1/3 – College Hoops Week in Review: Happy New Year!

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Game of the Week: Dayton 76, New Mexico 73 OT

In a game that featured far more than its share of big time dunks, New Mexico jumped out to an early 33-21 lead in Dayton. Dayton chipped away at the lead, eventually cutting it to six points heading into halftime on a three from Chris Johnson. New Mexico started the second half off ice cold, eventually tying the game for the first time since it was 0-0 on a thunderous tip dunk from Chris Wright.

After a bucket by the Lobos, Matt Kavanaugh gave Dayton their first lead with an and-one finish off of a pass from Juwan Staten. Dayton would eventually open a 64-58 lead with 3:54 left in regulation, but the Lobos scored six straight points — the last four on back-to-back jumpers by Kendall Williams — as they forced overtime.

Dayton took a three point lead late in the first OT, but after a free throw and a stop for the Lobos, Dairese Gary scored with 36 seconds left to force the second overtime. In the second extra frame, Paul Williams hit a three on the first possession. Two Chris Wright free throws extended the lead. New Mexico didn’t score a field goal in the second overtime and went 2-6 from the foul line. With with three seconds left they were down 76-73 with Williams at the line. He missed the second intentionally and the ball came right back to him, but his game-tying three came up short.

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Christian Laettner 2.0: This finish has to be mentioned. After Richmond choked down the stretch, missing seven of eight free throws in the final 2:58, they still found themselves up 61-60 on Bucknell with 1.7 seconds left. Bucknell had the ball under the Spider’s basket. They needed a miracle, and they got one:

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Player of the Week: E’Twaun Moore, Purdue

Its not necessarily a surprise that Purdue has gotten off to a 2-0 start to the Big Ten season. This is, in fact, a top 15 team that has two all-americans on the roster. What was a bit of a surprise, however, was the manner in which Purdue got off to their 2-0 start. On Tuesday, the Boilermakers went into Ann Arbor and obliterated the Wolverines, 80-57. And on New Year’s Eve, when John Shurna and Northwestern came to town, Purdue looked terrific once again, winning 82-69 in a game that wasn’t really in doubt for much of the second half.

Moore was the star for Purdue this week. Against Michigan, he had 21 points, 9 boards, 4 assists, 2 steals, and a block while also helping to hold Darius Morris, the Wolverine’s star that is averaging 15 points and 7 assists, to just 3-14 shooting. He was even better against Northwestern, hitting five threes in the first six minutes and finishing with 31 points, 7 boards, 3 assists, 2 steals, and another block. Oh, and John Shurna, the leading scorer in the Big Ten, finished with just 11 points.

Moore wasn’t alone this week — JaJuan Johnson averaged 20.5 ppg and 8.5 rpg while Ryne Smith added 15.0 ppg. When the Boilermakers are getting that kind of production, they are going to be a tough team to beat. But Moore, however, was the star.

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

  • G: Nolan Smith, Duke: In Duke’s first game without Kyrie Irving, Nolan Smith tried to fill the void at the point, finishing with just 2 points but 10 assists. Since then, Coach K has asked Smith to be more of a scorer, and he has obliged, getting at least 22 points in the last four games. This week, he averaged 27.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, and 7.0 apg in wins over UNC-Greensboro and Miami FL.
  • G: Demetri McCamey, Illinois: McCamey led the Illini to a 2-0 week to open the Big Ten season, knocking off Iowa and Wisconsin. He averaged 20.5 ppg and 8.5 apg in the two wins, needing just 18 shots to score his 41 points.
  • G: Corey Stokes, Villanova: Stokes has arguably been Villanova’s best back court player this season, as he is the team’s leading scorer. He showed why this week, as he went for 24 points and 23 points in wins over Temple and Rutgers, respectively.
  • F: Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Washington: MBA, as we like to call him, was terrific as the Huskies went on their LA road trip and swept USC and UCLA. He averaged 19.5 ppg and 9.0 rpg in the two games.
  • C: Josh Harrellson, Kentucky: In what was arguably Kentucky’s biggest game of the season, the man known as ‘Jorts’ made a lot of people momentarily forget all about Enes Kanter by going for 23 points and 14 boards in a win over Louisville.
  • Bench: Kris Joseph, Syracuse; Jamar Samuels and Curtis Kelly, Kansas State; Jeff Taylor, Vanderbilt; Marcus Jordan, UCF

Team of the Week: Oregon State Beavers

Its been an up-and-down season for Oregon State. Well, actually, that’s not exactly correct. Coming into the Pac-10’s first weekend, it had been mostly a down season for the Beavers. They were 5-6 on the season with five fairly embarrassing losses — Texas Southern, Utah Valley State, and George Washington all beat OSU in Gill Coliseum while they lost to Colorado, Seattle, and Montana on the road. If it wasn’t for the pathetic seasons being had by Wake Forest and Auburn, Oregon State likely would have been referred to as the worst major college team in the country.

