1/17 – College Hoops Week in Review: Louisville comes back, Khris Middleton’s clutch


Game of the Week: Louisville 71, Marquette 70

This game was over. Marquette was up 65-47 with jut 5:45 left on the clock. After beating Notre Dame by 22 at home, it looked like the Golden Eagles were finally putting together a string of impressive victories. And then Preston Knowles woke up.

Louisville’s leading scorer had just two points in the first half. In the final 5:45, he had 12 points on four threes and added two assists as the Cardinals came storming back. After a Knowles three made the score 65-62, Jaw Crowder snapped the 15-0 run with a bucket at the other end. Knowles hit another three on the ensuing possession, but again Marquette had an answer, this time in the form of a Dwight Buycks bucket.

Louisville would get Marquette’s lead down to 70-69 after four Terrence Jennings free throws surrounding one from Junior Cadougan, but 16 seconds left, Dwight Buycks challenged Jennings on a layup at the rim with the shot clock turned off. He was blocked, Louisville got the ball back, and it set up this ending:


Also deserving a mention:

  • Texas A&M 91, Missouri 89 OT: Once again, Missouri was involved in a a great game with an exciting finish. Both teams blew double digit leads in regulation, with the Tigers making a late run sparked by Phil Pressey and Ricardo Ratliffe to take a four point lead late. A&M answered, and the two sides proceeded to trade big shot after big shot for the rest of regulation and throughout overtime. In the extra frame, Khris Middleton — who had 11 of his 28 points in overtime and forced the OT with two free throws with 14 seconds left — stole the ball from Marcus Denmon with 40 seconds left and scored the go-ahead layup.
  • Portland 79, Loyola Marymount 78 2OT: This game was wild. Portland was up seven early, trailed by ten late in the first half, opened up their own ten point lead in the second half, and was still leading by seven with less than three minutes left on the clock. But LMU would go on a 9-0 run to take a 60-58 lead with five seconds left before Jared Stohl drew a foul and hit both free throws to force OT. In the first overtime, Luke Sikma answered an Anthony Ireland three with a jump hook to put Portland up 66-65, but Edgar Garibay hit one of two free throws to force the second OT. In that second overtime, Portland pulled away and opened a five point lead, but the Lions fought back and even had a good look at a three from Drew Viney that would have given them the lead. He missed, and Portland held on for a tough win.

Player of the Week: Draymond Green, Michigan State

For the first time seemingly all season long, Green played like we expected him too. Is it any surprise that the Spartans went 2-0 this week? Against Wisconsin, Green finished with 26 points, nine boards, and four assists, making seemingly every big play down the stretch. In a win over Northwestern, Grene had 16 points, eight boards, and two assists. He got an offensive rebound, drew a foul, and hit two free throws to force overtime. He jumped a passing lane and had a dunk in the extra frame with MSU down three. He found Keith Appling for the go-ahead three pointer. Green was attacking the basket, he was hitting the offensive glass, and he was making plays for his teammates. When he plays like this, he make the Spartans a much better team.

All they-were-good-too-team:

