Game of the Week: UConn 82, Texas 81 OT
With all due respect to Georgetown and Missouri, I think we have a new favorite for Game of the Year. This one was wild. Kemba Walker didn’t score until there was 2:32 left in the first half. He had just five points at the break, but despite that the Huskies were only down 37-32 at intermission. Walker was still cold in the second half, but Texas couldn’t put the Huskies away. Down 48-41 with with 15 minutes left, UConn went on a 27-11 run sparked by Shabazz Napier and Roscoe Smith. Once again, UConn did it without much help from Walker, who had five points during that stretch.
Texas had an answer, however. Tristan Thompson sparked a 12-2 run with six points, and with 1:33 left in the game, a short jumper by J’Covan Brown gave Texas the lead. (The Longhorns would have been ahead earlier if it wasn’t for this blunder by Jordan Hamilton, which wasn’t even the dumbest play of the game.) At the other end, Walker came through in the clutch — something that would become a familiar theme here — with a gorgeous, and-one, reverse layup to put UConn up 73-71. After two J’Covan Brown free throws and a missed Walker jumper, Texas had a chance to win it it in regulation. Johnson had his shot blocked with 14 seconds left. Smith gathered the ball and threw it 85 feet at the basket with 10 seconds left in the game.
Texas had another shot to win it, but Brown missed a short jumper in the lane. In overtime, UConn took the lead on three separate occasions, the third of which was a 40 foot prayer by Kemba Walker to beat the shot clock. Texas had an answer every time, and after Walker’s 40 footer, Cory Joseph and Hamilton both knocked down midrange jumpers to give Texas the lead with under a minute left. After both teams had empty possessions, UConn ended up with the ball with time winding down, setting up these heroics from Walker:
Triple Overtimes: We had three of them this weekend. Believe it or not, both St. Bonaventure and Ohio — who played a four overtime game earlier in the season — were involved in one.
- UAB 100, UTEP 97: Randy Culpepper scored 30 of his 34 points in regulation, but it was a Christian Polk three as time expired that forced the first overtime. In the first extra frame, it was Culpepper’s turn for some heroics, and he drained a three — his second attempt in the last five seconds — from the corner to force a second overtime. Claude Britton, who scored all of his 14 points after regulation, scored to give UTEP a 97-94 lead with over a minute left, but a three from Preston Purifoy followed by a three from deep in the corner by Cameron Moore (who had 29 points and 14 boards, 26 coming after halftime) with five seconds left gave the Blazers the win. Culpepper missed a 35 foot prayer that would have forced a fourth OT. Of note — Aaron Johnson had 26 points, 14 assists, and 7 boards in the win.
- St. Bonaventure 92, Charlotte 88: Andrew Nicholson had 34 points for the Bonnies, who took a 40-28 lead at the half. Charlotte would storm back to take a 68-66 lead, but Da’Quan Cook hit two free throws with 12 seconds left to force overtime. In the first and second overtimes, both teams had a multiple chances to win the game late, missing each time. Then in the third OT, the Bonnies finally built a lead, hitting nine of their 10 free throws to knock off Canisius.
- Miami OH 92, Ohio 88: One of the most underrated rivalries in the country had a wild second half. After the game was tied at the break, Miami went on a run to take a 47-39 lead. Ohio answered with a 19-7 run, and Miami answered that by scoring nine of the next 11 points. The end of regulation was anti-climatic, but after DJ Cooper had given Ohio a three point lead to start overtime, he had to hit a three with 39 seconds left to tie the game and force a second OT. The Redhawks eventually pulled away in the third overtime, as 26 points and 12 boards from Ivo Baltic was more than Cooper’s 27 points and 11 assists could overcome.
Player of the Week: Jimmer Fredette, BYU
BYU went 2-0 this week, beating UNLV and a better-than-expected Air Force team to start MWC play. Against UNLV, Fredette had one of the most dominant individual performances of the season. BYU was down 25-15 with under six minutes to go in the first half when Fredette finally caught fire, sparking a 37-13 run over a 12 minutes span. When the run started, Fredette was just 1-7 from the floor and 0-3 from three with three points. By the time the night was over, Fredette had 39 points on 12-25 shooting and 7-13 from three and BYU had won 89-77 in a game that wasn’t that close. You want a sense of how hot Fredette was? Check out where he hit this three from:
That kid of game had to feel very good for Fredette considering some of the comments made by Tre’Von Willis during the week. It is because of performances like the one he had against UNLV that when Fredette had 22 points against Air Force it seems pedestrian. Think about that for a second. You can legitimately say that Air Force played well because they “held” Fredette to 22 points.
The All-they-were-good-too team
- G: Ben Hansbrough, Notre Dame: Hansbrough was fantastic in a 2-0 week for the Irish. He had 21 points and played 40 minutes chasing around Kemba Walker in a 73-70 win over the Huskies. He then went out and dropped 26 as Notre Dame beat St. John’s.
- G: Charles Jenkins, Hofstra: If you haven’t seen this kid play yet this year, its about time you started to tune into the CAA. The Pride went 3-0 this week, winning at Drexel and Northeastern and also knocking off George Mason, to move into first place in the conference at 4-0. Jenkins was fantastic, averaging 25.0 ppg and 6.3 apg while turning the ball over just five times.
- F: Alec Burks, Colorado: Burks averaged 28.0 ppg for the week, but it was his 36-point, eight-rebound performance in an upset of No. 8 Missouri that got him on this list.
