Week in Review: Brandon Paul and Florida State in a landslide

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The #BIAHRoadTrip will be cutting into our national coverage a bit, so the Week in Review’s will be limited over these three weeks.

Player of the Week: Brandon Paul, Illinois

This was a relatively easy choice. Paul played a single game this week, and in that game, he had arguably the single most dominant individual performance of the season. He scored 43 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked four shots. He shot 11-15 from the floor — the first time in 16 years that someone scored as many as 43 points while taking as few as 15 shots — and 8-10 from three. He scored 15 points in the last three minutes of the game, including a pair of ridiculously tough threes to keep Illinois in the lead. The latter came from about 22 feet with Aaron Craft’s hand literally in his face.

The question for Illinois now is how they build on this. Yes, Paul’s performance was great theater and yes, it got them a marquee win that they so desperately needed. But its not difficult to see how this win can be viewed as fool’s gold. Paul isn’t going to be this dominant every single night, and even with that kind of performance, Illinois only managed to knock off Ohio by five points. Paul needs to be much more consistent and the Illini need to get more out of Meyers Leonard. If they do, Illinois should be in the mix at the top of the Big Ten.

The All-They-Were-Good-Too Team

G: Phil Pressey, Missouri: Missouri was sensational in Missouri’s win over Texas, finishing with 18 points, 10 assists and zero turnovers. He also added 12 points, five boards and five assists in a huge road win at Iowa State. Missouri got drubbed by the now 1-3 Kansas State Wildcats on the road, which is why a win over an improved Cyclones team — one in which Missouri played far from their best game — is a very good sign.

G: Chaz Williams, UMass: The Hofstra transfer has been one of the most improved point guards in the country. He’s averaging 16.2 ppg and 5.9 apg, spurring the Minutemen on to a surprising 3-1 start in Atlantic 10 play. This week, Williams has 22 points, six boards and seven assists — and just one turnover — as UMass overcame a 17 point deficit to knock off St. Joe’s. That performance came on the heels of the 19 points, six assists and five boards he had in a win over Charlotte.

G: Lenzelle Smith, Ohio State: Lenzelle Smith had a career-high 28 points and added seven boards as the Buckeyes knocked off Indiana in impressive fashion, getting revenge for a loss at Assembly Hall from earlier in the season. Putting OSU here is less about Smith, however, and more about simply wanting to comment on the Buckeyes: they made a statement here, and they needed to. There had been some doubt creeping into the minds of the pundits over the last couple of weeks. Between the loss at Kansas (without Sullinger), the loss at Illinois (when Paul went nuts) and the loss at Indiana, the Buckeyes suddenly looked mortal. For my money, OSU is still the favorite to win the Big Ten. As they showed Saturday, they can be absolutely smothering defensively. When they are getting the kind of perimeter production they got on Sunday, look out.

F: Terrence Ross, Washington: Ross had the best game of his career on Sunday night, scoring 30 points, grabbing 14 boards and hitting six threes as he led the CJ Wilcox-less Huskies to a win at Washington State. 26 of those points came in the second half. Washington has a wealth of perimeter talent, but for one reason or another, Lorenzo Romar has been unable to get everyone on the same page. No one has suffered from that lack of cohesion as much as Ross. Is this the spark he needs to become the kind of player that everyone expected him to be in the preseason.

C: Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State: Moultrie was only average in a 62-58 win over a scrappy Tennessee team, finishing with 13 points, four boards and four blocks. But he was sensational as Mississippi State knocked off fellow SEC West member Alabama 56-52 on Saturday. He had 25 points and 13 boards (seven offensive) and helped to keep JaMychal Green from having a major impact in the paint.

Team of the Week: Florida State

Just like the Paul pick, this is fairly obvious. On Tuesday, the Noles went into Blacksburg and knocked off Virginia Tech 63-59. But that’s not the game that everyone is going to be talking about this weekend. On Saturday, FSU absolutely pulverized North Carolina, taking an eight point lead into the break and embarrassing the Tar Heels in the second half, winning by 33 points. Seriously! 33 points!

We’ll save our question marks about UNC for later. Its all Florida State here. The Noles really, really needed this win, and its not just because they had a resume that included two losses to Ivy League teams and a twenty point loss to Clemson. Deividas Dulkys was 8-10 from three. Michael Snaer went for 17 points. Luke Loucks hit a pair of threes. Florida State’s issue coming in was offensively — they struggle to score in large part because they can’t shoot. Will this be the confidence boost they needed to turn that around?