  • G: Jimmer Fredette, BYU: Fredette had 47 points and six assists in the Cougars only game this week, beating rival Utah on the road.
  • G: Derwin Kitchen, Florida State: Kitchen averaged 16.5 ppg and 6.5 rpg in a 2-0 week for the Seminoles, including 22 points and 10 boards on 9-13 shooting in an upset of then-No. 1 duke.
  • F: Khris Middleton, Texas A&M: Middleton had 28 points in an overtime win over Missouri. He tied the game with 14 seconds left in regulation, then scored 11 points in overtime, making big shot after big shot, to lead the Aggies to a win.
  • F: Aaron Brackett, UNC-Greensboro: Bracket had a career-high 28 points and a career-high 15 boards (in fact, the 15 rebounds were more than his career high in scoring coming in) as the Spartans won their first game of the season at conference favorite Appalachian State despite trailing by 15 points.
  • F: Kawhi Leonard, SDSU: Leonard averaged 17.0 ppg, 16.0 rpg, and 4.0 apg as the Aztecs beat UNLV and New Mexico.
  • C: Mike Muscala, Bucknell: Muscala averaged 28.0 ppg and 11.5 rpg in two games this week as Bucknell gave American and Holy Cross their first Patriot League losses. The Bison are currently sitting alone atop the conference standings at 3-0.
  • Bench: Mickey McConnell, St. Mary’s (18.5 ppg, 8.5 apg); John Flowers, West Virginia (19.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.5 apg, 2.5 spg, 2.5 bpg); Isaiah Thomas, Washington (27 points, 13 assists in win over Cal); Kyle Weems, Missouri State (20.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg); Derrick Williams, Arizona (31 points, 10 boards vs. Arizona State); DJ Gay, San Diego State (30 points, 7-11 3PT vs. New Mexico); Blake Hoffarber, Minnesota (26 points vs. Purdue); Diante Garrett, Iowa State (21.5 ppg, 8.0 apg); Gary Flowers, Southern Mississippi (20.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 3.0 apg, 2.5 bpg)

Team of the Week: Texas A&M Aggies

The Aggies were an after thought in the preseason. They were losing so much senior leadership and scoring, few expected them to be in the thick of the Big XII race come mid-January, but that they are thanks to a 2-0 week. A&M beat Oklahoma State by 23 on Wednesday, and then on Saturday the Aggies knocked off Missouri in overtime to improve to 3-0 in Big XII play. We’ll have a better feel for just how good A&M is after the next ten days — when they play Texas twice and Kansas State once — but it is time to start discussing this team as a legitimate conference title contender. After those three games, A&M only has one more game against a ranked opponent (Kansas in February) and they only play Missouri, Kansas, and Kansas State once each.

Deserving of a shoutout:

San Diego State: Can we finally call the Aztecs legit? They may not be as good as Ohio State, Kansas, Duke, or Syracuse, but this is a team that truly deserves to be in the conversation for best of the rest. This week, they went 2-0 against fellow MWC contenders, beating UNLV at home and then manhandling New Mexico on the road.

Florida State: The Seminoles have a legitimate chance to be the second place team in the ACC. After beating No. 1 Duke and NC State this week, FSU is tied for first in the conference at 3-1. The Noles are going to be an inconsistent team all year long — when they are hitting offensively, you’ll get performances like this week; when they aren’t, they lose to Auburn.

West Virginia: The ‘Eers had quite a good week this week. They smoked Providence at home on Thursday before No. 8 Purdue came to town. WVU got a number of late, clutch buckets from John Flowers and Kevin Jones as they were able to land a marquee win they really needed on their resume. WVU had now won four in a row and seems to finally have gotten their season on track.

Minnesota: The Golden Gophers had a terrific week, as they evened up their record in the Big Ten with wins over Purdue and Iowa. All three of Minnesota’s losses have come on the road to top 25 opponents — Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin. The top of the Big Ten is loaded, which means that Minnesota is going to need more wins like the one they got against Wisconsin if they are going to make a run at the top of the league.

Michigan State: Are the Spartans finally turning that corner? This week, they picked up a couple of nice wins in overtime, beating both Wisconsin and Northwestern at home in overtime. It was a turnaround the Spartans needed, as they were coming off of a loss to Penn State last Saturday.

Colorado: This Buffalo team is looking more and more like a team we are going to have to keep an eye on all season long. They are now 3-0 in the Big XII with wins against Kansas State and Oklahoma State this week.

Valpo: After a weekend that featured four games between the top four teams in the Horizon, Valpo came out 2-0 and in sole possession of first place in the conference after winning on the road at Wright State and Detroit. The Crusaders also own a win over Cleveland State this season. For the first time is seemingly forever, it looks like the Horizon has more contenders than just Butler.

