College Basketball Midseason Awards: Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, All-Americans

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MIDSEASON NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Trae Young, Oklahoma

This one is pretty obvious, isn’t it?

Young is leading the nation in scoring and in assists. He’s averaging damn near 30 and 10 per night, and he’s doing so for a team that is currently ranked in the top ten nationally. He’s scored at least 28 points or finished with at least 10 assists in every game this year. His “off nights” came against pressing teams – Arkansas and West Virginia – and he still ended up averaging 28.5 points and 5.0 assists in those two losses.

But perhaps the most impressive thing that Young has done this season is transform an Oklahoma team that finished last season with an 11-20 record and a 5-13 mark in Big 12 play into Final Four contention. He’s the star that has turned a roster full of role players into a team that will be in the mix for a Big 12 title.

It’s not often that you find a point guard that is as talented and as ball-dominant as Young is that also finds a way to make every single player on the floor with him markedly better.

This isn’t even a conversation. Trae Young. Player of the Year. Lock it in.

Chris Beard (John Weast/Getty Images)

MIDSEASON NATIONAL COACH OF THE YEAR: Chris Beard, Texas Tech

It was generally believed that Tubby Smith had done a really nice job by in turning two sub-.500 and one NCAA tournament appearance for Texas Tech in his three years there before bouncing to Memphis. It’s hard to win in Lubbock, after all.

Unless you’re Chris Beard, apparently.

The second-year Red Raiders coach has Texas Tech at 14-1 overall and 3-0 in the Big 12 with a win at Kansas already tucked away on the resume. They’re flirting with a level of success not seen since the Bob Knight era.

It’s a passion project for Beard, who went from being the coach at Arkansas-Little Rock to UNLV to Texas Tech in the span of less than three weeks as the pull of the place he spent a decade at as an assistant was enough for him to leave the Runnin’ Rebels without ever coaching a game – or even really holding anything other than a press conference. Now he’s given Texas Tech an identity – the Red Raiders are tough as nails and elite defensively.

In a Big 12 outpost like Texas Tech, having a coach that wants to be there and has a defined vision of what will work is absolutely critical. Look at what Fred Hoiberg did at Iowa State or Scott Drew at Baylor or Kansas State with Bob Huggins and Frank Martin (both of whom wanted to be there until, well, they didn’t). Beard fits that model perfectly, and it’s paying off immediately in west Texas.

MIDSEASON ALL-AMERICAN TEAMS

FIRST TEAM

TRAE YOUNG, Oklahoma

JALEN BRUNSON, Villanova: Brunson has been better than we could have imagined this season. He’s averaging 19.4 points and 5.2 assists with a level of efficiency that we rarely see out of anyone, let alone a point guard that always has the ball in his hands. He’s shooting 59 percent from the floor and 49 percent from three with a 4-to-1 assist to turnover ratio. Should I mention that Villanova is the No. 1 team in the country?

JEVON CARTER, West Virginia: Carter is the nation’s best on-ball defender playing in a system that needs all the on-ball defenders that Bobby Huggins can scrounge up. He’s also averaging 16.7 points, 6.9 assists, 5.7 boards and 3.7 steals for a team that is currently sitting in the top five of the AP poll. He has been absolutely superb.

MARVIN BAGLEY III, Duke: Bagley’s numbers are through the roof. He’s averaging 22.5 points and 11.5 boards while grabbing four offensive boards every game and thoroughly dominating any big man that gets in his way. If he could find a way to be an above-average defender, then Duke might actually have a chance to do what the 2015 Duke team did: Go from being a talented team that cannot get a stop to winning a national title.

DEANDRE AYTON, Arizona: Like Bagley, Ayton has been thoroughly dominant on the offensive end of the floor, averaging 20.6 points and 11.4 boards. He’s been slightly better on the defensive end than Bagley has, but it hasn’t exactly shown in Arizona’s numbers. Perhaps the most impressive part of what Ayton is doing is that Sean Miller has been playing him somewhat out of position and it hasn’t even mattered.

SECOND TEAM

TRA HOLDER, Arizona State: Holder is the biggest reason why Arizona State has turned into a top 15 team this season. He may be the most entertaining point guard in the country to watch this side of Trae Young.

MIKAL BRIDGES, Villanova: Brunson gets all of the attention, but Bridges may actually be the best NBA player on the Villanova roster. This season, we are finally seeing what we all thought we would see out of him since Villanova won the 2016 NCAA tournament.

