PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Karl Towns, Kentucky
Kentucky put together a pair of solid wins this week, knocking off Georgia at home before going into the O-Dome and taking Florida’s best shot before beating the Gators. Towns, in those two games, played his best basketball since he arrived in Lexington, averaging 17.0 points, 10.5 boards, 3.0 assists and 2.0 blocks in the two wins.
It’s not just the numbers for Towns, because if he were consistently playing 31 minutes every night on a team where the offensive was built around him, he could probably put up numbers like that for an entire season. It’s the little things that he showed an ability to do, like a deft over-the-head pass for a dunk out of a double-team or reading a defender trying to anticipate how Towns would use a screen. We know Towns can block shots and we know that he can get to the offensive glass. We’ve even seen him do a decent job switching onto guards while defending ball-screens.
If there’s a knock on Kentucky this season, it’s that they don’t score all that well in half court settings. When Towns is making plays like that, the Wildcats are that much more dangerous.
THE ALL ‘THEY WERE GOOD, TOO’ TEAM
- Marcus Posley, St. Bonaventure: The Bonnies went 2-0 this week, and Posley is the one to thank. He hit buzzer-beating game-winners in wins over No. 18 VCU and Davidson.
- Joseph Young, Oregon: Young led the Ducks to wins over the Washington schools this week, averaging 30.5 points, 6.5 boards and 5.0 assists. He shot 22-for-37 from the floor and 7-for-14 from three, and suddenly, the Ducks are tied for third in the Pac-12, just two games behind Arizona and Utah.
- Rico Gathers, Baylor: The Bears have won five of their last six games, including a pair of blowout wins against TCU and at West Virginia. Gathers had 31 points and 33 boards in those two wins.
- Justise Winslow, Duke: Winslow went for 15 points and 10 boards in a win over Georgia Tech, following that up with 19 points and 11 boards in Saturday’s beatdown of Notre Dame. He’s now notched three straight double-doubles.
- Kyle Wiltjer, Gonzaga: In a pair of road wins for the Zags, Wiltjer was the best player on the floor, averaging 25.5 points and 8.5 boards.
- Notables: Schadrac Casimir (Iona), Jamel Artis (Pitt), Jalen Cannon (St. Francis NY)
TEAM OF THE WEEK: Oklahoma State Cowboys
The Pokes landed a pair of critical wins this week, as they went into Texas and knocked off the Longhorns in overtime, following that up with a win over No. 8 Kansas at Gallagher-Iba Area. The Big 12 might be a bit overrated at this point, but there is no denying how much of a meat-grinder league play is in that conference. Winning two straight games against teams that could end up making the NCAA tournament — particularly when coming off of a loss — is huge. The wins also put Travis Ford’s club in a much better position in regards to the NCAA tournament.
THEY WERE GOOD, TOO
- Virginia: The Cavaliers beat North Carolina and Louisville this week, solidifying their place at the top of the national rankings, but they also lost Justin Anderson in the process.
- Iowa: The Hawkeyes bounced back from a three-game losing streak with blowout wins at Michigan and over No. 17 Maryland at home.
- Boise State: The Broncos are suddenly in the bubble conversation and tied for first place (in the loss column) in the Mountain West after wins at Utah State and over San Diego State this week. They’ve won seven straight.
- Arizona State: The Sun Devils beat arch rival Arizona at home on Saturday afternoon. It won’t be enough for them to get into the NCAA tournament picture, but a win over a rival can make a bad season worthwhile.
- Harvard: The Crimson have now won four straight road games in Ivy League play, culminating with a win at Yale on Saturday night.
SET YOUR DVR
- No. 11 Iowa State at No. 21 Oklahoma, Mon. 9:00 p.m.
- No. 1 Kentucky at LSU, Tue. 7:00 p.m.
- No. 19 Baylor at No. 8 Kansas, Sat. 1:00 p.m.
- No. 18 VCU at George Washington, Sat. 2:00 p.m.
- No. 7 Villanova at Butler, Sat. 6:00 p.m.