12/27 – College Hoops Week in Review: I hope everyone had a great holiday

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Game of the Week: Missouri 75, Illinois 64

Missouri is the most exciting team in the country to watch this season. Not just because they play a hectic, up and down style — its called the “Fastest 40 Minutes in Basketball” for a reason — but because every game they play seems to come down to the wire. This is already this third time this season that we have used a game that the Tiger’s have played in as Game of the Week.

Wednesday night’s matchup was no different. Illinois jumped out to a 10 point lead early in the first half, but a 17-2 run by Mizzou that spanned the two halves gave the tigers a 35-29 lead early in the second half. Illinois answered with a 12-2 run of their own, and it was on. Both teams made big shot after big shot. It was like a boxing match between two fighters with glass jaws but not all that much skill. Illinois and Mizzou were both landing haymaker after haymaker, waiting for the other team to drop.

Eventually, Missouri took a 62-58 lead when Brandon Paul missed two free throws with 48 seconds left. Michael Dixon tracked the ball down, but it was stolen from him in the back court by Mike Davis, setting up an exciting sequence (jump to the 1:30 mark, and don’t mind the music in the back ground):

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ehnd_NymN9o&feature=player_embedded]

The intentional foul called on Tisdale may have cost Illinois the game, but it was the correct call. Two handed shoves in the back of a player moving at full speed are dangerous, and they are the precise reason that the intentional foul was added to the rulebook.

That sequence is the perfect example of Missouri basketball. A potentially momentum changing three is made off of a turnover, cutting Mizzou’s lead to one with 44 seconds left. Most teams hold the ball for one shot in that situation. Missouri threw an inbounds pass to Marcus Denmon, who was already heading up the floor. He took one dribble and passed ahead to Laurence Bowers, who was wide open on a wing. Layup, foul, six point possession, game over.

It deserves to be noted: UAB 68, VCU 65

In a battle of anagrams, VCU took a 19 point with just 13 minutes left in the game. UAB was able to whittle that down to nine at one point, but eventually UAB took a 65-53 lead with just 5:08 left in the game. That’s when Jamarr Sanders took over. He hit a three to cut the lead to nine, but neither team scored until Sanders scored four points — one of two free throws and then a three — when he picked up a steal on back-to-back possessions, cutting the lead to 65-60 with 1:30 left. After Aaron Johnson picked up a steal, he hit one of two free throws. UAB grabbed the rebound off of the miss and the ball ended up in Sanders’ hands. He buried another three, and the lead was now just 65-64 with 1:15 left. VCU had possession, but they turned the ball over again, and with just 10 seconds left in the game, Sanders drove, drew a foul, and hit both free throws to take the lead 66-65. Two more Johnson free throws sealed the win.

All told, Sanders had 12 of his 29 points in the final five minutes. UAB had not been closer than nine points since the 14:50 mark of the first half. That’s not quite Jay Williams-vs.-Maryland territory, but Sanders’ performance was quite impressive nonetheless.

Player of the Week: Klay Thompson, Washington State

I know that Washington State was beaten pretty handily by Butler in the final of the Diamond Head Classic, but that does nothing to diminish the week that Thompson had. In the three games in Hawaii, he averaged 26.3 ppg, including 31 in the loss to Butler that kept things close. He was 25-46 from the floor and 13-25 from three. It was, without a doubt, an impressive performance, and Thompson’s play this week is a huge reason why Wazzu’s name is being tossed around as a potential top 25 team and a sleeper in the Pac-10.

What makes this performance by Thompson so impressive is not that he shot the ball well. We’ve known that Thompson was a good shooter. That is no secret. But, like we said after the win over Gonzaga, Thompson has become an all-around player. He’s jumping passing lanes. He’s creating for his teammates. Most importantly, however, he’s been able to put the ball on the floor and attack the rim while handling physical, one-on-one defense much better than last year. Thompson started out the 2009-2010 season on fire, but once Pac-10 play came around his numbers dropped considerably. He likely will not find defense as physical as Butler’s in the Pac-10 this season. He had 31 against Butler and kept the Cougars in the game despite subpar performances from Reggie Moore, DeAngelo Casto, and Faisal Aden.

