Updated: December 19, 2011, 12:43 AM ET

Team of the Week: Gonzaga

A week ago, Michigan State's Draymond Green was our national player of the week for his 34 points in a win over Gonzaga in Spokane. The loss was the Zags' second in a row, after losing badly to another Big Ten team (Illinois).

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AP Photo/Kevin P. CaseyGonzaga rode Elias Harris' 25 points to victory over Arizona.

So Gonzaga was in desperate search of its first quality win of the season and the Battle in Seattle against Arizona -- despite the Wildcats' ups and downs -- would qualify. Gonzaga had to beat someone of note to regain confidence.

No problem there. The Zags jumped out to a 14-0 lead on shell-shocked Zona and won 71-60 as Elias Harris had his first breakout game of the season against top competition with 25 points (11-15 FG) and 8 boards. Guards Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell struggled with their shot and the team was 3-of-20 from beyond the arc. That put even more of a premium on Harris to produce -- and he did, in what could be a season-changing win for Mark Few's team.

And let's not forget that Gonzaga started the week with a victory over a good Oral Roberts team, one that absolutely destroyed No. 9 Xavier in its following game. The Zags host Butler on Tuesday and will eventually battle with BYU and Saint Mary's for the WCC title. And that's why having a week like this was critical in getting Gonzaga back on track.

-- Andy Katz

Editor's note: This edition is only for games played from Monday, Dec. 12, to Sunday, Dec. 18.

Ten more teams that impressed us

Baylor: The Bears aren't exactly known as road warriors and nonconference opponents were 2-48 at BYU's Marriott Center over the past seven seasons. Didn't matter. After dispatching of Bethune-Cookman earlier in the week, Baylor went into Provo and pulled out an 86-83 victory that sure seems to indicate this team can be taken seriously as a national contender.

Cincinnati: The Bearcats played two games without three of their four suspended players and looked as good as they have all season. The UC offense was dominant and disposed of two overmatched teams in Wright State and Radford. Sean Kilpatrick looked like an all-Big East guard. If Cincinnati can play with that sort of focus and determination throughout the Big East schedule, its troubled season will change dramatically.

Florida: The Gators jumped out to an 18-2 lead on No. 22 Texas A&M and never looked back. The perimeter of Erving Walker, Bradley Beal and Kenny Boynton played as well as they have as a unit this season. This Florida team has only two blemishes: at Ohio State and at Syracuse. Not bad.

Indiana State: The Sycamores went into Vanderbilt and were the better team for all 40 minutes. ISU, which should have closed out Minnesota in the Old Spice Classic semifinals, is a legit contender in the Missouri Valley Conference. This road win, even against an erratic Commodores team, is a strong indicator that the Sycamores can return to the NCAA tournament for a second straight year.

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Jamie Rhodes/US PresswireGorgui Dieng was big on both sides of the floor as UL improved to 10-0 with a win over Memphis.

Kansas State: The Wildcats rebounded from a disappointing double-overtime loss to West Virginia in Wichita the previous week with a dominating win over Alabama in Kansas City. K-State coach Frank Martin is relishing this under-the-radar role this season. He clearly has a hard-working crew that will be a tough out through the Big 12 schedule.

Louisville: The Cardinals are so entertaining to watch whenever they play at the KFC Yum! Center. The electricity just bounces off the television. Louisville runs the break as well as any team in the country this season and is making the right plays at the right times in close games. Holding on late to beat old rival Memphis was yet another example.

Oral Roberts: What a week on the road for the Eagles, who began with a stunning, three-quarter-court buzzer-beater to win at Arkansas-Little Rock, went all the way out west and lost to Gonzaga by just six and then traveled to Cincinnati and took advantage of a depleted Xavier team on Sunday. The Eagles handed the ninth-ranked Musketeers their most lopsided home loss (64-42) in a dozen years.

St. Joseph's: The Hawks won't die. No, St. Joe's just keeps rolling along after crushing Big 5 rival Villanova on Saturday, dunking on what seemed like every other possession at a revved-up Hagan Arena. History aside, the raucous, overflow crowd for this one certainly seemed to justify Phil Martelli's decision to move this game from the Palestra.

Syracuse: The Orange took their No. 1 ranking and embraced it on the court, allowing NC State a few moments of success before squashing the Wolfpack with relative ease. Syracuse had various players taking turns in a lead role and the Orange offense clearly is clicking at a March-like rate. Syracuse will take the No. 1 ranking into 2012.

UNLV: The Runnin' Rebels took out UTEP at home and then knocked Illinois from the ranks of the unbeaten with a wire-to-wire 16-point win at the United Center in Chicago. Mike Moser had the look of an MWC player of the year yet again.

