Trailing by two at the half, the third-ranked Sooners went on a 21-0 run to take control of the Diamond Head Classic title game. Buddy Hield scored 34 points and Jordan Woodard added 28 for Lon Kruger’s team, but can they be a national title contender? Read more about those possibilities here.
Hawai’i 79, Auburn 67: Roderick Bobbitt reached the 30-point mark for the second straight game, scoring 30 points on 8-for-13 shooting from the field and 8-for-8 from the foul line (he scored 32 on Oklahoma Wednesday night), to lead the Rainbow Warriors to third place at the Diamond Head Classic. The depth advantage for Eran Ganot’s team, which also received 21 and eight boards from Stefan Jankovic, is why they were able to close the game on a 19-4 run.
Horace Spencer and Tyler Harris both fouling out for Auburn, and Kareem Canty had to spend some time on the bench in the second half with four fouls. Canty led the Tigers 22 points, bouncing back from his 1-for-15 outing against Auburn, and Bryce Brown added 20.
BYU 84, Northern Iowa 76: Dave Rose’s Cougars picked up a quality win for their resume in the Diamond Head Classic’s fifth-place game, using a 19-2 first half run to establish the distance needed to hold off the Panthers. Chase Fischer scored 26 points, hitting four more three-pointers, and Kyle Collinsworth tallied 12 points, 17 rebounds and six assists to lead the way for BYU. UNI scored 24 points off of 15 BYU turnovers, but their inability to hit shots (40 percent from the field) when not benefitting from Cougar mistakes proved to be the difference.
Washington State 82, New Mexico 59: The Mountain West took another hit Christmas Day, as the Lobos were blown out by Washington State in the seventh place game at the Diamond Head Classic. Josh Hawkinson, who played just seven minutes in the first half due to foul trouble, scored 12 of his 19 in the second half and as a team Wazzu shot 54.2 percent from the field and 11-for-20 from three.
Hawkinson led five Cougars in double figures. After getting off to a good start to the season the Lobos once again struggled defensively and with turnovers, and they have many kinks to work out ahead of their Mountain West opener Wednesday night.
Buddy Hield and Jordan Woodard, Oklahoma: Hield and Woodard combined to score 62 points on 20-for-27 shooting from the field in their win over Harvard.
Zena Edosomwan, Harvard: Oklahoma did not have an answer for the Harvard big man, who tallied 25 points and 16 rebounds in a losing effort.
Chase Fischer, BYU: One game after hitting nine three-pointers Fischer hit four more, scoring 26 points in the Cougars’ win over Northern Iowa. Fischer shot 13-for-25 from three in wins over New Mexico and Northern Iowa.
Roderick Bobbitt, Hawai’i: Bobbitt shot extremely well in scoring 30 points in a win over Auburn, shooting 8-for-13 from the field and 8-for-8 from the foul line.
Cullen Neal, New Mexico: Things got so bad for the redshirt sophomore that he was benched for the entire second half in the Lobos’ loss to Washington State. In eight minutes Neal went scoreless and didn’t have an assist, committing five turnovers.
New Mexico’s three-point shooters: Neal wasn’t the only one who struggled, as the Lobos shot 0-for-10 from three on the day.
Patrick Steeves, Harvard: In 28 minutes off the bench Steeves made just one of his eight shots from the field, scoring two points.
Isaiah Cousins, Oklahoma: Cousins didn’t have the night teammates Hield and Woodard had, scoring seven points on 2-for-11 shooting.
LATE NIGHT SNACKS: No. 3 Oklahoma survives, No. 18 SMU still undefeated
The Diamond Head Classic semifinal between the Sooners and Rainbow Warriors wasn’t on this path at the start, as Lon Kruger’s Sooners scored 25 of the game’s first 34 points. But Hawai’i was able to force some chaos with their defense, as Oklahoma turned the ball over far too frequently and took some rushed shots. The two teams went back and forth in the second half, but the Sooners managed to hang on despite having their 12 turnovers converted into 18 points on the other end.
Buddy Hield scored 27 and grabbed nine rebounds, and Khadeem Lattin added 17 and eight boards. Roderick Bobbitt led Hawai’i with a career-high 32 points, but his half-court shot to force overtime missed the mark.
BYU 96, New Mexico 66: The Mountain West hasn’t accomplished a whole lot when it comes to quality wins, and Wednesday’s blowout loss by the Lobos represents another missed opportunity. BYU hit a Diamond Head Classic-record 16 three pointers, with Chase Fischer (41 points) responsible for nine of them. Nick Emery added 20 for BYU, which shot 52.5 percent from the field.
Wisconsin 84, Green Bay 79: Wisconsin picked up its first win under interim head coach Greg Gard despite struggling mightily over the final ten minutes with Green Bay’s pressure. Nigel Hayes led the way with 24 points and Ethan Happ added 16 and eight boards for the Badgers, who shot 49.1 percent from the field on the night. But those 26 turnovers show that they’ve got a lot to clean up ahead of the start of Big Ten play.
No. 18 SMU 70, Colorado 66: After Colorado went on a 14-0 run to grab control of the game in the second half Larry Brown’s Mustangs responded, going on a 12-1 run of their own and not relinquishing their lead. Nic Moore led four Mustangs (now 11-0) in double figures with 16 points while also dishing out four assists, and Shake Milton added 14 and five rebounds. Josh Fortune led Colorado with 15 points, and Josh Scott posted his sixth double-double of the season with 12 points and 13 boards.
Chase Fischer, BYU: Fischer set Diamond Head Classic records for made three-pointers (nine) and points (41) in the Cougars’ 30-point beating of New Mexico.
Jack Gibbs, Davidson: Gibbs scored 41 points for the second time this season as the Wildcats held off Morehead State, 81-77. However, the turnover count (ten) was a bit high for Gibbs.
Jamel Artis, Pittsburgh: 29 points (10-for-14 FG), eight rebounds and four assists in a win over Western Carolina.
Kareem Canty, Auburn: One of the nation’s top scorers had a rough afternoon in Hawaii, as he shot 1-for-15 from the field in a 69-51 loss to Harvard.
Bronson Koenig, Wisconsin: Yes his team did manage to win, holding off Green Bay 84-79. But Koenig turned the ball over eight times against the Phoenix, something that can’t happen in future games.
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
No. 16 Louisville won the Billy Minardi Classic with a comfortable 98-68 win over Utah Valley. Anas Mahmoud made his return to the court after missing three games with an ankle injury.
Taurean Prince scored 34 points to lead No. 23 Baylor to an 85-70 win over New Mexico State. Pascal Siakam went for 26 and ten for the Aggies, but it wasn’t enough as NMSU committed 22 turnovers on the night.
OTHER NOTABLE OUTCOMES
Daniel Hamilton (11 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists) posted the 11th triple-double in program history as UConn rolled to a 99-52 win over Central Connecticut State.
Harvard advanced to the title game of the Diamond Head Classic with a 69-51 win over Auburn. Freshman Corey Johnson led five Crimson in double figures with 14 points, and Harvard limited the Tigers to 30.2 percent shooting.
Justin Robinson scored 26 points to lead Monmouth to a 78-69 win at Cornell. The 9-3 Hawks have played just one home game to this point in the season.
Michigan set a program record with 17 made three-pointers in their 96-60 win over Bryant. Caris LeVert led five Wolverines in double figures with 19 points while also accounting for five rebounds and eight assists.
Illinois nearly let an 18-point second half lead slip away, but they committed just seven turnovers and hit most of their free throws late to beat Missouri 68-63 in St. Louis. Malcolm Hill, Kendrick Nunn and Michael Finke combined to score 56 of Illinois’ 68 points.
Pittsburgh moved to 10-1 on the season with a 79-73 win over Western Carolina. Jamel Artis led the way with 29 points.
When discussing the Horizon League be sure to include Milwaukee with Valparaiso and Oakland as contenders. The Panthers moved to 9-4 on the season with a nine-point win at Minnesota. Jordan Johnson finished with 19 points, nine rebounds and ten assists.
Gonzaga moved to 2-0 in WCC play with an 85-62 win over Loyola Marymount. Kyle Wiltjer led the way offensively with 26 points and Domantas Sabonis added 15 and 13 rebounds.