The All-they-were-good-too team:

  • G: Darius Morris, Michigan: Granted, it came against Bryant, but Morris had 26 points and 12 assists in his only game of the week. It was the fifth time he’s reached double figure assists and his fourth double-double of the season. Morris is now averaging 15.3 ppg and 7.5 apg on the season.
  • G: Jio Fontan, USC: Fontan averaged 17.0 ppg, 4.0 apg, and 3.5 spg while leading the Trojans to a 2-0 week, including a win at Tennessee, to bounce back from a tough loss to Kansas in Fontan’s debut.
  • G: Doron Lamb, Kentucky: Lamb had 32 points on 11-12 shooting (7-8 from three) as he set the Kentucky freshman scoring record, previously held by Jamal Mashburn, in a win over Winthrop.
  • F: Travis Franklin, Colorado State: Franklin led the Rams to a win in the Cancun Governer’s Cup by averaging 22.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg, and 2.0 spg, including a 25-point, 9-rebound performance against Gary Flowers and Southern Miss in the final.
  • F: Justin Harper, Richmond: Harper averaged 20.5 ppg and 8.0 rpg, leading the Spiders in scoring in both games, as Richmond knocked off UNC-Greensboro and Seton Hall. Harper had 24 points and hit six three against the Hall.
  • Bench: Jimmer Fredette, BYU; Justin Hurtt, Tulsa; Chris Singleton, Florida State; Matt Howard, Butler

Team of the Week: Butler Bulldogs

Butler may have given life to their chances of earning an at-large bid this season with a win in the Diamond Head Classic out in Hawaii. With wins over Florida State and Washington State, as well as Utah, Butler landed themselves two quality victories against teams that will likely be in the tournament come March. Without much in the way of a resume booster from here on out, the Bulldogs are going to want to win the Horizon Tournament to be safe, but the resume is not what was important coming out of this week.

What’s important is that Butler looked like the Butler we expected to see all season long. Matt Howard has really grown as a player in his four season with the Bulldogs. He’s now knocking down threes, he’s putting the ball on the floor and hitting mid-range shots and fadeaways. He’s still a terrific rebounder. He averaged 18.7 ppg and 8.7 rpg this week, upping his averages to 18.1 ppg and 8.2 rpg on the season. Shelvin Mack broke out of his slump this week, scoring 17 points on FSU and 20 on WSU. Andrew Smith looks like he is going to be a force on the block in the Horizon this year. Chase Stigall and Zack Hahn are both knocking down jumpers now. Ronald Nored and Shawn Vanzant are just as pesky and athletic as they were last season. I’m not usually a big believer in the eye test, but this team passed with flying colors this week.

A disappointing week: I don’t have an explanation for it.

The only reason I can think of is that teams that aren’t as good as they think they are were distracted by the end of the finals and the start of the holiday season.

Regardless, it seemed like every time I looked at the college basketball scoreboard this week, another team had a disappointing performance.

We’ll start with the obvious — Renardo Sidney, Elgin Bailey, and Mississippi State. What else is there to say? These two embarrassed their team and their program and managed to get themselves sent home early from a Christmas trip to Hawaii for fighting in the stands. The Bulldogs are a mess this season.

Then there was Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly, who managed to get themselves suspended for accepting discounts on clothing from a department store. The act itself isn’t all that terrible — the fact that these two are NCAA athletes is the only reason anyone is frowning upon them taking advantage of a hook-up — but it is just another example of the lack of leadership within the Kansas State program. The Wildcats lost to UNLV on Tuesday due to a lack of talent. It wasn’t, however, a lack of effort, as Kansas State, for the first time all season, looked like the Kansas State I expected — scrappy defense, aggressive to the offensive glass, win with floor burns. Now can they do the same with Pullen in the lineup?

