Tennessee, CofC's Goudelock take home honors
Editor's note: This edition is for games played from Monday, Jan. 4, through Sunday, Jan. 10.
Team Of The Week: Tennessee
Last week: Beat Charlotte 88-71; Beat Kansas 76-68
The Vols were down to six scholarship players. And with Charlotte coming in for a midweek game and Kansas on the weekend, the expectation was Tennessee could get a split at best.
After Charlotte took advantage of playing Louisville without three guards and rocked the Cardinals at Freedom Hall, surely the 49ers could take down Tennessee without Tyler Smith, Cameron Tatum, Melvin Goins and Brian Williams? Not even close. The Vols crushed the 49ers rather handily by 17 points.
But let's not think for a second the Vols were left with players from the rec league. The remaining scholarship players -- notably Scotty Hopson, Wayne Chism, J.P. Prince, Renaldo Woolridge and Bobby Maze -- were all coveted in the recruiting process at a high level.
Having them rally together, with the games at home, meant the Vols were going to be even more focused. Remember, the full compliment of Tennessee players did play Purdue tough in the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands but got blown out by 22 points at USC.
When the Charlotte game was over, the expectation was they had no shot to take down Kansas. But this is college basketball, KU is not UNLV of 1991, and the players are still completely capable of a home win. Major contributions from Bruce Pearl's son Steven and walk-on Skylar McBee, who should be nicknamed now Skyler "McThree," were unexpected. But the perfect storm was in place for Tennessee as the Vols got Kansas after the Jayhawks had a near-miss at home against Cornell.
Beating the Jayhawks raises the profile of this group of Vols and did wonders for Pearl's stock in Knoxville for taking a hard stance against the offenders.
What the KU win does for the 12-2 Vols is make it highly likely Tennessee can make the NCAA tournament if they stay together. Of course, the Vols can't be sub-.500 in this SEC, but that probably won't happen with UT looking strong behind an enthusiastic home crowd.
Wins like Sunday's are hard to project, but when they come they remind you that no team is infallible.
BYU: The Cougars followed up a home win over UNLV by winning by six at former WAC rival UTEP on Saturday. And they did it without leading scorer Jimmer Fredette. Fredette was off against the Runnin' Rebels with only seven points on 2-of-10 shooting. Now we know why. He scored 49 points against Arizona two weeks ago and then apparently contracted strep throat, but after the win over the Miners it was said to be mononucleosis. The Cougars say they'll know more about Fredette's condition Monday.
You would think that would rock the Cougars. Not this crew, not when they are led by one of the most courageous coaches in the country in cancer survivor Dave Rose. The Cougs beat the Miners without Fredette for their 11th straight win and did it behind freshman Tyler Haws, who scored 20 points and grabbed 11 boards.
New Mexico looked like a Mountain West contender prior to losing at San Diego State and at home to UNLV. UNLV lost at BYU. Now it's clear: BYU is the team to beat and can book a date in March once again for the NCAA tournament.
Missouri: Mike Anderson said it in the preseason, Kansas State's Frank Martin said it again Saturday night, and now I will, too: Why wasn't Mizzou given proper credit for returning its backcourt? The coaches compare the Tigers' returning guards to Villanova's. Both teams lost their frontcourts, but Nova was ranked No. 6 in the preseason poll while the Tigers were on the outside. Mizzou, led by Kim English, Marcus Denmon and J.T. Tiller, is quite a watch at home. They simply ran away from K-State in the final few minutes Saturday, caused havoc and won a crucial Big 12 opener 74-68. The Tigers have a huge week at Texas Tech and Oklahoma. But let's not sleep on this squad any longer. At 13-3, the Tigers are an NCAA-bound bid team to consider.
Northern Iowa: The Panthers (14-1, 5-0 Missouri Valley) continue to be way too far under the radar. This team should be ranked. All the Panthers do this season is win -- home, road, neutral, whatever. The only slipup, and it was large at the time, was losing to DePaul. We'll excuse that as a complete mental block. Nothing has been seen like that again. UNI will have a monster matchup at Wichita State (15-2, 4-1) on Jan. 19. This past week, the Panthers won at Southern Illinois and Illinois State. I don't care who you are, winning road games against teams that are supposed to be league contenders is impressive.
Michigan State: The Spartans played like potential league champs this week. MSU won games it should win, taking out Wisconsin in a controlling way at home and then winning at Iowa on the road. There are plenty of potholes to come, but the Spartans finally are taking care of their business.
Stanford: The Cardinal were picked to finish last in the Pac-10. Yet Stanford swept USC and UCLA at home. In this season of Pac-10 ball, everyone is in play. Let's also add Jeremy Green to potential All-Pac-10 performers. His teammate Landry Fields has had plenty of praise, but Green put up 17 in a one-point win over USC and then 30, making 11 of 18 shots and five 3s in a convincing 11-point win over UCLA.