TREVON BLUIETT, Xavier: I’m not sure there is a more complete shooter in college basketball this year. Bluiett is, quite simply, a bucket-getter, and the biggest reason that the Musketeers look to be a top ten team this season.

BONZIE COLSON, Notre Dame: Colson is not long for this list as he’s currently dealing with a broken bone in his foot. But he was sensational for the first two months of the season for Notre Dame, as he was for the majority of his career.

KEITA BATES-DIOP, Ohio State: It’s hard to believe, but KBD has been the best player in the Big Ten this season. He’s averaging 20 points and 8.8 boards for a team that suddenly looks like they are going to be heading to the NCAA tournament.

THIRD TEAM

DEVONTE’ GRAHAM, Kansas: The Jayhawks have been struggling, but it’s not because Graham hasn’t been doing what he can: 18.6 points, 7.4 assists, 19 steals, 44.1% 3PT. He’s been as good as advertised.

KEENAN EVANS, Texas Tech: Evans is the best player on Chris Beard’s Texas Tech team, playing the role of alpha and closer for a Red Raiders team that is going to make a run at the Big 12 title.

DESI RODRIGUEZ, Seton Hall: Desi Rodriguez has been Seton Hall’s best player this season. Khadeen Carrington and Angel Delgado have been Seton Hall’s best players for the last two weeks, and Desi has been just as good. Keep an eye on this team.

JORDAN MURPHY, Minnesota: Murphy would be getting a lot more attention if Minnesota’s season wasn’t crumbling at the foundations. He’s averaging 19 points and 12 boards and has notched a double-double in every game this year.

JOCK LANDALE, Saint Mary’s: Landale has been a name that’s floated around for a few years, but he’s having his best season to date this year. The big question with this group is whether or not it will be enough for the Gaels to get to the NCAA tournament.

Miles Kelly leads Ga. Tech to 79-77 win over rival Georgia

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 02 Northeastern at Georgia Tech
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ATLANTA – Georgia Tech’s Miles Kelly hit another winning shot against a state rival.

Terry Roberts endured a nightmarish final minute for Georgia.

Kelly hit a long 3-pointer and then a drove for the game-winning floater with 23 seconds remaining as the Yellow Jackets rallied to beat Georgia 79-77 on Tuesday night.

Kelly hit the winning shot in similar fashion against Georgia State on Nov. 12. He did it again to beat the Bulldogs, finishing with a team-high 17 points after failing to score in the first half.

“I’m going to continue to keep shooting, no matter how many times I miss,” Kelly said.

Roberts missed a 3-pointer, turned the ball over twice with bad passes, and was called for an offensive foul as he was trying to drive for the basket that would’ve sent the game to overtime.

“A tough finish for us,” Georgia first-year coach Mike White said. “We were in position to steal one on the road.”

A pair of second-chance buckets seemingly put Georgia (7-3) in control with a 77-73 lead.

The Bulldogs wouldn’t score again as Kelly led the comeback for the Yellow Jackets (6-3) – with a big assist from Roberts.

He had a chance to essentially seal it for the Bulldogs, but his jumper beyond the arc clanked off the rim.

Georgia Tech grabbed the rebound and raced down the court, where Kelly swished a 3 from well behind the stripe that brought Georgia Tech within a point with about a minute left.

Trying to work the ball inside, Roberts made an ill-advised entry pass that was deflected and stolen by Deivon Smith, setting up Kelly’s drive for the basket that put the Yellow Jackets back ahead,

Roberts tried a drive of his own, only to have it blocked by Jalon Moore. Georgia retained possession, but Roberts’ inbounds pass was stolen by Moore, who was fouled and made one of two free throws.

Roberts took the ball again and hurriedly dribbled toward the basket, only to be called for an offensive foul when he sent Smith flying.

“Just sacrificing my body for the team,” Smith said.

Georgia stole an inbounds pass around midcourt, giving Karlo Oquendo one last shot to launch a 3 that still would’ve won it for the Bulldogs. It bounced off the rim.

The game was tight throughout. Neither team led by more than eight, and a sequence in the second half showed just how tightly these rivals were matched.

With both squads playing at a frenetic pace and showing little regard for defense, the lead changed hands on eight straight possessions as the teams traded baskets.

Stunningly, they combined to score on 19 straight possessions before Georgia’s Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe missed a pair of free throws with 5:17 remaining.