Five teams that deserve a shoutout:

Baylor: First, the Bears go into Kansas State and knock off the Wildcats a couple of days after Frank Martin’s team blew out Missouri on the same court. Then, Baylor puts up 106 points in a 41 point win over Oklahoma State. Some people are waiting to see if Baylor can beat Kansas in Phog Allen to label this team a national title contender. Not me. The Bears are as good as anyone in the country.

Cincinnati: Cincinnati is doing everything they can to prove that the loss they suffered to St. John’s at home — the only loss they’ve had since the brawl — was a fluke. The Bearcats went into DC and knocked off Georgetown, following that up with a four point win over Villanova despite the Wildcats getting 39 points, 13 boards and six assists from Maalik Wayns. Mick Cronin’s team is now sitting just a game out of first place in the Big East.

Oregon: Don’t look now, but the Ducks are sitting just a game out of first place in the Pac-12 after sweeping a road weekend at the Arizona schools. Making their record all the more impressive is that the Ducks have won three of their four games on the road. Given everything that is going on in that conference, we have to consider this group a contender for the league title.

SDSU: The Aztecs knocked off UNLV in the most exciting game of the week. Jamaal Franklin, who went for 24 points and 10 boards on a bum ankle, hit a driving layup with 0.3 seconds left on the clock. I guess that SDSU’s terreible schedule during the holiday break didn’t hurt them too much. It doesn’t get any easier for Steve Fisher’s club, however. Three of their next four are on the road, at New Mexico, at Colorado State and at Wyoming.

St. Mary’s: The Gaels are now the favorite in the WCC. That’s what happens when you beat BYU and Gonzaga by an average of 18.5 ppg. But remember, we’ve seen this before out of St. Mary’s. We’ve seen the great starts. Can they close out the season? And what happens when they go and play those two teams on the road? St. Mary’s has been very impressive, particularly Rob Jones and Matthew Dellavedova, but I still need to see more.

Five Thoughts:

Road losses: We saw a lot of ranked teams lose on the road this week. UNC and Louisville got smoked by Florida State and Providence, respectively. Michigan lost at Iowa. Michigan State lost at Northwestern. Kansas State, Seton Hall and Ohio State all lost road games as well. As you can probably imagine, this led to a plethora of tweets and stories about just how difficult it is to win on the road in conference play, all of which were true.

But its also common. Every year, we talk about how tough it is to win on the road in league play and how teams are going to eventually slip up playing against programs that are so familiar. It happens every single season. So what do you make of the losses? Well, each situation is difference. The fact that UNC quit against Florida State is alarming. Louisville’s loss at Providence further drove home the point that the Cardinals are and have been very overrated. But Kansas State and Seton Hall lost at improved Oklahoma and South Florida teams who are going steal games all year long. Ohio State ran into the Brandon Paul buzz saw.

Home losses are more worrisome (looking at you Indiana) than road losses, and so long as teams are able to bounce back and keep a loss from becoming a losing streak, all is ok.

The Missouri Valley is too balanced: The Missouri Valley is very strong this season. Creighton and Wichita State are probably good enough to earn at-large bids, and there are another five or six teams in the league that are capable of beating anyone in the conference on a given night. While that is going to make for some great basketball games and an entertaining race, it may also mean that the league ends up beating themselves into just two NCAA Tournament bids.

Outside of the top two, who is going to be able to put together one of the 37 best at-large resumes? UNI and Indiana State are both sitting below .500 in league play. Missouri State won at Creighton but has since lost to Illinois State, Northern Iowa and Evansville, with two of those losses coming at home. Drake and Evansville both have a star, but that hasn’t exactly turned into wins. Can anyone separate themselves from the rest of the pack?

Duke now the favorite in the ACC?: I’m not ready to say that yet, but I do think that North Carolina showed their true colors against the Seminoles. The Tar Heels lack toughness. I’m not just talking about physical toughness, either — all though that is a major issue, given how hard the Heels were smacked on Saturday. Their mental toughness has been a problem. UNC quit against Florida State. Plain and simple. They got smacked around a bit, they found themselves in a hole and they just said “screw it, I don’t want to be out here anymore”. That’s not the only time something like this has happened, either. Remember the brain lock against Kentucky, when UNC opted not to foul after Anthony Davis blocked that John Henson jumper with six seconds left?

