DPI WEEK IN REVIEW
(Monday, 1/7 – Friday, 1/11)
Quick Hits on Each Day’s Most Notable Game
(Rankings in the scores of each game reflect that day’s rank for the respective teams, not the teams’ current standing.)
Monday: (#27) Notre Dame 66, (#13) Cincinnati 60 – Cincinnati continues its dicey run, losing for the third time in four games to an upstart Irish squad who are looking like one of the Big East’s best teams, but it’s probably not time to panic just yet in Queen City. Next Up This Weekend: (#15) Notre Dame hosts (#45) Connecticut, (#20) Cincinnati goes to (#52) Rutgers.
Tuesday: (#39) Pittsburgh 73, (#47) Georgetown 45 – In a battle of two teams who were upset over the weekend, Pitt prevailed, trouncing the Hoyas on their home turf and saving the Panthers from a 0-3 start in the Big East – while Georgetown now sits at 0-2. Next Up This Weekend: (#25) Pittsburgh plays (#49) Marquette at home, (#65) Georgetown travels to (#101) St. John’s.
Wednesday: (#10) Kansas 97, (#63) Iowa State 89 (OT) – The Jayhawks looked a little human against the Cyclones, but Ben McLemore was otherworldly, scoring 33 points – including the shot from deep that sent the game to OT with six seconds left in regulation. Next Up This Weekend: (#8) Kansas faces (#171) Texas Tech on the road, (#66) Iowa State hosts (#182) Texas.
Thursday: (#48) Oregon 70, (#4) Arizona 66 – The Ducks did a lot for their NCAA Tournament chances this year when they tossed the Wildcats from the ranks of the unbeaten, upsetting Arizona in Eugene behind senior E.J. Singler’s 14-7-7 performance. Next Up This Weekend: (#35) Oregon plays host to (#19) Arizona State, (#10) Arizona goes to (#103) Oregon State.
Friday: (#59) Utah State 66, (#145) San Jose State 60 – On a slow day for college hoops, the Aggies scored another WAC win over the Spartans, which puts Utah State at 5-0 in the conference and 14-1 overall – the league’s best record in both cases – though they trail Louisiana Tech in the DPI. Next Up This Weekend: Neither team plays this weekend.
Three of The Best Weeks So Far:
Major Conference: (#3) Minnesota (15-1, 3-0 Big Ten) – The Gophers continued their solid stretch of play on Wednesday with a big road win against (#24) Illinois. While this might not be Tubby Smith’s deepest squad, his five starters are about as good as they come. Trevor Mbakwe has enjoyed a much larger role on this team, earning minutes over Elliot Eliason, who was ineffective in more extensive play earlier in the season. Mbwake recorded a double-double with 19 and 11 rebounds, and Andre Hollins filled the stat sheet with 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists. The real breakout performance, however, came from Joe Coleman, who notched a career-high 29 points against the Illini. After scoring five points apiece in the first half, Coleman and Hollins combined for 41 of the Gophers’ 50 points in the second twenty minutes. The Gophers pulled away with a 19-7 run over a six-minute stretch in the second half after Illinois pulled the game within two points. The win moved Minnesota to 3-0 in the Big Ten, but their biggest test remains when they take on (#5) Indiana in Bloomington on Saturday.
Mid-Major Conference: (#7) Gonzaga (16-1, 3-0 West Coast) – Now that West Coast Conference play has started, the Zags don’t have a lot of chances to pick up quality wins, but this week marked their first game against (#73) Saint Mary’s. These games between Gonzaga and the Gaels have become the conference’s marquee matchup, and usually the first chance to trip the Bulldogs up in the WCC. Kelly Olynyk led the charge with 31 points and eight rebounds, while Kevin Pangos dumped in 22 of his own. Gonzaga benefitted from the fact that St. Mary’s star Matthew Dellavedova never got his offensive game working, holding him to 4-of-15 shooting on the night. The Zags led by 20 points in the second half, but the Gaels brought that all the way back down to one, before Olynyk made a couple clutch free throws. Dellavedova’s three-pointer with ten seconds remaining misfired, netting Gonzaga first blood in the conference’s premier rivalry.
