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Monday Overreactions: Ayo Dosunmu, Maryland, and Nick Richards’ takeover

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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois

Ayo Dosunmu did it again.

Illinois’ sophomore star and leading scorer finished with 27 points, none of which were bigger than the final shot of the game as Dosunmu hit a foul line jumper over Zavier Simpson with 0.5 seconds left on the clock to beat Michigan in Ann Arbor:

It’s the sixth straight win for the Illini, who have climbed all the way up to No. 21 in the AP poll, and no one has been more influential in that run than Dosunmu. He’s averaging 19.0 points and 5.4 assists over the last five games, and in a conference where winning road games is notoriously difficult, the Illini have won at Wisconsin, at Purdue and at Michigan during that stretch.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Maryland Terrapins

No team in the country has elicited a louder chorus of doubters throughout the course of the season than Maryland.

The Terps were a top ten team in the preseason, and spent the entire season ranked inside the top 20 of the AP poll and currently sit at No. 10 in KenPom’s rankings. But because of some uninspiring performances early in the season, combined with the fact that the Terps had entered the week with an 0-4 record on the road, it was easy to overlook this group as nothing more than another fraudulent Mark Turgeon roster.

This week, the narrative changed. The Terps erased a 14 point deficit on the road to knock off Northwester, 77-66, in Chicago and then followed that up by going on a 7-0 run in the final two minutes to land a 77-76 win at Indiana.

Suddenly, the Terps are on a three game winning streak with back-to-back home games coming up next.

MONDAY’S OVERREACTIONS

1. NICK RICHARDS IS THE SEC PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Richards has been one of the most improved players in the country this season, but Saturday was really the first time that we saw him completely take over a game.

He finished with 25 points, 14 boards and four blocks in the 76-74 overtime win at Texas Tech, scoring the game-winning points with 10 seconds left.

This is notable, because if you look at Kentucky’s biggest wins of the season to date, they all happened to be a result of one of Hagans or Maxey going absolutely nuts. Maxey had 27 in the win over Michigan State. He had 26  against Louisville. Hagans went for 21 points, seven boards and seven assists against Georgia Tech. He had 13 points, six boards and six assists at Arkansas and 15 points, nine boards and nine assists against Alabama.

Point being, this is the first time that Richards has definitively been the best player on the floor while carrying Kentucky to a win like this on the road.

I also get it: He completely overwhelmed Texas Tech’s frontline — which, frankly, is not a new occurrence, if you have seen the Red Raiders play this season. But we’ve seen Richards play against frontlines he should dominate and, well, not dominate.

As it stands, he’s now the leading scorer and rebounder for the Wildcats. He’s probably the leader in the clubhouse for SEC Player of the Year, and very much in the mix for an all-american team.

2. TEXAS TECH HAS A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF WORK TO DO TO GET TO THE TOURNAMENT

I’m not sure people realize just how little there is on Texas Tech’s resume right now. They beat Louisville (11) on a neutral court. They beat Iowa State (70) at home. They beat Oklahoma State (83) at home. They won at Kansas State (89). Combined, that’s one Quad 1, two Quad 2 and a Quad 3 win. They have eight wins against sub-200 teams and have lost to seven Quad 1 opponents, including Kentucky (23) at home on Saturday. The Red Raiders will have plenty of chances to build on their profile — they get West Virginia (7) at home and play at Kansas (3) next week alone — but there is no doubt that this team has to start winning some games against teams that are not horrific.

As it stands, the Red Raiders are the very last team in the most recent NBC Sports bracket projection.

3. THE BIG TEN IS GOING TO DISAPPOINT IN MARCH

The biggest reason that I believe this is the lack of elite point guard play. I’ve made this point roughly 18,000 times by now, but in the last decade, the only team that won the national title without having two lead guards playing together was the 2012 Kentucky team that had the top two picks playing together.

And the thing about this year’s Big Ten is that the lead guard play is not great. Cassius Winston, when he’s right, is the best in the country. Ayo Dosunmu, the way he’s been playing for the last month, is right there with him. Anthony Cowan is, in theory, on that list. Zavier Simpson? Maybe. Marcus Carr? At times.

I think that’s it.

So that’s a concern.

As is the fact that every team in the Big Ten is built around their frontcourt play.

I was struck over the weekend as I watch Michigan and Illinois down the stretch play with four centers on the floor — Kofi Cockburn and Giorgi Bezhanishvili for the Illini and Jon Teske and Austin Davis for the Wolverines. Iowa is at their best when they play with Luka Garza and Ryan Kriener. Tom Izzo loves to play Xavier Tillman with another big man. I could keep going if I had the time.

