Certain, the sports activities weekend was dominated by the NFL Playoffs, however school basketball had loads of fascinating video games and consequential outcomes. You’ve got come right here to get some perspective on the outcomes and storylines that imply that the majority.
From the nice to the stunning to the regarding, listed here are my 10 takeaways from school basketball this weekend.
1. Andrew Jones deserves this and a lot extra
The largest school hoops story to come back out of Saturday was No. 4 Texas‘ last-second 72-70 win at No. 14 West Virginia, the Longhorns lifted by Andrew Jones’ nook 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds left. Now UT is 10-1, stays unbeaten within the Huge 12 (4-0) and has its finest begin in league play in a decade (it received its first 11 convention video games in 2010-11).
Jones eclipsed 1,000 profession factors on Saturday as effectively. He completed with 16 factors and made 4 3-pointers. Here is the winner which, backstory taken under consideration, quantities to one of many 5 greatest performs of the season to this point.
As you’ll have heard, Jones’ winner got here on the three-year anniversary of Shaka Good informing Texas’ group that Jones had leukemia. Goosebumps to all of that. The Longhorns additionally received due to junior guard Courtney Ramey dropping a game-high 19 factors together with six assists and 5 rebounds; it was Ramey’s heads-up dish to Jones that made the clinching bucket doable.
A yr in the past, Texas went to West Virginia and misplaced 97-59. What a boomerang consequence this was. Not a foul manner for Good to win his one hundredth sport on the faculty.
It was a major W due to how Texas received. UT chased WVU for a lot of the sport earlier than flipping the hole on its final doable possession. We’re seeing sufficient proof to counsel this group is able to making the Last 4. Texas has received six straight and has a 3-1 file vs. ranked groups. It has highway wins at two of the three hardest spots it is going to play this season (Kansas and WVU, with Baylor nonetheless awaiting). And in one-possession finishes, Texas is 4-0 this season.
The Wildcats nonetheless want two extra wins (with out a loss combined in) to merely get again to .500. However for those who noticed UK’s 76-58 victory at Florida on Saturday, you noticed a group that appears nearly nothing just like the one which existed for the primary 5 weeks of the season.
The Wildcats shot 56% — an enormous signal of enchancment. Much more so with the sport being on the highway and towards a good Florida crew. John Calipari’s guys ran off two 10-0 runs and one other 13-0 run. That signifies UK is jelling, discovering its stride.
Let’s examine the traits stitching this three-game profitable streak collectively. In UK’s previous three wins (sarcastically with out combo guard Terrence Clarke) the group’s capturing 46.8% from past the arc (versus 25% in its video games earlier than that). Its foul capturing accuracy has bumped from 66.2% to 77.4%. It is up practically 4 blocks per sport (to eight.7). Kentucky’s additionally averaging 8.7 steals previously three video games, practically three greater than in its earlier seven.
Here is the bonus. Keion Brooks made his season debut and upgraded UK’s dynamic. He had 12 factors, six rebounds and 4 assists in 24 minutes off the bench. Brooks’ worth could change into extra realized within the subsequent couple of video games. This consequence, by the way in which, was Florida’s worst dwelling loss in 23 years. Kentucky’s received 5 straight towards the Gators, too.
“They have elite size, closing pace on the ball and so they blocked some photographs after all with seven, however altered one other 10,” Gators coach Mike White mentioned after the sport. “That turns into psychological as effectively, then there’s two or three that basically weren’t altered or blocked, you simply miss since you’re enthusiastic about them. I believed we performed rushed within the paint, within 10 ft.”
I am not able to say Kentucky’s going to the NCAA Match. However the outlook is a lot brighter at present than eight days in the past.