One-Bid Conference: (#87) Florida Gulf Coast (12-6, 4-1 Atlantic Sun) – The Eagles have kept up their solid play at the outset of the Atlantic Sun season, notching two close victories this week to keep them at the top of the conference. FGCU is currently the only team from the A-Sun in the Top 100 of the DPI, but they had to scratch and claw through a pair of nail-biters to get there. On Monday, the Eagles squandered an 11-point lead against (#269) North Florida, eventually trailing by four with less than five minutes to play. A quick 7-0 run put FGCU back on top, and Chase Fieler broke a tie with 1:30 remaining to give them the lead over the Ospreys for good. Fieler would come up big on Thursday, as well, when the Eagles traveled to Spartanburg to take on (#193) South Carolina Upstate. The Spartans tied the game with 20 seconds on a three-pointer by Ty Greene, sending FGCU to overtime with first place in the conference on the line. Brett Comer missed the back end of a trip to the line, leaving the Eagles down by one with less than a minute remaining. After SC Upstate missed a three-pointer with 15 seconds to go, Fieler – who had scored 15 points in the game’s first 32 minutes, but none in the last thirteen – took an Eric McKnight pass and made the game-winning layup with 2 seconds left. Florida Gulf Coast is now 4-1 in the A-Sun and they will play (#313) East Tennessee State on Saturday with a chance for a third conference win this week, which would extend their lead over second-place (#159) Mercer.
Three of the Worst Weeks So Far:
Major Conference: (#157) Vanderbilt (6-7, 0-1 SEC) – It has been a rocky season, to say the least, for Kevin Stallings’ crew, but they had a chance to score a big morale-booster when quickly-recovering (#27) Kentucky came to Nashville for each team’s respective SEC opener. The Wildcats opened up an early lead in the game, eventually going up by 16 points in the second half with 13:49 remaining. Out of nowhere, the Commodores went on an 18-0 run and actually took the lead over Kentucky, with five players scoring during the run. It was nip and tuck from there, but Kyle Wiltjer’s basket with two minutes to play broke the tie for good. Unfortunately for Vanderbilt, Stallings’ pleas for a shot-clock violation on Nerlens Noel’s late jumper went unanswered, and Kentucky escaped with a win. Kedren Johnson had a stellar performance, scoring 18 points and notching six assists and four steals. The Commodores as a whole, however, shot under 33% for the game, including missing five straight shots down the stretch which cost them the game. The Coms will look to get back to .500 on Saturday as they take a trip to Fayetteville to do battle with (#61) Arkansas, who will be out to avenge their own loss to (#43) Texas A&M on Wednesday.
Mid-Major Conference: (#150) Illinois State (9-7, 0-4 Missouri Valley) – Yikes. Panic mode has officially set in for the Redbirds, who dropped to 0-4 in the Missouri Valley Conference with a loss to (#233) Missouri State on Tuesday. I had praised this team as one to watch in the MVC earlier in the season, even going so far as to say they could make it a three-team race with (#4) Creighton and (#12) Wichita State, but I am looking dead wrong at this point. Jackie Carmichael is doing his best to lift his team, although he was held pretty quiet against the Blue Jays. He has doubled-doubles in Illinois State’s other three conference games, including Tuesday’s loss, when he put up 21 and 12. Of the first four games on the schedule for the Redbirds, this game should have been their easiest win. The Bears were a dismal 2-10 in nonconference play, but have found early success in the conference, scoring three victories already. Illinois State has a good chance to erase the goose-egg this weekend they go up against similarly victory-challenged (#227) Drake. The Redbirds and Bulldogs join (#236) Southern Illinois as the last three Missouri Valley teams without a conference win.
One-Bid Conference: (#120) Illinois-Chicago (10-6, 1-2 Horizon) – Speaking of teams I’ve lauded in the past, UIC hit a bumpy stretch this week, dropping two Horizon League matchups to fall to 1-2 in conference play. In a trip to face (#217) Cleveland State on Monday, the Flames shot poorly, turned the ball over, and got outrebounded – a perfect recipe for disaster against just about anyone. The 50 points scored matched a season-low for Illinois-Chicago, although the earlier instance was in a 50-44 win over (#86) Northwestern. That win, and the subsequent one over (#50) Colorado State, seem like they happened a lifetime ago, with UIC losing five of their last six. The most recent came as they hosted perennial Horizon League contender (#112) Valparaiso on Wednesday. Gary Talton had a great game, scoring 25 points and converting on all 11 free throws (the team shot 18-for-18 overall), but the Flames fell to the Crusaders, 75-70, on their home court. UIC kept it close, but Valpo made their free throws down the stretch and the Flames just ran out of time. They are not completely out of the race by any stretch, but Illinois-Chicago now trails the Crusaders, as well as (#71) Detroit and (#95) Wright State, all three of whom enjoyed good weeks.