Tennessee may have had their season saved with a jumper from Scotty Hopson against Belmont. Tennessee had lost to USC by one point earlier in the week, their third straight loss, before the Bruins came back to take a late lead on the Vols. Hopson hit a runner with 5.7 seconds left, however, and gave the Vols a win. Right now, the Vol’s problem is execution in close games. Their last three games have been decided by one point. Two of them are losses, and both of those games Tennessee had a shot to win the game late. The Vols have three games — against Tennessee-Martin, the College of Charleston, and Memphis — to get this thing figured out before Bruce Pearl’s eight game suspension kicks in.

How about Virginia Tech’s season? They have struggled all year long to find the rhythm many of us expected them to have, and over the holiday break news leaked that Dorenzo Hudson will miss the rest of the season with an injury to his foot. Seton Hall is in the exact same boat, as Jeremy Hazell — who may be out for the season with a wrist injury — was shot in an attempted robbery over the holiday break.

All told, 18 teams from the BCS conferences lost to team from outside the BCS conferences. Eight of those upsets occurred on Wednesday night. Don’t forget, this was a week when there were essentially no games played on Saturday and Sunday. Usually, there are upwards of 175 games played on the weekend. And those struggles? They don’t even count games like UCLA beating UC Irvine by one, or Arizona State losing to North Carolina A&T by 11 in the second half, or Minnesota struggling to knock off South Dakota State.

Matchups of the Week:

  • 12/27 – 8:30 pm: UConn @ Pitt
  • 12/28 – 7:00 pm: Minnesota @ Wisconsin
  • 12/29 – 7:00 pm: Georgetown @ Notre Dame
  • 12/29 – 7:00 pm: George Mason @ Dayton
  • 12/29 – 7:00 pm: Wofford @ VCU
  • 12/29 – 9:00 pm: Marquette @ Vanderbilt
  • 12/29 – 11:00 pm: Washington @ USC
  • 12/29 – 11:00 pm: Washington State @ UCLA
  • 12/30 – 7:00 pm: Temple @ Villanova
  • 12/30 – 8:00 pm: Old Dominion @ Missouri
  • 12/31 – 12:00 pm: Louisville @ Kentucky
  • 12/31 – 12:00 pm: Northwestern @ Purdue
  • 12/31 – 4:00 pm: Minnesota @ Michigan State
  • 12/31 – 4:00 pm: Xavier @ Florida
  • 12/31 – 10:00 pm: Oklahoma State @ Gonzaga
  • 1/1 – 11:00 am: West Virginia @ Marquette
  • 1/1 – 2:00 pm: New Mexico @ Dayton
  • 1/2 – 6:00 pm: Wisconsin @ Illinois
  • 1/1 – 3:30 pm: Notre Dame @ Syracuse

Michigan St. rallies to win after giving up lead to Maryland

Maryland v Michigan State
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EAST LANSING, Mich. – Joey Hauser scored 20 points and Tyson Walker had 17 and Michigan State rallied after scoring the game’s first 15 points to beat Maryland 63-58 on Tuesday.

A.J. Hoggard had 10 rebounds and eight assists for Michigan State.

Jahmir Young scored 17 points for Maryland, Hakim Hart 12, Julian Reese 11 and Donta Scott 10 for the Terrapins.

The Spartans (15-9, 7-6 Big Ten) used an 8-0 run in which Walker made a layup and 3-pointer wrapped around a 3 from Jaden Akins for a 52-48 lead with 7:44 remaining and Michigan State led for the remainder.

The Terrapins erupted for a 12-0 run in less than three minutes in the second half turning a 38-26 deficit into a 38-all tie. Young and Hart posted back-to-back three-point plays, and Hart’s 3-pointer with 13:01 knotted it at 38. Prior to that 3, Hart was 3-for-last-27 shooting from beyond the arc. Maryland finished shooting 3 of 22 from distance.

Michigan State started the game with a 15-0 run and led 31-22 at halftime. Coming off an 81-46 win over Maryland (16-8, 7-6 Big Ten) on Saturday, the Terrapins have yet to win back-to-back contests in almost three years.

The Terrapins host Penn State on Saturday. Michigan State travels to play Ohio State on Sunday.

