Player of the Week

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Player of the Week: Justin Jackson and Joel Berry II, North Carolina

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At this point, it’s almost too difficult to separate the contributions being made by Joel Berry II and Justin Jackson.

Berry is the guy that makes everything easier for No. 11 North Carolina offensively. Jackson has turned into the sharpshooter and the closer that the Tar Heels have lacked the last two seasons. And the two of them have essentially taken turns making the big shots down the stretch for UNC this season.

On Wednesday, in a win at Wake Forest, it was Jackson burying a clutch three in a game where he led the Tar Heels with 19 points. On Saturday, it was Berry that had an answer for every Florida State run. He finished with 26 points against FSU. Jackson had 22, and he had a three in a late run that put the game away.

At this point, these two make up the best one-two punch in the ACC. They deserve to be in the same conversation with the likes of De’Aaron Fox-Malik Monk, Josh Hart-Jalen Brunson and Frank Mason III-Josh Jackson when it comes to the best one-two punches in the sport. Both have earned at least consideration for all-american teams.

They are the reason that UNC is very much a contender to get back to the Final Four and win that elusive national title.

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THEY WERE GOOD, TOO

  • Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga: Williams-Goss was the best player on the floor for the Zags on Saturday night as they handed Saint Mary’s their worst loss of the season, 79-56. It was quite the statement for Gonzaga, as Saint Mary’s was considered by many to be a real contender for the WCC title. Is it too early to start talking about Gonzaga’s undefeated season?
  • Bryce Alford, UCLA: Alford put together one of the best shooting performances we’ve seen this season, hitting 9-for-14 from three in a 37-point outburst at Colorado. Alford also hit a huge three late in the second half of the Bruins’ win at Utah, only the fourth time in six years that a Pac-12 team has swept the Mountain schools on the road.
  • London Perrantes, Virginia: Virginia bounced back from a rough start to ACC play with a pair of wins this week, including a win at Clemson. Perrantes was fantastic in the two wins, averaging 24.5 points and hitting a number of critical shots late in the win at Clemson. He’s turning into the go-to guy that the Cavaliers lost in Malcolm Brogdon.
  • Lauri Markkanen, Arizona: Beating an in-state rival like Arizona State is always awesome. Scoring 30 points in a game is always awesome. Scoring 30 points in a blowout win over your in-state rival? Priceless. Or something like that, right? Regardless, Markkanen has more than lived up to the hype he had entering the season.
  • Vlad Brodziansky, TCU: The Horned Frogs moved to 3-2 in the Big 12 this season with wins at Texas and over Iowa State at home, and Brodziansky was the biggest reason why. The 6-foot-11 Slovakian averaged 22 points, 10 boards and three blocks while shooting better than 70 percent form the floor.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Villanova’s Josh Hart

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We talk about it all the time: If you’re going to be college basketball’s National Player of the Year, you have to have the performances – or, in some cases, the individual play – to justify that title in the games when the entire sport is watching.

If this was college football, we’d call them Heisman Moments.

In college basketball, there are a half-dozen Player of the Year awards, so we don’t have a catchy moniker to label what Josh Hart did on Saturday afternoon.

In the biggest game of the first Saturday without college football on TV, Hart had the most dominating performance of his career. He scored 37 points on 10-for-14 shooting, grabbing 11 rebounds and handing out four assists for good measure as he single-handily kept No. 1 Villanova among the ranks of the undefeated, leading them to a win over No. 23 Notre Dame. Think about it like this: Hart scored as many points on Saturday as his teammates did combined.

Considering the opponent, the moment and the performance, it was the best game we’ve seen from an individual player this season.

And, as a result, Hart should top just about everyone’s Player of the Year rankings heading into Christmas.