That is the only league in the country where that happens, and I think it is fair to wonder how well that will hold up in March.

4. ARIZONA IS NOT FAR AWAY FROM BEING REALLY DANGEROUS

More than anyone else in college basketball, the Wildcats are the team that appear to be the darling of the predictive metrics this season.

(I would say Ohio State, but they spent the first half of the season absolutely bludgeoning really good teams and still don’t have a loss to a team outside the top 40.)

They have one win against a top 30 team and just two wins against top 55 opponents. Their best win away from home is against Wake Forest, yet the Wildcats, at 13-6 overall, find themselves sitting at 10th in KenPom and 12th in the NET. This is what happens when you find a way to lose games close. Five fo their six losses came by five points or less, and it hasn’t always been the same formula. Arizona erased leads to land backdoor covers against Baylor, Gonzaga and Saint John’s. They blew leads on the road in league play in losses to Oregon and Arizona State. They completely collapsed in the second half against Oregon State.

So I’m not sure there is a clear-cut answer to what ails the Wildcats right now.

But I do know that with the talent on their roster, they are not as far away from being an actual top ten team as the average Arizona fan on twitter will have you believe.

5. IS SYRACUSE THE FOURTH-BEST TEAM IN THE ACC?

Someone has to be the fourth-best team in the ACC, and as far as league standings go, the Orange currently qualify. They are 6-3 in the conference, having won their last five games, and they have fully embraced the idea that this roster needs to fire up as many threes as possible to have a chance to win.

That said, they still haven’t beaten anyone. Their best win came at Virginia in overtime, but Virginia may not be a tournament team this season. The trouble is that the Orange only get the other top teams in the conference — Duke, N.C. State, Florida State and Louisville — once each.

They probably need to win at least two of those games to have a real shot at a tournament bid.

Anthony Edwards posterizes Vanderbilt defender

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It took about four months for us to get to this point, but finally, we have video of Anthony Edwards absolutely posterizing someone.

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Anthony Edwards killed a guy.

A post shared by Rob Dauster (@rob.dauster) on

This is pretty much the definition of a poster.

Is it not?

I’d hang this Anthony Edwards dunk up on my wall:

 (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

TCU drops No. 17 West Virginia in overtime

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FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) Desmond Bane didn’t think a foul should have been called against him on the shot that appeared to be a game-winner in regulation for TCU.

The Horned Frogs rendered the whistle moot in overtime.

Kevin Samuel scored six of his 19 points in the extra period and TCU extended No. 17 West Virginia’s Big 12 road woes with a 67-60 victory over the Mountaineers on Saturday.

Bane sent the crowd into a frenzy on a driving layup with 0.9 seconds left, but the senior guard was called for pushing off on Jermaine Haley as he went up for the shot after racing the length of the floor off a West Virginia miss.

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“I mean, I did,” Bane said when asked if he pushed off. “But he bumped me first, for one, and for two, you just don’t call that with 0.9 seconds left. But, it is what it is.”

Jaire Grayer broke the 55-all tie with his only 3-pointer to start overtime, and Samuel hit two buckets and two free throws as the Mountaineers lost their fifth straight road conference game. They beat TCU by 32 at home in January.

“Haven’t made shots,” said coach Bob Huggins, who stayed tied with Dean Smith for sixth on the all-time coaching victories list at 879. “But I mean, we haven’t made shots at home either.”

Derek Culver had 18 points and 12 rebounds, and Taz Sherman scored 16 points for West Virginia (19-8, 7-7).

Samuel made all seven of his shots and had eight rebounds with five blocks, RJ Nembhard scored 16 points and Bane finished with eight points and 10 assists in TCU’s second home victory over a ranked team. The Horned Frogs beat then-No. 18 Texas Tech in January.

“I hope it gives some of the younger guys confidence that it can be done,” said Bane, a senior. “We went out there and got flat out embarrassed in West Virginia. To come back here and beat that team is huge for us. Hopefully we can build off this moving forward.”

West Virginia finished 2 of 17 from 3-point range, including an air ball on an open look for Sean McNeil with the Mountaineers down by three in overtime.

McNeil also had a desperation heave from past half court bounce off the back of the rim when West Virginia managed to get off a shot after the call against Bane.

The Mountaineers missed four straight free throws late before Oscar Tshiebwe made the second of two for a 55-all tie with 1:03 to go. Miles McBride couldn’t finish off a possible three-point play, and Culver missed two free throws.