Shoutout-worthy: Butler, Iona, MTSU, Mississippi St., New Mexico, Southern Miss, Virginia

-- Andy Katz

Player of the week: Perry Jones III, Baylor

In a game that No. 7 Baylor really needed to prove its worth -- a game taking place in a house of horrors for opponents -- Jones scored the final basket for the Bears in their 86-83 victory at BYU. Jones' offensive rebound and tip-in forced the Cougars to go for a 3-pointer by Brandon Davies in the final possession, a shot that was blocked by Baylor guard Pierre Jackson.

Jones had just come back into the game after knocking knees with Davies on the court, sending the All-American candidate to the floor, writhing in pain. Ultimately it was determined that Jones could return, although he said he was in pain. The 6-foot-11 forward was determined to get back on the court and help his team win a crucial road game.

The effort of that selfless act finished up an impressive 33-minute performance in which Jones made 11 of 16 shots (including a pair of 3-pointers) to finish with a career-high 28 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals, with just one turnover. Jones proved that when a big game is on the line, and his team needs him to be a leader, he'll be ready to play. He played with pain, made the key bucket and Baylor remains undefeated because of his overall efforts.

-- Andy Katz

More performances that wowed us

Keith Clanton, UCF: Scored 23 points, made all three 3-points attempts, grabbed 16 rebounds and collected 4 blocks in a 61-53 win over Old Dominion.

Drew Gordon, New Mexico: Struggled with his shot, but brought down 20 rebounds in the Lobos' important 10-point win against Oklahoma State in Oklahoma City.

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AP Photo/Charlie RiedelOakland's Reggie Hamilton not only scored 41 points, but also hit the game winner at Valpo.

Reggie Hamilton, Oakland: Hit the buzzer-beating 3 as the Golden Grizzlies rallied from 17 down in the second half to win at Valparaiso. It was one of his five treys during a 41-point, 4-steal day for the senior point guard.

Scott Machado, Iona: Speaking of point guards, they don't come much better than Machado, who piled up 27 points, 21 assists and 10 boards in two quality road wins at Richmond and Vermont.

Mike Moore, Hofstra: The Pride are trying to stay afloat without the departed Charles Jenkins and Moore is leading the way, scoring 32 points and connecting on 7 of 11 3s in a blowout of Binghamton.

Kyle O'Quinn, Norfolk State: This team continues to surprise and O'Quinn is a big reason. The senior center totaled 22 points, 14 rebounds, 6 blocks and 4 assists in a nice win over defending NEC champ Long Island.

Steven Pledger, Oklahoma: The 8-1 Sooners continue to surprise, as well. In a comeback win over Houston, Pledger made 10 of 13 shots and finished with 31 points and 10 boards. He was 4-of-5 from 3 and 7-of-7 from the FT line.

Herb Pope, Seton Hall: The Pirates had to fight off Mercer in overtime on Sunday and did so behind 24 points and 17 rebounds from Pope, who has double-doubles in eight of his 10 games. In the only two exceptions, he put up lines of 32-9 and 25-6 in limited action. Remarkable.

Stallon Saldivar, Northern Arizona: The Lumberjacks prolonged Arizona State's misery when Saldivar buried a 3 with less than a second to go to give NAU a 69-68 win. He made 6-of-8 from deep and compiled 24 points and 9 assists.

Mike Scott, Virginia: Behind Scott's 17 points and 13 rebounds, the Cavaliers exploded in the second half and improved to 9-1 with a win at Oregon on Sunday. That elusive third spot in the ACC behind UNC and Duke? Has to belong to the Scott-led Cavs at this point.

Russ Smith, Louisville: Smith made enough shots and free throws to total 24 points, but the real difference-maker was his 7 steals in a win over Memphis. Also worth noting: the 14 points, 14 rebounds and 6 blocks from teammate Gorgui Dieng.

Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State: Jared Sullinger wasn't around for most of the game, so when the Buckeyes were in a surprisingly tight spot at South Carolina, Thomas came through with a career-high 30 points. Combined with the rout of USC Upstate, the soph shot a silly 23-of-29 for the week.

Neil Watson, Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles actually got Ole Miss to come to Hattiesburg and didn't waste the opportunity, beating the Rebels behind 18 points and 11 assists from Watson.

Nate Wolters, South Dakota State: Wolters has long been a favorite of college basketball wonks, but a performance like the one he pulled during a stunningly easy 92-73 win at Washington on Sunday -- 34 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds -- will garner him some much-deserved national love.

Tyler Zeller, North Carolina: Unlike Wolters, Zeller is a known quantity. That doesn't make his 31-point (11-15 FG), 10-rebound performance against Appalachian State any less special.

-- Brett Edgerton

They Said It (Or Tweeted It)

"To tell you the truth, I knew it was going in. The look in his eyes, when you know he's going to hit a shot, he had that look. I started running back the other way. I didn't go for the rebound because I knew it was going in. Him down the stretch, he's big time."
-- Wisconsin's Ryan Evans after teammate Jordan Taylor hit a late 3 in Wisconsin's 60-54 win at Milwaukee.