RELATED: Player of the Week | Team of the Week | Five Things We Learned

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THEY WERE GOOD, TOO

  • Jeremy Morgan, Northern Iowa: Morgan put together one of the most impressive halves of basketball you’ll ever see, scoring all 38 of his points after halftime as the Panthers landed a come-from-behind win over North Dakota. Earlier in the week, Morgan had 17 points, eight boards and seven assists in a win over South Dakota State.
  • Marquise Moore, George Mason: Moore had an incredible game of his own on Saturday, finishing with 17 points, 16 boards and 10 assists in a win at Penn. That’s only the third time that’s happened since 2010 and it’s only the seventh 15-15-10 games in the last 20 years. Oh, and Moore – a 6-foot-2 guard – also had 25 points, 13 boards and five assists in a win at Penn State this week.
  • Jayson Tatum, Duke: Tatum wasn’t the best player on the floor for Duke in either of their wins this week – Luke Kennard and Amile Jefferson were against Florida and Grayson Allen was against UNLV – but Tatum gets the mention here for the simple fact that we can mention his name. He’s back.
  • Marcus Marshall, Nevada: Marshall scored 32 points on Sunday night, outplaying Markelle Fultz and hitting the game-winner with 0.2 seconds left to beat Washington in Seattle.
  • Dedric Lawson, Memphis: Lawson finished with 24 points, 10 boards and eight blocks for the Tigers as they picked up a much-needed come-from-behind win over UAB.

Baylor and Obi Enechionyia of Temple offer stand out performances

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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Obi Enechionyia, Temple

Enechionyia led Temple to a pair of massive wins over ranked teams this week, as the Owls left New York with the Preseason NIT title. Against No. 25 Florida State in the semifinals, Enechionyia finished with 16 points, eight boards and six blocks and followed that up with 22 points, 12 boards and five blocks in a win over No. 19 West Virginia.

What made those performances even more impressive and important was the fact that the Owls had entered the tournament with two ugly losses already on their résumé. It’s never too early to start thinking about what needs to get done to win an at-large bid, and with the American looking like it won’t be stockpiled with quality wins and a loss to New Hampshire already hanging over their head, this was something Temple desperately needed.

They were good, too

  • Sindarius Thornwell, South Carolina: The Gamecocks sure were impressive this week, beating No. 25 Michigan and No. 18 Syracuse. Thornwell was the guy that led the way, averaging 18.5 points, 8.0 boards and 4.0 assists.
  • Johnathan Motley, Baylor: Motley was the best player on the floor for the Bears in their run to the Battle 4 Atlantis title. His best performance came against No. 24 Michigan State, when he had 26 points and 12 boards.
  • Joel Berry II, North Carolina: Berry outplayed Jawun Evans in a blowout win over Oklahoma State then put 22 points, three assists and three boards up on No. 16 Wisconsin.
  • Bryson Scott, Fort Wayne: Scott, native of Fort Wayne, Indiana, that started his career at Purdue, had 18 points, 12 boards, three assists and three steals as the Mastadons beat Indiana in Fort Wayne. That’s a good day.
  • Matt Farrell, Notre Dame: Farrell averaged 19.0 points and 6.0 assists as the Irish dispatched Northwestern and Colorado en route to the Legends Classic title.
PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Johnathan Motley #5 of the Baylor Bears looks on in the second half against the Yale Bulldogs during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Johnathan Motley (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Baylor Bears

The Bears entered the season as a team that no one was paying attention to and have since gone on to be arguably the most impressive team in the sport to date. After their performance winning the Battle 4 Atlantis, if the NCAA tournament were to start today, Baylor would be the No. 1 overall seed. That’s mostly because they’ve played a lot of good teams already and other teams haven’t yet, but to date, this is who Baylor has beaten: No. 13 Oregon, VCU, No. 24 Michigan State and No. 10 Louisville, the latter of which came after the Cardinals built a 22-point lead in the first half.

And here’s the best part: Scott Drew is doing all of this with a team full of over-achievers. Remember all that talk about how Drew couldn’t coach and all he could do was recruit? Well, this team is mostly made up of three-star prospects with a few four-star guys sprinkled in.

They were good, too

  • Gonzaga: The Zags won the Advocare Invitational and picked up wins over No. 21 Iowa State and Miami to make it happen.
  • Fort Wayne: How about the Mastadons, who knocked off No. 3 Indiana in Fort Wayne!
  • Butler: The Bulldogs landed an upset of their own this week, as they picked off No. 8 Arizona to win a tournament in Las Vegas.
  • UCLA: The Bruins finally faced a test and passed with flying colors, taking home the Wooden Legacy title.
  • Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish went 3-0 this week, which included the Legends Classic title.