USC rolled to a 100-64 with over Lafayette, and point guard Jordan McLaughlin set a school record too. McLaughlin, who scored 14 points, dished out 16 assists for the Trojans.
Joining Gonzaga at 2-0 in WCC play was 10-1 Saint Mary’s, as the Gaels won 81-59 at Santa Clara. Evan Fitzner scored 21 for SMC, which also received 14 and ten rebounds from Dane Pineau.
Northern Iowa bounced back from its loss to Hawai’i with a 63-59 win over Washington State.
Beginning in October and running up through November 13th, the first day of the regular season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2015-2016 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.
Today, we are previewing the West Coast Conference.
The West Coast Conference sent two teams to the NCAA tournament last season in Gonzaga, which fell to eventual national champion Duke in the Elite Eight, and BYU. Another multi-bid year seems likely in 2015-16, but there are some questions to be answered as well. Both of the league’s marquee teams lose key contributors on the perimeter, and while there’s room for optimism in Spokane and Provo, the same can be said for a Pepperdine team that returns all five starters. While the favorites seem clear, the WCC race could potentially offer up some surprises as well.
FIVE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW:
1. Gonzaga will have to replace a large portion of its perimeter rotation: The top three contributors from a backcourt that helped lead Mark Few’s team to a school-record 35 wins have all moved on, as Kevin Pangos, Gary Bell Jr. and Byron Wesley are out of eligibility. Into those roles will step players such as seniors Eric McClellan and Kyle Dranginis, sophomore Silas Melson and redshirt freshman Josh Perkins. The good news for Gonzaga: they’re loaded in the front court. The bad news: their three best players (Kyle Wiltjer, Domas Sabonis and Przemek Karnowski) likely cannot be on the floor at the same time.
2. BYU has to account for the graduation of Tyler Haws: The Cougars return three starters from last season’s WCC runner-up squad, led by an NCAA record-holder (most career triple-doubles) in Kyle Collinsworth, and the front court’s healthy after struggling with injuries. But Dave Rose will need to account for the loss of Tyler Haws, who left Provo as the program’s all-time leading scorer. Among those who will look to fill that void are Chase Fischer and Nick Emery, the latter returning from a two-year LDS mission. Haws became of the best scorers in the country after taking his mission. Can Fischer or Emery follow in those footsteps?
3. There’s just one coaching change in the WCC: The lone change occurred at San Diego, where alum Lamont Smith has returned to take over following the firing of Bill Grier. Smith will have to account for the graduation of the program’s all-time leaders in scoring (Johnny Dee), assists and steals (Christopher Anderson for both).
4. Saint Mary’s has a lot to replace from last season: The Gaels returnees made a total of 16 starts last season (sophomore guard Emmett Naar had nine), and five of the team’s top six scorers are gone. The most notable departure is forward Brad Waldow, a first team all-conference selection who led the team in points, rebounds and blocks. That’s a lot of production for Randy Bennett to have to replace.
5. Pepperdine returns all five starters from last season: Head coach Marty Wilson has a talented group to work with, led by All-WCC forward Stacy Davis, and this could be the year in which they crack the Gonzaga/BYU/Saint Mary’s triumvirate. With both depth and experience, and an emerging All-WCC caliber player in sophomore guard Shawn Olden, the Waves are a team to be respected.
Favorite: “It’s Gonzaga. They’re going to be young in the backcourt, but they’ve got a lot of talent and experience in the front court, and Mark’s program has just been so consistent over the years.”
Sleeper: “Everyone’s going to tell you Pepperdine because they won 18 games last year and the whole team’s back. That’s the natural selection based on their success, the type of team they have and the fact that they’re built around a potential Player of the Year candidate in Stacy Davis. When you have guys like that, guys that have been around, they certainly have the opportunity to take that step this year.”
Best player: “I think it’s a tossup between Kyle Wiltjer and Kyle Collinsworth. I would have voted for Wiltjer for Player of the Year last year but he wasn’t on the ballot. But I’d say that one of those two is the best player in our league.”
