PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Jaron Blossomgame, Clemson
How about this for a four-game winning streak: at Syracuse, No. 16 Louisville, No. 9 Duke, No. 8 Miami. That’s what Clemson has done over the course of the last two weeks, and this week alone the Tigers picked off a pair of top ten teams.
Blossomgame was the star. In the wins over Duke and Miami, Blossomgame averaged 21.o points, 6.5 boards, 2.5 assists and 2.0 blocks. In total, during this four-game winning streak, the 6-foot-7 forward is averaging 19.8 points, numbers that are impressive enough that he currently has a strong argument to be the ACC Player of the Year.
Now think about this: Clemson is 5-1 in the ACC as of today, all alone in second-place and just a half-game behind North Carolina for the league lead. Think about that. The Tigers were an afterthought entering the season, coming in with expectations so low that Brad Brownell made just about every hot seat list you could find.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Tigers now, as they play at Virginia and host Pitt this week before heading on the road for three consecutive games. The ACC is a meat grinder, but if Clemson has proven anything this week, it’s that they are up for a challenge.
THE ‘ALL THEY WERE GOOD, TOO’ TEAM
- Isaiah Taylor, Texas: Taylor went for 28 points, six boards and six assists on Tuesday as the Longhorns knocked off Iowa State in overtime, following that up with 18 points in a win over Oklahoma State.
- Josh Scott, Colorado: The Buffaloes swept the Oregon schools in a critical week for their tournament chances. Scott averaged 21.0 points, 11.5 boards and 2.5 blocks in the two wins.
- Ricky Tarrant Jr., Memphis: Tarrant’s numbers weren’t all that great in a 2-0 week for Memphis, but he legit swallowed his own blood just so he could hit game-winning free throws. How tough is this dude?
- Zach LeDay, Virginia Tech: Don’t look now, but the Hokies are sitting at 4-1 in the ACC right now. In a 2-0 week last week, LeDay averaging 20.5 points.
- Jack Gibbs, Davidson: Gibbs is putting up Curry-esque numbers for the Wildcats. On Saturday, he had 43 points, eight boards and eight assists, which followed up a 31-point effort in a loss.
TEAM OF THE WEEK: Iowa Hawkeyes
There isn’t a team in college basketball that has had a more impressive start to conference play that the Hawkeyes. Entering this week, they were 3-0 in the Big Ten with a home win over the Denzel Valentine-less Spartans and a win at Purdue that including a comeback from 19 points down.
Solid, yes, but nothing compared to what Iowa did on Thursday, when they went into East Lansing and beat Sparty like they were owed money. Michigan State was down by 22 points at the half and never made it interesting in the second half. Iowa was the better team, yes, but they were also the tougher team, which is not exactly something we’ve come to expect from the Hawkeyes. Fair or not, the reputation that this Iowa program has is that they are a team that starts great — games, seasons, etc. — and collapses down the stretch.
They’ve started Big Ten play great. Can they continue this run for the rest of the year? I’d bet that they will.
THEY WERE GOOD, TOO
- USC: If you know the history between Andy Enfield and Steve Alford, you know why Wednesday’s 14-point win in Pauley Pavilion felt so good for these Trojans.
- Notre Dame: The Irish bounced back from a slow start to ACC play with a 2-0 week that was capped off by former Duke assistant Mike Brey going into Cameron Indoor Stadium and knocking off Duke.
- Seton Hall: The Pirates landed a key win in their only game this week, going into the Dunkin’ Donuts Center and knocking off Providence, 81-72.
- Indiana: Don’t look now, but the Hoosiers are currently sitting first in defensive efficiency through five Big Ten games. They haven’t played anyone yet, but this is certainly a development to keep an eye on.
- UNLV: The Rebels had a nice response to their coach getting fired last Sunday: they went out and knocked off then-first place New Mexico and followed it up by pounding Air Force into oblivion. Can the run last?
- Florida State: The Seminoles put together a solid 2-0 week, going into Raleigh and knocking off N.C. State before picking off Virginia at home on Sunday afternoon.
SET YOUR DVR
No. 2 Oklahoma at No. 17 Iowa State, Mon. 9:00 p.m.
No. 23 Butler at No. 12 Providence, Tue. 6:30 p.m.
No. 25 Gonzaga at Saint Mary’s, Thu. 11:00 p.m.
No. 2 Oklahoma at No. 22 Baylor, Sat. 12:00 p.m.
No. 12 Providence at No. 6 Villanova, Sat. 12:00 p.m.
No. 3 Maryland at No. 4 Michigan State, Sat. 6:30 p.m.
No. 24 Purdue at No. 16 Iowa, Sun. 1:00 p.m.