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FIVE HOT #TAEKS FROM THE WEEK

1. North Carolina deserves to be mentioned with the best teams in the country: The Tar Heels improved to 7-0 on the season with four wins in Hawai’i this week, including a 15-point win over No. 16 Wisconsin in the Maui Invitational title game. Much was made of the departure of Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson this offseason, and while the Tar Heels found themselves in the national title game less than eight months ago, it’s not a stretch to say that this team has played as well as – if not better – than last year’s team did.

Joel Berry II has looked like North Carolina’s next great point guard. Justin Jackson is playing well on the wing while Isaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks and Tony Bradley have combined to average 39.0 points and 22.4 boards between them. The Tar Heels are hitting 39.2 percent from three. They’ve hit for 100 points twice, cracked 90 in three other games and have, just once, scored less than 83 points. That came in the Maui title game against the notoriously-slow Badgers.

“UNC is just too big and too fast,” said a coach who has scouted the Tar Heels. “They just kill you on the break and score in bunches.”

2. Melo Trimble is college basketball’s best closer: When Melo was a freshman, he developed a reputation for being a guy that always, always, always made the big shot or the big play in the critical moment. That’s why Maryland, who was not all that talented that year, was able to finish with a better seed in the NCAA tournament than the last year’s team, which was a preseason favorite to win the title.

It looks like this year is going to be a repeat of his freshman season. The Terps moved to 7-0 on the season with a 69-68 win over Kansas State on Saturday night. Five of those seven wins have come by single digits, and Trimble has made critical plays down the stretch in all five. On Saturday, he scored eight of Maryland’s last ten points, including two layups in the last 20 seconds to erase a three-point deficit. Against Richmond, he had nine points in the last 1:30 and overtime. Against Georgetown, he had 11 points in the last 3:31, including four points in the final 11 seconds. And against Towson, he had 12 points and two assists in the final ten minutes, as Maryland erased 13-point deficit.

In the wins over Towson, Georgetown and Kansas State, Trimble scored the winning points in the final minute.

Three game-winners in three weeks is pretty good.

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 26:  Melo Trimble #2 of the Maryland Terrapins celebrates after hitting the game winning shot as they defeated the Kansas State Wildcats 69-68 during the championship game of the Barclays Center Classic at Barclays Center on November 26, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Melo Trimble (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

3. Is this Virginia’s best defensive team?: We’ve long known that Tony Bennett’s teams are great on the defensive end of the floor, but has he ever had a team that has been defending this well? Through six games, they’ve yet to give up more than 52 points. Their opponents are averaging just 41.3 points and shooting just 31.7 percent from the floor, and that includes games against Iowa – who mustered just 41 points against the ‘Hoos – and Providence. Yale, who scored 98 points in a win at Washington, scored 38 points at Virginia.

“Best defense I have ever seen,” said a coach that played against UVA this season. “They are like boa constrictor, just make you work so damn hard for everything. They wear you out with their offense, too, so when you actually get an open shot, it doesn’t go in.”

Think about this stat for a second: In the 15 seasons that KenPom.com has been in existence, the lowest ever points-per-possession recorded by a defense had been 0.843 PPP, which was done by Stephen F. Austin in 2012. The record-low for a high-major team was 0.847 PPP by the 2015 Kentucky team that started out the year 38-0. Through six games this year, Virginia is allowing just 0.708 PPP.

4. Louisville isn’t winning much if they can’t figure out how to shoot: The Cardinals have one of the nation’s elite defenses this season, but that defense is only going to get them so far if they cannot find a way to score. Through five games, the Cardinals rank 287th in effective field goal percentage. They’re making just 32 percent of their threes and 65.2 percent of their free throws. The biggest culprits? Donovan Mitchell, Quentin Snider and Deng Adel. Snider and Adel are both shooting under 30 percent from the floor on the season; Mitchell is under 40 percent.