Player Of The Week: Andrew Goudelock, CofC
Andrew Goudelock hit one of the biggest shots of the season so far, a game-tying 3-pointer from roughly 28 feet over North Carolina's 6-foot-9 Deon Thompson with two seconds left in regulation last Monday. Goudelock finished with the last eight points in regulation and had 24 points overall. The Cougars then stunned the Tar Heels in overtime, 82-79. Charleston was supposed to be the team to beat in the Southern Conference. Appalachian State, Western Carolina and Wofford may have something to say here soon. But Charleston followed up the victory over UNC with a six-point win at The Citadel in which Goudelock scored 22 points. He was a combined 19-of-36 in the two games this week.
The Rest Of The Rotation
Luke Harangody, Sr., Notre Dame: Big Gody made 1 of 2 free throws to preserve a road win at South Florida earlier in the week and then scored 24 in the hold-on-for-your-life home victory over West Virginia. Harangody tallied 60 points in the two wins, making 22 of 38 field goals, 10 of 11 free throws and 6 of 8 3s for the Irish to improve to 3-1 in the Big East.
Chris Johnson, So., Dayton: OK, so the five points against Ball State didn't do much for you, and we can't count the four 3s he made late the previous week to stay with New Mexico in a loss. But what matters here is the monster effort he put forth in staving off what would have been a disastrous loss for the A-10 favorite. Johnson scored 26 points and grabbed 20 rebounds in an overtime win over Duquesne. If he doesn't do most of that damage, the Flyers lose a costly home game.
Austin Freeman, Jr., Georgetown: The requirements for being in the Rotation are that you must have been a winner all week. But I had to give Freeman a waiver. He was too good, for too long, in the second half against Connecticut. He nearly outscored the Huskies with 28 of his 33 points in the second half while UConn mustered only 29. Freeman was suddenly free in the Georgetown offense, making 12 of 20 shots. And he didn't take the Marquette game off. Even in that three-point defeat earlier in the week, Freeman put up 20 on the Golden Eagles. I'm not sure anyone had Freeman as the Hoyas' leading scorer in the preseason.
James Anderson, Jr., Oklahoma State: Anderson, who never seems to get the love he deserves (see offseason Wooden Award snub), lit up Texas Tech for 28 in a win. Oklahoma State has been a bit erratic this season and didn't stand out enough in the nonconference. To have a chance to be relevant in the Big 12, the Cowboys need Anderson to be productive.
Filling Up The Bucket
• Appalachian State's Donald Sims posted a Stephen Curry-like performance versus Davidson, scoring 44 points in a win in Curry's old house.
• Seton Hall's Jeremy Hazell, who has never seen a shot he doesn't like, scored 33 in a win over Cincinnati.
• Afam Muojeke of Wyoming dropped a 30 spot in a home win over San Diego State, a difficult loss for the MWC contenders.
• South Carolina's Devan Downey, who has to carry the Gamecocks, scored 33 in a road win at Auburn.
• Rihards Kuksiks hit Washington for 27 points in the Sun Devils' win over the Huskies. Coach Herb Sendek continues to find players who can score when it appeared this team would be offensively challenged.
• The other freshman in the country who gets little national love is Avery Bradley of Texas. He stood up to be noticed with 29 in a win over Colorado.
Coaching Props To ...
• Tony Bennett of Virginia as the Cavs quietly got a road ACC win, his first, at NC State.
• Northeastern coach Bill Coen, who has kept the Huskies together after a rough nonconference to start the CAA with a 4-1 mark. Let's dump VCU (2-3 CAA) and just say the CAA is a wide-open race among five squads: William & Mary, Old Dominion, George Mason, NU and Drexel.
• Tennessee's Bruce Pearl and Kansas State's Frank Martin: Pearl didn't hide from the New Year's Day arrests, dismissing senior Tyler Smith and indefinitely suspending Cameron Tatum, Brian Williams and Melvin Goins. And Martin came out immediately and apologized for slapping down the hand of senior guard Chris Merriewether.
• Mark Fox of Georgia, whose hire was questioned from Reno to Athens. All Fox has done is beat Illinois, Georgia Tech and cause anxiety in the Commonwealth after nearly clipping Kentucky.
Places To Be This Week
Louisville, Ky., Monday: Check the Big East standings, and Louisville and Villanova are two of the three undefeated teams in conference. Who knew? I didn't think the Cards would still be standing at this point. Louisville can go a long way toward staying in the race with a home win over Nova.
Gainesville, Fla., Tuesday: Florida desperately needs a home win over Kentucky for its postseason résumé. Getting that win in Rupp, even with Georgia's valiant effort Saturday, is unlikely. The Gators looked solid in stretches against Vandy but couldn't close out. Kentucky has been teetering close to a loss at times. Will this be the first?
Manhattan, Kan., Tuesday: Kansas State got run out of Mizzou Arena in the final two possessions as the Wildcats couldn't handle the pressure and didn't execute down the stretch. Texas A&M has quietly been plodding along, even without Derrick Roland. Don't expect an Aggies' win here, but if they do it will be quite a résumé builder.
Ames, Iowa, Wednesday: Texas has had trouble with Iowa State in Hilton in the past, much like a number of other teams. But the Cyclones aren't playing well right now after beating North Dakota State by a deuce at home. Time is running out for Iowa State to be relevant for a bid.
Hartford, Conn., Wednesday: Pitt is undefeated in the Big East, UConn already has two losses. If the Huskies want to stay in the chase for the title, beating Pitt would certainly help.
Evanston, Ill., Wednesday: Northwestern got off to a slow start in the league by dropping the first two. Wisconsin has been hot at home, but naturally couldn't win at Michigan State. NU must protect its court after losing the first one to the Spartans. Northwestern brings in Purdue on Saturday, so this is quite a week for the Wildcats to prove their relevance.
Clemson, S.C., Wednesday: The Tigers were flat at Duke and then formidable at home against Boston College. Beating North Carolina at home would certainly raise their profile in the league this season.
Moraga, Calif., Thursday: Portland couldn't knock off Gonzaga at home. Now it's Saint Mary's turn to see if there is a real challenger to the Zags in the WCC this season.
Washington D.C., Thursday: Let's see if Seton Hall can get on the roll Bobby Gonzalez was claiming it could once it won a game. Beating Cincinnati at home and Georgetown on the road would suffice.
Morgantown, W.Va., Saturday: West Virginia has looked like a Big East and Final Four contender at times at home, not so much on the road. Here's another shot when Syracuse is in town.
Knoxville, Tenn., Saturday: Ole Miss blew a chance to move ahead in the SEC West by losing to Mississippi State. Winning a road game at SEC East foe Tennessee would help get them back on track.
Seattle, Saturday: Cal at Washington was supposed to be a title-game preview. But both clubs are struggling to find their footing in a mediocre league.
Cincinnati, Saturday: Dayton survived Duquesne to continue its front-runner status but it's hard to see how the Flyers are ahead of Xavier, the host in this game, or even Temple or Rhode Island.
7 p.m.: Villanova at Louisville (ESPN)
9 p.m.: Oklahoma St. at Oklahoma (ESPN)
7 p.m.: Ohio St. at Purdue (ESPN)
7 p.m.: Texas A&M at Kansas St. (ESPN2)
9 p.m.: Kentucky at Florida (ESPN)
6:30 p.m.: Minnesota at Michigan State (BTN)
7 p.m.: Pittsburgh at Connecticut (ESPN2)
7 p.m.: Miami at Virginia Tech
8 p.m.: Texas at Iowa St. (ESPN360)
8:30 p.m.: Wisconsin at Northwestern (BTN)
9 p.m.: North Carolina at Clemson (ESPN)
9 p.m.: Kansas at Nebraska (ESPN2)
9 p.m.: Missouri at Texas Tech (ESPNU)
10 p.m.: San Diego St. at UNLV (CBS-CS)
7 p.m.: Seton Hall at Georgetown (ESPN)
10 p.m.: California at Washington St.
11 p.m.: Gonzaga at Saint Mary's (ESPN2)
11 a.m.: Dayton at Xavier (ESPN2)
Noon: Syracuse at West Virginia (ESPN)
Noon: Louisville at Pittsburgh (ESPN360)
1:30 p.m. Ole Miss at Tennessee (ESPN360)
1:45 p.m. Texas Tech at Kansas (ESPN360)
2 p.m.: Georgia Tech at North Carolina (ESPN)
2:30 p.m.: California at Washington (FSN)
3:30 p.m.: Illinois at Michigan St. (CBS)
4 p.m.: Oklahoma St. at Baylor (ESPN360)
5:30 p.m.: Purdue at Northwestern (BTN)
6 p.m.: Texas A&M at Texas (ESPNU)
6 p.m.: Virginia Tech at Florida St. (SunSports)
8 p.m.: Wisconsin at Ohio St. (BTN)
Noon: Georgetown at Villanova (ESPN360)
4:30 p.m.: Connecticut at Michigan (CBS)
8 p.m.: Wake Forest at Duke (FSN)
Highlights: Duke-Georgia Tech
Hard To Explain
• How Seattle beat Oregon State by 51 at home and then lost 80-67 at Sacramento State. Oh, by the way, Sac State also beat Oregon State. Toss in the Beavers with BC, Illinois, Michigan and Oklahoma as some of the more perplexing teams this season.
• How Marquette just can't close out a team. The Golden Eagles are playing as well as any team in the Big East, except in the last few minutes. Marquette has lost three games in the final possession -- twice to Villanova and once to West Virginia.
• Jarvis Varnado tried to do his part for Mississippi State with 17 points and 12 boards in a loss at Western Kentucky; then, in an SEC-opening win at Ole Miss, he had six blocks, including a huge late block of a Terrico White shot.
• Louisiana Tech, the WAC's only hope for an at-large berth: The Bulldogs (15-2, 3-0 WAC) smacked one-time favorite Utah State by 22 and then won at Idaho. Former LSU center Magnum Rolle was a high-major performer in going for 21 points and 14 boards in the win over the Aggies in Ruston.
• Pitt is off to a 3-0 start in the Big East after a gutty road win at Cincinnati.
• Ohio State's Evan Turner came back from a fractured back much earlier than expected (after four weeks) and was instrumental in ensuring the Buckeyes beat Indiana at home; even though they lost to Minnesota on the road, Turner gave OSU a chance. Turner scored 19 points, had eight boards and seven assists.
• Cornell did something no one else could this season at Phog Allen Fieldhouse -- scare the Kansas faithful. The Big Red held a lead with a minute left. And then they did what good teams do, and that's win games they should, following it up with a convincing win at South Dakota.
• Butler won in Detroit in overtime to go to 5-0 in the Horizon.
• Kris Joseph of Syracuse: Who, you ask? He's getting very little attention nationally, but he can finish on the break and was critical (15 points) in the home win over Memphis.
• UAB continues to win. The Blazers beat East Carolina and Tulane. Well, you ask, should that be applauded? Yes, because these are games the Blazers are supposed to win if we're going to take them seriously.
• Dwayne Collins of Miami blocked a shot late against Wake Forest to preserve a win the Hurricanes had to have in the ACC.
• Washington State freshman Reggie Moore: The Cougars may have the Pac-10 player of the year and freshman of the year. Klay Thompson is a contender for POY and Moore continues to impress (20 points in a road win at Arizona). He also had the assist to DeAngelo Casto for the bucket with one-tenth left on the clock.
• Butler just laughs off the Horizon League competition, dismissing all the contenders, including Wright State on the road.
• Kendall Wallace was as good as a road player has been in the Pit this season in making 7-of-10 3s (6 in the second half) in UNLV's much-needed win at UNM. I'm not sure another team will split the BYU-UNM road trip this season.
• Georgia Tech beat Duke at home when it had to do so. Gani Lawal was looking like the NBA player he thought he should have been last season with 21 points and nine boards in holding off the Blue Devils.
• Vandy won a must-win game at home. The Commodores held on to beat Florida to get a solid start in the SEC.
Memphis: Give Elliot Williams some props for scoring 33 points, making 8-of-12 3s and helping the Tigers keep their Conference USA streak alive at 61 overall (50 regular-season wins), this time at Southern Miss. Tigers coach Josh Pastner was poised in another tight game. UTEP, Tulsa, Houston, Southern Miss, whoever, the league still goes through Memphis.
Highlights: Kansas State-Missouri
Maryland: Maryland hadn't had much to show so far this season, so beating No. 19 Florida State was critical for the Terps to get some good vibes going early.
North Carolina: The Tar Heels didn't end the week like they started it (a loss to the College of Charleston). Their win over Virginia Tech (and 1-0 ACC start) was a must with Clemson looming on the road.
Arizona: Coach Sean Miller was a tremendous get for the Wildcats after he had been such a huge hit at Xavier. But the road has been bumpy early with a young crew at Arizona. The Wildcats finally got a payday Sunday with a 17-point drubbing of Washington that likely will bounce the Huskies out of the Top 25.
Northwestern: The Wildcats were off to an 0-2 Big Ten start after an 11-1 nonconference. Knocking off Michigan on the road sends a strong message that the Wildcats are a serious player for an NCAA tournament berth.
What To Make Of?
Rhode Island: Once again the Rams were hot in the nonconference but started cold in conference. URI won 12 of its first 13 games but then lost by four at home to Temple. There's no shame in that, but the Rams needed to convince the rest of the league they could win a significant league game. Oh, by the way, Temple looks like the new A-10 favorite over Dayton and Xavier.
The Pac-10: Seriously, a one-bid league is not a reach. This league is competitive but that's not a good thing this season. Cal lost to UCLA in overtime at home, which lost to projected last-place Stanford. Washington got swept by the Arizona schools. Washington State knocked off Arizona, but then got blown out by Arizona State. Arizona State was swept last weekend in Los Angeles. Mediocrity or parity or competitive balance doesn't mean there should be multiple bids. And Oregon, which swept the Washington schools last week to go 2-0 to start the Pac-10, lost at home to Oregon State.