3. Extra 11 a.m. weekend suggestions, please
Sunday provided a lightweight slate, however we acquired off to a pleasant, pre-playoffs begin with Windfall-Xavier tipping at 11 a.m. ET and ending round 1 p.m. If the gamers and coaches are good with this, school basketball’s schedule-makers ought to search to play extra video games at 11 a.m. in an effort to unfold out the nice tilts. My level right here is emboldened on condition that Xavier (10-2) received yet one more one-possession sport this season, this time getting a clutch 3-pointer (what ball motion) from Colby Jones.
The story will get deeper: Jones’ winner got here a couple of days eliminated from the loss of life of his grandfather, who Jones mentioned nearly by no means missed one in every of his video games.
Jones’ shot accomplished a seven-point comeback by X, which trailed by three possessions with 75 seconds remaining.
4. What number of extra statements does Iowa have to make?
I will be transient right here as a result of the one sport that includes two ranked groups on Sunday was not so compelling. No. 5 Iowa avenged its Christmas Day extra time loss to Minnesota with an informal 86-71 dwelling win over the Sixteenth-ranked Golden Gophers. Luka Garza took a bodily stroll on his solution to 33 factors. Iowa’s now 11-2, its losses approaching the highway to Minnesota in OT and on a impartial to the perfect group within the sport, Gonzaga. It is defeated North Carolina (dwelling), Purdue (dwelling), Northwestern (dwelling) and Rutgers (highway) by a median of 12.0 factors. I do not know if Iowa’s the perfect group within the Huge Ten. I do know Iowa must be concerned in each “Last 4 contenders” dialogue from now till March — and I say that realizing full effectively the Hawkeyes will lose one other three or 4 video games in league play by the tip of the common season.
5. USC does one thing not seen since 1985
On Thursday, USC went to Arizona and received 87-73. Saturday night time introduced a 73-64 Trojans win at Arizona State. Consider it or not, this marked the primary time in 36 seasons that Southern Cal swept the Arizona faculties on the highway.
“It is a good accomplishment early within the season for our group however they perceive we have now a protracted solution to go,” USC coach Andy Enfield informed me Sunday morning.
The Trojans are 8-2, effectively on their solution to making the 2021 NCAA Match. Their losses have come to top-25 KenPom groups Colorado and UConn. What makes the 8-2 begin notable is USC pulling this off regardless of not having its place to begin guard, Ethan Anderson, for practically seven video games. Anderson doubles because the group’s finest finest perimeter defender. But the Trojans are performing higher on offense this season vs. final (after they went 22-9) and are knocking on the door of being a top-10 protection.
“It has been a problem, we needed to learn to play with out him,” Enfield mentioned. “The UConn sport was the primary with out him, we had 4 assists as a group and misplaced on the buzzer. Tahj Eaddy needed to change into the start line guard for us and Drew Peterson grew to become the backup, however he is not a real level guard.”
Happily for USC it has standout freshman/potential top-three 2021 NBA decide Evan Mobley, who’s coming off the perfect two-game stretch of his younger profession. Mobley had a personal-best six blocks to go together with 19 factors and 13 rebounds on Saturday, two days faraway from a 19-and-11 displaying at Arizona.
“Our gamers share the ball effectively and that begins with Evan,” Enfield mentioned. “He is continuously doubled on the catch. He was terrific all weekend and also you want your most gifted participant to play effectively if you are going to win video games at that degree on the highway.”
Mobley’s simply 10 video games into his school profession, however Enfield informed me the way in which he performed — and positively responded after getting benched early on Saturday following some dangerous turnovers — was an perception into his maturity.
“He simply performed 4 Pac-12 video games and he acquired an ideal feeling of the extent of physicality, the extent of competitors and he responded in an enormous manner — and he responded after an off sport towards Colorado,” Enfield mentioned. “He is extra like Anthony Davis was in school than Kevin Durant. Durant had extra guard abilities, scored 25 a sport in school as a result of he may filter out the lane. Simply filter out and do your factor. Evan’s completely different than that.”
