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

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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:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kA4wHQgCp6c]

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:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxlbjXu1FuE]

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.

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.

Jackson-Davis leads No. 18 Indiana past No. 24 Rutgers 66-60

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The milestone moments keep piling up for Trayce Jackson-Davis.

Only one really mattered Tuesday night.

While he scored 20 points to become the sixth player in Hoosiers’ history with 2,000 and the first among that group with 1,000 career rebounds, the most satisfying celebration came after No. 18 Indiana beat No. 24 Rutgers 66-60 – Jackson-Davis’ first win in the series.

“I think that’s the last team in the Big Ten I hadn’t beaten,” Jackson-Davis said after finishing with 18 rebounds and six assists.

From the moment Jackson-Davis announced he would attend Indiana, the expectations were great even as critics contended the results were underwhelming.

Nobody’s complaining now. Jackson-Davis now has 2,004 points, 1,035 rebounds, a school-record 242 blocks and ranks fourth all-time with 44 double-doubles after breaking a tie with Steve Downing.

After helping the Hoosiers snap a five-year NCAA Tournament drought last season and falling out of the rankings after three straight January losses, Jackson-Davis has almost single-handedly led the Hoosiers (17-7, 8-5 Big Ten) into a second-place tie by winning seven of eight.

And his dominance is starting to open things up for his teammate. Or perhaps it’s the other way around.

“I think we’ve gotten a lot better playing around Trayce, giving him space,” Miller Kopp said after scoring 18 points. “It comes down to getting better at what the coaches are asking us to do and we’re all feeling more comfortable with where our looks are coming from.”

It certainly showed against the Scarlet Knights (16-8, 8-5), who had won six straight over Indiana including a 15-point blowout in December.

This time, though, they spent most of the game playing catchup. Clifford Omoruyi had 15 points, Cam Spencer had 14 and nobody else made more than three baskets.

“It’s a one-possession game with three minutes left, but I look at the (free throw) disparity and you can’t defend the foul line,” coach Steve Pikiell said. “Give Indiana credit, they got there. Tracye Jackson-Davis was a problem.”

The Hoosiers started fast and then scored 12 straight points to take a 30-14 lead midway through the first half but even without injured starting forward Mawot Mag, Rutgers charged back. It closed the first half on an 11-2 run, then tied it at 38 when Spencer opened the second half with a 3-pointer.

Kopp broke the tie with his third 3 of the game to start an 11-0 run and Jackson-Davis’ monumental basket, a putback dunk off his own miss, made it 54-44 with 11:13 to go.

The Scarlet Knights could have tied it on Caleb McConnell’s 3 with 3:02 left, but it bounced off the back of the rim and the Hoosiers closed Jackson-Davis’ big win with a 7-2 spurt.

“He’s a man who’s done a lot since he’s been here,” said coach Mike Woodson, who is 57 points ahead of Jackson-Davis on the Hoosiers’ scoring list. “He’s a phenomenal player who does a lot of beautiful things on the court. To get 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds says a lot.”

BIG PICTURE

Rutgers: Mag missed his first game with a torn ACL in his right knee and Rutgers struggled against Indiana’s size and speed. There could be similar challenges over the final eight regular-season games.

Indiana: Woodson’s team is playing, at times, like the conference’s preseason pick to win the league title. When the Hoosiers make perimeter shots and defend well, they’re a difficult matchup for anyone. They just need fewer lulls.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The victory should help solidify Indiana’s top-20 status – at least until it hits the road for their next two games. Losing Mag and Tuesday’s game may make Rutgers’ return to the rankings short-lived regardless of what happens later this week.

UP NEXT

Rutgers: Visits Illinois on Saturday

Indiana: Heads to Michigan on Saturday.

Pitt moves into 1st-place ACC tie destroying Louisville

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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PITTSBURGH – Nike Sibande scored 15 points off the bench, nine Pittsburgh players entered the scoring column and the Panthers demolished Louisville 91-57 on Tuesday night and moved into a first-place tie with Clemson in the ACC.

Entering play Tuesday, the top five teams in the ACC were separated by just a game in the standings. A win by No. 8 Virginia against No. 22 North Carolina State Tuesday would create a three-way tie for first between Clemson, Pitt and the Cavaliers.

Against Louisville, the Panthers (17-7, 10-3) distributed 23 assists on 28-made baskets. Defensively, Pitt held Louisville (3-21, 1-12) to 27.6% (16 for 58) shooting and outrebounded the Cardinals 37-30. Mike James scored 11 points for Louisville.

El Ellis made a pair of foul shots to bring Louisville into a 14-all tie with 13:36 before halftime. Pitt then went on a 16-2 run over nearly the next five minutes. Six-different Panthers scored during the run. Nate Santos’ 3-pointer with 9:38 before the break made it 27-16 and Pitt led by double digits the rest of the way. A 47-27 halftime lead turned into a 58-28 margin just 1:59 into the second half.

With the win, the Panthers reached double digits in conference wins for just the second time in 10 ACC seasons. Pitt went 11-7 in its first year in the ACC following its 12-6 campaign in its final year in the Big East in 2012-13.

Louisville will continue its road trip when it takes on No. 19 Miami on Saturday. Pitt travels to face Florida State on Saturday.