Team of the Week: Dayton
-- Andy Katz
Editor's note: This edition is only for games played from Monday, Jan. 2, to Sunday, Jan. 8.
More teams that impressed us
Arkansas: The Razorbacks had one of the most significant conference wins this past week by scoring 98 points on Mississippi State in a 10-point win in the SEC opener. Might the Hogs challenge for a tourney bid in Mike Anderson's first season?Charlotte: The 49ers' rebuilding job is on the fast track. Charlotte beat Richmond at home and then won at previously surging Saint Joe's for a 2-0 start in the Atlantic 10. Colorado: The Buffaloes lost their two best players and yet the Buffaloes are atop the muddled Pac-12 with a 3-0 record after sweeping three home games, including over the Washington schools this week. The road trip to the Bay Area this weekend will tell a lot about the development of this team.
-- Andy Katz
Player of the week: Travis Releford, Kansas
Murray State's Isaiah Canaan made all seven of his 3s in the first half at Austin Peay and finished with 35 points. Creighton's Doug McDermott scored a career-high 44 points against Bradley. But Releford's contributions in two key Kansas wins were the most significant for a contending team this week. The Jayhawks desperately needed to find another reliable scorer next to Thomas Robinson. Releford may be the answer in KU's quest to brush back Baylor and Missouri in a quest to win yet another Big 12 title.In Wednesday's decisive victory over red-hot rival Kansas State, Releford set career-highs in both points (16) and rebounds (11) in the first double-double of his career. Then at Oklahoma on Saturday, the junior matched that career-high in points in the first half. He finished with a career-high 28 points, making three 3-pointers and an efficient 9-of-13 shots as the Jayhawks broke open a close game in the second half. This Kansas team is short on depth, but long on potential development. Releford is a prime example of the possibilities.
-- Andy Katz
More performances that wowed us
C.J. Aiken, Saint Joseph's: 15 pts, 9 blks, 7 rebs in win at Duquesne
O.D. Anosike, Siena: 27 pts (12-15 FG), 14 rebs in win over Niagara; 11th straight double-double
Carlon Brown, Colorado: 28 pts (6-12 3-pt FG), 7 rebs in win over Washington State
Darryl "Truck" Bryant, West Virginia: 49 pts (20-24 FT, 6-12 3-pt FG), 5 stls in wins over Rutgers and Georgetown
Isaiah Canaan, Murray State: 35 pts (10-15 FG, 7-8 3-pt FG), 5 asts in win at Austin Peay
Kevin Dillard, Dayton: 34 pts (13-13 FT), 16 asts in wins over Saint Louis and Temple
Kenny Gabriel, Auburn: Triple-double (24 pts, 13 rebs, 10 blks) in win over Bethune-Cookman
Justin Glenn, Lipscomb: 14 pts (5-6 FG), 10 rebs, 6 asts, 5 blks, 4 stls in win over Belmont
Jamelle Hagins, Delaware: 21 pts, 18 rebs, 5 blks in win over Hofstra
Kevin Jones, West Virginia: 36 pts (13-21 FG), 30 rebs in wns over Rutgers and Georgetown
Devoe Joseph, Oregon: 30 pts (5-7 3-pt FG), 7 rebs in win over Stanford
Kenny Kadji, Miami (Fla): 30 pts (10-15 FG), 12 rebs in win over UNC Greensboro; double-double in loss at Virginia
Damian Lillard, Weber State: 68 pts, 12 rebs, 10 asts in wins over E. Washington and Portland St.
Doug McDermott, Creighton: 68 pts, 15 rebs in wins over Drake and Bradley; shot 77 percent (27-35)
Tony Mitchell, North Texas: 34 pts (11-14 FG), 16 rebs in win at South Alabama
Dominique Morrison, Oral Roberts: 38 pts (11-15 FG, 5-8 3-pt FG), 7 rebs in win over South Dakota St.
Garrett Stutz, Wichita State: 29 pts (12-14 FG), 10 rebs, 4 asts in win at Evansville
Jordan Theodore, Seton Hall: 19 pts (8-8 FT), 11 asts in win over Connecticut
Royce White, Iowa State: Triple-double (10 pts, 18 rebs, 10 asts) in win at Texas A&M
Khalif Wyatt, Temple: 22 pts (8-12 FG), 5 stls in win over Duke; 28 pts in loss at Dayton
-- Brett Edgerton
They said it (or tweeted it)
"I got three Europeans. They don't know where New Jersey is."
-- Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard to @adamzagoria on what his players knew about the team's history of losing to UConn before beating the Huskies
-- @_tee_y (Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor) in response to critics via Twitter on Friday night "It just takes its toll -- physically, emotionally, psychologically. We've got to get past that. I'm usually over these by the end of 'Saturday Night Live,' but this one might go a little later than that.''
-- Oregon State coach Craig Robinson to OregonLive.com after his team's 103-101 loss to Stanford in quadruple overtime "Um, I mean, I was open, and my teammates found me." Then he paused before adding: "Honestly, I don't remember."
-- Georgetown's Hollis Thompson told the AP on his game-winning 3-pointer in a 73-70 win over Marquette "This program is the best basketball family there is in college basketball, and has done it for years and years and years and has never backed up. I'm proud to be involved except for when I was going down to the [Monmouth] bench to shake hands, because it doesn't feel good. That's King, a guy I recruited, and I was almost apologizing because we made so many shots in the first half, because you feel for that other guy."
-- North Carolina Roy Williams to the AP after his team's 102-65 victory against Monmouth, a team coached by former UNC point guard King Rice
-- Myron Medcalf
King's observations from the week that was
1. Kevin Jones should be in the discussion for first-team All-American honors. No one in the Big East is playing better than the West Virginia forward, who is averaging 19.8 points and 11.9 rebounds. Jones had 22 points and 16 boards in Saturday's victory over Georgetown and has recorded a double-double in all but five games this season. The senior is also shooting a career-best 74.1 percent from the foul stripe.
Brennan's observations from the week that was
1. A cold Wisconsin offense isn't a Wisconsin offense at all. In late November, the Badgers throttled BYU and hung tough for 40 minutes at North Carolina. They were among the most efficient teams in the country on offense, and even better on defense. Same old Bo Ryan, same old Badgers. The past nine days revealed a much different team. In that span, Wisconsin lost three times, and in wildly uncharacteristic fashion. The Badgers lost twice at home -- to Iowa and Michigan State -- and again on the road Sunday, flailing about helplessly in a 59-41 loss at Michigan.It's not hard to pinpoint the reasons behind the losses. The common denominator in all three has been simply poor shooting. The Badgers' effective field goal percentage figures in this 0-3 stretch were as follows: 37 percent, 38 percent and 38.2 percent. Even worse, many of those misses have come from star guard Jordan Taylor, who last season was one of the most ruthlessly efficient, dead-eye shooters in the game. Taylor has struggled with his shot for much of 2011-12, to the point where we all said "well, Jordan Taylor is slumping, but he'll get back on track eventually." He hasn't -- and it's Jan. 8. If Taylor doesn't regain the form that propelled him to stardom, this UW offense will continue to post anemic shooting percentages and ugly offensive performances. Given the Badgers' self-imposed style, one that eschews offensive rebounds and trips to the foul line in favor of the last, best shot in any given possession, Wisconsin can't afford to shoot the ball poorly. If it does, look for more of what we saw this week. Only this time, we won't be quite so surprised. 2. The Pac-12 is a one-bid league. On Friday, before this weekend's games, ESPN Stats and Information guru Jeremy Lundblad passed along the following statistics: • The Pac-12 is 0-20 in true road games against the RPI top 100
• The Pac-12's "best" road win? Arizona at New Mexico State (RPI: 110)
• At 48, Cal has the highest RPI of any Pac-12 school. Interesting to note who is just ahead of them at No. 47: Norfolk State. Cal's best win this season is over Denver (RPI: 71)
• In nonconference play, the Pac-12 is 0-9 vs RPI Top 25 and 1-24 against RPI Top 50. The "best" win: Stanford over Colorado State (RPI: 43).
• Pac-12 teams are 3-11 against the Mountain West.