- F: Sam Muldrow, South Carolina: If you are in a college basketball fantasy league, I suggest you pick up Muldrow. He averaged 15.5 ppg, 12.5 rpg, and 8.0 bpg this week, including notching a triple double — 16 points, 14 boards, 10 blocks — as the Gamecocks upset Vanderbilt in overtime.
- C: Nikola Vucevic and Alex Stephenson, USC: The Trojans starting front court combined for 33 points and 20 boards in a win over UCLA.
- Bench: Justin Harper, Richmond; Casey Mitchell, West Virginia; Mike James, Lamar; Cameron Moore, UAB
Team of the Week: Missouri State Bears
After a 3-0 week in the Valley, Missouri State is now sitting all alone atop the MVC standings at 5-0. Making that record all the more impressive is that the Bears have already made their three toughest road trips of the season, going to Northern Iowa, Creighton, and Wichita State (the latter two both coming this past week and both now sitting at 4-1 in the league) and coming out with wins. The Bears likely won’t be getting an at-large bid this season — not with a non-conference schedule that features losses to Tennessee, Tulsa, and Oklahoma State and their best non-conference win coming against Oral Roberts — but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a good basketball team. Anyone that can go into Northern Iowa, Creighton, and Wichita State in the span of 10 days and come out unscathed is a good basketball team. Kyle Weems (14.0 ppg, 7.7 rpg) and Jermaine Mallet (10.3 ppg) led the way this week.
Teams that deserve a shoutout
- UConn: Ranking teams is difficult to do, especially in the case of a team like UConn. After beating Texas on the road, UConn now has just two losses on the season — both to top 15 clubs on the road — and has beaten Kentucky, Texas, and Michigan State. But according to the all-encompassing eye test, this is not an elite team. Regardless of how you feel about UConn’s program, the one thing that their win at Texas does is but them the benefit of the doubt. They beat a top-15 team on the road a month and a half after they one the Maui, and they did it with Kemba Walker struggling most of the night. I still have my doubts, but until they prove otherwise, they deserve all the credit they get.
- Austin Peay: Do we have a new favorite in the Ohio Valley Conference? The Governors went to Murray State on Saturday and knocked off the Racers, snapping a 25 game home winning streak. They are now 5-0 in conference play and hold a two game lead over both Morehead State and Murray State with a win against both. Did Fly Williams make a comeback?
- Colorado: The Buffaloes were supposed to be a sleeper in the Big XII this season. When you have two talents like Alec Burks and Cory Higgins on your roster, that’s pretty much what is expected of you. But with losses to San Francisco and Harvard in non-conference play, it looked like this Colorado team would be reverting back to their old ways. That was until they knocked off Missouri on Saturday afternoon. Burks and Higgins combined for 54 points and 18 boards in the win. They are not going to be able to keep that up all season long, but the win is the confidence booster that this team needed. They will be an interesting team to keep an eye on.
- Georgia: Like the Buffaloes, the Bulldogs were predicted by many to be a sleeper in the SEC. After starting the season off slowly — they only have two losses (both with Trey Thompkins slowed with an ankle injury) but their wins have been far from impressive against less than impressive competition — Georgia made a statement on Saturday by knocking off the visiting Kentucky Wildcats, who are ranked in the top 15. Trey Thompkins had 25 points in the win and finally looks like he is healthy. Expect quite a bit of noise to be made by the Bulldogs in SEC play.
- USC: Its pretty obvious that Washington and Arizona are the two best teams in the Pac-10. After that, things get a little bit sticky. Washington State, UCLA, Cal, Arizona State, and USC are all in the mix, but two weeks into the season, it looks as if USC is the frontrunner for that gig. They are 2-1 in conference play after beating UCLA at home on Sunday night and look like a different team with Jio Fontan running the point. The problem? Those three games were at home. USC doesn’t play a real conference road game until Jan. 27th, and ends the season at Washington State and Washington.
- Virginia Tech: I feel bad for Seth Greenberg, I really do. The year he finally puts together a brutish schedule for his team in non-conference play, he loses half of his team to injury and loses every big game he plays. Count me as one of the people pulling for this team to do well in ACC play. A win over Florida State on Saturday is a good place to start.
Matchups of the Week
- 1/10 – 7:00 pm: Notre Dame @ Marquette
- 1/11 – 7:00 pm: Wisconsin @ Michigan State
- 1/11 – 9:00 pm: Florida @ Tennessee
- 1/12 – 7:00 pm: Pitt @ Georgetown
- 1/12 – 7:00 pm: Louisville @ Villanova
- 1/12 – 7:00 pm: Syracuse @ St. John’s
- 1/12 – 8:05 pm: Wichita State @ Creighton
- 1/12 – 10:00 pm: UNLV @ San Diego State
- 1/13 – 7:00 pm: Purdue @ Minnesota
- 1/13 – 7:00 pm: Old Dominion @ Drexel
- 1/14 – 11:00 am: Marquette @ Louisville
- 1/14 – 12:00 pm: Vanderbilt @ Tennessee
- 1/14 – 1:00 pm: Maryland @ Villanova
- 1/14 – 3:00 pm: Illinois @ Wisconsin
- 1/14 – 6:00 pm: San Diego State @ New Mexico
- 1/14 – 8:00 pm: Dayton @ Xavier
- 1/15 – 12:00 pm: Notre Dame @ St. John’s
- 1/15 – 1:30 pm: Purdue @ West Virginia
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.