEREMY CASE START AT LINEBACKER FOR KU’S FOOTBALL TEAM?

Case is the video coordinator for Kansas. He’s also a former Kansas point guard. He knows what this rivalry is all about, and he also is not going to be afraid to get in the middle of it.

Case starts out on the wrong side of the melee:

But when he sees De Sousa and Love squaring up and throwing punches, he intervenes by throwing himself into a player six inches taller than him:

3. WHAT HAPPENED TO JAMES LOVE III’S SHOE?

James Love the third has played in exactly one game this season. He has spent more time on the court fighting that he has actually playing, but he still found a way to get into the middle of this fight and, in the process, lost his shoe:

He’s not dressed for the game.

Did he bring an extra pair of shoes? Did he have to head back onto the bus without a shoe on this right foot? So many questions, so few answers.

4. WHO IS THE MAN IN THE ORANGE HAT?

He’s some kind of photographer.

He got his shot, that’s for sure:

Kansas-Kansas State fight: Nuance, context the key in Silvio De Sousa discussion

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So I wanted to elaborate on a point that I made on twitter this morning because 280 characters just is not enough to be able to parse through the nuance of this situation.

If you missed it, the thread is here.

First and foremost, everyone involved in this needs to be punished. Silvio De Sousa needs to be suspended. Antonio Gordon needs to be suspended. James Love III needs to be suspended. David McCormack, and potentially Marcus Garrett, probably need to be suspended, although I’m not sure either of them actually through a punch. Point being, anyone else that threw a punch needs to be suspended.

Full stop.

I am not saying otherwise.

But I think that it is important to add some context to the conversation, and I also think that it is important to say this: This doesn’t make any of the young men involved in this fight bad people. Silvio De Sousa is not inherently a bad person because he picked up a stool, and the faux-trage of people calling for him to get booted out of school, arrested or even deported are, at best, completely over-reacting and, at worst, showing off a bit of their racial bias.

Before I get into this, one more thing: I am not condoning any of it. Fights like this should not happen.

But the reality of hyper-competitive athletics is that in emotionally charged situations, fights are going to happen. And if you’ve ever been in a fight like this, you know that things happen incredibly quickly. You’re not thinking, you’re reacting. You can’t call a 20 second time out to come up with a way to defend yourself when someone is throwing haymakers, you just do what you can in the moment.

So let’s talk about the moment, shall we?

De Sousa is the guy that set this entire thing in motion with the way that he reacted to DaJuan Gordon’s steal and layup attempt. The reason the Kansas State bench rushes over to the scene is because De Sousa is towering over one of their freshman teammates, and the reason the Kansas sideline runs over is because the Kansas State sideline does. What turned this incident into a full-fledged brawl was Antonio Gordon flying in and shoving De Sousa over the back of the basket stanchion. De Sousa reacts by throwing punches at two different Kansas State players when a third player — James Love III, in the black polo — comes flying in and squares up with him. They both throw a few punches at each other, knocking De Sousa back over the stanchion again as Kansas staffer Jeremy Case comes flying in to break them up.

Put yourself in De Sousa’s shoes here. In the span of 10 seconds, he’s fought three different Kansas State players, sees nothing but purple in front of him and just got knocked to the ground. Is he getting jumped? Does he have to fight them 1-on-3? That’s when he grabs the stool, to defend himself, and when he sees that no one is coming after him anymore, he drops it:

Context.

He should be suspended for 8-10 games.

He set this entire thing in motion.

But maybe, just maybe, tone down the rhetoric.

Women’s Wednesday: A new column dedicated to the women of college basketball

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Welcome to CBT’s first ever weekly women’s basketball column. I’m here to help provide you with some insight into the world of women’s college hoops.

Women’s sports are reaching new heights, especially in basketball. The WNBA announced a new collective bargaining agreement starting in the 2020 season that includes a 53 percent raise, maternity benefits, a base salary and performance-based bonuses. This year’s NCAA women’s basketball tournament will be broadcasted in its entirety on ESPN, with the semifinals and championship game premiering in primetime.

Female athletes are beginning to garner the attention they deserve. Sabrina Ionescu is drawing national attention for a historic senior season, as she has 22 career triple-doubles and became Oregon’s all-time leading basketball scorer in her career-high 37-point performance against Stanford last week. In the WNBA, women such as Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, and more are shattering gender stereotypes and proving that women can play basketball at a high level, just as men can.

While women’s sports have made a push into the public eye, there is still quite a way to go. It’s important to place an emphasis on the women who excel in their sport and give them the spotlight they deserve. Too many times women are only given credit through a masculine lens, whether that’s only getting attention after receiving praise from men, being compared to a male counterpart, or being a footnote in a male athlete’s story. Female athletes deserve to be their own story.

That’s what I’m hoping to do with this column over the rest of the season — give women a place to shine. I’d like to use this space to highlight some of the amazing women that play in the NCAA and hear from them about their experiences, the records they’re setting and their basketball journey. While I won’t even begin to make a dent in the breadth of talent available in women’s college basketball, I hope to use this column each week to take a deeper dive into some incredible women, as well as give you an idea of what’s happening around the country that week.

WEDNESDAY’S NEWS AND NOTES

South Carolina sits atop the world of college hoops, earning 22 first-place votes from the AP panel to nab the No. 1 spot. The Gamecocks have an 18-1 record with wins over ranked opponents such as Maryland, Baylor, Kentucky and most recently Mississippi State.

Baylor — the reigning national champs —- sits in the No. 2 spot in the rankings after dethroning UConn and ending its dominant 98-game winning streak at home. The Lady Bears received six of the first-place votes from the AP committee.

The rest of the top five is filled out by UConn at No. 3, Oregon at No. 4 after beating then-No. 3 Stanford, and Louisville rounds it out at fifth, receiving the last two first-place votes.

In a monster performance against Stanford, Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu had a career-high 37 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. She has four triple-doubles on the season and has a chance to become the NCAA’s first player to eclipse 2,000 career points, 1,000 career rebounds and 1,000 career assists. As of Jan. 18, she has 2,265 points, 904 rebounds and 928 assists.

DePaul remains unbeaten in the Big East, with Chante Stonewall leading the team with 17.9 ppg while Kelly Campbell has 102 assists on the season, ranking No. 8 in the country.

Baylor’s 40-point victory over then-No. 17 West Virginia is their 45th consecutive Big 12 win.

Mississippi State’s JaMya Mingo-Young and Aliyah Matharu combined for 24 points and four steals off the bench in a close 79-81 loss to South Carolina on Monday.

Star freshman and No. 1 recruit Haley Jones suffered an apparent right knee injury and left Stanford’s Sunday win over Oregon State. She is scheduled to have an MRI but the team has given no further updates.

North Carolina State’s Elissa Cunane has 20+ points in four of her last six games and 10 double-doubles on the season, helping the Wolfpack to a dominant win over Florida State last week.

UCLA became the last undefeated team to fall with a double overtime loss to USC — who hadn’t yet won a Pac-12 matchup —  on Friday.

Northwestern made its debut this season in the Top-25, coming in at No. 22 — its first ranking since the 2015-2016 season.

No. 3 Oregon faces rival No. 7 Oregon State on Friday in a crucial Pac-12 matchup.

Stanford freshman Fran Belini threw down a one-handed dunk in pregame warmup before facing Oregon that you HAVE to see: