Thursday is always a pretty quiet night in the college basketball world, but there were a couple of noteworthy results that we need to discuss:
1. ANTHONY COWAN SHINES AS MARYLAND BEATS IOWA
Anthony Cowan finished with a career-high 31 points to go along with six assists and six boards as No. 18 Maryland knocked off No. 15 Iowa, 82-72, in College Park. The Terps have now won four in a row and seven of their last nine games as they improved to 17-4 on the season and 7-3 in the Big Ten, just a game out of first place.
We’re getting close to the point where it is time for us to start asking if Maryland has actually turned a corner.
Look, I have been one of the harshest critics of Maryland basketball under Mark Turgeon, and I do think some of those criticisms have been justified. But Jalen Smith has been an absolute monster of late. He had four straight double-doubles, including a a week where he averaging 27 points and 11 boards in a pair of road wins at Indiana and Northwestern. He’s blocked 12 shots in those four games. He’s made 14 of his last 26 threes. He ranks eighth in KenPom’s Player of the Year race.
Smith has been every bit as good as any of the other elite bigs in the Big Ten. Anthony Cowan has been inconsistent, but he was the best player on the floor on Thursday. Aaron Wiggins has been shooting better since he was moved out of the starting lineup. Most importantly, they’re winning games.
I’m always going to be skeptical of this Maryland program until they give me a reason to no longer be skeptical, but things do appear to be moving in the right direction right now.
That’s certainly a start.
2. WASHINGTON IS A MESS
A season that started so promisingly for Washington looks like it is going to end in disappointment.
The Huskies fell to 2-7 in the Pac-12, all alone in last place in the league standings, after blowing a nine-point second half lead and losing at home to Arizona. It seemed like Washington made every silly, sloppy mistake possible during that run as well. Jaden McDaniels picked up a technical foul after dunking on an Arizona player. ReQuan Battle shot a 28-foot three when they were down two with less than a minute left and more than 10 seconds left on the shot clock. After Washington missed a free throw on the ensuing possession, McDaniels immediately turned the ball over. Marcus Tsohonis airballed a three on the final possession. The ball never made it to Isaiah Stewart down the stretch.
We’ve almost reached a point of no return for this team, and without Quade Green eligible, I can’t see how they end up winning the games they need to win down the stretch.
3. KILLIAN TILLIE HURT HIS ANKLE
Killian Tillie is the best player on the Gonzaga roster when he’s healthy, but he just cannot stay healthy.
On Thursday, he tweaked his left ankle in the first half of an 87-72 win over Santa Clara, and that sent him to the bench for the rest of the game. He was laughing and joking on the bench and he did not seem to be in too much pain, but he was done for the night.
Gonzaga cannot reach their ceiling if he cannot stay healthy.