Belmont: The Bruins are playing at historic levels right now. They are 7-0 in the Atlantic Sun, and they are currently beating their opponent’s by an average of 28.8 ppg. By comparison, UNLV beat their opponents by an average of 29.6 ppg in 1990-1991. This week, they beat Lipscomb and Campell by a combined 71 points, holding Lipscomb’s Adnan Hodzic seven points and five boards.

Duquesne: After sweeping St. Louis and Duquesne this week, the Dukes are currently sitting tied for first a top the A-10 with Xavier and George Washington. They’ve now won six games in a row.

Matchups of the Week

  • 1/17 – 3:30 pm: Villanova @ UConn
  • 1/17 – 5:30 pm: Kansas State @ Missouri
  • 1/17 – 7:30 pm: Syracuse @ Pitt
  • 1/17 – 9:30 pm: Kansas @ Baylor
  • 1/18 – 7:00 pm: Michigan State @ Illinois
  • 1/18 – 7:00 pm: Tennessee @ Georgia
  • 1/19 – 7:00 pm: Memphis @ Southern Miss
  • 1/19 – 9:00 pm: Texas @ Texas A&M
  • 1/20 – 10:00 pm: Arizona @ Washington
  • 1/22 – 12:00 pm: Ohio State @ Illinois
  • 1/22 – 12:00 pm: Villanova @ Syracuse
  • 1/22 – 2:00 pm: Tennessee @ UConn
  • 1/22 – 2:00 pm: Kansas State @ Texas A&M
  • 1/22 – 3:00 pm: Temple @ Xavier
  • 1/22 – 4:00 pm: Texas @ Kansas
  • 1/22 – 9:00 pm: Michigan State @ Purdue

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.

Clark, Iowa end perfect South Carolina season in Final Four

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

DALLAS – Caitlin Clark overwhelmed the reigning champions with another sensational game, scoring 41 points to help Iowa spoil South Carolina’s perfect season with a 77-73 victory on Friday night in the Final Four.

The spectacular junior guard set a record for the highest-scoring semifinal game and became the first women’s player to post back-to-back 40-point games in the NCAA Tournament. She now has the Hawkeyes in a spot they’ve never been in before – one victory away from a national championship.

They’ll have to beat another SEC team to do that as Iowa (31-6) will face LSU in the title game on Sunday afternoon. The Tigers beat Virginia Tech in the other national semifinal.

It’s the Tigers’ first appearance in the title game as Kim Mulkey became the second coach to take two different teams to the championship game.

Thanks to the spectacular play of Clark and the historic year by South Carolina, this was one of the most talked about and highly anticipated matchups in women’s Final Four history,

The game lived up to the hype surrounding it- the best player vs. the best team – much to the delight of the sellout crowd of over 19,000 fans.

Coach Dawn Staley and South Carolina (36-1) had won 42 in a row, including last year’s championship game.

This was Iowa’s first appearance in the Final Four in 30 years. The last time the Hawkeyes advanced this far was 1993 and C. Vivian Stringer was the coach of that team that lost to Ohio State in overtime.

Clark wowed the crowd that included Harper Stribe, a young fan of the team who has been battling cancer. She was featured in a surprise video that informed the Hawkeyes’ star that she was the AP Player of the Year.

Trailing 59-55 entering the fourth quarter, South Carolina scored the first five points to take the lead. Clark answered right back with two deep 3-pointers and an assist to Monika Czinano to give the Hawkeyes a 67-62 lead.

South Carolina got within 69-68 on Raven Johnson’s 3-pointer before Clark got a steal for a layup with 3:32 left. Neither team scored again until star Aliyah Boston was fouled with 1:37 left. She made the second of two free throws.

Clark then scored another layup on the other end out of a timeout to make it a four-point game. After a layup by Zia Cooke made it a two-point game with 58 seconds left, the Hawkeyes ran the clock down with McKenna Warnock grabbing a huge offensive rebound off a Clark miss with 18 seconds remaining.