Culver scored six points and Sherman had the last five on a 15-1 run that put West Virginia up 25-15 in the first half.

TCU later answered with a 19-2 run that carried over halftime, turning a 31-21 deficit into a 40-33 lead when Nembhard hit a 3-pointer.

BIG PICTURE

West Virginia: Tshiebwe, the freshman leading West Virginia in scoring, was held to just one point and has attempted just six shots, with one make, the past two games. The Big 12’s second-leading rebounder wasn’t as much of a factor inside either, finishing with five boards after six straight games with at least eight.

“We sat him most of the first half because he just wouldn’t get back to his man,” Huggins said.

TCU: The slide toward the bottom of the standings has been steady since the Horned Frogs started 3-0 in the Big 12 after getting voted last by league coaches in a preseason poll. But this is quite a boost coming off seven losses in eight games.

ARGENTINE’S CONCUSSION

The Horned Frogs scored the final eight points of the first half, starting with a 3-pointer from guard Francisco Farabello. The only points for the freshman from Argentina came moments before he ended up on the floor holding his head following a scramble for a loose ball. Farabello had to be helped to the locker room and was ruled out with a concussion.

KNOCKING DOWN THE FREEBIES

Samuel, a 34% shooter on free throws coming into the game, was 5 of 6 from the line. The two in overtime put the Horned Frogs up six with 1:19 remaining.

“Obviously Kevin was terrific, so happy for him, how hard he’s worked on his free throws,” coach Jamie Dixon said. “And to go and knock those down, to be 5 of 6 at the end of the day is a great thing.”

UP NEXT

West Virginia: At Texas on Monday.

TCU: At Iowa State on Tuesday.

For more AP college basketball coverage: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and http://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Memphis keeps at-large hopes alive with win over No. 22 Houston

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Precious Achiuwa scored 10 points, including the go-ahead free throw with 28.2 seconds left, and Memphis beat No. 22 Houston 60-59 on Saturday.

Malcolm Dandridge scored 12 points and Lester Quinones and Tyler Harris had 10 points apiece as Memphis (19-8, 8-6 American Athletic Conference) won its second straight.

Caleb Mills led Houston (21-7, 11-4) with 21 points and Marcus Sasser added 18 points for the Cougars. Mills’ jumper with 4 seconds left was off the mark. Houston missed its last four shots.

Houston was without guard Quentin Grimes, its second-leading scorer at 11.8 points per game. Grimes was dealing with a hip pointer.

The Cougars were forced to play catch-up for much of the game.

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Sasser’s 3-pointer gave Houston the lead with just under seven minutes left. It started a string of nine straight points for Sasser.

The teams exchanged leads down the stretch. Mills converted a pair of free throws with 47 seconds left to tie it at 59. Achiuwa then made the second of two free throws for the final margin.

By the midway point of the first half, neither team was shooting well. Memphis, which struggled early, managed to take the lead.

The Tigers put together enough of an offensive push during the middle stages of the first half to build the lead to eight points on a couple of occasions. Memphis led 27-23 at halftime with Houston shooting 26% from the field.

BIG PICTURE

Houston: The Cougars improved their shooting in the second half, going 12 for 26 (46%), but went cold again in the final minutes.

Memphis: The Tigers needed the win since they are considered outside looking in on the NCAA Tournament. Memphis struggled from the field, especially Achiuwa, Boogie Ellis and Quinones, who combined to go 3 of 24. Dandridge made all five of his shots.

UP NEXT

Houston: Hosts Cincinnati on March 1.

Memphis: At SMU on Tuesday.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegesbasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Pipkins scores 24, Providence beats No. 19 Marquette 84-72

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) Luwane Pipkins scored 24 points and David Duke had 15 to lead Providence to an 84-72 victory over No. 19 Marquette on Saturday, the Friars’ third straight victory – all over ranked teams.

Markus Howard scored 38 points for Marquette, which lost its third straight game. Howard shot 10 for 25 from the field and had just one assist while committing four of the Golden Eagles’ (17-9, 7-7 Big East) 18 turnovers.

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AJ Reeves added 11 points and three others had 10 for Providence (16-12, 9-6), which held a double-digit lead for all but 39 seconds of the game’s last 26:29. Trailing 71-50, the Golden Eagles scored seven points in a row, but they could get no closer.

Providence led by as many as 17 in the first half thanks to its 3-point shooting (8 for 15) and 17 points from Pipkins. After Marquette cut the lead to nine, 52-43, midway through the second, the Friars scored six straight points.

It was 62-50 when Providence scored nine in a row, the last five on a basket and a 3-point play by Duke.