"Just a freak accident. Great win for us tho. Our first road win. #FYI I will be fine ppl.... Back at it tomorrow"
-- @Jared_Sully0 (Ohio State's Jared Sullinger) after he left Saturday's win over South Carolina with a foot injury.

"I thought the first half was the best we've played all year. We shared it. We passed it. We moved it. We had inside-outside action."
-- Florida's Billy Donovan on his team taking a 35-14 halftime lead in an 84-64 win over Texas A&M.

"The more people I hear from that say they have never seen a atmosphere like the one in AH this past Saturday makes me believe that"
-- @TomCrean (Indiana head coach) Wednesday, four days after the Hoosiers upset No. 1 Kentucky on a last-second 3.

"It's not rocket science to look in there as much as possible and scout the best you can."
-- Indiana State coach Greg Lansing on limiting Vanderbilt's John Jenkins to a season-low 11 points.

@TerrenceJones1 Don't obsess over it, don't give it too much energy, just be yourself & trust the process. I stand with you. You'll be fine!
@TerrenceJones1 I've had that experience on set before, when I couldn't find what I needed for a scene, even though I know my gift. It's OK!
@terrancejones1 You're a special player at a school that has had heaps of gifted players, & you're an All-American. We've all had bad days
-- @ashley judd tweets to Kentucky star Terrence Jones after he struggled in UK's loss at IU.

-- Myron Medcalf

Observations from the week that was

Jason King

1. Baylor has to toughen up down low. The Bears pulled off one of their best wins in years by defeating BYU 86-83 in Provo on Saturday. The victory came before a raucous crowd of 22,700 and featured a handful of clutch plays by Baylor down the stretch, including a tip-in by Perry Jones in the final minute and a block by Pierre Jackson on BYU's potential game-tying 3 at the buzzer. Still, Baylor lost the rebounding battle 41-26, including a 16-5 differential on the offensive glass. And get this stat: BYU grabbed the first 14 rebounds of the game. That's a disturbing stat considering Baylor's frontcourt boasts as much size, length and depth as any unit in the country. And it's not as if the Cougars are known for their size and strength down low. If Baylor's forwards don't develop a mean streak and play with more ferocity, the Bears will have no chance of winning the Big 12.

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AP Photo/Gerry BroomeSome questioned its ranking, but Syracuse was challenged and emphatically answered in Raleigh.

2. Syracuse is for real. Most folks probably realized that already. But any skeptics of the No. 1-ranked Orange probably don't have many doubts about their potential after Saturday's 88-72 spanking of NC State. The victory came against a solid, well-coached Wolfpack squad that was backed by 19,400 rowdy fans at the RBC Center. Dion Waiters scored 22 points off the bench and Kris Joseph added 21 for Syracuse, which was playing outside of its home state for the first time this season.

3. Todd Mayo is a stud. O.J. Mayo's younger brother signed with Marquette last spring and arrived on campus with little fanfare. Ten games into his freshman season, Mayo appears to be the steal of the 2011 recruiting class. The guard scored 22 points in Saturday's win over Northern Colorado, when he replaced Darius Johnson-Odom in the starting lineup. Johnson-Odom was serving a one-game suspension for a violation of team rules. For the season, Mayo is averaging 11 points in just 19.8 minutes per game.

For more of King's observations, click here.

Andy Katz

1. Butler's comeback over Purdue at the Crossroads Classic on Saturday was a reminder of just how special the Bulldogs have been over the past three years. Of course the talent isn't the same with this group and there are no for-sure NBA players on the roster these days. But this team has terrific desire and absolutely no quit. Butler has a long road ahead to be an NCAA team again. The Horizon League is very competitively balanced and you certainly can't consider the Bulldogs the favorites in a group that includes Cleveland State, Milwaukee and Detroit (with Eli Holman back). But Butler isn't going away. That much is for sure.

2. One player defecting in the first semester is unique, but now two elite freshmen have departed. Jabari Brown bolted on Oregon after two games and now Khem Birch is gone from Pittsburgh after 10. The Ducks had a player in reserve to replace Brown in Minnesota transfer Devoe Joseph. But Pitt doesn't have someone to fill in for Birch immediately. The team's depth takes a hit here, but it will be hard to project just how much until Big East play begins.

3. No other team in the country may have been hit harder by an ineligible player than Arizona State. Not having Jahii Carson has rocked the Sun Devils. Herb Sendek was expecting to build his team around an impact newcomer who could dominate the ball and create offense. Instead, ASU has slumped considerably and the low point came Saturday when Northern Arizona beat the Devils on a Stallon Saldivar 3-pointer with less than a second remaining. That gave NAU interim coach Dave Brown a win after head coach Mike Adras resigned earlier in the week.

For more of Katz's observations, click here.


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