Clark hit two free throws after South Carolina fouled her with 13.5 seconds left. They were her 38th and 39th point, moving her past Nneka Ogwumike for the most points scored in a Final Four semifinal game.

After a putback by Johnson with 9.9 seconds left got the Gamecocks within 75-73, Clark sealed the game with two more free throws.

As the final seconds went off the clock Clark threw the ball high in the air and galloped around the court.

The loss ended a spectacular season for the defending champion Gamecocks, who were trying to become the 10th team to go through a season unbeaten.

Cooke led the Gamecocks with 24 points. Slowed by foul trouble, Boston had just eight points and 10 rebounds as the Hawkeyes packed the paint, daring South Carolina to shoot from the outside.

The Gamecocks finished 4-for-20 from behind the 3-point line and couldn’t take advantage of their 49-25 advantage on the boards that included 26 offensive rebounds.

Mulkey, LSU women rally in Final Four, reach first title game

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

DALLAS – Kim Mulkey is back in another national championship game, this time taking the flagship university from her home state there for the first time.

It took LSU only two seasons to get there with the feisty and flamboyantly dressed coach, and a big comeback in the national semifinal game that was quite an undercard Friday night.

Alexis Morris scored 27 points and had two of her misses in the fourth quarter turned into putback baskets by Angel Reese in a big run as LSU rallied to beat top-seeded Virginia Tech 79-72 in the first semifinal game.

“I’m never satisfied. I’m super-excited that we won, but I’m hungry,” said Morris, who jumped on a courtside table and fired up LSU fans after the game. “Like, I’m greedy. I want to win it all so I can complete the story.”

Reese finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds for LSU (33-2), which will play in the national title game Sunday against the winner of the highly anticipated matchup between Southeastern Conference foe South Carolina or Iowa in the other semifinal.

“It’s like a dream. It still hasn’t hit me that I’m at the Final Four,” said Reese, the transfer from Maryland who carries the nickname, ”Bayou Barbie.” “I’m just not even believing this right now. It’s crazy how much my life has changed in one year.”

Mulkey – in a carnation pink top this time – won three national titles in four Final Four appearances over her 21 seasons at Baylor. She is only the second coach to take two different teams to the national championship game. The other is C. Vivian Stringer, who did it with Cheyney in the inaugural 1982 women’s tournament and Rutgers in 2007.

“I came home for lots of reasons,” Mulkey said. “One, to some day hang a championship banner in the PMAC (Pete Maravich Assembly Center). Never, ever do you think you’re going to do something like this in two years.”

LSU made five national semifinal games in a row from 2004-08 – the only times the Tigers had made it this far. They lost each of those years.

The Tigers had to dig deep for this one, with neither team backing down.

Trailing 59-50 after three quarters, LSU went ahead with a 15-0 run over a five-minute span. The Tigers led for the first time since late in the first half when Falu’jae Johnson had a steal and drove for a layup to make it 64-62.

Reese had six points in that game-turning spurt, including a basket after Morris’ attempted 3-pointer clanked off the front rim. Reese had a second-effort follow of her own miss after rebounding another shot by Morris.

Elizabeth Kitley, the 6-foot-6 senior, had 18 points and 12 rebounds for Virginia Tech (31-5), the Atlantic Coast Conference champion that was in the Final Four for the first time. Georgia Amoore and Kayana Traylor each had 17 points, while Cayla King had 14.

Amoore set a record for the most 3-pointers in a single NCAA Tournament with 24, though she had a tough night shooting – 4 of 17 overall, including 4 of 15 from beyond the arc. She passed Kia Nurse’s record 22 set in the 2017 tourney for UConn, which lost in the national semifinals on the same court. Arizona’s Aari McDonald had 22 in six NCAA tourney games two years ago.

The big run for LSU came right after Amoore made her last 3-pointer with 7:52 left for a 62-57 lead. The Hokies didn’t make another basket until King’s 3 with 1:19 left.

