Wayne Selden

(AP Photo/Bill Feig)

WEEKLY AWARDS: Buddy Hield stars again, Oregon’s big week.

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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Buddy Hield, Oklahoma

Saturday was arguably the best day of college basketball that we’ve seen this season and no player shined brighter than Hield. He had 32 points for the No. 1 Sooners, hitting five straight threes down the stretch in a come-from-behind win over Ben Simmons and LSU. That followed up a performance against a scrappy Texas Tech team where Hield popped off for 30 points on just 12 shots from the floor.

This was peak-Buddy, and to get an idea of just how good peak-Buddy is, think about it like this: offensive rating is a metric used at KenPom to determine just how efficient a player is with the possessions that he uses. Usage rate is a statistic that determines what percentage of possessions end with that player — shots taken, turnovers, fouls drawn, etc. No one in KenPom’s database, which dates back 13 seasons, has posted a higher offensive rating than Hield’s 127.8 with a usage rate above 28.0 percent. Not J.J. Redick or Adam Morrison in 2006. Not Stephen Curry in any of his three seasons. Not Jimmer Fredette in 2011. Not Doug McDermott. Not Frank Kaminsky. Not anyone.

There’s more: He’s now averaging 26.2 points for the nation’s No. 1 team while shooting 52.4 percent from three and taking more than eight threes per game! 

After this week, the question is no longer whether or not Hield can win the National Player of the Year award. Now you have to ask yourself just what kind of magic Kris Dunn or Ben Simmons will have to pull off in order to catch Hield.

THE ‘ALL THEY WERE GOOD, TOO’ TEAM

  • Fred VanVleet, Wichita State: The Shockers took firm control of the Missouri Valley this week, most notably as they won in dominating fashion at Evansville, who many believed was the one team that could push them this season. VanVleet finished with a career-high 32 points at Evansville.
  • Wayne Selden, Kansas: Selden struggled in the loss at Iowa State on Monday night, but he more than made up for it with his 33-point performance in the overtime win over Kentucky on Saturday night.
  • Prince Ibeh, Texas: Ibeh is making Texas fans forget about Cameron Ridley. He averaged 15.0 points, 10.5 boards and 3.5 blocks in wins over Vanderbilt TCU, which followed up his seven points, seven boards and seven blocks against Kansas last weekend.
  • Henry Ellenson, Marquette: Ellenson went for 32 points, 10 boards and six blocks in a key win over Butler.
  • Michael Carrera, South Carolina: Carrera averaging 27.0 points and 13.0 boards in a pair of wins this week for the Gamecocks.
(AP Photo/Chris Pietsch)

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Oregon Ducks

To put in perspective what Oregon did this week, you first need to understand that Pac-12 teams just don’t win in the McKale Center. It’s not a thing that happens, at least not in the last four seasons. The last time that Arizona lost at home in Pac-12 play was back in 2012-13, when they lost to UCLA.

The last time that a team landed a sweep of the Arizona schools on the road? You have to go back another year, when Oregon won at Arizona State and Arizona on Jan. 12th and 14th of 2012.

That’s the most difficult road trip in the conference to make, yet Oregon passed that test with flying colors this week, getting 24 points from Dillon Brooks in the win at Arizona and, on Sunday night, getting 26 points, 10 boards and seven blocks out of center Chris Boucher. The Ducks now sit all alone in first place in the conference, and while there are four teams sitting within a game of first place, it really does feel like this will be Oregon’s league to lose at this point.

THEY WERE GOOD, TOO

  • Xavier: Not that you really needed the proof, but the Musketeers showed themselves to be a real Final Four contender during the week when they went into the Dunkin Donuts Center and knocked off Providence.
  • Virginia: The Cavaliers had struggled on the road all season, and they struggled on the road on Tuesday when they very nearly lost to Wake Forest — thanks, Darius Thompson — but they availed themselves on Saturday by mollywhopping Louisville in the Yum! Center.
  • USC: The Trojans defended their home court this week, beating Washington State on Thursday and following that up with a win over then-league leaders Washington on Saturday.
  • Kentucky: We all had our doubts about Kentucky, but the Wildcats looked terrific when they took Kansas to overtime in Phog Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday. Remember, when Oklahoma took Kansas to overtime, we realized that the Sooners were actually pretty good. Is that what will happened with Kentucky now?
  • Maryland: The Terps picked up a huge win over Iowa on Thursday night. I explained why it was so important here.