Mobley’s ascension and USC’s run comes after hardly working towards a lot of the previous month. It beat a top quality UC Irvine group by 35 factors again on Dec. 8. Then it went on COVID pause and solely managed one full-contact observe within the ensuing near-three weeks. Now the Trojans have six video games slated within the subsequent two weeks. Enfield likened his upcoming schedule to an NBA one. USC combined in a make-up nonconference sport for Tuesday at dwelling towards UC Riverside. Then it is going to host the Washington faculties on Thursday and Saturday. The subsequent week will deliver a make-up sport at Oregon State on Jan. 19, adopted by highway tilts towards Stanford and Cal.
6. At 6-1, UConn is arriving proper on time
On Saturday, UConn performed its first sport at Hinkle Fieldhouse and received 72-60 regardless of not having James Bouknight (elbow damage earlier within the week vs. Marquette). The Huskies sank 10 3-pointers and had 28 bench factors, together with 19 from Tyler Polley. This was Butler with Aaron Thompson again and taking part in 37 minutes. Wins like this do not garner nationwide consideration, however they provide proof to a group’s broader goal inside a season.
UConn could be the third-best group within the Huge East this season, behind Nova and Creighton.
One thing’s modified since UConn went into halftime down 41-23 at Marquette. The Huskies have scored 114 their final 60 minutes of play, whereas opponents have managed 83. UConn’s 3-1 within the Huge East and 6-1 general. Dan Hurley closely prides himself on tradition constructing and turning optimistic outcomes by the third yr of his teaching tenure. That is displaying with UConn in the meanwhile.
Hurley mentioned Bouknight may have his damage reexamined on Monday.
“If he misses time it’s going to be a few weeks, however there’s an opportunity he will not miss a lot time,” Hurley informed me Saturday night time, after the group had landed in Chicago upfront of its sport Monday at DePaul.
As for the Butler win, this is what he mentioned: “No. 1, it is a convention sport. For us, we really feel like we have now the makings of a extremely good group. We’re 12 seconds or so away from our solely loss, actually, the place we performed poorly on the finish regulation (towards Creighton). We would be 7-0 and using a 12-game win streak counting profitable the final 5 final yr. We really feel like James and a man of his expertise, his presence can doubtlessly, by the tip of the yr, have us taking part in at a extremely good degree that hasn’t been performed round right here in a few years. We’re one of many hardest-playing groups within the nation. We defend and disrupt and we rebound the ball.”
That is the second-best offensive rebounding group in school basketball. The Huskies retrieve 41% of their misses. Tyrese Martin is a wing averaging 8.5 snags. Bouknight’s an elite rebounding guard. This can be a mentality.
“We’re not an ideal capturing group so we have now quite a lot of observe in observe,” Hurley joked. “Isaiah Whaley is without doubt one of the most underrated guys within the nation by way of frontcourt gamers.”
UConn’s rebounding prowess can and may improve due to the return of ahead Akok Akok, who went down lower than a yr in the past with a left Achilles damage. Akok returned on Saturday, logging six minutes. Anticipate UConn to ease him again in with a bit extra taking part in time with every subsequent sport all through January.
“To return again from such a troublesome damage and nonetheless be beneath a yr since he damage it, which is superb in restoration, he is such an elite athlete,” Hurley mentioned. “We will attempt to give him hopefully extra every sport, attempt to develop his position and produce him alongside.”
7. Bama giving followers optimism past CFP title sport
One of many two or three most satisfying video games of the weekend was among the many first to tip on Saturday, Alabama’s 94-90 win at Auburn. It was the Tide’s first win in six years at its rival, and the win marked No. 1,700 in group historical past. Nate Oats’ squad is 9-3 general, however extra importantly stands at 4-0 in league play, which means it holds the highest mark within the SEC popping out of the weekend.
To win like this, even when Auburn is not NCAA Match-worthy, was notable. For the second straight contest the Crimson Tide didn’t have level guard Jahvon Quinerly, who sat because of “a medical situation,” in line with the college.
