Marcus Keene

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Player of the Week: James Blackmon Jr., Indiana

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This could have been the week where Indiana’s season collapsed.

On Wednesday night, O.G. Anunoby, who is arguably the most irreplaceable player on the Hoosier roster, injured his knee badly enough that he will need surgery and miss the rest of the season. The injury happened in the first half of a game against Penn State. Tom Crean said after the game that the team was crying in the locker room at half time.

The Hoosiers then proceeded to blow a big lead to the Nittany Lions, allowing Penn State to draw even in the final minute of regulation. That’s when Blackmon stepped up. The Hoosier star buried a three at the buzzer to give Indiana the win; a loss in that game could have been the kind of thing that sent Indiana’s season spiraling. The shot wasn’t a morale booster as much as it was a morale saver.

On Saturday, Indiana put together one of their best games of the season despite the fact that they were without Anunoby and Juwan Morgan, who was dealing with a foot injury that has now kept him out of back-to-back games. Blackmon, again, was the star, matching a career-high with 33 points.

Suddenly, Indiana has won four of their last five games and are sitting at 4-3 in the Big Ten standings, just two games out of first place.

In the long term, I don’t know if Indiana is going to be able to play at the level Hoosier fans expect without Anunoby. But in the short term, Saturday was an impressive win in a trying week, and it was Blackmon who stepped up to lead with the Hoosiers needed it the most.

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THEY WERE GOOD, TOO

  • Lauri Markkanen, Arizona: Markkanen, as he has all season long, starred for the Wildcats this weekend, helping No. 14 Arizona keep pace with Oregon at the top of the Pac-12 standings. The Wildcats swept the road leg against the LA schools, as Markkanen went for 23 points in a win over USC and followed that up with 18 points and seven boards in the big win over UCLA.
  • Jonathan Isaac, Florida State: The Seminoles had a massive week, and Isaac was the best player on the floor in both of their wins. Against Notre Dame, Isaac had 15 of his 23 points in the second half, adding 10 boards and a pair of game-saving blocks in the final second, and he followed that up with 16 points and 10 boards as Florida State knocked off Louisville.
  • Ethan Happ, Wisconsin: Happ was pretty good in Wisconsin’s win over Michigan, but he was sensational as the Badgers went into Minneapolis and beat Minnesota in overtime, finishing with 28 points, 12 boards, six assists and five blocks. No one had put up a stat line like that since at least 2010.
  • Marcus Keene, Central Michigan: Keene became the first player since South Dakota State’s Nate Wolters in 2013 to go for 50 points in a game, scoring 39 of the 50 in the second half of a win over Miami (OH).
  • Shake Milton, SMU: SMU is quietly rolling along at 17-4, a two-point loss at Cincinnati away from being undefeated in the AAC. The Mustangs picked up a pair of wins this week as Milton averaged 25 points, 5.5 assists and 5.0 boards.

Central Michigan lands former Youngstown State guard

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With first team All-MAC guard Chris Fowler due to be a senior next season, accounting for his eventual departure is something that Central Michigan head coach Keno Davis and his staff needed to do. They took a significant step in the right direction Sunday by way of the transfer market, as former Youngstown State guard Marcus Keene will join the CMU program according to Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free-Press.

Keene was Youngstown State’s leading scorer in 2014-15, averaging 15.6 points per game and shooting 44.9 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from beyond the arc. Keene will have to sit out the 2015-16 season per NCAA transfer rules, and he’ll have two seasons of eligibility remaining.

In speaking with Snyder, Keene noted that getting to see CMU up close (the two teams met during the regular season) helped him during the process of deciding where he’d transfer to.

“They play a very up-tempo style of play – that’s my style of play, especially for my size, I’ve got to get up the floor,” said Keene, just 5-foot-11, 160 pounds. “When we played them this year and seen the way they played and went up there for a visit, they showed me how I could fit into their system.”

This situation works out well for Central Michigan, as Keene can spend the upcoming year competing against Fowler and the other guards in practice while also learning a new system. In theory, that should have him prepared to take over in 2016-17. Based upon his numbers at Youngstown State, Keene has the talent needed to hit the ground running when he’s able to suit up.