SET YOUR DVR

No. 2 North Carolina at No. 16 Louisville, Mon. 7:00 p.m.
No. 9 West Virginia at No. 14 Iowa State, Tue. 9:00 p.m.
No. 25 Notre Dame at No. 15 Miami (FL), Wed. 7:00 p.m.
No. 6 Villanova at No. 10 Providence, Sat. 2:30 p.m.
No. 21 Purdue at No. 8 Maryland, Sat. 4:00 p.m.
No. 17 Baylor at No. 9 West Virginia, Sat. 8:00 p.m.

No. 1 Kansas knocks off No. 1 Oklahoma in 3OT thriller

(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
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It’s only January 4th, but we already have the Game of the Year in college basketball.

Hell, we might have just been a witness to the game of the decade, and I say that without a hint of hyperbole.

Frank Mason stole an inbounds pass with 15 seconds left with the Jayhawks up one and, after two Mason free throws, Buddy Hield missed a desperation three at the buzzer, giving Kansas, the No. 1 team in the AP Poll, a 109-106 win over Oklahoma, the No. 1 team in the Coaches Poll, in triple overtime.

“That was the toughest game I’ve ever played in,” Perry Ellis, who led the Jayhawks with 27 points and 13 boards, said afterwards.

“I just need a bed right now,” Hield said on Sportscenter after the game.

To get an idea of just how wild this game was, chew on this for a second: Hield, Oklahoma’s superstar senior that entered the night averaging 24.7 points, finished with 46 points on 13-for-23 shooting, hitting 8-of-15 from beyond the arc while adding eight boards and seven assists. He scored 33 of those points in regulation, popping off for 22 in the first half, and as crazy as this is going to sound, Kansas actually did a pretty damn good job defending him.

I know, right?

I mean, just watch this play, watch the way Mason defends Hield. What else can he possibly do?

“I thought we did a really good job holding him to 46,” Bill Self said after the game.

There’s so much more to dive into as well:

  • Hield, the kid who played like the G.O.A.T. for the first 54:39 of this game, was the goat in the final minute, as he committed a pair of turnovers — both steals by Mason — nine seconds apart that allowed Kansas to take the lead and extend the lead to 109-106. “I just had a couple careless turnovers that cost us the game,” Hield said, taking the blame for a loss where he scored 46 points in 54 minutes. Not many kids would do that.
  • Kansas was up 32-21 in the first half, but Hield sparked a furious comeback at the end of the first half, a 25-8 run that was capped by Self picking up a technical foul when Mason seemingly landed a clean strip of Hield. That tech mattered because Mason, as Self was screaming profanities directly in the official’s face, slammed the ball on the ground and had to be restrained by his teammates. If it weren’t for Self’s reaction, Mason would have picked up a technical. He finished the game with four fouls, having picked up his fourth at the very end of regulation. That technical, if he had received it, would have forced Mason to miss the overtimes.
  • Kansas was also down by as many as ten points in the second half, as the Sooners looked, for a while, like they were getting ready to pull away from the Jayhawks.
  • And should I mention that Kansas very nearly lost at the end of the first overtime when they had six players on the court?

There’s no question that this game lived up to the hype of being No. 1 vs. No. 1, and the timing couldn’t have been better, with this being the first Monday without Monday Night Football and the first weekday after New Year’s and essentially all of the college football bowl games. There were a lot of people paying attention to this, and it certainly delivered.

This not a game that we’re soon going to forget.

Hield’s performance is not one that we’re soon going to forget.

The best part?

The rematch in Norman is on February 13th.

Here’s to hoping the face-off in the Big 12 tournament for the rubber match.

 

Wayne Selden, No. 2 Kansas stake claim to title of nation’s best team

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Wayne Selden finished with 24 points and four assists without a turnover while shooting 9-for-15 from the floor  as Kansas blew out No. 23 Baylor, 102-74.

The Jayhawks shredded Baylor’s zone in the first half, hitting six of their first seven threes while jumping out to a 24-4 lead in the first seven minutes. Baylor was never within single digits the rest of the way.

It was quite the statement from the Jayhawks, who could very well become the No. 1 team in the country on Monday morning. And here’s the most intriguing part: The three guys on their roster that NBA Draft people are intrigued by — Cheick Diallo, Carlton Bragg and Svi Mykhailiuk — all played 10 minutes or fewer.

That’s what makes this team so dangerous. They don’t really have a star, per se. Selden is their best player and leading scorer, but he’s less of a dominating presence in their offense than he is a guy who is super-efficient which the chances that he gets in the flow of what they run. Perry Ellis is in the same role. Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham have blended perfectly in a dual-point guard back court while KU’s big-man-by-committee is currently flourishing.

