2/21 – College Hoops Week in Review: Derrick Williams, Jacob Pullen, and E’Twaun Moore shine


Game of the Week: Arizona 87, Washington 86

This was about as entertaining as basketball can get. Washington was down by as much as 12 points in the second half, but Isaiah Thomas and Matthew-Bryan Amaning took over in the second half. Thomas finished with 12 points and nine assists with just two turnovers, absolutely shredding the Wildcat’s half court defense with a series of gorgeous passes off of a pick and roll. Bryan-Amaning, for the most part, was the guy on the receiving end of those pick and roll passes, as he finished with 18 of his 24 points in the second half while adding nine boards, six blocks, four assists, and three steals.

The ending was just as exciting. Derrick Williams hit a contested three to give Arizona the lead, and after the two teams traded buckets, Washington had the ball on the final possession with a chance to win. Bryan-Amaning was called for a travel, but Arizona turned the ball right back over with 2.2 seconds left. It set up this finish:


Williams finished with 26 points and 11 boards and the game-saving block, but more on him later in this post.

St. John’s 60, Pitt 59: The Panthers looked as if they had taken firm control of this game, opening up a 56-51 lead late on St. John’s in the Garden. But the Red Storm was not ready to give up. After five free throws tied the game up, Paris Horne grabbed the offensive rebound when Dwight Hardy missed a free throws. He got the ball back to Hardy, who was fouled and knocked down two free throws to give the Johnnies the 58-56 lead. Travon Woodall answered with a three pointer, setting up this final possession:


Now, based on screen caps from the ESPN broadcast using the camera above the back board, it appears as if Dwight Hardy’s heels are out of bounds on that last move:

Look at the referee’s head in the video. Look at it in the picture. He is staring right at Hardy’s feet, standing three feet away. He would have seen if Hardy’s heels had touched the baseline. Hardy didn’t step out. But he did finish with 19 points and the Johnnies knocked off their fifth top 15 team at home.

Cal 76, UCLA 72 OT: Cal provided another piece of evidence to the folks that believe you should automatically foul when you are up three with under five seconds left. After blowing a 12 point lead in the second half, Cal allowed Malcolm Lee to take a tough, fadeaway three from the top of the key that hit the front of the rim, bounced two feet into the air, and fell through the hoop for the game-tying basket. In overtime it was the Jorge Gutierrez show, however, as he finished with 34 points, six assists, and three steals, including finding Brandon Smith for a three with 14 seconds left that clinched the game.

Players of the Week: Just like last week, there is more than one player deserving of getting credit in this space:

Jacob Pullen, Kansas State: For the first time all season, Jacob Pullen looked like the all-american we expected to see this season. He went for a career-high 38 points in the Wildcat’s win over Kansas, a win that thrust Frank Martin’s club right back into the NCAA Tournament. Then on Saturday, Pullen had 27 points as K-State knocked off Oklahoma.

Derrick Williams, Arizona: We already talked about the 26 points, 11 boards, and two blocks that Williams had in Zona’s win over Washington, but that wasn’t his only impressive performance this week. He also went for 26 points and eight boards in a win over Washington State. Throw in UCLA’s loss to Cal on Sunday, and Arizona now owns a commanding two game lead in the Pac-10 standings. Williams, to his credit, threw himself into the conversation for the No. 1 overall pick come June.

E’Twaun Moore, Purdue: Moore was good in Purdue’s win over Wisconsin, going for 19 points. He was great in their win over Ohio State, however, finishing with 38 points and five assists and 13-18 shooting and 7-10 from deep. More on Purdue and Moore in a bit.

The all they-were-good-too team:

  • G: Tu Holloway, Xavier: Holloway had 14 points, seven assists, five boards, and three steals in a win over St. Joe’s, but that wasn’t his most impressive stat line of the week. Against Fordham, the Xavier junior had his second triple double of the season, finishing with 26 points, 11 boards, and 10 assists.
  • G: Dwight Hardy, St. John’s: Hardy, who is making a late-season run at Big East player of the year, had 28 points, six boards, and five steals in a win at Marquette and followed that up with 19 points and the game-winning layup against Pitt.
  • F: Kenny Faried, Morehead State: The Eagles notched two road wins this week, and Faried — as usual — was a huge reason why, averaging 20.0 ppg and 13.5 rpg. He also passed Tim Duncan as college basketball’s all-time leading rebounder in the process.
  • F: Tony Mitchell, Alabama: Alabama keeps churning out wins in the SEC West and moving closer to an at-large bid. Mitchell had just 13 points and four boards against LSU, but he went for 27 points, nine boards, and about three vicious dunks in ‘Bama’s comeback win over Arkansas.
  • C: Nikola Vucevic, USC: Vucevic may be the best big man that no one ever talks about. In two road wins this week, he averaged 20.0 ppg and 12.0 rpg.
  • Bench: Ramone Moore, Temple (24 points in 73-53 win over Richmond); Norris Cole, Cleveland State (16 points, 10 assists, six boards vs. Wright State, 35 points at Old Dominion); Corey Fisher, Villanova (34 points in OT win vs. DePaul); Jorge Gutierrez, Cal (34 points, six assists in OT win vs. UCLA); Scotty Hopson (averaged 27.5 ppg in a 1-1 week); John Jenkins, Vanderbilt (21 points in final 13 minutes in win over Georgia);

Team of the Week: Purdue Boilermakers

Purdue avenged losses to both Wisconsin and Ohio State when they visited Mackey Arena this week. Against the Badgers, Purdue got 20 points and 10 boards out of JaJuan Johnson, but the star was Lewis Jackson, who outplayed Jordan Taylor with 18 points, five assists, and no turnovers in the win. Against Ohio State, it was the E’Twaun Moore show, as he went for a career-high 38 points.

Purdue did two things this week. They threw themselves right back into the mix for a Big Ten regular season title. They are now just a game behind the Buckeyes. Ohio State has a much easier road down the stretch — they get three games at home while Purdue has to go on the road three times — but being one game back with four games left is a much easier task than sitting three games back with four games left.

Purdue also legitimized this argument I made back in the preseason. This is still a team that can make the Final four. They have two all-americans on their roster, Lewis Jackson and Kevan Barlow are both developing into quality role players, and guys like Ryne Smith, DJ Byrd, and Travis Carroll are playing more and more valuable minutes. The Boilermakers aren’t going to be able to power through opponents to make a Final Four like the top four or five teams in the country, but with some favorable matchups, this is absolutely a team with the horses to make the Final Four. (Do I even need to make the mention of how nasty this team would be with Robbie Hummel? I dont? Good.)

Teams deserving of a shoutout:

  • Kansas State: The Wildcats are now right back into the thick of the NCAA Tournament race, as they blew out both Kansas and Oklahoma at home this week. Not only is Jacob Pullen finally playing like the Jacob Pullen we all expected to see this season, the rest of the Wildcats are doing the same. They are playing with energy, they are defending, they are diving on the floor, and they are finally getting some production from their front court. The question will be whether or not this holds up the rest of the season. If you are a college basketball fan, then you hope that it does.
  • Utah State: The Aggies picked up an enormous win against St. Mary’s on Saturday in Bracket Busters. The Gaels, believe it or not, are the first top 90 win that Utah State has earned this season. They are certainly not a lock for the NCAA Tournament yet, but if they win out in the regular season and avoid being upset early in the WAC Tournament, Utah State should be able to feel pretty comfortable about getting an at-large bid.
  • CAA: Obviously, the headline of this group is George Mason, who extended their nation’s-best win streak to 13 games with a 20 point win at VCU and then going into Northern Iowa and knocking off the Panthers. They have all but locked up an at-large bid as well. A big part of that is that during Bracket Busters, the Colonial separated themselves from the rest of the mid-major leagues. Old Dominion put themselves into a good position to get an at-large bid by knocking off Cleveland State despite a 35 point outburst from Norris Cole, while VCU got a bit lucky in their win over Wichita State on the road. Its possible that the CAA can get three bids into the NCAA Tournament.
  • Nebraska: The Cornhuskers may have gotten lucky twice this week, but in the end a win is a win, and Nebraska notched two of them. Against Oklahoma, a game-tying three by Cade Davis turned out to only be a two when his toe was on the line. In a win over Texas, the Huskers were able to hold on despite doing their damnedest to give away a late 11 point lead with turnovers, missed free throws, and fouled three-point shooters. Regardless, the Huskers are now officially in the bubble picture, which is more than anyone expected this season.
  • Temple: After knocking off Richmond by 20 points and getting a bit of help from Dayton when the Flyers beat Duquesne, a 2-0 week from the Owls put them all alone in second place in the Atlantic-10.

Matchups of the Week:

  • 2/21 – 7:00 pm: Syracuse @ Villanova
  • 2/22 – 7:00 pm: Illinois @ Ohio State
  • 2/22 – 9:00 pm: Tennessee @ Vanderbilt
  • 2/22 – 9:00 pm: Michigan State @ Minnesota
  • 2/23 – 7:00 pm: Temple @ Duke
  • 2/23 – 8:00 pm: Colorado State @ BYU
  • 2/24 – 9:00 pm: West Virginia @ Pitt
  • 2/24 – 7:00 pm: Marquette @ UConn
  • 2/24 – 7:00 pm: Georgia @ Florida
  • 2/26 – 12:00 pm: Syracuse @ Georgetown
  • 2/26 – 12:00 pm: Missouri @ Kansas State
  • 2/26 – 1:00 pm: Wichita State @ Missouri State
  • 2/26 – 2:00 pm: BYU @ SDSU
  • 2/26 – 2:30 pm: St. John’s @ Villanova
  • 2/26 – 4:00 pm: Florida @ Kentucky
  • 2/27 – 2:00 pm: Pitt @ Louisville
  • 2/27 – 7:45 pm: Maryland @ UNC

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

Purdue’s Edey returning to school at NBA draft deadline; Kentucky’s Tshiebwe stays in

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

Purdue’s Zach Edey decided it was the right call to go back to school instead of staying in the NBA draft. His predecessor as national player of the year, Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe, is sticking with his pro pursuit.

And Connecticut’s reign as NCAA champion will begin with multiple starters having left for the NBA draft and one returning after flirting with doing the same.

The 7-foot-4 Edey and UConn guard Tristen Newton were among the notable names to announce that they were withdrawing from the draft, the NCAA’s deadline for players who declared as early entrants to pull out and retain their college eligibility.

Edey’s decision came in social media posts from both the center and the Boilermakers program that earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament behind Edey, The Associated Press men’s national player of the year.

But Tshiebwe announced late in the afternoon that he would remain in the draft after a college career that included being named the AP national player of the year in 2022.

For the current champions, Newton (10.1 points, 4.7 assists, 4.5 rebounds) is returning after being one of four Huskies to declare for the draft after a run to UConn’s fifth national championship in early April. He scored a game-high 19 points to go with 10 rebounds in the victory over San Diego State in the title game.

The others were Final Four Most Outstanding Player Adama Sanogo, wing Jordan Hawkins and versatile guard Andre Jackson Jr. Sanogo (17.8 points) and Hawkins (16.3) have made it clear they have closed the door on their college careers, while team spokesman Phil Chardis said that Jackson (6.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists) would remain in the draft.

The Huskies have 247sports’ No. 3-ranked recruiting class for next year to restock the roster, led by McDonald’s All-American point guard Stephon Castle.

The NBA’s withdrawal deadline is June 12, but is moot when it comes to college players returning to school due to the NCAA’s earlier timeline to retain playing eligibility.


TREY ALEXANDER: Creighton gets back a 6-4 guard who averaged 13.6 points and shot 41% from 3-point range in his first full season as a starter.

ADEM BONA: The 6-foot-10 forward and Pac-12 freshman of the year is returning to UCLA after starting 32 games as a rookie and averaging 7.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks – with coach Mick Cronin praising his toughness for “competing through multiple injuries for as long as he could” in a statement Wednesday.

EDEY: He averaged 22.3 points, 12.9 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 1.5 assists while shooting 60.7% from the field. His presence alone helps Purdue be a factor in the Big Ten race.

JOSIAH-JORDAN JAMES: The 6-6 guard went through the NBA G League Combine and had workouts with multiple teams before opting to return to Tennessee for a fifth season alongside teammate Santiago Vescovi.

JUDAH MINTZ: The 6-3 freshman averaged 16.3 points and 4.6 assists for Syracuse, ranking third among Division I freshmen in scoring behind only Alabama’s Brandon Miller and Lamar’s Nate Calmese.

OWLS’ RETURNEES: Florida Atlantic got good news after its surprise Final Four run with the return leading scorers Johnell Davis (13.8) and Alijah Martin (13.4). ESPN first reported their decisions, while Martin later posted a social media statement.

TERRENCE SHANNON JR.: Illinois got a big boost with Shannon announcing his night in a social media post. The 6-6 guard is returning for a fifth college season after averaging 17.2 points.

SPARTANS’ RETURNEES: Michigan State announced that guards Jaden Akins and A.J. Hoggard have withdrawn from the NBA draft. Standout guard Tyson Walker had previously withdrawn in April, setting up Tom Izzo to have five of his top scorers back.


KOBE BROWN: Missouri’s 6-8 swingman opted against returning for a fifth college season after being an AP first-team all-Southeastern Conference pick averaging 15.8 points last season.

JAYLEN CLARK: The third-year UCLA guard averaged 13.0 points and 6.0 rebounds while leading the Pac-12 with 2.6 steals en route to being named Naismith national defensive player of the year. Cronin called him a winner with strong intangibles who made UCLA “a better program because he chose to be a Bruin.”

BRICE SENSABAUGH: The Ohio State freshman averaged 16.3 points and 5.4 rebounds in 31 games before missing his final two in the Big Ten Tournament due to a knee injury. He’s a potential first-round prospect.

TSHIEBWE: The 6-9, 260-pound forward is a tough interior presence who led the country in rebounds for two straight seasons (15.1 in 2022, 13.7 in 2023) while racking up 48 double-doubles. But he faces an uncertain next stop and is projected at best as a second-round prospect.

North Carolina transfer Caleb Love commits to Arizona

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

Caleb Love is now headed to Arizona.

The North Carolina transfer tweeted, less than a month after decommitting from Michigan, that he will play next season with the Wildcats.

“Caleb is a tremendously talented guard who has significant experience playing college basketball at a high level,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said in a statement. “We look forward to helping Caleb grow his game at Arizona. And as we near the completion of the roster for the upcoming season, we feel great about how everything has come together. Now it’s time for the real work to start.”

A 6-foot-4 guard, Love averaged 14.6 points and 3.3 assists in three seasons at North Carolina. He averaged 17.6 points in seven NCAA Tournament games, helping lead the Tar Heels to the 2022 national championship game.

Love entered the transfer portal after leading North Carolina with 73 3-pointers as a junior and initially committed to Michigan. He decommitted from the Wolverines earlier this month, reportedly due to an admissions issue involving academic credits.

Love narrowed his transfer targets to three schools before choosing to play at Arizona over Gonzaga and Texas.

Love will likely start on a team that will have dynamic perimeter players, including Pelle Larsson, Kylan Boswell and Alabama transfer Jaden Bradley.

Biden celebrates LSU women’s and UConn men’s basketball teams at separate White House events


WASHINGTON – All of the past drama and sore feelings associated with Louisiana State’s invitation to the White House were seemingly forgotten or set aside Friday as President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcomed the championship women’s basketball team to the mansion with smiles, hugs and lavish praise all around.

The visit had once appeared in jeopardy after Jill Biden suggested that the losing Iowa team be invited, too. But none of that was mentioned as both Bidens heralded the players for their performance and the way they have helped advance women’s sports.

“Folks, we witnessed history,” the president said. “In this team, we saw hope, we saw pride and we saw purpose. It matters.”

The ceremony was halted for about 10 minutes after forward Sa’Myah Smith appeared to collapse as she and her teammates stood behind Biden. A wheelchair was brought in and coach Kim Mulkey assured the audience that Smith was fine.

LSU said in a statement that Smith felt overheated, nauseous and thought she might faint. She was evaluated by LSU and White House medical staff and was later able to rejoin the team. “She is feeling well, in good spirits, and will undergo further evaluation once back in Baton Rouge,” the LSU statement said.

Since the passage of Title IX in 1972, Biden said, more than half of all college students are women, and there are now 10 times more female athletes in college and high school. He said most sports stories are still about men, and that that needs to change.

Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in federally funded education programs and activities.

“Folks, we need to support women sports, not just during the championship run but during the entire year,” President Biden said.

After the Tigers beat Iowa for the NCAA title in April in a game the first lady attended, she caused an uproar by suggesting that the Hawkeyes also come to the White House.

LSU star Angel Reese called the idea “A JOKE” and said she would prefer to visit with former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, instead. The LSU team largely is Black, while Iowa’s top player, Caitlin Clark, is white, as are most of her teammates.

