PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Cameron Young, Quinnipiac
It’s been a decade since someone in the college ranks has done what Cameron Young did on Sunday afternoon.
A senior guard from California, Young scored 55 points in a triple-overtime win on the road against Siena. He was 15-for-24 from the floor, shot 9-for-13 from three and made 16-of-20 free throws. It’s the first time since Dec. 12, 2008, that a Division I basketball player has gone for 55 points. The last time it was was when North Dakota State’s Ben Woodside had 60 against Stephen F. Austin, also in triple-overtime.
Young also added 10 rebounds in the game, making him the first player to do that in the last 20 seasons. In three games last week, Young averaged 36 points.
But that’s not the end of it.
Jalen Pickett, a freshman point guard for Siena, finished with 46 points and 13 assists in the loss. That’s the first time that a Division I player has posted at least 45 points and 10 assists since 2003, with LIU’s Antawn Dobie did it against St. Francis. The 101 combined points that they scored is the most by a pair of opposing players since 1996.
What a wild, wild basketball game.
TEAM OF THE WEEK: LSU Tigers
As wild as this sounds, the SEC regular season title is now LSU’s to lose.
On Saturday, the Tigers avoided a letdown by going into Athens and knocking off Georgia. It was their second road win of the week, as they went into Lexington and knocked off Kentucky on Tuesday evening. The Tigers are now 21-4 overall and 11-1 in the SEC. They’ve played five of their last seven games on the road and now head back to Baton Rouge for a three-game homestand.
And with six games left in the regular season, LSU’s SEC regular season title is in their control.
As things currently stand, the Tigers are tied for first in the conference with Tennessee, a game in front of Kentucky. LSU hosts the Vols next Saturday, meaning that if they find a way to win out, they will be the outright SEC regular season champions over a pair of top five teams and national title contenders.
1. TENNESSEE IS JUST FINE AFTER GETTING EMBARRASSED BY KENTUCKY
It feels weird that I need to say this after Tennessee had their 19-game winning streak snapped on the road against a top five team, but here we are.
As bad as Saturday night went for Tennessee, I’m convinced that this had as much to do with the situation and the matchup as anything. Tennessee’s offense runs through the paint and it runs through Grant Williams. The problem is that Williams — whose talent is his ability to use his strength, leverage and understanding of angles — rans into the one player that can nullify the things that he does best in Reid Travis, who may be, pound for pound, the strongest player in the country.
Once that happened, Tennessee didn’t really have an answer, not after Kyle Alexander got into foul trouble and the Vols were forced to play against what has arguably been the best frontline in the country the last month of the season without a player taller than 6-foot-6 on the floor.
And don’t forget, this game was played on Kentucky’s home floor just 96 hours after they suffered a disappointing, controversial loss against LSU with their chances of an SEC regular season title on the line.
Tennessee is still a top five team, one that’s good enough to put together six straight wins in March.
Sometimes even good teams get their tails kicked.
2. P.J. WASHINGTON WILL BE THE SEC PLAYER OF THE YEAR AS OF TODAY
There has been no one in college basketball that has been better than P.J. Washington over the course of the last month, and it is what has turned Kentucky from a good team to one of the nation’s very best. Over the course of the last eight games, Washington is averaging 21.0 poits, 8.1 boards, 1.3 blocks and 1.1 steals. He was the best player on the court for the Wildcats in Saturday’s demolition of Tennessee, scoring at will in the post and leading Kentucky to an 86-69 win that they needed to get if they had any hope of winning an SEC regular season title.
Now, Grant Williams has been terrific all season for Tennessee, and it’s impossible to ignore what Tremont Waters means for LSU, but if Washington keeps up the pace that he has been playing at over the course of the final six regular season games on Kentucky’s schedule, I don’t know how you can come to any conclusion other than him being the best player in the conference.
3. KANSAS IS GOING TO WIN THE BIG 12 AGAIN
Despite the fact that the Jayhawks have been playing without Marcus Garrett and Lagerald Vick to go along with the absence of Udoka Azubuike and Silvio De Sousa, and despite the fact that they are currently starting four freshmen, one of whom was supposed to redshirt this season, the Jayhawks are currently sitting one game out of first place in the Big 12, trailing a Kansas State team that is looking at a future potentially without Dean Wade on the floor.
The standings, as of today, look like this:
- Kansas State (9-3)
- Texas Tech (9-4)
- Kansas (9-4)
- Iowa State (8-4)
Kansas still has to play at Texas Tech next Saturday in the game that appears to be the most likely to keep Kansas from calling themselves Big 12 champions one again. The Jayhawks also host Kansas State while Texas Tech pays a visit to Iowa State on the last day of the regular season.
Those are the games that will decide the Big 12 regular season title. For what it’s worth, KenPom is currently projecting that all four of those teams will finish the season at 12-6 in Big 12 play.
Is anyone really going to bet against Kansas finding a way to get it done and keep the streak alive?
4. BUT DON’T SLEEP ON TEXAS TECH
The Red Raiders are currently the highest-ranked team in the Big 12 on KenPom, and that’s because they’ve started steam-rolling Big 12 competition. They’ve won their last four games by an average of 24 points, and in their last three games, they are shooting 34-for-76 (44.7 percent), and in the process have gone from being ranked 106th in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency metric to 65th.
This is a team that is starting to hit their stride, and with the nation’s best defense, they don’t really need to do much more.
But the reason that it’s important to keep an eye on this team is because of who they have left on their schedule. They play Kansas at home. They play at Iowa State. A win in both of those games puts them a game up on them in the standings, and with just three other games on their schedule — Oklahoma State, at TCU, Texas — seeing them win out would not be too unrealistic.
Then all it would take for the Red Raiders to win the outright regular season title is for Kansas State to lose one game other than at Kansas with a banged up Dean Wade.
It could happen …
5. MICHIGAN STATE CAN BE TAKEN OUT OF THE TITLE CONVERSATION WITHOUT NICK WARD
This probably isn’t even an overreaction.
This is mostly just the truth.
The Spartans entered the season as a team that didn’t have all that much high-end talent on the roster, and now they are down their second and third best players with Josh Langford done for the year and Nick Ward dealing with a hairline fracture in his left (shooting) hand. Without Ward finding a way to get healthy before the tournaments start, we can take Michigan State out of the discussion as a title contender.
Cassius Winston is really, really good, but what he does best is pass. Now, without those two, the players he’s going to be passing to are Matt McQuaid, Kenny Goins and Aaron Henry? Goins is a former walk-on that wears six knee braces and four shoulder braces every game. Henry is a promising freshman that is a year or two away from being something more than a role player. McQuaid is one of the most improved players in the country and a vital cog to what Michigan State wants to do, but if he’s your second-best weapon offensively you are going to struggle to score.
There appears to be a chance that Ward is back before the season comes to an end.
Michigan State better hope that proves to be true.