PLAYER OF THE WEEK: D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State
It took a while for Russell to find his rhythm against high-major competition, but the talented freshman is rolling these days. This week, he went for 33 points, seven boards, six assists and no turnovers in a win at Northwestern, following that up with 22 points, 10 assists and six boards as the Buckeyes got revenge on No. 23 Indiana at home. He shot 21-for-32 (65.6 percent) from the floor and 8-for-18 (44.4 percent) from three in the two wins. If you do that math, Russell missed just one shot from inside the arc in those two games.
Russell has shot his way up NBA Draft Boards of late, turning himself from a potential first round pick down the road into a guy that not only appears to be a lock to be a lottery pick, but could climb his way into the top five. The 6-foot-4 lefty is a big-time scorer that has made Sportscenter for his ability to throw mind-bending passes, and while he lacks that next-level explosiveness of a point guard like John Wall or Russell Westbrook, he’s crafty around the rim. And, more importantly for our purposes, he’s making sure that Ohio State remains relevant in the Big Ten.
THE ALL ‘THEY WERE GOOD, TOO’ TEAM
- Hassan Martin, Rhode Island: Rhode Island moved to 5-2 in the Atlantic 10 with wins over La Salle and St. Bonaventure this week, and Martin was the biggest reason why, averaging 12.0 points, 10.0 boards and 8.0 blocks.
- Maurice Ndour, Ohio: After scoring 17 points in a win at Ball State, Ndour followed it up with 31 points, six boards, three blocks and this game-winning dunk against Buffalo.
- Saah Nimley, Charleston Southern: In wins over UNC-Asheville and Gardner-Webb, Nimley averaged 34.0 points and 3.5 assists. In his last four games, he’s averaging 32.0 points and shooting 25-for-57 (!!!) from three.
- Gary Payton II, Oregon State: The Beavers are a surprising 5-2 in the Pac-12 after sweeping the LA schools. Payton had 39 points, 17 boards, eight assists and seven steals in the two wins.
- Stanley Johnson, Arizona: Johnson led the Wildcats to wins at Stanford and Cal this weekend, playing his best basketball while leading a second half charge in the win over the Cardinal. In his last four games, Johnson is averaging 20.0 points and 8.3 boards.
- Notables: Cam Payne (Murray State), Tyler Harvey (Eastern Washington), Nic Moore (SMU)
TEAM OF THE WEEK: Kansas Jayhawks
Kansas made a statement on Saturday, going into Austin and smacking around No. 17 Texas, 75-62. That came after the Jayhawks built a 19-point lead on No. 19 Oklahoma, blew that lead in 10 minutes of game time and managed to come-from-behind to win anyway.
Yeah, I don’t get it either.
I don’t think anyone does.
But the bottom-line is that the Jayhawks, with all the inconsistencies and question marks that they’ve had this season, are sitting all alone in first place in the toughest conference in college basketball. And, finally, Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre seem to be hitting their stride. This team has always had the potential to be among the nation’s elite, and they got a step closer this week.
THEY WERE GOOD, TOO
- Georgetown: After blowing out Villanova in Washington, D.C., the Hoyas went up to Milwaukee and survived a scrappy Marquette team in overtime. Their freshmen have been terrific of late, with Isaac Copeland, who averaged 17.0 points in the two wins, leading the way.
- Duke: The Blue Devils have officially bounced back from their two losses. This week, they beat Pitt and won at St. John’s — Coach K’s 1,000th win — due in large part to the play of Tyus Jones. He averaged 22.0 points and 5.0 assists.
- Davidson: Despite playing without Jack Gibbs, who has a knee injury, the Wildcats blew out Dayton at home and won at George Mason in overtime.
- Murray State: The Racers have now won 15 straight after winning at SIU-Edwardsville and Eastern Illinois this week. Cameron Payne may be the best player you’ve never seen play.
- Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane moved to 7-0 in the American with a blowout win over Memphis at home and a victory in a trip to East Carolina, which turned into a bittersweet homecoming for head coach Frank Haith.
- Notables: Butler, Miami, Texas A&M
SET YOUR DVR
- No. 17 Texas at No. 9 Iowa State, Mon. 9:00 p.m.
- No. 5 Duke at No. 8 Notre Dame, Tue. 7:30 p.m.
- No. 14 Wichita State at No. 20 Northern Iowa, Sat. 4:00 p.m.
- No. 15 North Carolina at No. 10 Louisville, Sat. 4:00 p.m.
- No. 5 Duke at No. 2 Virginia, Sat. 7:00 p.m.