The right chemistry can make all the difference
Team of the Week: Arizona
-- Andy Katz
Editor's note: This edition is only for games played from Monday, Jan. 30, to Sunday, Feb. 4.
More teams that impressed us
Florida: The Gators won two home games against South Carolina and Vanderbilt to set up a showdown for first place with Kentucky on Tuesday night. The latter established UF as the clear top challenger to UK in the SEC. Florida is shooting the ball as well as it has all season, getting great spacing and balance on the floor.
Shoutout-worthy: Colorado, Delaware, Duquesne, Florida State, Kentucky, Northwestern, Pitt, Syracuse, Tulsa, Wyoming
-- Andy Katz
Two performances were so worthy this week that I simply couldn't pick one over the other.Davis is as dominant a player as the SEC has seen since Shaquille O'Neal. He blocked 15 shots in two games against Tennessee and South Carolina, while scoring a combined 40 points with just one turnover. He was efficient offensively by making an incredible 15 of 17 shots in the two games and converting 10 of 12 free throws while grabbing a total of 16 boards. The Wildcats easily won both games and had plenty of other contributors, notably Terrence Jones. But Davis' presence is the difference for UK. Kentucky has him and no one else does. He is a game-changer at both ends with his stretch-Armstrong build. Davis will be the No. 1 player in the NBA draft, assuming he comes out in June. But he could also end up being the SEC and/or national player of the year as well.
-- Andy Katz
More performances that wowed us
Kevin Murphy, Tennessee Tech: 50 pts (16-21 FG, 6-9 3-pt FG), 7 rebs in win over SIUE; 35.3 ppg, 59.3 FG pct, 54.5 3-pt FG pct in three games)
Zack Rosen, Penn: 28 pts (10-18 FG), 5 asts in win over Princeton
Tray Woodall, Pitt: 53 pts (15-24 FG, 6-11 3-pt FG) in win over West Virginia, Nova
Markel Brown, Oklahoma State: 30 pts (13-13 FT), 7 rebs win at Texas Tech
Kendrick Perry, Youngstown State: 30 pts (9-16 FG) in win at Milwaukee
Julian Mavunga, Miami (Ohio): 19 pts, 19 rebs, 8 asts in win over Eastern Michigan
Orion Outerbridge, URI: 29 pts, 11 rebs, 3 blks in win over UMass
Cameron Moore, UAB: 25 pts, 13 rebs, 5 blks in win over Houston
Durand Scott, Miami (Fla.): 24 pts (11-14 FG), 8 rebs, 7 asts in win over Maryland
Lamont Jones, Iona: 43 pts (16-23 FG), 3 stls in win over Canisius
Isaiah Canaan, Murray St.: 32 pts (6-11 3-pt FG), 5 rebs in win over SEMO
John Fraley, Austin Peay: 31 pts (10-13 FG), 17 rebs, 4 blks in loss to Tennessee Tech
Reggie Hamilton, Oakland: 40 pts (9-14 3-pt FG) in win at Western Illinois
Kwame Vaughn, CS Fullerton: 37 pts (11-15 FG), 6 rebs, 6 asts in win over UCSB
Dominique Morrison, Oral Roberts: 36 pts (10-17 FG) in win at North Dakota State
Nick Barbour, High Point: 34 pts (7-10 3-pt FG) in win over Gardner-Webb
Marcus Denmon, Missouri: 29 pts (29 pts, 6-9 3-pt FG), 9 rebs in win over Kansas
Chris Udofia, Denver: 27 pts (10-14 FG), 9 rebs, 4 blks in win over MTSU
Daniel Broughton, UAPB: 20 pts, 19 rebs, 4 blks in win over Alabama A&M
Pierce Hornung, Colorado St.: 23 pts (8-10 FG), 17 rebs in win over Air Force
Chris Cooper, Old Dominion: 22 rebs in win over James Madison
Thomas Robinson, Kansas: 45 pts (20-29 FG), 30 rebs versus Oklahoma, Missouri
Tyler Zeller, North Carolina: 18 pts, 18 rebs in win at Wake Forest
Kendall Marshall, North Carolina: 16 asts in win at Maryland
Denver Holmes, Evansville: 23 pts (10-14 FG), 11 asts in win at Bradley
Garrett Stutz, Wichita St.: 49 pts, 26 rebs, 6 blks in wins over Missouri St., Indiana St.