FIRING UP THE CROWD

Perhaps the biggest cheer of the night came when Georgia Tech football coach Brent Key addressed the crowd at halftime.

Key, who served as interim coach for the last eight games of the season, was introduced Monday as the full-time choice for job.

He fired up the fans by getting them to chant “To hell with Georgia” over and over again. When a smattering of Bulldogs fans responded with barks, Key smiled and egged on the Yellow Jackets crowd to drown them out.

He also declared Georgia Tech to be the “greatest school in the entire state, the entire country,” following up his vow the previous day to not back down from the defending national champion and top-ranked Bulldogs.

BIG PICTURE

Georgia: This will be a tough one to swallow for Roberts, who led his team with 16 points and seven assists. The Bulldogs lost despite shooting 53.4% from the field.

Georgia Tech: Four players scored in double figures, and two others players finished with eight points. But it was Kelly, as usual, who had the ball in his hands at the end of a tight game.

UP NEXT

Georgia: After a nearly two-week break, the Bulldogs return to Atlanta on Dec. 18 to face Notre Dame at State Farm Arena in the Holiday Hoopsgiving event.

Georgia Tech: Head to North Carolina on Saturday for the Atlantic Coast Conference opener against the struggling Tar Heels.

No. 17 Illinois rallies late, beats No. 2 Texas 85-78 in OT

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NEW YORK – Terrence Shannon Jr. scored 12 of his 16 points in overtime, including the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 3:34 remaining, and No. 17 Illinois rallied to hand second-ranked Texas its first loss of the season, 85-78 on Tuesday night in the Jimmy V Classic.

Jayden Epps added 11 points, including the final five points of regulation – a 3-pointer with 35 seconds left and two tying free throws with 8 seconds remaining. Epps then blocked Marcus Carr’s jumper in the lane just before the buzzer to force overtime in an entertaining showdown at Madison Square Garden.

Matthew Mayer, who faced Texas several times at Baylor, tied a career high with 21 points as he made his first seven shots and finished 8 of 10.

Shannon, who missed eight of nine shots in regulation, took over in the extra period to help Illinois (7-2) beat a ranked foe for the second time this season. He opened overtime with a jumper after Marcus Carr was called for traveling and then hit an open 3 from the right wing over Brock Cunningham for a 73-70 lead.

Shannon then converted a reverse layup and finished off a three-point play to make it 77-70 with 2:16 left. Carr hit two free throws to get Texas within one with 1:28 remaining. Jayden Epps hit a layup, RJ Melendez sank two free throws to put Illinois ahead by five, and Shannon made two free throws with 27.7 seconds left.

Timmy Allen scored a season-high 21 points for Texas (6-1), which failed to open 7-0 for the first time since 2014-15. Tyrese Hunter added 10 points but Carr was held to nine points on 3-of-14 shooting as Texas had 12 shots blocked and shot 42%.

Texas took its only double-digit lead when Dillon Mitchell hit a layup with 8:28 left. Illinois cut the lead to 58-56 on a 3 by Melendez nearly four minutes later. After Cunningham hit an open 3 with 4:15 remaining, Si’Jabari Rice made a 3 for a 64-58 lead.

Allen found Cunningham for an open jumper that counted when officials called goaltending on Illinois’ Coleman Hawkins. That gave Texas a 65-61 lead with with 1:51 remaining.

Carr’s rainbow jumper in the lane made it 68-63 with a minute left and Illinois had a 3-pointer by Melendez waved off because it called timeout with 45.3 seconds left. After the timeout, Epps made an open corner 3 with 33 seconds remaining.

Hunter missed the front end of a 1-and-1 to set up Epps’ tying free throws.

BIG PICTURE

Illinois: The Illini continued to struggle with turnovers, committing 17. But only two of them came in the final 10-plus minutes of regulation or overtime. Illinois’ 15th turnover was an offensive foul by Mayer, which sent him to the bench with four fouls with 10:42 remaining.

Texas: The Longhorns had little offense beyond Allen and Hunter. While the duo was a combined 13 of 29, the rest of the team missed 24 of 40 shots.

UP NEXT

Illinois hosts Penn State in its second Big Ten game on Saturday. The Illini lost their conference opener to No. 13 Maryland.

Texas hosts Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the Jimmy Blacklock Classic on Saturday.