Duke has their own issues, which have been well-documented in this space. And while they may deserve to be ranked above UNC right now, I don’t believe they are the better team. That said, if UNC has this kind of performance against Duke, they’ll lose by 40.

Jarnell Stokes: He was awesome in his debut. He clearly is out of shape and he needs to learn the system that Cuonzo Martin runs, but he’s a big guy with a nice touch around the rim and decent range on his jumper. At 6’8″, 250 lb, he will provide a nice compliment alongside Jeronne Maymon. Don’t be surprised to see the Vols knock off some of the contenders in the SEC this season.

Northwestern: The Wildcats got a huge win against Michigan State. That point cannot be stressed enough. After coming up short against both Illinois and Michigan, Northwestern absolutely had to have this game. But its no where near enough. They are 2-3 in the league right now and they still have to play loaded Big Ten schedule. Are they going to be able to beat Wisconsin on the road? Indiana on the road? Purdue? Ohio State? Northwestern has plenty of work to do.

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

College basketball broadcaster Billy Packer dies at 82

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Billy Packer, an Emmy award-winning college basketball broadcaster who covered 34 Final Fours for NBC and CBS, died Thursday. He was 82.

Packer’s son, Mark, told The Associated Press that his father had been hospitalized in Charlotte for the past three weeks and had several medical issues, and ultimately succumbed to kidney failure.

Packer’s broadcasting career coincided with the growth of college basketball. He worked as analyst or color commentator on every Final Four from 1975 to 2008. He received a Sports Emmy for Outstanding Sports Personality, Studio and Sports Analyst in 1993.

“He really enjoyed doing the Final Fours,” Mark Packer said. “He timed it right. Everything in life is about timing. The ability to get involved in something that, frankly, he was going to watch anyway, was a joy to him. And then college basketball just sort of took off with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird and that became, I think, the catalyst for college basketball fans to just go crazy with March Madness.”

Packer played three seasons at Wake Forest, and helped lead the Demon Deacons to the Final Four in 1962, but it was his work as an analyst that brought him the most acclaim.

He joined NBC in 1974 and called his first Final Four in 1975. UCLA beat Kentucky in the title game that year in what was John Wooden’s final game as coach.

Packer was also part of the broadcast in 1979 with Dick Enberg and Al McGuire when Magic Johnson’s Michigan State team beat Larry Bird’s Indiana State squad in the title game. That remains highest-rated game in basketball history with a 24.1 Nielsen rating, which is an estimated 35.1 million viewers.

Packer went to CBS in the fall of 1981, when the network acquired the rights to the NCAA Tournament. He remained the network’s main analyst until the 2008 Final Four.

In 1996 at CBS, Packer was involved in controversy when he used the term “tough monkey? to describe then-Georgetown star Allen Iverson during a game. Packer later said he “was not apologizing for what I said, because what I said has no implications in my mind whatsoever to do with Allen Iverson’s race.?

Sean McManus, the chairman of CBS Sports, said Packer was “synonymous with college basketball for more than three decades and set the standard of excellence as the voice of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.”

“He had a tremendous impact on the growth and popularity of the sport.” McManus said. “In true Billy fashion, he analyzed the game with his own unique style, perspective and opinions, yet always kept the focus on the game. As passionate as he was about basketball, at his heart Billy was a family man. He leaves part of his legacy at CBS Sports, across college basketball and, most importantly, as a beloved husband, father and grandfather. He will be deeply missed by all.”

Packer was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.

ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale took to Twitter as word of Packer’s death spread. “So sad to learn of the passing of Billy Packer who had such a passion for college basketball,” Vitale tweeted. “My (prayers) go out to Billy’s son Mark & the entire Packer family. Always had great RESPECT for Billy & his partners Dick Enberg & Al McGuire-they were super. May Billy RIP.”

College basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla tweeted: “We fell in love (with) college basketball because of you. Your voice will remain in my head forever.”

Packer was viewed as a controversial figure during his broadcasting days, often drawing the ire of college basketball fans, particularly on North Carolina’s “Tobacco Road.”

“As a kid, I was a big NC State fan growing up, and I would watch a game and the next day I’d be like, `Boy you sure have it out for NC State, don’t you?’ And he would just laugh,” Mark Packer said.

The younger Packer, who is the host of ACC PM on the ACC Network, said it didn’t matter what school – most fans felt the same way about his father.

“He would cover North Carolina game and Tar Heels fans would be like, `you hate North Carolina,”‘ Mark Packer said. “Wake (Forest) fans would be like, `you hate us.’ And Billy just sort of got a kick out of that.”

