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


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:


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

Report: Notre Dame closing deal with Penn State’s Micah Shrewsberry

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame is finalizing a deal to make Penn State’s Micah Shrewsberry its new men’s basketball coach, two people with direct knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press.

The people spoke on condition of anonymity because contract details were still being completed and needed school approval.

Shrewsberry, in his second season at Penn State (23-14), led the Nittany Lions to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011 and a tournament victory for the first time since 2001.

The Nittany Lions beat Texas A&M and were eliminated by Texas in the second round.

Notre Dame has been searching for a replacement for Mike Brey, who spent the last 23 season as coach of the Fighting Irish. He announced in January that this would be his last season with Notre Dame

The Irish finished 11-21.

Shrewsberry grew up in Indianapolis and went to school at Division III Hanover College in Indiana.

He was the head coach at Indiana University South Bend, an NAIA school located in the same city as Notre Dame, from 2005-07.

He later worked as an assistant coach at Butler and Purdue, with a stint as an assistant with the Boston Celtics in between.

ESPN first reported Notre Dame was close to a deal with Shrewsberry.

Armando Bacot says he’s returning for fifth season at North Carolina

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – North Carolina forward Armando Bacot is returning to play a fifth season for the Tar Heels.

Bacot announced his decision Wednesday, giving North Carolina fans a bit of good news after the Tar Heels failed to reach the NCAA Tournament.

The 6-foot-11 Bacot is North Carolina’s career leader in rebounds, double-doubles and double-figure rebounding games.

Bacot led North Carolina to a runner-up finish in last year’s NCAA Tournament, and his decision to return was a major reason the Tar Heels were ranked No. 1 in the preseason Associated Press Top 25.

The Tar Heels didn’t come close to meeting those expectations. They went 20-13 and opted against playing in the NIT. Bacot earned Associated Press All-America third-team honors and averaged 15.9 points and 10.4 rebounds.

He averaged 16.3 points and 13.1 rebounds in 2021-22. He capped that season by becoming the first player ever to have six double-doubles in one NCAA Tournament.

Bacot participated in North Carolina’s Senior Night festivities this year. He has a fifth year of eligibility because of the waiver the NCAA granted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ed Cooley takes over at Georgetown with lofty aspirations

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

WASHINGTON – Ed Cooley’s task at Georgetown is to bring a once-storied program back to prominence in a competitive conference that has three teams still part of March Madness in the Sweet 16.

Cooley’s lofty aspirations go beyond lifting the Hoyas up from the bottom of the Big East Conference. After leaving Providence, which he took to the NCAA Tournament seven times in 12 years, he already is talking about trying to coach Georgetown to its first championship since 1984.

At his introductory news conference Wednesday that felt like a pep rally, Cooley said he wanted current and former players to envision cutting down nets and watching “One Shining Moment” with the nets hanging around their necks. He promised wins – many of them – and plotted a path forward that he knows will involve some tough times.

“It’s a process, and the process now, because you have a changing landscape in athletics, you’ll have an opportunity to probably move it quicker than you would have 10, 20 years ago,” Cooley said. “We’re going to lose some games. It’s OK. Losing’s part of growth. But over the course of time, it will pay off.”

Georgetown has lost a lot the past couple of years under Patrick Ewing, who was fired earlier this month after six seasons. The team went 7-25 this season after going 6-25 last season and lost 37 of 39 games in Big East play.

While Cooley at Providence was responsible for four of those defeats, the 53-year-old distanced himself from Georgetown’s recent run of losing.

“I don’t have anything to do what happened yesterday,” he said. “My job is to move us forward from today.”

Cooley’s mere presence is an acknowledgement that Georgetown needed a major change to become relevant again. After late Hall of Fame coach John Thompson’s 27-year-old run led to longtime assistant Craig Esherick succeeding him and then son John Thompson III and Ewing getting the head job, Cooley is the school’s first outsider in the position in a half-century.

His only connection to the Hilltop – beyond coaching in the Big East – is his daughter, Olivia, attending Georgetown. Cooley, a Providence native, said her desire to live in the Washington area played into his decision to leave for a conference rival.

It was certainly no accident that athletic director Lee Reed and school president John J. DeGioia used phrases like “new era” and “new chapter” when discussing Cooley. DeGioia said he believes Cooley will “uplift and restore this team” to compete at the highest levels of the sport.

“He has a proven record of success,” Reed said. “We knew we needed a leader, someone who understood our identity and could reimagine Georgetown basketball to fit today’s unique basketball landscape.”

That landscape, including players being able to profit off the use of their name, image and likeness (NIL) and more easily transfer schools, are the biggest changes Cooley has seen since landing his first head job at Fairfield in 2006. He expects to be aggressive, and given the high volume of Georgetown players coming and going via the transfer portal, could rebuild the roster in his image sooner rather than later.

“You have to find student-athletes that fit the way you want to play, your style of play, that fit you as a coach,” Cooley said. “We need to find players that can play for me that can attend Georgetown, not the other way around.”

Cooley acknowledged that some luck is needed but also stressed recruiting local talent to keep the best players in the region around. That’s just one building block to putting Georgetown back on the map, which Cooley wants the time and latitude to do.

“The word patience is always hard because everybody wants it and they want it right now,” he said. “Everybody wants it right now. Have a little bit of patience.”

Texas’ Arterio Morris plays amid misdemeanor domestic violence case

Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports

AUSTIN, Texas — In a season when Texas fired coach Chris Beard after a felony domestic violence arrest, it has allowed a reserve guard to keep playing while he awaits trial on a misdemeanor charge of assaulting an ex-girlfriend.