This team does everything else well. They don’t turn the ball over, they get to the offensive glass, they’re one of the nation’s best defensively, but until they can find a way to score consistently – and find a go-to guy – they’ll be very beatable once teams figure out how to beat their defense.

Just like Baylor did on Friday.

5. Deonte Burton showed his importance to Iowa State in Orlando: Burton averaged 25.0 points, 9.5 boards and 1.5 blocks in Iowa State’s 73-56 win over Miami and their 73-71 loss to No. 11 Gonzaga this week. The Cyclones have no size this season. The 6-foot-5 Burton is their starting power forward, and he spends time playing the five as well. If Iowa State is going to be as good as they expect to be this year, Burton is going to have to play the way that he did this week, taking advantage of mismatches against bigger defenders offensively while holding his own in the paint on the defensive end of the floor.

Burton was not great in the first two weeks of the season. When Iowa State looked their best this week, Burton was the best player on the floor. That’s not a coincidence.

SET YOUR DVR

No. 18 Syracuse at No. 16 Wisconsin, Tues. 7:00 p.m.
No. 24 Michigan State at No. 6 Duke, Tues. 9:30 p.m.
No. 17 Purdue at No. 10 Louisville, Weds. 7:15 p.m.
No. 4 North Carolina at No. 3 Indiana, Weds. 9:15 p.m.
No. 14 UCLA at No. 1 Kentucky, Sat. 12:30 p.m.
No. 19 West Virginia at No. 7 Virginia, Sat. 2:00 p.m.
No. 9 Xavier at No. 20 Baylor, Sat. 4:00 p.m.
No. 11 Gonzaga at No. 8 Arizona, Sat. 5:30 p.m.

Player of the Week: Frank Mason III, Kansas

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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Frank Mason III, Kansas

Through the first two weeks of the season, I think it’s safe to say that Kansas point guard Frank Mason III is college basketball’s early favorite as National Player of the Year. This week along, he went for 18 points and three assists in a win over Siena just three days after he had 21 points and five assists, burying the game-winning jumper, as the No. 7 Jayhawks picked off No. 1 Duke at Madison Square Garden in the Champions Classic.

And that doesn’t even include the 30 points that Mason had in a season-opening loss to Indiana, or mention the fact that the Jayhawks have already flown from Lawrence to Honolulu to New York back to Lawrence this season.

This is not going to be the last time that Mason wins this award this season, you can bet on that.

THEY WERE GOOD, TOO

  • Melo Trimble, Maryland: Maryland has played three games against Division I foes and Trimble is averaging 23.7 points in those three games. He made the game-winning plays in all three, including the free throws that beat DC rival Georgetown.
  • J.P. Macura, Xavier: Trevon Bluiett and Edmond Sumner are the big names for the Musketeers, but it was Macura that averaged 19.0 points, 4.7 boards, 3.7 assists and 2.3 steals in the Tire Pros Invitational title.
  • Deandre Burnett, Ole Miss: Burnett went for 41 points in an overtime win over Oral Roberts in the opening round of the Paradise Jam, following that up with 20 points and four assists in a win over Saint Joseph’s.
  • Malik Monk, Kentucky: Monk went for 23 points and hit seven threes as the Wildcats picked off No. 13 Michigan State in the Champions Classic.
  • Tacko Fall, UCF: In four games this week, the 7-foot-6 Fall averaged 17.8 points, 12.5 boards and 2.7 blocks as the Knights pushed No. 3 Villanova in the Charleston Classic finals.

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TEAM OF THE WEEK: Michigan Wolverines

Did anyone see this coming from the Wolverines? They went into Madison Square Garden and worked over a Marquette team coming off of dominating win over their own and followed that up with a blowout win of a pretty good SMU team. I’ll have some more thoughts on Michigan in the #taeks below.