Brandon Davies, BYU: 18 pts, 13 rebs, 8 asts, 4 stls in win at Portland
Darryl Bryant, West Virginia: 32 pts, two clutch shots in win at Providence
Draymond Green, Michigan State: 14 pts, outrebounded Michigan 16-15 in win over UM
-- Brett Edgerton
King's observations from the week that was
Editor's Note: For Myron Medalf's five observations, check out the Nation blog.
They said it (or tweeted it)
"I apologized for being selfish, for worrying about minutes. I told them I'd give up my minutes, I didn't care anymore. I just want to win.
And I told them, 'If you're angry now, angry about minutes, wait until you're watching the [NCAA] Selection Show and you're not picked.' "
-- Connecticut's Alex Oriakhi on what he told his teammates during a meeting that preceded the Huskies' 69-46 over Seton Hall on Saturday.
-- Tweet from Missouri's Kim English (@Englishscope24) after Tigers' come-from-behind win against Kansas Saturday. "Someone brought it up to the refs, I think one of the coaches. I'm not trying to make excuses. I missed those free throws, I shouldn't be missing those shots." (Brandon Paul)
"When the shots go up, I just say, 'Please, God, let it go in.' Some of the shots just sat in there and then popped out." (Bruce Weber)
--Illinois standout Paul and head coach Weber on Tuesday's sloppy 42-41 home win against Michigan State. "They [teammates] stay on me all the time for situations like these so when they come down to games like these and you see all the great numbers, I try to give them all the credit because they prepared me for situations like this to go out and do things like this. Ivan and the rest of the teammates were just saying, `let's go' and it went on from there and I started knocking down a few shots and we started getting aggressive in the defense like we should have been in the first half and things turned out for the best."
-- Murray State point guard Isaiah Canaan after he scored 24 points in the second half of his team's come-from-behind win against Southeast Missouri State Tuesday. "Young made a great shot to tie the ball game up, and I just took a quick glance at the clock and seen that we had time to dribble the ball up the court and get a decent shot. The shot went down."
-- Northern Iowa's Anthony James on his buzzer-beating game-winner against Creighton Saturday.
-- Myron Medcalf
Andy Katz's weekend preview
What's On Tap
7 p.m.: Connecticut at Louisville (ESPN)
7 p.m.: Missouri at Oklahoma (ESPNU) Tuesday
7 p.m.: Florida at Kentucky (ESPN)
9 p.m.: Purdue at Ohio State (ESPN) Wednesday
7 p.m.: Georgetown at Syracuse (ESPN)
7 p.m.: Kansas at Baylor (ESPN2)
8:30 p.m.: Saint Louis at Saint Joseph's
9 p.m.: Duke at North Carolina (ESPN)
9 p.m.: Notre Dame at West Virginia (ESPNU) Thursday
7 p.m.: Wisconsin at Minnesota (ESPN)
7 p.m.: Valparaiso at Cleveland State
8 p.m.: Illinois at Indiana (BTN)
8 p.m.: Tennessee St. at Murray St. (ESPN3)
9 p.m.: Colorado at Arizona (ESPN)
11 p.m.: Washington at Oregon (FSN)
11 p.m.: Saint Mary's at Gonzaga (ESPN2) Friday
7 p.m.: Iona at Loyola (ESPNU)
7 p.m.: Harvard at Penn Saturday
Noon: Louisville at West Virginia (ESPN)
1 p.m.: Connecticut at Syracuse (CBS)
1 p.m.: Virginia at North Carolina (ESPN3)
1 p.m.: Miami at Florida State (ESPN3)
1:30 p.m.: Baylor at Missouri (ESPN3)
2 p.m.: VCU at Old Dominion (Comcast)
3 p.m.: Cincinnati at Marquette (ESPNU)
3:30 p.m.: Wyoming at New Mexico (The Mtn.)
4 p.m.: San Diego St. at UNLV (NBC Sports Net.)