Second-seed Texas has advanced under interim coach Rodney Terry to the program’s first Sweet 16 since 2008, and the Longhorns play No. 3 Xavier in Kansas City, Missouri.

Arterio Morris, a freshman who was one of the top recruits in the country last year, was initially scheduled to stand trial March 29, three days before Final Four weekend. Denton County prosecutors were granted a delay to an unspecified date.

Beard was fired Jan. 5, about three weeks after he was arrested on suspicion of a felony charge of choking his fiancée in a fight during which she also told police he bit, and hit her. She later recanted the choking allegation and the Travis County district attorney dismissed the case, saying prosecutors were following her wishes not to got to trial and that the charge could not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

Morris is charged with Class A misdemeanor assault causing bodily injury to a family member, which in Texas includes dating relationships. It stems from a June 2022 confrontation in the Dallas suburb of Frisco. The charge carries penalties ranging from probation and fines to up to a year in jail if convicted.

Morris’ attorney, Justin Moore, said the charges against Beard and the player are different.

“(Beard) was charged with a felony family assault,” Moore said. “That was far more serious as to what Arterio was alleged to have to committed. We maintain Arterio’s innocence.”

According to police, the ex-girlfriend said Morris grabbed her arm and pulled her off a bed, and later pulled the front of her sports bra, causing an injury to her neck and shoulder area. Police reported seeing a sizable bruise or scratch.

Texas officials declined comment. Beard said before the season that school officials he would not identify determined the freshman could play this season.

Moore defended Texas officials’ decision to not suspend Morris.

“I do believe Texas has taken this seriously. They’ve also allowed Arterio to enjoy his due process rights,” Moore said.

Morris has played in all 36 games this season, although his minutes and have been limited on a senior-dominated team. He averages nearly 12 minutes and 4.7 points per game. His biggest moment was a soaring alley-oop dunk against Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament championship game.

Attempts to reach Morris’ ex-girlfriend through family members were not successful. According to online records, prosecutors sought the trial delay to “procure witness availability.” Prosecutor Jamie Beck did not immediately return messages.

Wichita State hires ORU’s Paul Mills to lead program

Russell Lansford-USA TODAY Sports

Wichita State hired Paul Mills away from Oral Roberts to turn around its languishing men’s basketball program, landing what has been one of the hottest names among mid-major coaches.

The 50-year-old Mills led the the Golden Eagles to two of the past three NCAA Tournaments, engineering upsets of Ohio State and Florida as a No. 15 seed in 2021 before going 30-5 this past season and losing to Duke as a No. 5 seed.

He replaces Isaac Brown, who was fired after three seasons as the Shockers slowly slipped toward mediocrity.

“My family and I are extremely excited about being a part of Wichita State,” said Mills, who will be introduced during a news conference Thursday at Charles Koch Arena. “The rich history, winning tradition and unbelievable community support will keep us working on behalf of the greatest fans in all of college basketball.”

Mills got his break in coaching when he joined Scott Drew’s first staff at Baylor in 2003, working alongside future Kansas State coach Jerome Tang in helping to turn around a program that had been mired in controversy. Mills stayed for 14 years, helping to reach seven NCAA Tournaments, before replacing Scott Sutton at Oral Roberts before the 2017 season.

“I absolutely love Paul Mills. He’s like a brother to me. So happy for him and his family, for Wendy and the girls,” said Tang, who has Kansas State playing Michigan State in the Sweet 16 on Thursday night. “He’s going to be incredible because he is passionate about young people and about developing young men.

“There’s no throttle, like, hold-back governor on him in terms of love and what he pours into his guys.”

Mills went just 11-21 each of his first two seasons in Tulsa, but the seeds of a turnaround had been planted, and the Golden Eagles have not had a losing season since. The biggest step came two years ago, when Mills led Oral Roberts to the Sweet 16 of an NCAA Tournament played entirely within an Indianapolis “bubble environment” because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Golden Eagles slipped to 19-12 the following year before winning 30 games and the Summit League title this past season, when they were led by high-scoring guard Max Abmas, an honorable mention All-American selection.

“He’s the one that told me, he said, ‘Tang, 10s hangs with 10s and one hangs with ones,’” Tang said, “and he’s a 10 and he’s going to have some 10s around him.”

The hiring of Mills comes as the Shockers try to position themselves at the forefront of a new-look American Athletic Conference. Perennial powerhouse Houston is joining Central Florida and Cincinnati in leaving for the Big 12 after this season, and six new schools are due to arrive from Conference USA for the start of next season.

Wichita State, a power under Ralph Miller and Gene Smithson in the 1960s, returned to prominence when Mark Turgeon took over in 2000. But it was under Gregg Marshall, who resigned in November 2020 amid allegations of verbal and physical abuse of players, that it began to soar. The Shockers advanced to the Final Four in 2013, finished the regular season unbeaten the following year and at one point went to seven consecutive NCAA Tournaments.

Brown, who was Marshall’s top recruiter, led them back to the NCAA Tournament in his first year. But the Shockers were just 15-13 last year and 17-15 this past season, leading Saal to decide that a coaching change was necessary.

Turns out the answer Saal was looking for was just a few hours south at Oral Roberts.

“Paul Mills’ heart for people, passion for life and approach to the development of young people and programs is energizing,” Wichita State athletic director Kevin Saal said in a statement. “He aligns with Shocker Athletics’ core values, facilitates a first-class student-athlete experience and fuels broad-based competitive excellence.”