“I think we had a few crucial turnovers as well as missed box-outs where they scored on second-chance opportunities,” Traylor said. “I think that’s just what it came down to really.”

Morris had opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer for LSU, then had a driving layup before Reese had a layup after a steal by Johnson. That quick 7-0 run prompted a timeout by Hokies coach Kenny Brooks.

“They hit a couple of shots, gave them a little bit of momentum. They hit a 3 right off the bat … kind of changed the momentum,” Brooks said. “They were aggressive in the passing lanes. But they also were a little bit more aggressive down low.”

Virginia Tech had ended the first half with its own 11-0 run to lead for the first time, at 34-32 on Traylor’s driving layup with 53 seconds left.

But it was the Tigers who led for 17:55 of the first half with the Hokies getting off to a slow start shooting – they missed eight of their first nine shots – that an LSU cheerleader had an assist even before they officially had a shot.

King was charged with a turnover on a ball that hit the rim and bounced over the top of the backboard and got stuck there. With encouragement from officials and others at that end, a male cheerleader lifted up a female cheerleader, who knocked the ball down.

Gradey Dick to leave Kansas for NBA draft after one season

Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas sharpshooter Gradey Dick is entering the NBA draft after one season with the Jayhawks.

The 6-foot-8 guard announced his decision in a social media post Friday.

Dick started all 36 games for the Jayhawks and averaged 14.1 points while shooting better than 40% from 3-point range. He made 83 3-pointers, a program record for a freshman.

Kansas lost to Arkansas in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, with Dick scoring just seven points in his finale.

Marquette’s Shaka Smart voted men’s AP coach of the year

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Shaka Smart has packed an entire career’s worth of experiences into 14 years as a college head coach. He led VCU to an improbable Final Four as a 30-something wunderkind in 2011, guided mighty Texas to a Big 12 Tournament title during six otherwise tepid years in Austin, and now has turned Marquette into a Big East beast.

It’s sometimes easy to forget he’s still just 45 years old.

Yet his work with the Golden Eagles this season might have been his best: Picked ninth in the 11-team league by its coaches, they won the regular-season title going away, then beat Xavier to win their first Big East Tournament championship.

That earned Smart the AP coach of the year award Friday. He garnered 24 of 58 votes from a national media panel to edge Kansas State’s Jerome Tang, who received 13 votes before guiding the Wildcats to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, and Houston’s Kelvin Sampson, who earned 10 before taking the Cougars to the Sweet 16.

Voting opened after the regular season and closed at the start of the NCAA Tournament, where the No. 2 seed Golden Eagles were knocked out in the second round by Michigan State and Smart’s longtime mentor, Tom Izzo.

“I’m very grateful to win this award,” said Smart, the second Marquette coach to take it home after Hall of Famer Al McGuire in 1971, “but obviously it always comes back to the guys you have on your team.

“Early on,” Smart said, “we had a real sense the guys had genuine care and concern for one another, and we had a very good foundation for relationships that we could continue to build on. And over the course of seasons, you go through so many different experiences as a team. And those experiences either bring you closer together or further apart. Our guys did a great job, even through adverse experiences, even through challenges, becoming closer together.”

It’s hardly surprising such cohesion is what Smart would choose to remember most from a most memorable season.

The native of Madison, Wisconsin, who holds a master’s degree in social science from California University of Pennsylvania, long ago earned a reputation for building close bonds with players and a tight-knit camaraderie within his teams.

No matter how high or low the Golden Eagles were this season, those traits carried them through.

“Everything that we go through, whether it be the retreat that we went on before the season, all the workouts in the summer, he’s preaching his culture,” said Tyler Kolek, a third-team All-American. “And he’s showing his leadership every single day, and just trying to impart that on us, and kind of put it in our DNA. Because it’s definitely in his DNA.”

That’s reflected in the way Smart, who accepted the Marquette job two years ago after an often bumpy tenure at Texas, has rebuilt the Golden Eagles program after it had begun to languish under Steve Wojciechowski.