THEY WERE GOOD, TOO

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 18: Derrick Walton Jr. #10 of the Michigan Wolverines reacts after hitting a three pointer against the Southern Methodist Mustangs in the second half of the 2K Classic Championship at Madison Square Garden on November 18, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Derrick Walton Jr. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

FIVE HOT #TAEKS FROM THE WEEK

1. Luke Kennard has been the beneficiary of Duke’s injury woes: No one on Duke’s roster had better taken advantage of the opportunity created by injuries to Harry Giles III, Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden than Luke Kennard has. With Grayson Allen also banged up – he’s reportedly dealing with a toe issue – Kennard has emerged as Duke’s go-to guy on the offensive end of the floor, and he’s thriving in the role. He was the best Duke player in the loss to Kansas, finishing with 22 points, five boards and five assists, and led the team with 24 points in Sunday’s win over No. 21 Rhode Island. On the season, he’s averaging 18.2 points while shooting 55.2 percent from the floor and 13-for-25 from three.

That’s massive for Duke for a couple of reasons, not the least of which being the fact that Kennard – and, frankly, Coach K – has learned that he is capable of carrying this team against some of the best opponents in the country. But it’s also evidence that the Blue Devils have more quality pieces that we may have realized, if that’s possible. Think about it like this: If Duke has everyone available to them, Jayson Tatum and Grayson Allen are the first two options offensively. Then it’s probably Harry Giles III. And then you get to the guy that’s leading them in scoring and was the best player on the floor the two times Duke played a ranked team.

That’s scary.

2. Michigan is better than Michigan State, at least right now: I don’t know if they’ll be better than the Spartans come March but I do know that right now, as of November 21st, the Wolverines are the best team in the state of Michigan. Their back court is about doing what we expected them to do. Zak Irvin has been scoring the rock and Derrick Walton has been doing the things we want senior point guards to do. The key, however, is that Michigan’s bigs look better than anyone realized they would be. Moritz Wagner and Mark Donnal have been somewhere between effective and above average while D.J. Wilson has been catching lobs, hitting threes and blocking shots, anchoring a defense that looks far better than it was a year ago.

Will it last? We’ll find out soon enough.

3. Is Baylor the second-best team in the Big 12?: We didn’t know who it was going to be, but entering the season, we knew that someone was going to set themselves apart from the pack as the second-best team in the Big 12. The early returns are in, and it looks like the Bears are Kansas’ biggest contender after they blew out Oregon at home. Johnathan Motley has been everything we expected him to be while Manu Lecomte and Jo Lual-Acuil have outperformed all expectations early on.

4. We underestimated just how good Creighton is: We knew about Mo Watson and Marcus Foster coming into this season. And we knew that Cole Huff had the talent to be better than his production last season. What we didn’t realize was just how talented Justin Patton is or how good Khyri Thomas is. Patton is an athletic, versatile 6-foot-11 center that makes plays on both ends of the floor – and adds a dimension that the Jays were previously lacking – while Thomas is a perfect compliment in the back court to Watson’s playmaking and Foster’s shot-hunting. If their win over Wisconsin didn’t convince, did a shellacking of N.C. State do the trick?

5. Is Northern Iowa the best team in the Missouri Valley?: At this point, I think it’s fair to wonder if they are. Wichita State is still in the midst of figuring out how they’re going to replace Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker while Illinois State doesn’t have the same kind of discipline that UNI does. They don’t make mistakes defensively, they execute their sets offensively and they make the open threes their offense creates. Throw in the fact that Klint Carlson is a terrific player and Jeremy Morgan is a future NBA player, and you’ve got a team that is going to make a run at the MVC title.

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 19: Luke Kennard #5 of the Duke Blue Devils greets fans after defeating the Yale Bulldogs 71-64 during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 19, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Luke Kennard (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Indiana’s James Blackmon

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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: James Blackmon Jr., Indiana

Indiana’s opening-night win over Kansas was impressive for a couple of reasons, not the least of which was the fact that the Hoosiers landed a win over a team that seems like it is a lock to eventually earn, at worst, a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. What was more important, however, was that the Hoosiers proved that they have guys that can create offense on their own. That was the concern after Yogi Ferrell graduated: When this Indiana team has a late-clock situation or a possession where they have to get a bucket, who do they give the ball to?

The answer now appears to be Blackmon, who finished with 26 points while making a series of tough threes in the second half. While the Hoosiers had other players make big shots – Curtis Jones in particular – it was Blackmon who had the plays called for him, and he delivered. That’s a great sign for the Hoosiers, and it’s the biggest reason that I think Indiana is a better team than we gave them credit for entering the year.