It was moronic to think that the Beavers would have a chance to make any kind of noise in the Pac-10, but all of that changed on New Year’s Eve’s Eve, when the Beavers smacked Arizona State 80-58. Granted, the Sun Devils were playing without Trent Lockett, their leading scorer, but the score looks all the more legitimate after Sunday’s 76-75 win over Arizona, a team many believed to be the second best in the Pac-10. More interesting, however, is the fact that Oregon State won without playing well. They shot 42.4% from the field and 2-15 from three. They were bailed out by the Wildcat’s penchant for fouling (32 free throws for the Beavers) and inability to hit their own foul shots (13-24).

So one week into conference play, and Oregon State is sitting atop the conference at 2-0. The scarier thing is that in watching the Beavers play, this doesn’t look like a fluke. Jared Cunningham is a terrific athlete and defender that is starting to come into his own offensively. Joe Burton is a solid post player that is active and has quick feet. Calvin Haynes and Omari Johnson are seniors playing for a trip to the NCAA Tournament. We all know the story of Roberto Nelson. I don’t want to get ahead of myself because this team has, in fact, lost to Utah Valley State at home. But I wouldn’t be that surprised if the Beavers hung around in the Pac-10 this season.

Teams that deserve a shout out:

St. John’s: The Beavers weren’t the only team that surprised some folks with a 2-0 start to conference play. The Johnnies, coming off of losses to Fordham and St. Bonaventure, looked like they were going to fade slowly into the back ground like so many St. John’s team before them. But believe it or not, St. John’s swept their Big East schedule this week, and more impressive still is the fact that won both games on the road. Against West Virginia, the Johnnies pounded away at the Mountaineers inside while against Providence it was 21 point from Dwight Hardy and a clutch three ball by Paris Horne that won the game. Perhaps we will get a real feel for the Red Storm after tonight’s game against Georgetown in Madison Square Garden.

Vanderbilt: After Kentucky’s emphatic win over Louisville at the KFC Yum! Center, its tough to argue against the Wildcats being the favorite to win the SEC. Having said that, with Tennessee’s struggles, it appears as if Vanderbilt may just be the second best team in the conference. This week, Vandy knocked off a solid Marquette team at home 77-76 on a layup from Andre Walker with 4.1 seconds left despite a 4-21 shooting performance from John Jenkins. On Sunday, they ran Davidson, a SoCon contender, out of the gym 80-52.

Charlotte: Since Shamari Spears was kicked off the team, the 49ers have been a different group. Namely, they have been winning games. Four in a row to be exact, starting with their 49-48 upset of then-No. 7 Tennessee and ending with Sunday’s 86-83 2OT win over Georgia Tech. Charlotte is now 8-6 on the season and peaking just in time for conference play, which starts with a Wednesday trip to Richmond.

Dayton: I had all but written the Flyers off. That’s what a 68-34 loss to Cincinnati and a loss to East Tennessee State will do to you. But after beating George Mason and New Mexico this week — and winning at Seton Hall last week — while trailing by double figures in all three games is impressive. Dayton is now 12-3 on the season and, like Charlotte, peaking at the right now.

Iowa State: Did anyone expect the Cyclones to be 12-2 heading into the New Year? I certainly didn’t. And while Fred Hoiberg’s group hasn’t exactly played a murderer’s row of opponents, they did go to Charlottesville and knock off UVa this week. The record needs to be taken with a grain of salt, but at the least this is a nice confidence booster for fans of the Cyclone program.

Cincinnati: The Bearcats still haven’t played anyone of note, but they can now add a 2-0 start in the Big East to their 14-0 start to the season.

Portland: Would you believe me if I told you that Portland might have the best chance at earning at at-large bid out of the WCC? They have the best RPI in the league, none of their three losses are bad losses, they’ve won at Montana and at Denver while beating Boise State, Nevada, and Utah in their last three games. Ok, maybe I wouldn’t even believe that, but keep an eye on the Pilots. On Saturday, they head to Gonzaga to open WCC play.

Matchups of the Week:

  • 1/3 – 7:00 pm: Georgetown @ St. John’s
  • 1/3 – 7:30 pm: Michigan State @ Northwestern
  • 1/4 – 7:00 pm: UConn @ Notre Dame
  • 1/5 – 7:00 pm: Drexel @ VCU
  • 1/5 – 9:00 pm: Memphis @ Tennessee
  • 1/5 – 10:00 pm: BYU @ UNLV
  • 1/6 – 9:00 pm: Northwestern @ Illinois
  • 1/6 – 7:00 pm: Xavier @ Cincinnati
  • 1/7 – 7:00 pm: Cleveland State @ Butler
  • 1/8 – 11:00 am: West Virginia @ Georgetown
  • 1/8 – 12:00 pm: Austin Peay @ Murray State
  • 1/8 – 3:30 pm: UConn @ Texas
  • 1/8 – 8:30 pm: Portland @ Gonzaga
  • 1/9 – Minnesota @ Ohio State
  • 1/9 – 12:00 pm: Cincinnati @ Villanova
  • 1/9 – 8:00 pm: Maryland @ Duke

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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INDIANAPOLIS — With the coronavirus pandemic already forcing changes for college basketball, a bubble may be brewing in Indianapolis.