Arkansas pulls away from Kentucky in 2nd half, wins 88-73

Arkansas v Kentucky
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LEXINGTON, Ky. – Ricky Council IV scored 20 points, Anthony Black had 19 and Arkansas used a blazing second half to pull away and beat Kentucky 88-73 on Tuesday night, giving coach Eric Musselman his 200th collegiate victory.

Black added five assists and five steals. Makhel Mitchell and Davonte Davis scored 15 points each and Jordan Walsh 13 for the Razorbacks (17-7, 6-5 SEC) who have won five straight conference games, including three in a row. It was Arkansas’ third straight win over the Wildcats (16-8, 7-4). The teams meet again in Fayetteville in a regular-season finale on March 4.

Cason Wallace scored 24 points to lead Kentucky, which had won six straight conference games. Chris Livingston added 13 points and Jacob Toppin and Antonio Reeves 11 each.

After a first half with 11 lead changes, there were none in the second when Arkansas shot 72% and Council and Black combined for 25 points.

Three steals, including two by Black who turned them into consecutive dunks, fueled an 11-3 run to begin the second half for a 52-43 lead. A basket by Black made it a double-digit lead with eight minutes left as the Razorbacks sank 7 of 9 over that span to finish the game. They made 8 of 10 free throws over the final two minutes.

Kentucky coach John Calipari was given a technical foul with 33 seconds left in the first half. Black sank the resulting free throws for a three-point lead before Daimion Collins’ midrange jumper made it 41-40 at halftime.

Both teams shot over 50% in the first half with Wallace leading all scorers with 11 points. Kentucky dipped under 50% for the game while Arkansas finished at 63% and outscored the Wildcats 46-28 in the paint.

Arkansas is home against Mississippi State and Kentucky is at Georgia, both games on Saturday.

Tulane secures 101-94 OT win over Cincinnati

Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW ORLEANS – Kevin Cross and Jalen Cook scored 27 points each as Tulane took down Cincinnati 101-94 in overtime on Tuesday night.

Cross added 15 rebounds and six assists for the Green Wave (16-7, 9-3 American Athletic Conference). Cook added 14 assists. Jaylen Forbes scored 24 points and shot 6 for 15 (3 for 6 from 3-point range) and 9 of 9 from the free throw line.

Landers Nolley II finished with 26 points, eight rebounds and four assists for the Bearcats (16-9, 7-5). Ody Oguama added 16 points and 13 rebounds for Cincinnati. In addition, David Dejulius finished with 12 points, eight assists and three steals.

Tulane entered halftime down 37-28. Cross paced the team in scoring in the first half with 10 points. Forbes scored 18 second-half points and hit the game-tying 3-pointer with 1:02 remaining in regulation to send the game to overtime.

Tulane scored seven unanswered points to break a tie and lead with 42 seconds left in overtime.

No. 16 Oklahoma women take 1st lead in OT, rally past Baylor

Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman
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WACO, Texas – Ana Llanusa and Skylar Vann each scored 20 points and No. 16 Oklahoma took its first lead of the game in overtime before rallying past Baylor 98-92 on Tuesday night.

The Sooners trailed for 39 minutes in regulation and were down 75-63 with 5:19 left in regulation.

Baylor turned it over twice on inbounds plays in the closing seconds of regulation and Taylor Robertson tied at 83-all on a wide-open 3-pointer with 14 seconds left.

Llanusa started overtime with a 3-pointer, and she finished with eight points during the extra session. Baylor never led in overtime, shooting 2 of 6.

Robertson, who tied Danielle Robinson’s program record of 140 starts, finished with 14 points and three 3s for Oklahoma (19-4, 9-3 Big 12), which trails Texas (18-6, 9-2) in the hunt for its first conference title since 2009. Nevaeh Tot added 13 points, Liz Scott added 11 points and eight rebounds and Madi Williams had nine points, 10 rebounds and four assists.

The Sooners, the nation’s No. 3 scoring offense at 86.5 points per game, have scored at least 88 points 14 times this season, seven in conference.