Clark, Gardner lift No. 3 Virginia past James Madison, 55-50

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Kihei Clark scored 18 points, Jayden Gardner had 14 points and eight rebounds, and No. 3 Virginia beat feisty in-state rival James Madison 55-50 on Tuesday night.

The Cavaliers (8-0), who lost starting guard Reece Beekman to a right leg injury early in the first half, prevented the Dukes (7-3) from winning a second straight December game in Charlottesville. James Madison beat Virginia 52-49 last Dec. 7.

Clark had seven assists while playing nearly 39 minutes with Beekman sidelined.

“Kihei gave everything he had and I had to, you know, ride him,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “Sure, he missed some free throws. And I know he made some mistakes, but you could just see him, you know, how tough-minded he was.”

Dukes coach Mark Byington said he told Clark – who’s playing his fifth season for Virginia – after last year’s game that he loved watching him play.

“He’s seen everything and nothing you’re going to do is going to surprise him,” Byington said. “There’s nothing Kihei Clark hasn’t seen out there, and he’s poised. I mean, you can’t rattle him. … So I told him this time I was like, `Look, I better never see you in college basketball again.’ But he’s one of my favorite players to watch just because he’s tough, talented, and he’s a winner.”

Takal Molson scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half for James Madison, including a 3-pointer that tied the game at 42-all with 7:47 to play. Gardner responded for Virginia by scoring five straight points in a 9-1 run.

The Cavaliers kept the Dukes in the game by missing eight of 13 free throws over the last six minutes.

Molson made an acrobatic layup while being fouled with 1:51 left, but he missed the free throw. He scored again with 1:01 left, pulling the Dukes within 52-50, but freshman Ryan Dunn answered with a strong move on the baseline for Virginia with 35 seconds to play.

James Madison threw the ball away on its ensuing possession.

BIG PICTURE

James Madison: The Dukes came into the game leading the nation in scoring (93.3 points per game) and having scored as many as 95 points five times. They were shooting 52.7% for the year, but made just four of their first 19 shots and finished 15 of 55 (26.9%). Vado Morse scored 11 points, the only other JMU player in double figures.

“Yeah, we knew how good they were and they showed it in spots tonight,” Gardner said. “But I think you saw a lot of resiliency tonight on the defensive end getting crucial stops.”

Virginia: The Cavaliers played the final 36 minutes without Beekman and gave extensive minutes to freshman Isaac McKneely. Virginia will hope Beekman, its third-leading scorer and a primary ballhandler and defender, recovers in time for its showdown with No. 1 Houston on Dec. 17.

UP NEXT

The Dukes return home to play Gallaudet on Saturday night.

Virginia has a 10-day break before hosting the top-ranked Cougars.

No. 25 Villanova women beat American University 83-42

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VILLANOVA, Pa. – Maddy Siegrist had 24 points and seven rebounds, Lucy Olsen added 14 points and No. 25 Villanova beat American University 83-42 on Tuesday night.

Siegrist scored 15 points in the opening 13 minutes as Villanova led 34-15. The Wildcats extended it to 46-23 by halftime before starting the second half on a 9-0 run for a 32-point lead.

Villanova added an 8-0 run in the fourth quarter for its largest lead of the game at 79-36. The Wildcats held American to 15-of-50 shooting (30%) and scored 21 points off 19 turnovers.

Christina Dalce scored 13 points for Villanova (8-2), which plays Saint Joseph’s on Saturday before taking a week off for final exams. Siegrist, who was coming off a 29-point performance on Sunday, made 10 of 17 shots as Villanova shot 56%.

Emily Johns scored 12 points for American (0-8), which hosts Marist (3-5) on Saturday.

No. 6 UConn star Azzi Fudd out 3-6 weeks with knee injury

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STORRS, Conn. — Sixth-ranked UConn’s top scorer, Azzi Fudd, is expected to be out three to six weeks because of a right knee injury she suffered during her team’s weekend loss to No. 5 Notre Dame, a university athletic spokesperson said.

The sophomore guard was injured in the first half of the game when a teammate collided into her. She returned midway through the second period to play four hobbled minutes, but sat the rest of the way.

“I think she’ll be all right,” coach Geno Auriemma said afterward.

Fudd entered the game averaging 24.0 points but finished scoreless on two shots over 13 minutes in the team’s first loss of the season.

The athletic spokesperson didn’t specify the type of knee injury Fudd sustained.

She underwent evaluation and an MRI confirmed the injury, the spokesperson said.

The Huskies host Princeton next.