Sure, Smart landed his share of transfers – Kolek among them – in an era in which the portal has become so prevalent. But he largely built a team that finished 29-7 this season around high school recruits, eschewing a quick fix in the hopes of long-term stability. Among those prospects were Kam Jones, their leading scorer, and do-everything forward David Joplin.

“He teaches us lots of things about the importance of each other,” Joplin said. “He lets us know, time and time again, that we can’t do anything without each other, but together we can do anything.”

That sounds like a decidedly old-school approach to building a college basketball program.

One embraced by a still-youthful head coach.

“I think being a head coach has never been more complicated, never been more nuanced, and never more all-encompassing,” Smart told the AP in a wide-ranging interview last week. “Does that mean it’s harder? You could say that.

“What makes your job less hard,” Smart said, “is having a captive audience in your players, and guys that truly understand and own what goes into winning, and that’s what we had this past year. But those things just don’t happen. There are a lot of steps that have to occur on the part of a lot of people, not just the coach, to get to where you have a winning environment.”

Purdue’s Zach Edey named AP men’s player of the year

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Zach Edey spent the days following Purdue’s historic NCAA Tournament loss lying low, his phone turned off, along with the rest of the outside world.

The disappointing finish did little to diminish the season the Boilermakers big man had.

Dominating at both ends of the floor during the regular season, Edey was a near-unanimous choice as The Associated Press men’s college basketball player of the year. Edey received all but one vote from a 58-person media panel, with Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis getting the other.

“The season ended in disappointment, which really sucks, but it’s always nice to win individual accolades,” Edey said. “It kind of validates your work a little bit. The last three years I’ve played here, I’ve seen my game grow every year. AP player of the year is a great feeling, it just kind of stinks the way the season ended.”

That ending came in the NCAA Tournament’s first round, when Purdue lost to Fairleigh Dickinson, joining Virginia in 2018 as the only No. 1 seeds to lose to a No. 16.

Before that, Edey dominated.

The 7-foot-4 Canadian was named a unanimous AP All-American and the Big Ten player of the year after finishing sixth nationally in scoring (22.3), second in rebounding (12.8) and first in double-doubles (26).

Edey also shot 62% from the floor and averaged 2.1 blocked shots per game while leading Purdue to its first outright Big Ten regular-season title since 2017. He is the first player since Navy’s David Robinson in 1985-86 to have at least 750 points, 450 rebounds and 50 blocked shots in a season.

“He’s kind of a one of a kind,” Purdue guard David Jenkins Jr. said. “I’ve never played with someone like him, probably never will again.”

And to think, Edey didn’t want to play basketball when he was younger.

A hockey and baseball player growing up in Toronto, Edey resisted basketball at first. He was 6-2 by the sixth grade and the natural inclination by the adults was to push him toward basketball, where his size would be a massive advantage.

“It was something I kind avoided all my life.,” Edey said. “I didn’t like people telling me what I should be doing with my life and it felt like that’s what people were doing with basketball. When I started playing competitively, that’s when I really fell in love with the sport.”

Edey developed his game quickly. He played at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, and proved himself against some of the nation’s best high school players, drawing attention from college coaches. He ended up at Purdue, where coach Matt Painter had a proven track record of developing big men.

Edey had a limited role as a freshman, then averaged 14.4 points and 7.7 rebounds last season on a team that had talented big man Trevion Williams and future NBA lottery pick Jaden Ivey.

Already a tireless worker, Edey put in even more time during the offseason, spending extra time after practice and taking better care of his body. His already solid footwork got better, he added quickness and developed more patience with the constant double teams he faced – not to mention the barrage of physical play teams tried to employ against him.

“There’s not really any kind of cool, sexy answer,” Edey said. “I came in every day, I worked hard, I stayed after practice – stayed a long time after practice. I took care of my body and was able to steadily improve. There was nothing revolutionary I did. I just worked hard.”

It certainly paid off, even if the season ended with a huge disappointment.