Nothing came of Jill Biden’s idea and the White House only invited the Tigers. Reese ultimately said she would not skip the White House visit. She and co-captain Emily Ward presented team jerseys bearing the number “46” to Biden and the first lady. Hugs were exchanged.

Jill Biden also lavished praise on the team, saying the players showed “what it means to be a champion.”

“In this room, I see the absolute best of the best,” she said, adding that watching them play was “pure magic.”

“Every basket was pure joy and I kept thinking about how far women’s sports have come,” the first lady added, noting that she grew up before Title IX was passed. “We’ve made so much progress and we still have so much more work to do.”

The president added that “the way in which women’s sports has come along is just incredible. It’s really neat to see, since I’ve got four granddaughters.”

After Smith was helped to a wheelchair, Mulkey told the audience the player was OK.

“As you can see, we leave our mark where we go,” Mulkey joked. “Sa’Myah is fine. She’s kind of, right now, embarrassed.”

A few members of Congress and Biden aides past and present with Louisiana roots dropped what they were doing to attend the East Room event, including White House budget director Shalanda Young. Young is in the thick of negotiations with House Republicans to reach a deal by the middle of next week to stave off what would be a globally calamitous U.S. financial default if the U.S. can no longer borrow the money it needs to pay its bills.

The president, who wore a necktie in the shade of LSU’s purple, said Young, who grew up in Baton Rouge, told him, “I’m leaving the talks to be here.” Rep. Garret Graves, one of the House GOP negotiators, also attended.

Biden closed sports Friday by changing to a blue tie and welcoming the UConn’s men’s championship team for its own celebration. The Huskies won their fifth national title by defeating San Diego State, 76-59, in April.

“Congratulations to the whole UConn nation,” he said.

Marquette’s Prosper says he will stay in draft rather than returning to school

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

MILWAUKEE — Olivier-Maxence Prosper announced he is keeping his name under NBA draft consideration rather than returning to Marquette.

The 6-foot-8 forward announced his decision.

“Thank you Marquette nation, my coaches, my teammates and support staff for embracing me from day one,” Prosper said in an Instagram post. “My time at Marquette has been incredible. With that being said, I will remain in the 2023 NBA Draft. I’m excited for what comes next. On to the next chapter…”

Prosper had announced last month he was entering the draft. He still could have returned to school and maintained his college eligibility by withdrawing from the draft by May 31. Prosper’s announcement indicates he instead is going ahead with his plans to turn pro.

Prosper averaged 12.5 points and 4.7 rebounds last season while helping Marquette go 29-7 and win the Big East’s regular-season and tournament titles. Marquette’s season ended with a 69-60 loss to Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32.

He played two seasons at Marquette after transferring from Clemson, where he spent one season.

Kansas’ Kevin McCullar Jr. returning for last season of eligibility

kansas mccullar
Jeffrey Becker/USA TODAY Sports

Kevin McCullar Jr. said that he will return to Kansas for his final year of eligibility, likely rounding out a roster that could make the Jayhawks the preseason No. 1 next season.

McCullar transferred from Texas Tech to Kansas for last season, when he started 33 of 34 games and averaged 10.7 points and 7.0 rebounds. He was also among the nation’s leaders in steals, and along with being selected to the Big 12’s all-defensive team, the 6-foot-6 forward was a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.

“To be able to play in front of the best fans in the country; to play for the best coach in the nation, I truly believe we have the pieces to hang another banner in the Phog,” McCullar said in announcing his return.

Along with McCullar, the Jayhawks return starters Dajuan Harris Jr. and K.J. Adams from a team that went 28–8, won the Big 12 regular-season title and was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where it lost to Arkansas in the second round.

Perhaps more importantly, the Jayhawks landed Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson, widely considered the best player in the portal, to anchor a lineup that was missing a true big man. They also grabbed former five-star prospect Arterio Morris, who left Texas, and Towson’s Nick Timberlake, who emerged last season as one of the best 3-point shooters in the country.

The Jayhawks also have an elite recruiting class arriving that is headlined by five-star recruit Elmarko Jackson.

McCullar declared for the draft but, after getting feedback from scouts, decided to return. He was a redshirt senior last season, but he has another year of eligibility because part of his career was played during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a big day for Kansas basketball,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. “Kevin is not only a terrific player but a terrific teammate. He fit in so well in year one and we’re excited about what he’ll do with our program from a leadership standpoint.”