This group reminds me of the 2014 Florida Gators. That was the team that was led by Scottie Wilbekin and Casey Prather, the team that was 36-2 and the consensus best team in the country when they lost to UConn in the Final Four. They’re a balanced, veteran group that plays well together, that understands their individual roles and, to this point in the season, has no issue playing them no matter how limited the minutes end up being.

Might that change by the end of the year? Will Bragg and Diallo and Svi be OK playing bit roles when their NBA Draft stock is on the line?

That’s tough to know.

But what I do know is that at this point in the season, they are, and when they are, Kansas might very well be college basketball’s best team.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR POWER RANKINGS: Where do we slot Buddy Hield now?

(AP Photo/Eugene Tanner)
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The Player of the Year race has slowed down a bit in the last two weeks or so, but it’s mainly a result of two things: Finals always turns college basketball into a bit of an afterthought, and the two leading candidates for the award have been sitting out with injuries and illnesses.

On Tuesday, we counted down our top ten favorites to win the award at this point in the season and, while the top two hasn’t changed just yet, the guy currently sitting there in third place is making it really difficult to avoid changing that trend.

[2015 REVIEW: Best Dunks | Best Games]

Anyway, we do this every Tuesday over on the CBT FaceBook page. You should go give it a like … right here!

[CONFERENCE RESETS: ACC | Big Ten | American | Big East]

PLAYER OF THE YEAR POWER RANKINGS: Hield, Simmons up, Allen, Ulis move down

(AP Photo/Eugene Tanner)
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As we do on every Tuesday, we’re counting down our Player of the Year Power Rankings over on the CBT Facebook page.

You can find that page right here.

[NEW PODCAST]

We’re not going to give away too much of the rankings, but if you’ve been following this all season long, than you can probably guess the top two. There are, however, some changes below that.

Anyway, on to the countdown:

[PLAYER OF THE WEEK | TEAM OF THE WEEK]

No. 2 Kansas uses big second half to beat Oregon State 82-67

AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Wayne Selden scored 22 points, Frank Mason had 18 and second-ranked Kansas used a big second half to beat Oregon State 82-67 on Saturday night in its annual trip to the Sprint Center.

Perry Ellis added 13 points and Devonte Graham had 10 for the Jayhawks (8-1), who trailed by as many as 14 in the first half before outscoring the Beavers 25-9 to begin the second.

Kansas kept drawing away to improve to 28-6 at the downtown Kansas City arena, where it has won six straight regular-season games along with four Big 12 tournament titles.

Tres Tinkle hit five 3-pointers and scored 20 points for Oregon State (6-2), which was trying to equal its best start since the 1980-81 season. Gary Payton II scored 13 and Jarmal Reid added 11.

Oregon State appeared on its way throughout the first half.

Tinkle hit his first 3-pointer with 14:12 left to give his team a 14-9 advantage, and the coach’s son proceeded to hit his next four more.

The Beavers made their first seven from beyond the arc, a big reason why Wayne Tinkle’s bunch enjoyed a double-digit lead most of the first half.

Things weren’t nearly as chipper on the Kansas bench.

With the Beavers leading 22-9 midway through the half, Jayhawks coach Bill Self grew so enraged that he slammed his right fist into his left hand, sending his pricey wristwatch flying off.

Self must have transferred some of that fire to his team at halftime.

Beginning with two free throws by Ellis, the Jayhawks slowly began to build momentum, chewing into a 39-28 deficit. But it was still 48-41 when Graham made back-to-back baskets, starting a 14-0 run that brought actor and noted Kansas fan Rob Riggle to his feet and gave the Jayhawks the lead.

Things unraveled so quickly for the Beavers that they burned through three timeouts in 54 seconds – one when they couldn’t inbound the ball – and were left with none the final 14:03 of the game.

Meanwhile, the Jayhawks stuck with their starting lineup for much of the half. It was a clear departure from the frequent substitutions that Self made in the first half, and allowed the same group of players to get into a rhythm for the first time all night.

TIP-INS

Oregon State: Tinkle missed his only 3-point try in the second half. … After hitting their first seven 3-pointers, the Beavers were 1 of 9 the rest of the way. … Oregon State committed 18 turnovers that the Jayhawks turned into 19 points.

Kansas: Mason also had six assists. … The Jayhawks shot 67 percent from the field in the second half. … F Landen Lucas (toe) participated in warmups but did not play. F Jamari Traylor (ankle) played two minutes in the first half.

UP NEXT

Oregon State plays Cal State Fullerton in the Far West Classic on Friday night.

Kansas gets the week off for finals before playing Montana next Saturday.