Caitlin Bickle scored a career-high 30 points with four 3s and Sarah Andrews added 20 points for Baylor (16-7, 7-4). Freshman Darianna Littlepage-Buggs had 14 points and 17 rebounds and Ja’Mee Asberry scored 11. Jaden Owens had 14 of Baylor’s 25 assists on 32 field goals.

Bickle was 8 of 11 from the field, including 4 of 7 from distance, and Littlepage-Buggs recorded her sixth double-double in the last seven games.

It was the first time in 20 years the Sooners were ranked in game against an unranked Bears squad. Oklahoma continues its road trip at Kansas State on Sunday. Baylor plays at Oklahoma State on Saturday.

Newton has triple-double, No. 21 UConn tops No. 10 Marquette

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
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HARTFORD, Conn. – UConn appears to have its mojo back.

Jordan Hawkins scored 20 points and Tristen Newton recorded his second triple-double of the season as No. 21 Connecticut ran away from No. 10 Marquette 87-72 on Tuesday night.

Newton had 12 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds for the Huskies (19-6, 8-6 Big East), who won their third straight game after losing six of eight. They started the season 14-0, rising to No. 2 in the AP Top 25.

“Teams go through tough stretches during the course of the season,” coach Dan Hurley said. “The bottom line is we’re 19-6. You know, we beat some of the best teams in the country.”

Adama Sanogo added 18 points, while Alex Karaban and Nahiem Alleyne each chipped in with 13 for Connecticut, which never trailed.

Tyler Kolek had 17 points to lead Marquette (19-6, 11-3), which had its five-game winning streak snapped. Ben Gold and Stevie Mitchell each scored 12.

The Huskies outrebounded Marquette 48-24 and used 21 offensive boards to help them get 27 second-chance points. The Huskies also had 20 assists on 31 baskets, while holding Marquette to just seven assists.

UConn opened the game on a 22-6 run, highlighted by a fast-break lob from Newton to Andre Jackson for a dunk that brought the crowd to its feet. The Huskies made their first four 3-point shots, three by Hawkins, who had 14 points in the first half.

A hook shot by Sanogo gave UConn its first 20-point lead at 32-12 .

A late first-half run by Marquette cut the margin to 43-29, but Alleyne hit a 3-pointer from almost half court to send UConn into the break with a 17-point cushion.

Another 3-pointer from Alleyne gave the Huskies a 59-38 lead in the second half.

UConn led by 25 before Marquette went on an 8-0 run to pull within 17. But the Golden Eagles never threatened to get back in the game.

“We won two or three games in January,” Hawkins said. “It was definitely a tough stretch, definitely going to shake your confidence. But you just have to stay the course, trust the process and that’s what we did and that’s what we’re going to continue to do during this last stretch.”

BIG PICTURE

Marquette: The Golden Eagles had won nine of 10. They are trying to win a regular-season conference title after being picked ninth in the preseason poll by the league’s coaches.

UConn: Entered 1-5 against the top five teams in the Big East and 1-3 versus ranked opponents. UConn lost 82-76 at Marquette on Jan. 11 after leading by 11 points in the first half.

“The rankings mean nothing,” Marquette coach Shaka Smart said. “It’s amazing the disparity – no disrespect to anyone here – between what the ranking means to media and fans in the middle of a season and what it means to players and coaches. It just doesn’t mean anything.”

BACK FROM INJURY

Marquette’s Sean Jones, who missed the previous three games with a wrist injury, had 11 points in just over 19 minutes. He came down hard on the wrist in the second half, but appeared to shake it off and continued playing.

REPEAT PERFORMANCE

Newton’s first triple-double came in November against Buffalo, when he had 22 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. He joined Shabazz Napier as the only Huskies players to get more than one.

“My amigos right here, they were going crazy hitting shots,” Newton said. “They were boxing out and I was getting the rebound, so I just had the easy job, just get them the ball.”

UP NEXT

Marquette: At last-place Georgetown on Saturday.

UConn: Will visit No. 23 Creighton on Saturday.