Six of One, Half a Dozen of the Other
Six Teams Who Won Passed Big Road Tests This Week:
(#17) Miami-FL (11-3, 2-0 ACC) – There are a few teams in the ACC who are quietly putting together fantastic seasons, and the Hurricanes are perhaps the best of all of them. They headed to Tobacco Road this week to take on the Tar Heels, who lost their ACC opener to (#122) Virginia over the weekend. Big man Kenny Kadji led the team with 18 points and nine rebounds, adding four blocks for good measure, as the Canes down UNC in Chapel Hill. Miami trailed at the break, but it was not long before they took the lead and got it for good on a Rion Brown three-pointer with 8:25 left. This was a highly visible win for Miami, one which should put them squarely on the national map, especially if they beat Maryland when they host the Terps on Sunday.
(#41) Boise State (13-2, 1-0 Mountain West) – The Broncos have been a pleasant surprise in the Mountain West this season, bolstering the profile of an already-blossoming league. Another team working toward that same end is (#51) Wyoming, who came into Wednesday’s duel with Boise State as one of the country’s last four unbeaten teams. Neither this fact, nor that the game was in Laramie did anything to distract the Broncos, who rode Anthony Drmic and Jeff Eliorraga to victory. Eliorraga was especially important, hitting the buzzer-beating three-pointer – his sixth triple of the game – which halted the Cowboys’ 13-game winning streak. This is Boise’s second victory over a previously-undefeated team, having beaten Creighton in Omaha. The Broncos have the weekend off to prepare for Wednesday’s huge home game against (#18) New Mexico.
(#53) Florida State (10-5, 2-0 ACC) – The Seminoles traveled to face a (#44) Maryland team, the Terps coming off a blowout of (#144) Virginia Tech last weekend. Florida State, meanwhile, slipped past (#118) Clemson over the weekend and rode that momentum into College Park. The Terrapins had some inertia of their own, coming into the game with a 13-game winning streak, but Okaro White led the Seminoles’ rally against Maryland and FSU snuck out of the building with a 65-62 victory. The win puts Florida State — who looked very shaky in nonconference play (remember last week’s loss to (#162) Auburn?) — at 2-0 in the ACC and should rekindle some excitement for the Seminoles this season. They host (#75) North Carolina on Saturday, with the Heels looking to notch their first conference victory in Tallahassee.
(#59) Washington (10-5, 2-0 Pacific 12) – Don’t look now, but the Huskies are putting together a pretty nice little season in Seattle. They started out slowly, but have since found some form, winning their first two Pac-12 games. After winning the hardcourt version of the Apple Cup last week, the Dawgs took down (#94) California in Berkeley on Wednesday. Led by C.J. Wilcox and Aziz N’Diaye, Washington outrebounded the Bears by a large margin and, despite poor shooting performances from both teams, the Huskies took pretty good care of the ball. N’Diaye notched a double-double and swatted four Cal shots, while Wilcox had 19 points, eight boards, and four assists. Washington travels to Palo Alto for a late game on Saturday against (#80) Stanford, who are coming off a win of their own over (#143) Washington State.
(#69) Eastern Kentucky (13-3, 3-0 Ohio Valley) – I must admit, after Eastern Kentucky’s undefeated run was halted by Illinois earlier this season, the Colonels fell of my radar a bit. However, with this week’s big win over (#81) Murray State, EKU’s bid to make the Ohio Valley Conference a three-team tango is very much alive. Eastern Kentucky got big games out of their backcourt trio of Mike DiNunno, Corey Walden, and Tarius Johnson, each of whom had 17 or more points. The Colonels jumped out to an early lead, going up by 18 in the second half before the Racers went on a 13-0 run to cut the lead to five, but that is as close as it got. EKU supplanted Murray State as the OVC’s second-best team in the DPI, but both teams are still behind (#38) Belmont, who walloped (#192) Southeast Missouri by 35 points this week. Eastern Kentucky hosts (#184) Morehead State on Saturday.
(#116) Boston College (9-6, 1-1 ACC) – A third ACC team picked up a big road victory this week, as Boston College headed south to Blacksburg to take on Virginia Tech. The Eagles’ star forward Ryan Anderson led the team with 26 points and nine rebounds as BC took out the Hokies to move to 1-1 in the ACC. Boston College led for most of the second half, with Virginia Tech getting as close as three points with more than six minutes left. The Eagles pulled away, however, and withstood Erick Green’s 24-point, nine-assist night. Lonnie Jackson added 22 points on five made threes and seven boards for BC, while guard Olivier Hanlan had 17 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and a team-high five steals. The Eagles stay on the road this weekend, traveling to Winston-Salem to face (#111) Wake Forest.