Indiana Sports Corp. released a 16-page proposal Friday that calls for turning the city convention center’s exhibition halls and meeting rooms into basketball courts and locker rooms. There would be expansive safety measures and daily COVID-19 testing.

The all-inclusive price starts at $90,000 per team and would cover 20 hotel rooms per traveling party, testing, daily food vouchers ranging from $30-$50 and the cost of game officials. Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn said the price depends on what offerings teams or leagues choose.

“The interest has been high,” Vaughn said. “I think as conferences figure out what conference and non-conference schedules are going to look like, we’re we’re a very good option for folks. I would tell you we’ve had conversations with the power six conferences, mid-majors, it’s really kind of all over the Division I spectrum.”

Small wonder: The NCAA this week announced teams could start ramping up workouts Monday, with preseason practices set to begin Oct. 14. Season openers, however, were pushed back to Nov. 25 amid wide-ranging uncertainty about campus safety and team travel in the pandemic.

There is already scrambling going on and some of the marquee early-season tournaments have already been impacted.

The Maui Invitational will be moved from Hawaii to Asheville, North Carolina, with dates still to be determined and organizers clear that everyone involved “will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.” The Batttle 4 Atlantis has been canceled. The Cancun Challenge will be held in Melbourne, Florida, not Mexico.

More changes almost certainly will be coming, including what to do with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

“I think we’re past the guesswork on whether we play 20 conference games or more than that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said Friday. “We’re trying to get everybody set like in terms of MTEs (multi-team events), figuring out when to play the ACC-Big Ten challenge.”

Painter, who was part of the NCAA committee that recommended how to start the season, noted part of the uncertainty stems from differing protocols imposed by campus, city and state officials.

In Indianapolis, Vaughn believes the convention center, nearby hotels, restaurants and downtown businesses, many within walking distance of the venue, could safely accommodate up to 24 teams. The 745,000-square foot facility would feature six basketball courts and two competition courts.

Anyone entering the convention center would undergo saliva-based rapid response testing, which would be sent to a third-party lab for results. Others venues could be added, too, potentially with more fans, if the case numbers decline.

If there is a taker, the event also could serve as a dry run for the 2021 Final Four, also slated for Indy.

“It’s not going to hurt,” Vaughn said. “I can tell you all the planning we’re doing right now is the same for a Final Four that’s been scheduled here for any other year. But it would be nice to have this experience under our belt to see if it can be done.”

Maui Invitational moving to North Carolina during pandemic

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Maui Invitational is moving to the mainland during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the premier preseason tournaments on the college basketball schedule, the Maui Invitational will be played at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Dates for the tournament announced Friday have yet to be finalized. The NCAA announced Wednesday that the college basketball season will begin Nov. 25.

This year’s Maui Invitational field includes Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

All teams, staff, officials, and personnel will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.

Burton eligible at Texas Tech after 2 seasons at Wichita State

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
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LUBBOCK, Texas — Junior guard Jamarius Burton has been granted a waiver from the NCAA that makes him eligible to play this season for Texas Tech after starting 52 games the past two seasons for Wichita State.

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard announced the waiver Thursday, which came five months after Burton signed with the Big 12 team.

Burton has two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well as a redshirt season he could utilize. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 assists per game as a sophomore at Wichita State, where he played 67 games overall.

Burton is from Charlotte. He helped lead Independence High School to a 31-1 record and the North Carolina Class 4A state championship as a senior there.

NCAA season set to open day before Thanksgiving

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The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The Division I Council voted Wednesday to push the start date back from the originally scheduled Nov. 10 as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern about a potential late-fall and early-winter flareup of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi bubble for players and provide a window for non-conference games.

The maximum number of regular-season games has been reduced from 31 to 27. The minimum number of games for consideration for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13.

Teams can start preseason practices Oct. 14 but will be allowed to work out 12 hours per week beginning Monday.

No scrimmages against other teams or exhibitions are allowed.

In other action, the council voted to extend the recruiting dead period for all sports through Dec. 31. In-person recruiting is not allowed during a dead period, though phone calls and other correspondence are allowed.

The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date of Nov. 21, which would have allowed for games to be played on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The council opted not to do that to avoid a conflict with regular-season football games.

The council is scheduled to meet again Oct. 13-14 and could delay the start date and change other pieces of the basketball framework if circumstances surrounding the virus warrant.

UConn’s Tyrese Martin granted waiver to play this season

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
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STORRS, Conn. — UConn swingman Tyrese Martin, who transferred from Rhode Island in April, has been granted a waiver that will allow him to play for the Huskies this season.

The 6-foot-6 junior averaged 12.8 points and 7.1 rebounds and started every game last season for URI, where he was recruited by current UConn coach Dan Hurley.

NCAA rules require undergraduate transfers to sit out a season, but the organization has been more lenient in granting waivers during the pandemic.

Martin, 21, is expected to compete for playing time at UConn on the wing as both a guard and small forward.