Mark Packer said that while most fans will remember his father as a broadcaster, he’ll remember him even more for his business acumen. He said his father was a big real estate investor, and also owned a vape company, among other ventures.

“Billy was always a bit of a hustler – he was always looking for that next business deal,” Packer said.

Clemson starter Galloway will miss time after surgery

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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson starter Brevin Galloway is expected to miss games for the 24th-ranked Tigers after having surgery on his groin area Thursday.

The 6-foot-3 Galloway has started 20 of 21 games after transferring from Boston College this past offseason.

Galloway posted on social media that he’d had the surgery. Clemson coach Brad Brownell confirmed in a text to The Associated Press that Galloway had the operation.

Galloway said in his post he will be in uniform soon. He is not expected to play at Florida State on Saturday.

A fifth-year player, Galloway has averaged 10.6 points a game this season. He’s second on the Tigers with 55 assists and 18 steals.

The Tigers (17-4) lead the Atlantic Coast Conference at 9-1 in league play.

Clemson is already down two experienced players due to injury.

Point guard Chase Hunter, who started the team’s first 18 games, has missed the past three with a foot injury.

Guard Alex Hemenway, in his fourth season, has missed the past nine games with a foot injury. Hemenway was the team’s leading 3-point shooter (27 of 54) before getting hurt.

Zach Edey has 19 points, No. 1 Purdue beats Michigan 75-70

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Junfu Han/USA TODAY NETWORK
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Zach Edey had 15 of his 19 points in the first half and Fletcher Loyer finished with 17 points to help No. 1 Purdue hold off Michigan 75-70 on Thursday night.

The Boilermakers (20-1, 9-1 Big Ten) had a 15-0 run to go ahead 41-28 lead in the first half after there were 10 lead changes and four ties, but they couldn’t pull away.

The Wolverines (11-9, 5-4) were without standout freshman Jett Howard, who missed the game with an ankle injury, and still hung around until the final seconds.

Joey Baker made a 3-pointer – off the glass – with 5.9 seconds left to pull Michigan within three points, but Purdue’s Brandon Newman sealed the victory with two free throws.

Purdue coach Matt Painter said Michigan slowed down Edey in the second half by pushing him away from the basket.

“They got him out a little more, and got him bottled up,” Painter said.

The 7-foot-4 Edey, though, was too tough to stop early in the game.

“He’s one of the best in the country for a reason,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard said. “He’s very effective, especially if he’s 8 feet and in.”

With size and skills such as a hook shot, the junior center from Toronto scored Purdue’s first seven points and finished the first half 7 of 12 from the field and 1 of 2 at the line.

“He did a great job in the first half, going to his right shoulder and using his left hand,” Painter said. “He made four baskets with his left hand which is huge.”

Freshman Braden Smith had 10 points for the Boilermakers.

Purdue’s defense ultimately denied Michigan’s comeback hopes, holding a 22nd straight opponent to 70 or fewer points.

Hunter Dickinson scored 21, Kobe Bufkin had 16 points and Baker added 11 points for the Wolverines, who have lost four of their last six games.

Dickinson, a 7-1 center, matched up with Edey defensively and pulled him out of the lane offensively by making 3 of 7 3-pointers.

“Half his shots were from the 3, and that’s a little different,” Painter said. “His meat and potatoes are on that block. He’s the real deal.”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Boilermakers got the top spot in the AP Top 25 this week after winning six games, a stretch that followed a loss to Rutgers on Jan. 3 that dropped them from No. 1 in the poll. Purdue improved to 7-2 as the top-ranked team.

BIG PICTURE

Purdue: Edey can’t beat teams by himself and he’s surrounded by a lot of role players and a potential standout in Loyer. The 6-4 guard was the Big Ten player of the week earlier this month, become the first Boilermaker freshman to win the award since Robbie Hummel in 2008.

“Fletcher is somebody who has played better in the second half, and on the road,” Painter said.

Michigan: Jett Howard’s health is a critical factor for the Wolverines, who will have some work to do over the second half of the Big Ten season to avoid missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015. Howard averages 14.6 points and is the most dynamic player on his father’s team.

ROAD WARRIORS

The Boilermakers were away from home for 12 of 23 days, winning all five of their road games. They won at Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan for the first time since the 1997-98 season and beat the Spartans and Wolverines on their home court in the same season for the first time in 12 years.