Most underrated player: “I don’t know if you can call Sabonis underrated, but to me he’s the guy who has the best chance to have the longest pro career based on his efficiency, his footwork and size. I think he’s kinda caught behind two other good players in Wiltjer and Karnowski. But I think [the most underrated player] will show itself early, because there are plenty of opportunities for some of these guys to establish themselves.”
PRESEASON WCC PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Kyle Wiltjer, Gonzaga
Wiltjer’s first season on the court for Gonzaga was a highly productive one, as he was named the WCC’s top newcomer and made some All-America lists as well. Wiltjer accounted for 16.8 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, shooting better than 54 percent from the field and 44.6 percent from three.
THE REST OF THE WCC FIRST TEAM:
Jared Brownridge, Santa Clara: Averaged 15.9 points per game as a sophomore, making 93 three-pointers (2nd in the WCC) as well.
Kyle Collinsworth, BYU: One of the nation’s most versatile players, Collinsworth was second in the WCC in both rebounding (8.7 rpg) and assists (6.0 apg) last season.
Stacy Davis, Pepperdine: WCC Rookie of the Year as a freshman in 2012-13, Davis has been a first team All-WCC selection in each of the last two seasons.
Domas Sabonis, Gonzaga: Sabonis (9.7 ppg, 7.1 rpg) led the WCC in field goal percentage (66.8) as a freshman, and he’ll see more playing time this year.
FIVE MORE NAMES TO KNOW:
Przemek Karnowski, Gonzaga
Alec Wintering, Portland
Emmett Naar, Saint Mary’s
Chase Fischer, BYU
Tim Derksen, San Francisco
BREAKOUT STAR: Chase Fischer, BYU
After transferring in from Wake Forest, Fischer had a solid first season at BYU as he averaged 13.2 points per game. With Tyler Haws out of eligibility Fischer will have the opportunity to do even more offensively. During the team’s trip to Spain this summer Fischer averaged a team-best 17.5 points per game.
COACH UNDER PRESSURE: Kerry Keating, Santa Clara
After winning the CBI in 2013, the Broncos have won 14 games in each of the last two seasons. Injuries have been an issue at times, but two winning seasons in eight at the helm may lead to fans asking some questions of the head coach. That being said, this year’s group led by junior guard Jared Brownridge could be the ones who turn things around.
ON SELECTION SUNDAY WE’LL BE SAYING … : Does Gonzaga have the guard play needed to make a run deep into March?
I’M MOST EXCITED ABOUT : Seeing whether or not Pepperdine (or someone else) can crack the “big three” of Gonzaga, BYU and Saint Mary’s.
FIVE NON-CONFERENCE GAMES TO CIRCLE ON YOUR CALENDAR:
1. Gonzaga: The front court is one of the nation’s best. How far Few’s Bulldogs go nationally will depend upon the progression of their backcourt.
2. BYU: No more Tyler Haws, but one of the nation’s most versatile players (Kyle Collinsworth) returns to lead the way as a senior.
3. Pepperdine: After winning 18 games last season the Waves should be even better with one of the program’s all-time greats in Davis leading the way.
4. Saint Mary’s: The Gaels have finished in the top half of the WCC every year since 2003, but Randy Bennett has a lot to replace from last year’s 21-win team.
5. Portland: Portland picked up some valuable postseason experience in the CIT, and the return of junior Alec Wintering and senior Bryce Pressley helps matters as well.
6. Santa Clara: The Broncos lost two of their top three scorers in Brandon Clark and Denzel Johnson, but Jared Brownridge returns to lead a young but talented crop of guards.
7. Pacific: Ron Verlin welcomes back three of his top four scorers from last season, led by junior guard T.J. Wallace. This should be the Tigers’ most competitive team since they re-entered the WCC in 2013.
8. San Francisco: Tim Derksen and Devin Watson combined to average 21 points per game last season, but the Dons lost three productive starters and have a total of five returning letterwinners.
9. San Diego: Losing Anderson and Dee really hurts, but players such as Jito Kok and Duda Sanadze will help Lamont Smith in his coaching debut.
10. Loyola Marymount: Losing talented guard Evan Payne (transferred to Long Beach State) hurts for a team in need of offensive firepower.