5 p.m.: Wichita State at Creighton (ESPN2)
6 p.m.: Michigan State at Ohio State (ESPN)
9 p.m.: Kentucky at Vanderbilt (ESPN)
9 p.m.: Xavier at Temple (ESPN2) Sunday
1 p.m.: Illinois at Michigan (CBS)
Brennan on Florida-Kentucky
Pickeral on Duke-North Carolina
Places to be this week
Louisville, Ky. (UConn at Louisville): UConn bounced out of a four-game losing streak -- and a six-losses-in-eight-games slide -- with a definitive home win over Seton Hall on Saturday. Is that an illusion for this talented but struggling team? Or a sign of real progress? How will the health-related absence of coach Jim Calhoun affect this team, if at all? We'll see if the Huskies can take another step forward this week against a Louisville team that has quietly won its past four games -- and will play at West Virginia and vs. Syracuse following Monday night's tilt with the Huskies. Tuesday
Lexington, Ky. (Florida at Kentucky): Can anyone stop the runaway train that is the Kentucky Wildcats? With a dominant Anthony Davis -- the SEC's new all-time single-season leader in shots blocked -- surrounded by so much still-improving talent, the prospect doesn't seem likely. If anyone can derail this group, it might be Florida, perhaps the only team in the conference with a recognizably similar collection of blue-chip talent. Patric Young, Bradley Beal and Kenny Boynton all have to bring their best if they hope to hang in, especially in Rupp Arena. Wednesday
Syracuse, N.Y. (Georgetown at Syracuse): Georgetown fans worried about a typical late-season slide had their concerns somewhat assuaged Saturday, when the Hoyas put a precocious 6-3 South Florida team in its place. But does John Thompson III's multifaceted team have enough to upset Syracuse in the Carrier Dome? The Orange were awfully good Saturday, too, and the return of sophomore center Fab Melo from academic suspension makes this team the fearsome force we saw in its 20-0 start. Waco, Texas (Kansas at Baylor): What a two-game road trip for Kansas, huh? First it was Saturday's heated rivalry matchup with Missouri -- an eventual KU loss after Marcus Denmon's late-game heroics (and at least one questionable charge call). Then, just four days later, Kansas will travel to Waco to face off with fellow Big 12 contender Baylor. All three teams are tied atop the league standings at 8-2; this game, as well as Baylor's trip to Mizzou on Saturday, could decide the regular-season conference title. Chapel Hill, N.C. (Duke at North Carolina): These two programs, and their respective fan bases, do not like each other very much. I'm guessing you know this already. Duke-UNC is always big, and always important, but in this case the stakes -- ACC superiority among three one-loss teams, a group that surprisingly includes Florida State -- are even higher for the Blue Devils. They'll be playing their hated rival on the road just three days after losing an OT slugfest to Miami in Cameron Indoor Stadium, their second home loss in three games after a 45-game home winning streak. The Dean Dome is hardly the best place to cure what ails this Duke team, namely its thoroughly mediocre defense. Morgantown, W.Va. (Notre Dame at WVU): West Virginia escaped from Providence with an 87-84 overtime win Sunday, which prevented a fourth-straight loss in Big East play. The Mountaineers will have to be just as wary Wednesday night when the Irish come to town. Notre Dame is one of the most improved teams of the past two months; a seemingly mediocre, rebuilding bunch now sits at 7-3 in the Big East after four straight wins over over Syracuse, Seton Hall, Connecticut and Marquette. Thursday
Spokane, Wash. (Saint Mary's at Gonzaga): Saint Mary's can lose this game on the road and still be in the command position in its quest to unseat perennial WCC bully (and hated rival) Gonzaga. But you can rest assured the Gaels -- who are unbeaten in conference play to this point -- would very much like to earn their 2012 coronation in the most symbolic and affecting way possible. What could be better than this? Saturday