-- Eamonn Brennan
What's On Tap
7 p.m.: West Virginia at UConn (ESPN2)
9 p.m.: Cincinnati at Georgetown (ESPNU) Tuesday
7 p.m.: Georgia at Florida (ESPN)
8 p.m.: Baylor at Kansas State (ESPN3)
8 p.m.: Illinois State at Wichita State
9 p.m.: Ohio State at Illinois (ESPN)
9 p.m.: Miami at North Carolina (ESPN3)
9 p.m.: No. Iowa at Creighton (ESPN3) Wednesday
7 p.m.: Syracuse at Villanova (ESPN2)
7 p.m.: Southern Miss at Memphis
8 p.m.: Missouri at Iowa State (ESPN3)
9 p.m.: Temple at Saint Louis (CBS-SN)
9 p.m.: Texas A&M at Texas (ESPN2)
9 p.m.: LSU at Alabama (ESPN3) Thursday
7 p.m.: Wisconsin at Purdue (ESPN3)
9 p.m.: Virginia at Duke (ESPN3)
11 p.m.: Gonzaga at Saint Mary's (ESPN2)
11 p.m.: Colorado at California (CSN) Friday
7 p.m.: Cleveland St. at Butler (ESPNU)
11 a.m.: UConn at Notre Dame (ESPN2)
Noon: Kentucky at Tennessee (ESPN)
1:30 p.m.: Kansas St. at Oklahoma (ESPN3)
2 p.m.: North Carolina at Florida St. (ESPN)
4 p.m.: UNLV at San Diego St. (NCB Sports Net.)
4 p.m.: Alabama at Mississippi St. (ESPN3)
6 p.m.: Providence at Syracuse (ESPN3) Sunday
Noon: Georgetown at St. John's (ESPN3)
1:30 p.m.: Indiana at Ohio State (CBS)
King on Baylor-Kansas State
O'Neil on UNLV-San Diego St.
O'Neil: Three questions
• What's the second-best team in the Big East?After the one sure thing (Syracuse), the league could be at its most wildly unpredictable in years. There are a lot of good teams here -- Georgetown, Marquette, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Louisville, Connecticut, Seton Hall -- but they can't seem to distinguish themselves from one another. Georgetown looks good and then loses to West Virginia. West Virginia gets smoked by Seton Hall. Seton Hall gets trounced by Syracuse but obliterates UConn. UConn loses to Rutgers. Marquette rallies but falls short. Help! There are some obvious answers here -- the Hoyas, Huskies and Mountaineers are young; the Bearcats have had to shake off the aftereffects of the brawl; the Pirates are still learning to be a good team -- but from positions 2 through 16, the league is hard to pin down. What remains to be determined is if this is a byproduct of a tough conference or average teams.
• Was Missouri's trouncing at Kansas State a fluke or something to worry about?That, of course, is a tune-in-tomorrow sort of question. The Tigers could easily bounce back and win their next game at Iowa State and restore order. But there's no doubt some fans will start hand-wringing, wondering if this hot start was real or fiction. Here's the issue: Mizzou lost at Manhattan and folks will remember that the Tigers a year ago struggled mightily to win in unfriendly environments, going 1-7 on the road in the Big 12. The other concern: The Wildcats were really the first good team that exposed Missouri's interior problems. The Tigers were smoked on the glass, 36-22, and had problems with KSU's hard-nosed defense. This could easily be little more than a blip on the radar, but people will be watching closely when the Tigers travel to Ames this week. • What league has two coaches flying under the radar in Coach of the Year convos? How about the Mountain West, where both Dave Rice (UNLV) and Steve Fisher (SDSU) have done outstanding jobs. Rice, taking over for the departed Lon Kruger, has uptempoed the Runnin Rebels to a 16-2 record, bringing back the glory days of old. The Rebs are averaging a blistering 81 points per game. For Fisher, this was supposed to be a rebuilding year. Last season, the Aztecs were the new kids on the top-25 block, garnering the old Michigan coach all sorts of new attention. But with four of his leading scorers gone, including Kawhi Leonard and D.J. Gay, Fisher wasn't supposed to have another great year. Instead the Aztecs are back in the top 25 and 13-2. The two will square off this week in what's sure to be a great game in San Diego.
