PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Luke Fischer, Marquette
Marquette may have found their season’s savior. Through the first eight games of the year, the Golden Eagles were 4-4, having lost to Nebraska-Omaha at home, barely hung on to beat NJIT and got pushed around by Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin. That was before Deonte Burton transferred out of the program. It looked pretty safe to say that Steve Wojciechowski’s first season in Milwaukee would be full-on rebuilding mode. It was bad enough that I had started just ignoring Marquette games when they popped up on the channel guide.
And then Luke Fischer got eligible.
The 6-foot-11 transfer from Indiana played his first game of the season against Arizona State last week, and he put on a show, finishing with 19 points, nine boards and five blocks. To follow that up, Fischer posted 22 points against Alabama A&M. In his two games this season, Fischer is shooting 17-for-19 from the floor, which, if you can’t tell, is pretty good. Will this turn the Golden Eagles into an NCAA tournament team? It’s probably too early to tell. But Fischer fills a gaping hope in Wojo’s lineup, which makes Marquette markedly better.
THE ALL-THEY-WERE-GOOD-TOO TEAM
- Terry Rozier, Louisville: Rozier scored 26 of his game-high 32 points after Montrezl Harrell was ejected on Saturday, ensuring that the Cardinals would not have their unbeaten season ended by Western Kentucky.
- Troy Williams, Indiana: Williams played his best game as a Hoosier on Saturday, going for 22 points, 11 boards, three assists, two steals and two blocks in a win over Butler.
- JayVaughn Pinkston, Villanova: Pinkston had 25 points and 10 boards, making a number of huge plays down the stretch as Villanova erased a 14-point second half deficit in an overtime win over Syracuse.
- Rayvonte Rice, Illinois: Rice made sure Braggin’ Rights remained in Illinois, hitting this game-winning three to beat Missouri. He finished with 19 points.
- Snoop White, Ole Miss: White scored 16 of his 26 points in the second half as Ole Miss came from 17 down to beat a good Coastal Carolina team. The win keep Ole Miss from playing for an NIT bid in the SEC.
- Juwan Staten, West Virginia: A preseason all-american, Staten had his best game of the young season on Saturday, going for 24 points (on 10-for-17 shooting), six assists and two steals as WVU beat N.C. State in NYC.
TEAM OF THE WEEK: Washington Huskies
If anyone thought that struggling against Eastern Washington somehow proved that the Huskies weren’t “for real”, they squashed that theory on Saturday when they knocked off Oklahoma in Las Vegas, 69-67. Washington was up by as much as 20 in the first half, surviving late with a couple of critical defensive stops.
I don’t know if I’m ready to say that Washington is the second-best team in the Pac-12, not as long as Utah is still playing like a top 15 team. But the Huskies aren’t all that far behind. It starts with Robert Upshaw, a seven-footer that comes off the bench yet averages 4.5 blocks in less than 20 minutes per game. He changes to tone of what Washington can do on the defensive side of the ball. Throw in Nigel Williams-Goss, one of the nation’s most underrated point guard, and Andrew Andrews, and you have what may be Lorenzo Romar’s best team since the 2009 that featured Isaiah Thomas, Quincy Pondexter and Jon Brockman.
THEY WERE GOOD, TOO
- Virginia: The Cavs took care of a pretty good Cleveland State team during the week before absolutely embarrassing Harvard on Sunday, beating them 76-27 and setting an NCAA record by allowing just one field goal in the first half.
- Kentucky: The Wildcats had a better first half against UCLA than Virginia did against Harvard, jumping out to a 24-0 lead and heading into the break up 41-7 en route to an 83-44 win.
- North Carolina: Marcus Paige still hasn’t busted out of his funk, but Brice Johnson and Kennedy Meeks are playing well, and Joel Berry is getting better, too. The Tar Heels won at UNC-Greensboro and knocked off Ohio State this week.
- SMU: The Mustangs got two huge results this week: they won at Michigan, and they got Markus Kennedy back from his suspension.
- Notre Dame: The Irish made a statement on Saturday. They beat Purdue 94-63, and they did it despite the fact that Jerian Grant was 3-for-13 from the floor.
SET YOUR DVR
- No. 5 Wisconsin at Cal, Mon. 9:00 p.m.
- Stanford at No. 9 Texas, Tue. 7:00 p.m.
- Georgetown vs. Indiana, Sat. 12:00 p.m. (NYC)
- No. 1 Kentucky at No. 4 Louisville, Sat. 2:00 p.m.
- No. 8 Gonzaga at BYU, Sat. 6:00 p.m.