Columbia, Mo. (Baylor at Missouri): As referenced in the Kansas-Baylor blurb above, this week's two huge Big 12 games are the two of the three most important fixtures (alongside Missouri's rematch at Kansas Feb. 25) remaining on the conference calendar. In the first meeting, Missouri's quick offense shredded Baylor's taller bigs; the Bears will have to be much better on the defensive end if they want to hold this brilliant offense in check in the comfortable confines of Mizzou Arena. Las Vegas, Nev. (San Diego St. at UNLV): San Diego State took the first meeting of these two teams in Viejas Arena on Jan. 14, and since then the Aztecs have only maintained their shockingly good play throughout their MWC schedule. UNLV is still the most talented team in this league, but the loss it suffered at Wyoming on Saturday put the Rebels into a two-team tie for second in the MWC race. In other words, this game -- in what is sure to be an insanely loud Thomas and Mack Arena -- is a must-win. Omaha, Neb. (Wichita St. at Creighton): It took one of the craziest finishes of the 2012 season -- UNI's bang-bang 3-point buzzer-beater Saturday -- to hand Creighton its second Missouri Valley Conference loss, and the only team happier about that result than Northern Iowa had to be Wichita State. The Shockers are now tied with Creighton in MVC play, and have a major chance to prove what those of us who follow tempo-free stats already know: This team is very good, perhaps even better than Creighton (minus the individual star power of Doug McDermott), and every bit the MVC title contender. Columbus, Ohio (Michigan St. at Ohio State): If there is any team capable of dropping the buzzsaw that is the Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus (or anywhere, really), it's Tom Izzo's. The Spartans had that ugly 42-41 loss at Illinois this week, but they bounced back with a nice home win over Michigan on Sunday afternoon, and they have the combination of big men and perimeter guards to give OSU forward Jared Sullinger and his coterie of talented teammates issues on the offensive end. But will OSU's nation-leading defense be too much? Nashville, Tenn. (Kentucky at Vanderbilt): 'Dores fans, start your sign-making engines: Kentucky and ESPN's "College GameDay" are coming to Nashville this weekend. If UK survives Tuesday's home matchup with Florida, Vanderbilt will have the best crack at handing Kentucky its first loss in conference play. Kevin Stallings's team doesn't have the top-end talent of UK (or even Florida, probably) but it does have experienced players and a difficult home-court environment that can give new visitors plenty of issues. We'll see. -- Eamonn Brennan
King on Kansas-Baylor
O'Neil: Three questions
• Is the cream starting to rise in the confusing Atlantic 10?It would appear so. Temple dismantled what had been a rising Rhode Island with ease on Saturday for its sixth consecutive win. The emergence of Khalif Wyatt as a solid and reliable scorer plus the addition of Michael Eric, back from injury, has the Owls atop the league standings. Saint Louis has bounced back from its loss to UMass with wins against St. Bonaventure and Dayton.
• And in the Pac-12, too?Although the cream might be a little more curdled in the West Coast, Washington is taking over the beleaguered conference and that makes sense. The Huskies have by far the most talent with Tony Wroten, Terrence Ross and Abdul Gaddy. Finally Washington, with five wins in a row and eight of its last nine, is starting to play like it. Now if only Cal could get its topsy-turvy act together, the league could make a legit case for an at-large bid. • Are the tides turning in the ACC? They very well could be. While Duke and North Carolina enjoy their annual tussle in Chapel Hill this week, realize it will not be for definitive conference bragging rights. Instead the loser will have a further climb to the top. That's because Florida State, your current ACC clubhouse leader, won a defensive slugfest against Virginia to remain atop the standings. The Seminoles beat Virginia at its own game, slowing down Mike Scott in the second half to take the victory. Florida State is still new enough to this that you can't say any of their games are guaranteed wins but down the stretch, the Seminoles should be the favorite in most. They only have Duke to contend with at home and Virginia again on the road.
-- Dana O'Neil
O'Neil on Georgetown-Syracuse
Upset pick of the week
Auburn over Alabama, Tuesday: The Tide won both home games last week over Arkansas and Ole Miss, but there were still offensive droughts and Bama had to go to double OT to hold off the Rebels. Alabama's defense was good in spots, but it will have to be even better on the road in what could be a critical game for this team's NCAA chances, as Bama is locked in a muddled SEC middle at 4-4.Meanwhile, Auburn is coming off its best offensive performance in SEC play, scoring 88 points in a narrow three-point loss at Mississippi State. It was a good sign -- along with the defensive slugfest against Georgia earlier in the week -- that the Tigers are starting to turn the corner. A victory Tuesday would put the Tigers in a tie in the win column with Alabama and clearly signal that it is on the way up under Tony Barbee, while severely hampering its arch-rival's at-large candidacy.
-- Andy Katz