-- Dana O'Neil
Medcalf on Indiana-Ohio State
Places to be this week
Hartford, Conn. (West Virginia at UConn): WVU forward Kevin Jones is finally playing like the star he was once purported to be, and the Mountaineers look like a team on the rise. But are they talented enough to hang with UConn in Hartford? It's a big ask, to be sure, but the Huskies are struggling in their own right, playing uncharacteristically shoddy defense and rebounding far worse than any team with this sort of interior talent should. Tuesday
Manhattan, Kan. (Baylor at Kansas State): Baylor has tested itself on the road more often than at any time in the Bears' recent scheduling history, and Scott Drew will hope experiences like the close win at BYU will serve his team well in conference play this season. The Bears will have to be focused and ready Tuesday night, because as Kansas State proved in throttling Missouri, it is going to be very difficult to get points against this big, tough, physical K-State interior. Champaign, Ill. (Ohio State at Illinois): A fantastic interior matchup between two of the Big Ten's best big men -- Ohio State's Jared Sullinger and Illinois's Meyers Leonard -- is the true attraction here. But the play in the low block could, as has often been the case this season, be overshadowed by an Illinois backcourt that rarely plays through its talented sophomore as much as it should. If the Illini guards try to do too much, toppling this deep, balanced Buckeyes team will be nigh impossible. Wednesday
Memphis, Tenn. (Southern Miss at Memphis): After dominating rival Tennessee, Memphis got off to a solid C-USA start Saturday, leaving a close, hard-fought game at UAB with a win. Handling business in the conference will be this season's big key for the Tigers, who disappointed in nonconference play and can't afford an equally ugly C-USA performance. Watch out for Southern Miss, though. The Golden Eagles are 15-2 and getting impressively balanced offensive play from Darnell Dodson, LaShay Page and Maurice Bolden. Ames, Iowa (Missouri at Iowa State): We may have seen this Missouri team's ceiling in their blowout loss at Kansas State, and it wasn't a pretty picture: With so little size and depth, the Tigers are going to struggle against any Big 12 team with a viable post presence. Iowa State has that in the form of Royce White, a big-time rebounder and low-post finisher who has quickly returned the Cyclones to respectability -- proven most recently by ISU's 74-50 win at Texas A&M this weekend. Thursday
Durham, N.C. (Virginia at Duke): Duke's defense is very un-Duke in 2011-12, and as a result the Blue Devils spent much of the past week struggling against markedly inferior teams like Temple (a road loss) and Georgia Tech (a road win). Virginia, meanwhile, has one of the most efficient forwards in the country in Mike Scott. On a neutral court, you might even take the Cavaliers to win. But Duke's woes will be much harder to expose in that unforgiving Cameron Indoor Stadium environment. Moraga, Calif. (Gonzaga at Saint Mary's): Very little separates these two teams on the court of late, as Saint Mary's -- after a few early struggles -- has rounded into one of the most efficient offensive teams in the country and matches up well with Gonzaga's versatile attack. When you throw in the WCC title implications, the introduction of BYU to this league, and the good old-fashioned hatred between these two rivals, well, this one will be worth staying up for. Friday
Indianapolis (Cleveland St. at Butler): Butler lost handily at Detroit on Sunday, which followed its near-misses against Green Bay (53-49), Milwaukee (54-50) and Wright State (63-62) in late December and early January. If Butler's young players didn't realize how hard life in the Horizon League can be, they know now. It won't get any easier Friday when D'Aundray Brown and new league favorite Cleveland State come to town. Saturday
San Diego (UNLV at San Diego State): After 2011's dream campaign, this season was supposed to be the Aztecs' wake-up call. Instead, SDSU has just kept winning. Can this team really win the Mountain West? We're about to find out, as the Aztecs host apparent title favorite UNLV on Saturday before traveling to New Mexico to play Steve Alford's quietly impressive Lobos in the Pit. By next Thursday, we'll know if this surprisingly sound MWC race can go three teams deep. Starkville, Miss. (Alabama at Mississippi St.): Is Mississippi State a mirage? The ranked Bulldogs have looked impressive at times this season, but their defense -- which somehow yielded 98 points in 40 minutes at Arkansas this weekend -- has the potential to hold this otherwise promising team back. Alabama, meanwhile, plays some of the meanest defense in the country, and it was right around this time last season that the nation began to take notice of the Crimson Tide's stout efforts in SEC play. Sunday
Columbus, Ohio (Indiana at Ohio State): The Hoosiers got the win over No. 2-ranked OSU at Assembly Hall on New Year's Eve, but this will be another beast entirely. The Hoosiers have looked far less coherent in recent efforts, particularly on the road (nearly collapsed down the stretch at Penn State on Sunday). They'll have to be much better than they were in the home matchup to take down this Buckeyes team for a second time in three weeks. -- Eamonn Brennan
Pickeral on Virginia-Duke
Upset pick of the week
Virginia over Duke, Thursday: The Blue Devils rarely ever lose at Cameron Indoor Stadium. There is only one non-UNC team in the ACC that has a chance to force Duke to play to its style: Virginia. The Cavaliers have a chance to make this game a low-scoring affair and Mike Scott will be the best big man on the floor. The pressure will be on the UVa guards to keep Duke out of the lane, notably Austin Rivers. Virginia has had plenty of experience this season in winning/finishing close games. Duke's defense was porous at Georgia Tech on Saturday. Unfortunately for the Cavs, this is the only time the two teams play this season. I think the Cavs will take advantage of the opportunity.
-- Andy Katz