THEY WERE GOOD, TOO

  • Joel Berry II, UNC: Berry looked the part of an elite floor general in wins over Tulane and Chattanooga, averaged 20.5 points, 5.0 boards and 4.5 assists. The Tar Heels beat a good Mocs by 40.
  • Frank Mason III, Kansas: Mason’s Jayhawks could hang on to beat Indiana, but he had 30 points nonetheless and seemingly fouled out their entire team.
  • Jock Landale, Saint Mary’s: Landale had 33 points and nine boards for the Gaels in a blowout win over Nevada and Cam Oliver, a big man who has a shot to end up in the NBA.
  • Caleb Swanigan, Purdue: Granted, it came against McNeese State, but Swangian’s line – 23 points, 20 boards, six assists – has only been done by Blake Griffin and Ben Simmons in the last decade.
  • Angel Delgado, Seton Hall: Delgado is averaging 18.0 points and 15.0 boards through the season’s first two games.
HONOLULU, HI - NOVEMBER 11: Kadeem Allen #5 of the Arizona Wildcats dribbles the ball up court during the first half of the Armed Forces Classic at the Stan Sheriff Center on November 11, 2016 in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)
Kadeem Allen (Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Arizona Wildcats

It’s hard not to go with the Wildcats here, who went out to Hawai’i for the Armed Forces Classic having lost Ray Smith to yet another torn ACL and playing, as of now, without Allonzo Trier, and beat Michigan State. And not only did they beat Michigan State, but they did it after digging themselves a 15-point whole early in the first half.

Kobi Simmons caught fire. Lauri Markkanen looked like a functional stretch four. Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Kadeem Allen both made critical plays down the stretch. There was not much more that you could ask of a team in that situation.

THEY WERE GOOD, TOO

  • Indiana: The Hoosiers picked up an overtime win over Kansas in the Armed Forces Classic. That’s the kind of win that is going to look great come Selection Sunday.
  • UNC: The Tar Heels didn’t just win two games in impressive fashion, they did it by beating Tulane in New Orleans and smacking Chattanooga – who had just won by 13 at Tennessee – by 40 points in Chapel Hill.
  • Wagner: The Seahawks went into Storrs and beat UConn, 67-58. The Huskies look like they’re in trouble this year, but a win in Gampel Pavilion in any year is a good win.
  • Yale: The Elis picked up a 98-90 win over Washington in Seattle on Sunday night. More impressive than that, they did it without their two best players in Makai Mason and Jordan Bruner.

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WHAT DID WE LEARN?

  1. Kentucky’s shooting issues are real: The Wildcats were 9-for-34 (26.5%) from three in two wins this weekend, and three of the threes that they made came from Mychal Mulder, who is not going to see a lot of action this season. Outside of the jump-shooting, the trio of Isaiah Briscoe, De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk were pretty impressive. But if they cannot find a way to consistently make defenses pay for packing it in the paint, the Wildcats are going to have the same fatal flaw as the 2010 Kentucky team.
  2. Dennis Smith Jr.’s slow-start: The N.C. State point guard and potential top five pick has yet to look the part. He averaged 11.5 points and 4.0 assists while shooting 6-for-22 from the floor and 0-for-7 from three. N.C. State nearly lost to Georgia Southern on Friday night as well. Smith is coming off of a torn ACL that he suffered last August, but this didn’t appear to be a rust issue. This looked more like a freshman adjusting to the rigors of Division I basketball.
  3. Frank Jackson might be pretty good: With Duke’s big three out with injury, Jackson, the forgotten freshman, was terrific in two blowout wins for the Blue Devils. Coming off of the bench, Jackson averaged 19.5 points and shot 50 percent from three. There were questions in the fall whether he would be able to handle the point guard spot in college, and while those questions are still relevant – he had six assists and five turnovers this weekend – it looks like Jackson is going to be an impact player this season.
  4. So are the Syracuse point guards good?: That was the big question with the Orange entering the season. Can Franklin Howard and John Gillon handle being full-time point guards? Against Colgate, it looked like they can. The duo combined for 15 assists and just three turnovers. Granted, that didn’t come against a great team, but it is a good sign for the Orange.
  5. UCLA and Lonzo Ball look like the real deal: It’s too early to make any definitive statements on the Bruins at this point, but it’s not too early to say that they were pretty impressive in the season’s first weekend. The Bruins knocked off Pacific and CSUN while Lonzo Ball is making those Jason Kidd comparisons seem apt.

