Teams of the Week
Ole Miss - Many of us thought that this week would really show us how good the Kermit Davis led Rebels really are. Well, the Rebels sure showed us! On Tuesday night, Senior Terence Davis put on a dazzling performance - 27 Points, 12 Reb’s, and led the Rebels to a big win over Auburn 82-67 in front of a sellout crowd. That set the stage for Saturday’s rivalry game in Starkville against Mississippi State. The stage felt even bigger nationally, with Basketball’s version of the Egg Bowl being broadcast on CBS. I live in California, and I can tell you it is very rare to see either school on network TV on a Saturday afternoon. The Rebels seized the moment. This time it was Freshman Blake Hinson’s time to shine. He stepped up with five three pointers and finished with 26. The leadership of Breein Tyree also stood out, as he knocked down key free throws and led the Rebels emotionally. Rebels won 81-77 and are now 3-0 in the SEC with two road conference wins.
Wofford - The Terriers had to have felt somewhat disrespected prior to their visit to Greensboro on Thursday night. A lot of the talk was about how tough the Spartans were and how they were defending champions, and a lot of people picking the Spartans this year to repeat as SoCon champs. This years’ SoCon is even more loaded, and Wofford is leading the charge. They made a huge statement by punishing UNC Greensboro in their backyard and later completing the road sweep at VMI. Wofford outrebounded UNCG 41-24 and held the Spartans to 21% 3 point shooting (4-19).. The game was over early on for all intents and purposes. The Terriers have clearly established themselves as the team to beat for now in the SoCon. But teams like ETSU and Furman will also have a say, what a league!
Maryland - I hope you bought stock in the Terps after their home loss to Seton Hall back on December 22nd. Since then Maryland has really come together. This past week, I believe the Terps turned a corner. Winning at Minnesota was a big win. To date, Maryland is the only team to win there. This greatly helped Maryland’s resume and position in the Big 10 of course. Beating the Gophers by 15 (82-67) was a big statement. In the second game of the week against Indiana, Bruno Fernando had a heck of a night. Shooting 11-12 from the Field and finishing with 25 points. Fernando has been sensational all season long, plus the Terps are getting consistent contributions from Anthony Cowan, Eric Ayala, and Jalen Smith. Ayala and Smith are both Frosh who start. Dangerous club right now.
Eastern Michigan - It’s been a wild ride this season in Ypsilanti. The Eagles were picked to win the West Division of the MAC and be the biggest threat to Buffalo in the league. So what happened? Well, the Eagles took a bunch of lumps in the non-conference season including losses to Detroit, Rutgers, UC Irvine and others. EMU couldn’t seem to get anything going. So when the Eagles travelled to Muncie, Indiana on Tuesday night to face a strong contender in Ball State, most overlooked them. Well the Eagles showed life and put a heck of a game together, defeating the Cardinals 84-82 in a Double OT thriller. On Saturday, the Eagles hosted another MAC contender, Kent State. EMU got off to a huge start thanks ot hot shooting from deep (12-19 for the game) and it was never even close. Eagles win 95-61. EMU has now put themselves back into the discussion for teams that can steal the MAC bid, great week Eagles.
South Carolina - It’s incredibly rare to see two teams from the same conference selected to the Teams of the Week Top 5. But in this case, Frank Martin’s club has earned the recognition. The momentum started rolling after they escaped Gainesville two Saturday’s ago with a wild win. That led us to Tuesday night, when heavily favored Mississippi State arrived in Columbia. The Gamecocks came out ready to fight, and this was a great game to watch. The Gamecock offense ran through 6-11 big man Malik Kostar, they repeatedly fed him. Kostar finished with 25 points on 18 shots and the Cocks survived in OT with a big win. Then over the weekend, a winter storm postponed the Missouri game from Saturday to Sunday. When the teams finally got on the court, Coach Martin’s club picked up right where they left off. Fighting, scratching, clawing for every loose ball plus playing tough defense and taking smart shots. The Gamecocks would prevail 85-75. Offensively, it was a much more balanced attack than the Mississippi St. game. Five players finished in double figures. Hats off to Coach Martin for keeping this team together and for mixing his game strategies from game to game so effectively.
Temple - First team to beat Houston and survived a scare in OT against USF, heck of a week.
UT Arlington - Road sweep over Coastal Carolina and Appalachian State during a major rebuild season under first year Head Coach Chris Ogden.
Marquette - Miraculous win at Creighton (YouTube it) and solid home win over Seton Hall.
Davidson - Won on the road against a hot George Mason club, and made a big second half comeback to knock off VCU in a key game.
Washington - Big time road sweep at Utah and at Colorado. First Road sweep for this UW program in six years. Also the difficulty of playing two games in three days at high altitude. Well done Dawgs.
Oklahoma State (Beat West Virginia on the road and Texas at home), Iowa (Nice road win at Northwestern and home win over Ohio State), Texas Tech (big wins over Oklahoma and at Texas), Prairie View A&M (Big upset win over Texas Southern and road win at Alcorn St.), Villanova (Tough win at Creigton and home win over St. John’s) Valparaiso (won at Southern Illinois and took care of Bradley at home), Oregon State (Rare Home sweep of L.A. schools, Beavers are getting hot) Rider (Took full control of MAAC with road wins at Canisius and Niagara), Dartmouth (wins conference opener over Harvard in a big way), Missouri State (wins at Indiana St and At Bradley), North Alabama (Swept FGCU and NJIT, big wins for 1st year in D1 squad), UTSA (won key game over North Texas and took care of Rice), DePaul (Won at St. John’s without Ponds in only game), LSU (nice win at Arkansas and vs. Bama), UNLV (Tough win at the Pit over UNM), Central Connecticut State (two road wins in league over FDU and MSM), Arizona (Bay Area Road Sweep over Stanford and Cal), Eastern Washington (knocked off Big Sky favorites Montana in only game), Princeton (another win over Penn, this one on the road), Hampton (won first two games as Big South member over Charleston So. and UNCA)
Markus Howard of Marquette scored 79 points in two victories during the week. Many will remember his 53 point game to rally over Creighton in an epic collapse by the Blue Jays. Howard will be in line for a lot of postseason notoriety this coming April.
Matt Morgan of Cornell had a performance to remember in the Big Red’s 86-74 win at Towson. Morgan connected on nine three pointers and finished with 38 points. Morgan has a reputation for shooting the rock, but this shattered his previous career high of six three pointers in a game.
The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns have had their ups and downs this year. This week was no different. They fell short at Georgia State, but bounced back with a nice win at Georgia Southern. Do not blame the ups and downs on 6-8, 215 star senior Jakeenan Grant. He has been sensational. Grant had 36 points, 11 rebounds on Thursday, and followed that up with 22 points, 12 rebounds in Saturday’s victory.