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On the Quad: Tom Crean quieting doubters ... for now

What are we seeing here?

Did Oklahoma just fall from No. 1 (with its 82-77 loss at Iowa State)? Or did the Sooners catch themselves (with their 82-72 win at Baylor)?

Did Michigan State (74-65 winners over Maryland) and Duke (88-78 winners over North Carolina State) get their swagger back?

Does anybody want to win the Pac-12, where Washington is the only one-loss team in conference play and ranked teams Arizona and USC both lost on the road?

Did the Duquesne team bus ever make it home from George Mason? (Thankfully it did, but after being stranded on the road for 30 hours by a snowstorm, the Dukes may have felt like they were never going to get home.)

Your weekly campus tour into what is and what was in college hoops begins now:

Coach of the week

The rumbling has stopped -- for now. And that alone is enough to credit Indiana’s Tom Crean for how much he has turned things around since the Hoosiers left Duke with a 94-71 loss on Dec. 2. Back then, IU had lost three of five and it was open season for speculating on Crean’s job status. That has come to halt. IU has reeled off 12 straight wins, including a 7-0 start in Big Ten play that has it atop the conference standings with 6-0 Iowa. And the Hoosiers have done it after losing starting guard James Blackmon Jr. to a knee injury at the start of Big Ten play.

Some might say the Hoosiers’ win streak is a byproduct of a soft league schedule. So far, Ohio State is the only team they’ve beaten with a winning record in conference play. It is indeed an odd year schedule-wise because the Hoosiers will play Maryland, Michigan State and Purdue only one time. They will, however, get the surprising Hawkeyes twice, with the first meeting at home on Feb. 11. But that’s not the reason.

Indiana has become better defensively, which didn’t seem possible the way it played at the beginning of the season. Consider this: The Hoosiers held Notre Dame to 73 points on a neutral court. By contrast, the Irish scored 95 on Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium. IU also ranks first in defensive efficiency (according to Ken Pomeroy) among Big Ten teams.

No one is naive enough to think Crean is safe now. A couple of losses and calls for his job could start back up again. But for now, there’s silence, and that’s a credit to what Crean has done.

Big man on campus

The word redemption may be too strong to use, because Iowa State’s Monte Morris didn’t really need to atone for the Cyclones’ loss at Oklahoma on Jan. 2. But not many players get a last-second do-over like the one he had Monday in the Cyclones’ 82-77 win over the top-ranked Sooners. Morris had an open look and missed a 3-pointer that would have given the Cyclones the lead with 5.8 seconds left in their 87-83 loss at OU on Jan. 2. Given a second chance to be the hero, the 6-foot-3 junior guard responded. With the game tied, he scored the basket that put Iowa State ahead for good with 24 seconds left. He then secured a rebound and added a pair of free throws with nine seconds left to complete his 20-point outing. Morris also led the Cyclones in their 73-60 win at TCU by scoring a game-high 18 points with six assists.

The place to be

Liacouras Center, Philadelphia. Temple’s game with SMU was originally slated to be played on Saturday, but winter storm Jonas had a different plan in mind. The game was moved back to Sunday at noon. Something about extreme weather tends to make rescheduled games like this more fun. Maybe it’s because fans are glad to get out of whatever trapped environment they’ve been in. In any event, SMU, the nation’s last unbeaten team at 18-0, should be officially put on upset alert. The Mustangs escaped against Houston 77-73 at home in their last outing. It’s ironic that their closest games have come at home. SMU has won by an average of 14 points in five road games this season. Temple has won four of its last five games, including wins over Connecticut and Cincinnati, since being embarrassed at home by Houston 77-50 on Jan. 2. The Owls' only loss during that stretch came at Memphis, when a foul with two seconds left sent the Tigers to the free throw line and gave them a 67-65 victory.

Number to know

7. When Kentucky senior forward Alex Poythress plays to his potential, the Wildcats are tough to beat. The problem throughout his career is that he doesn’t always come to play. He did against Vanderbilt on Saturday, scoring eight of the Wildcats’ first 22 points en route to 16 for the game. Kentucky is 7-0 this season in games in which Poythress reaches double figures in scoring. (Combined with 21 from Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray’s 18 points, it marked the first time in two seasons that the Wildcats had three players score 15 or more in the same game.) There’s really no way to tell whether Poythress will follow this game up with another double-figure outing. He has scored in double figures in consecutive games only twice this season.