Half a Dozen Teams Who Slipped Up on the Road:
(#55) UNLV (13-3, 0-1 Mountain West) – After escaping Cal and (#92) UTEP on the road in December, the Rebels fell to UNC just before the New Year, for just their second loss of the season. UNLV rang in 2013 with two nonconference blowouts, but faced a huge test on Wednesday in their Mountain West opener at New Mexico. The Rebels, who are still without Mike Moser, took a one-point lead with 3:30 left after a Justin Hawkins three-pointer, but would score only two more points for the rest of the game, compared to the Lobos’ nine. Anthony Bennett was held in check, while guard Anthony Marshall had a solid, if unspectacular, game. Marshall led the team in both assists and rebounds, with nine and seven, respectively. The Rebels play host to (#85) Air Force on Saturday, looking to move to 1-1 in the MWC.
(#60) Temple (10-4, 0-1 Atlantic 10) – The Owls wanted to make some noise to start off the Atlantic 10 season, but the headlines they made weren’t exactly what Temple had in mind. They traveled to Cincinnati to face a (#126) Xavier team who has been hit or miss over the past few weeks. Neither team played too great a game, but the Musketeers bested the Owls when all was said and done. Khalif Wyatt and Scootie Randall each missed three-pointers as Temple trailed by three with under a minute. Xavier’s Travis Taylor eventually capped the victory off with a pair of free throws, cementing an 0-1 start for Temple, who will host (#57) Saint Louis on Saturday.
(#90) Dayton (10-5, 0-1 Atlantic 10) – The Flyers had a chance to spoil (#13) VCU’s first Atlantic 10 game by coming into the Siegel Center in Richmond and dealing the Rams a loss. As fate would have it, though, Dayton was outdone by VCU, who used 26 turnovers by the Flyers to their advantage. The Rams’ Briante Weber was the biggest culprit, thieving the ball nine times in 28 minutes. Dayton kept the game relatively close throughout, but Virginia Commonwealth pulled away and dealt the Flyers their third loss in five games. Up next for Dayton is a home game against (#34) Butler, another newbie to the conference who won their first A-10 game over (#74) Saint Joe’s this week. It gets much easier for the Flyers after Saturday, as they face some of the conference’s weaker offerings in the next few games.
(#96) LSU (9-3, 0-1 SEC) – Despite a pretty good game out of Charles Carmouche, the Tigers were unable to win the opening game of their SEC campaign, falling 68-63 to Auburn. In fact, the game was not as close as the score would dictate, with Auburn leading by 14 with just over a minute remaining. It was at this point that Carmouche, who also had six rebounds and seven assists, scored 11 of his 15 points. His efforts made the loss to one of the SEC’s lowest-rated teams seem a little less damning, but the fact remains that this loss will be a blemish on LSU’s record in March, when this likely bubble team waits to hear their name called. Unfortunately for them, it’s probably going to get a little worse before it gets any better, as they host (#11) Florida on Saturday in their second SEC matchup.
(#122) Virginia (11-4, 1-1 ACC) – The Cavaliers were not as lucky as some of their other ACC compatriots, losing on the road to a wayward Wake Forest squad. Coming off their conference-opening victory over North Carolina, the Cavs were looking to build on their early successes, but took in the wrong direction in Winston-Salem. Akil Mitchell and Joe Harris had decent games for Virginia, but it was not enough to beat the Demon Deacons. Despite outrebounding Wake Forest by a sizeable margin, the Cavaliers’ 17 turnovers eventually did them in. Outstanding freshman Evan Nolte crashed down to Earth in this one, going 1-for-7 in a game where his team really could have used a boost. Virginia travels to Clemson in an early matchup on Saturday, looking to move to 2-1 in the ACC.
(#147) Hawaii (9-6, 3-1 Big West) – The Warriors came into Wednesday’s game with (#179) UC Irvine as the Big West’s highest-rated team, the one who both set off and has benefitted most from (#209) Cal State Northridge’s early collapse. Undefeated in conference play going in, Hawaii had to feel pretty good about their chances. The Anteaters kept the game close throughout, the two teams trading leads all through the second half. After taking a 57-56 lead with five minutes to play, the Warriors missed eight straight field goals before Vander Joaquim’s too-little-too-late bucket made it a seven-point game with 38 seconds remaining. Christian Standhardinger had a double-double for Hawaii, but the late shooting woes did the Warriors in, and they suffered their first-ever Big West conference loss, having joined the league this season. Hawaii goes to (#172) Long Beach State on Saturday night.
Okay, now go enjoy today’s great day of college basketball! At the time of this posting, a bunch of big games have already started and some surprising outcomes are brewing… but I’ll get to all of that in the next weekend-in-review post. For now, go ahead and check the updated Field of 68 & Complete Standings page. Some big-name teams (see: Georgetown, North Carolina, UNLV) have some work to do to get back in the good graces of the DPI.