BIG PICTURE

Marquette: The Golden Eagles dipped into The Associated Press Top 25 at No. 18 on Feb. 10 and have lost three in a row. Though the first two were to higher-ranked teams, the loss at Providence will certainly drop them out of the rankings

Providence: The Friars are fourth in the Big East and the top unranked team in the conference. They are 4-4 against ranked teams this season.

UP NEXT

Marquette: Hosts Georgetown on Wednesday.

Providence: At No. 12 Villanova on Saturday.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Dominant Doke leads No. 3 Kansas past No. 1 Baylor

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Udoka Azubuike wasn’t hard to find this time around.

The 7-footer put together the best performance of his college basketball career on Saturday afternoon, going for 23 points, 19 boards and three blocks while shooting 11-for-13 from the floor as No. 3 Kansas went into the Ferrell Center and staked their claim to the title fo the best team in college basketball with a 64-61 win over No. 1 Baylor.

After Baylor scored the first five points of the game, Kansas answered with a 9-0 run and never looked back. The Bears were only able to draw level once for the remainder of the game, and while Ochai Agbaji managed to make things interesting down the stretch with a late turnover against Baylor’s pressure, the Jayhawks were more or less in control throughout.

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And the reason for that is simple: Udoka Azubuike.

The first time that these two teams squared off back in January, when Baylor landed the program’s first-ever win in Phog Allen Fieldhouse, Azubuike was invisible, especially offensively. He finished with just six points on 3-for-6 shooting from the field largely due to the fact that Baylor’s defense is uniquely designed to take away players in the post. The Bears fronted Azubuike, they played off of non-shooters on the weak side of the floor and they dared Kansas to beat them from the perimeter.

It did not go well.

But giving Bill Self four days to devise and implement a game-plan is never going to work out well for anyone, and Baylor learned that the hard way.

And the tweak, truthfully, really quite simple:Mi

Middle ball-screens.

This had an impact on two things on that end of the floor. For starters, it made it difficult for Baylor to influence which way the ball-handler would come off of the screen. You can’t ‘ice’ a ball-screen in the middle of the floor. You can ‘weak’ it — forcing the ball-handler to come off of the screen going to his weak hand — but this is risky, especially with a point guard that is as quick as Dotson is. He was allowed to get a full head of steam going with only Freddie Gillespie between him and the rim. That’s a good thing for Kansas.

The other part of this is that since the ball is in the middle of the floor, and since Baylor cannot make the offense go the way they want them to go, it’s harder to sell out as a helper. This creates open lanes for Azubuike to run to the rim, and there is no one in college basketball that is a better lob-catcher in traffic than Azubuike.

“He was great and controlled the paint,” Self told reporters after the game. “That was about as well overall as I’ve seen him play.”

And he’s not wrong.

Azubuike was a titan on the offensive end of the floor.

But he was just as good defensively.

Baylor’s guards were never able to get into a rhythm on Saturday afternoon. MaCio Teague hit a couple of threes, but for the most part, he was a non-entity. Matthew Mayer scored eight straight points in the first half but was invisible outside of that run. Devonte Bandoo took one shot. Davion Mitchell shot 2-for-11 from the floor, and while Jared Butler went for 19 points and six assists, he needed 18 shots to get there.

Much of the credit there belongs to the perimeter defenders on this Kansas roster. Marcus Garrett is a walking, talking, ball-hawking demolition derby. He’ll take the soul of someone that is careless with their dribble, and Mitchell learned that the hard way. Devon Dotson more than held his own, while Ochai Agbaji, Isaiah Moss and Christian Braun did just enough to keep whoever they were guarding from getting a clean look. The Jayhawk ball pressure was, throughout the game, something else.

But the reason that ball-pressure was possible is because of the human eraser at the five. Doke owned the paint. He only finished with three blocks, but that’s because Baylor opted to settle for jumpers instead of trying to challenge the big fella. His ability to move his feet eliminated Baylor’s ball-screen offense:

All told, when you factor in both ends of the floor, this was one of the single-most dominant performances that I can remember seeing this season.

Kansas is going to enter this upcoming week as the biggest talking point in the sport.

Is this the best team in the country?

Can the Jayhawks win a national title this year?

Are they actually the favorite to cut down the nets?

And the reason that the answer to all three of those questions is ‘yes’ is the presence of Udoka Azubuike.

The more interesting question that we should be having has less to do with Kansas as a team and more to do with Udoka Azubuike: Is he, and not Dotson, the All-American on this Kansas team?

And where should he factor in the Player of the Year race?