SET YOUR DVR

  • Mon. 7:00 p.m. No. 4 Villanova at No. 15 Purdue
  • Mon. 7:00 p.m. San Diego State at No. 14 Gonzaga
  • Tue. 7:00 p.m. No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 12 Michigan State
  • Tue. 9:30 p.m. No. 1 Duke vs. No. 3 Kansas
  • Thu. 9:00 p.m. Valparaiso at No. 5 Oregon
  • Sat. 2:00 p.m. No. 17 Saint Mary’s at Dayton

Weekly Awards: LaDontae Henton, West Virginia with notable performances

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LaDontae Henton (AP Photo)

Player of the Week: LaDontae Henton, Providence

I wrote a feature on Henton, the new star of the Providence Friars, on Sunday evening after I watched him go for 38 points — including seven points and two go-ahead baskets in the final two minutes — in a win over Notre Dame in the finals of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off. That came a day after Henton went for 24 points as the Friars blew out Florida State in the semifinals of that matchup.

It’s early, I know, but Henton is the best player in the Big East right now, the guy that will be taking over Bryce Cotton’s role as Ed Cooley’s go-to guy. He’s a bit undersized to be a power forward, and he’s not quite quick enough to be a full-time off-guard. But that doesn’t change the fact that Buckets can get buckets.

The All-They-Were-Good-Too Team

  • Angel Rodriguez, Miami: Angel Rodriguez scored 20 points in the final 6:47 — including this game-winner — to beat Florida in Gainesville. Rodriguez averaged 16.8 points, 5.3 assists and 3.0 steals while shooting 10-for-22 from three. He’s happy to be home.
  • Jonathan Holmes, Texas: Holmes was terrific for Texas at Madison Square Garden this week as the Longhorns picked up two wins in the 2K Sports Classic.
  • A.J. English, Iona: Iona went just 2-1 this week, but they won at Wake Forest and at North Texas while English averaged 28.7 points. He hit 13 threes this week.
  • Shannon Scott, Ohio State: The Buckeyes beat Marquette and Sacred Heart this week. Scott finished with 30 assists and five turnovers.
  • Brad Waldow, Saint Mary’s: The Gaels won three games against quality mid-major competition, and Waldow led the way, averaging 23.3 points and 8.7 boards.
  • Notables: E.C. Matthews (Rhode Island), Quinn Cook (Duke), James Blackmon (Indiana)
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Juwan Staten (AP Photo)

Team of the Week: West Virginia Mountaineers

The Mountaineers finally looked like a team that is coached by Bob Huggins this week. They’re now 5-0 on the season after winning the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, and it’s not just Juwan Staten stealing the show. The biggest difference with this team has been the play of Devin Williams and Jonathan Holton up front. WVU is defending, they are rebounding, they are getting physical in the paint. The highlight thus far? a 78-68 win over UConn where WVU looked like old school Huggy Bear, wearing down the Husky guards with some full court pressure.

They Were Good, too:

  • Miami Hurricanes: Angel Rodriguez and Sheldan McClellan led Miami to a 4-0 week, which included a title in the Charleston Classic and a win at Florida.
  • Creighton Bluejays: Who thought Creighton would be able to bounce back after losing Doug McDermott and the rest of that senior class? Well, they beat Oklahoma at home on Wednesday after erasing an 18 point deficit.
  • Northeastern Huskies: Northeastern won the mid-major version of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off on Sunday. That came after the Huskies knocked off Florida State.
  • Wyoming Cowboys: Larry Nance Jr. appears to be healthy these days, sparking Wyoming’s 56-33 win over Colorado on Saturday.
  • San Diego State Aztecs: SDSU scored a grand total of 104 points in two wins this week, but that’s perfectly fin if you allow an average of 38 points per game.