The sport was a barrel of enjoyable. After eligibility issues seeped deep into the season, Auburn freshman guard Sharife Cooper made his school debut. He had 26 factors, 9 assists, 5 turnovers and three steals. There have been some massive photographs in there. Cooper might be an enormous issue within the SEC subsequent season.
“I am positive he is fairly sore proper now,” Tigers coach Bruce Pearl mentioned Saturday. “I attempted to make a robust assertion by beginning him. Sometimes, when a man comes off of an damage or one thing like that and he is out, I’ll transfer him in off the bench. However Sharife is a pacesetter. He instructions the respect of his teammates.”
A lot in order that three Auburn starters all provided to begin the sport on the bench permit Cooper to begin forward of them.
Oats opted to place John Petty onto Cooper late, which wound up swinging the sport the Tide’s manner. Alabama had 15 steals on this sport! Jordan Bruner, Josh Primo and Herb Jones mixed for 61 factors. It will get good in two days: Alabama at Kentucky on Tuesday night time at 9 p.m. ET. If Bama wins that sport, will probably be a nationwide assertion.
8. Rutgers slipping, extra hazard lurks
Although it was no nationwide title contender final season, No. 15 Rutgers nonetheless registered as one of many higher tales within the sport as a result of it was clearly on its solution to the NCAA Match and would have made its first look in three many years doing so. That mojo continued over to this season initially with RU beginning 7-1, its lone loss coming at Ohio State. However now the Scarlet Knights are reeling, as Ohio State received at Rutgers on Saturday regardless of no C.J. Walker.
Rutgers took a 79-68 loss, which means Steve Pikiell’s group has dropped 4 of 5, is 7-4 and now sits sub-.500 within the league (3-4). Here is Rutgers’ subsequent 4 scheduled video games, which makes up the rest of the January slate. (There absolutely might be one other sport tossed in right here, as long as Rutgers does not have a COVID pause in its program).
- Friday: vs. No. 8 Wisconsin
- Jan. 24: at Indiana
- Jan. 28: vs. No. 23 Michigan State
- Jan. 31: at Northwestern
If it goes 1-3 towards these 4 groups Rutgers can be 8-7 after which NCAA Match doubts would enter the room.
The worst power-conference group this season might be Mike Hopkins’ Washington Huskies. At 1-9, UW has the worst mark of any group in a Main Seven league. Simply eight out of 347 groups taking part in this season have extra losses as of Sunday. On Saturday Washington went to Cal and misplaced its sixth straight sport, falling 84-78. It was Cal’s first Pac-12 victory. The Huskies, whose lone win is towards Seattle, sit at 141 in KenPom, 152 at Sagarin, 167 at Torvik and — HELLO — 246th within the NET. If this continues to be horrid and Washington cannot finish the season with greater than three or 4 wins, faculty AD Jennifer Cohen might be dealing with one thing of a dilemma. Hopkins is 64-48 via three and a half seasons in Seattle.
10. Drake will stay undefeated at the least one other week
Final week’s Courtroom Report led with a narrative on undefeated Drake, which has been one of many feel-good tales within the sport. However that is on maintain, as this system is on COVID pause and thus the Missouri Valley should anticipate its extremely anticipated back-to-back between the 2 finest groups in that league.
Drake was scheduled to host Loyola Chicago on Sunday and Monday, however as an alternative it is out till at the least Jan. 21. (Drake additionally had its Jan. 17-18 sequence at Missouri State pushed again.)
Anticipate the make-up dates for these video games to be determined within the coming week. Which means Drake, bizarre as it’s, is assured to stay undefeated deep into January. As for the Ramblers, they have been pivoted right into a back-to-back at Indiana State. The groups’ Monday night time matchup might be at 7 p.m. ET on CBS Sports activities Community. If Loyola and Drake handle to win all however perhaps one or two of their Valley video games towards all different Valley groups, every may have a superb at-large case come March.