UP NEXT

Purdue: Hosts Michigan State on Sunday, nearly two weeks after the Boilermakers beat the Spartans by a point on Edey’s shot with 2.2 seconds left.

Michigan: Plays at Penn State on Sunday.

Miller scores 23, No. 10 Maryland tops No. 13 Michigan 72-64

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Diamond Miller scored 23 points, and No. 10 Maryland closed the first quarter with a 13-2 run and led the rest of the way in a 72-64 victory over No. 13 Michigan on Thursday night.

Abby Meyers contributed 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Terrapins (17-4, 8-2), who won for the 10th time in 11 games. Lavender Briggs scored 14 points and Shyanne Sellers added 13.

Maryland gained a measure of revenge after losing twice to Michigan last season – including a 20-point rout in College Park.

Leigha Brown led the Wolverines with 16 points.

Michigan (16-5, 6-4) led 13-9 in the first quarter before a three-point play by Miller started Maryland’s big run. Briggs and Faith Masonius made 3-pointers during that stretch.

The Terps pushed the lead to 16 in the third quarter before the Wolverines were able to chip away. Miller sat for a bit with four fouls, and Michigan cut the lead to seven in the fourth quarter, but the Wolverines still wasted too many possessions with turnovers to mount much of a comeback.

Michigan ended up with 24 turnovers, and Maryland had a 25-5 advantage in points off turnovers.

Miller fouled out with 2:19 remaining, but even after those two free throws, the Terps led 65-57 and had little trouble holding on.

Michigan lost for the second time in four days against a top-10 opponent. No. 6 Indiana beat the Wolverines 92-83 on Monday.

BIG PICTURE

Michigan: Whether it was against Maryland’s press or in their half-court offense, the Wolverines turned the ball over too much to score consistently. This was a lower-scoring game than the loss to Indiana, but the margin ended up being similar.

Maryland: While Miller clearly led the way, the Terps had plenty of offensive contributors. They also held Michigan to 13 points below its season average entering the game.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Wolverines have appeared in 48 straight AP polls, and although a two-loss week could certainly drop them, the quality of their opponents could save them from a substantial plunge.

Maryland is tied for 10th with an Iowa team that beat No. 2 Ohio State on Monday night. Now the Terps can boast an impressive victory of their own.

UP NEXT

Michigan: The Wolverines play their third game of the week when they visit Minnesota on Sunday.

Maryland: The Terps host Penn State on Monday night.

 

Boum, Jones lead No. 13 Xavier over No. 19 UConn, 82-79

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STORRS, Conn. – Souley Boum scored 21 points, Colby Jones added 20 and No. 13 Xavier went on the road and held off No. 19 Connecticut 82-79 Wednesday night.

The win was the 13th in 14 games for the Musketeers (17-4, 9-1 Big East) and it gave them a season sweep over the struggling Huskies (16-6, 5-6).

Jack Nunge had 12 points and Jerome Hunter added 11 for Xavier, which led by 17 in the first half and 39-24 at halftime.

Jordan Hawkins scored 26 of his 28 points in the second half for UConn, leading a comeback that fell just short.

Tristen Newton added 23 points for the Huskies, who won their first 14 games this season but have dropped six of eight since.

The Musketeers never trailed but had to withstand UConn runs that cut the lead to a single point four times in the second half.

A three-point play from Hawkins made it 78-77 with 2:40 left. But a second-chance layup from Nunge put the lead at 80-77 just over a minute later.

Newton was fouled with two seconds left by Desmond Claude, but his apparent attempt to miss his second free throw went into the basket.

Boum then hit two free throws at the other end, and Newton’s final attempt from just beyond halfcourt was well short.

Xavier jumped out to a 9-0 lead as UConn missed its first nine shots.

A 3-pointer from Zach Freemantle gave the Musketeers their first double-digit lead at 20-9, and another from Jones pushed it to 35-18.

BIG PICTURE

Xavier: The Musketeers lead the Big East, and the win over UConn was their ninth conference victory this season, eclipsing their total from last season.

UConn: The Huskies came in with a 17-game winning streak at Gampel Pavilion dating to February 2021. They fell to 1-4 against the four teams in front of them in the Big East standings. The lone win came at Gampel against Creighton.

UP NEXT

Xavier: The Musketeers continue their road trip with a visit to Creighton on Saturday.

UConn: Doesn’t play again until next Tuesday, when the Huskies visit DePaul.