It was a weekend of boffo performances, arguably the best of the college basketball season. So let’s hear it for…
Well, this may take a while.
Twenty-six schools had players go for 30 points or more, so where to begin? Oh, that one’s easy.
Central Michigan’s Marcus Keene
With 6:44 left in the Chippewas game against Miami (Ohio), he had 24 points. Pretty good day. With 1:20 left, he had 50. Pretty remarkable day. Keene scored 26 consecutive points for his team in 5:23, requiring only eight shots and seven free throws, in a 101-92 win.
“That’s anybody’s dream, as a scorer,” he said.
Matter of fact, it’d be a lot of people’s dreams to score 39 points and hit eight of 10 three-pointers. Keene did that – in the second half. The deluge pushed his nation-leading average to 29.8, as he flirts with becoming the first Division I player in 20 years to finish above 30.
And that’s just for starters. The past three days had a lot of scoring soliloquies. Let the highlights roll.
Indiana’s James Blackmon Jr.
He had 33 points and 6-for-10 shooting in three pointers to the get the injury-ravaged Hoosiers past Michigan State 82-75. That was three days after he beat Penn State with a buzzer-beating three-pointer.
“I was nice to him when I recruited him,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “I don’t know why he did that to me.”
Washington State’s Charles Callison
He took 16 shots and made 12 of them for his 30 points in a 91-89 win over Colorado State in overtime.
“After the first few,” he said. “It looked like I was throwing a rock into the ocean.”
Navy’s Shawn Anderson
No Midshipmen had scored 30 points in seven years. But he did, thanks partly to 13-for-17 free throw shooting, in a 96-80 overtime win over Army that should have had the Pentagon buzzing. Army wiped out a 10-point Navy lead in the last 42 seconds of regulation, with a 15-5 comeback. Then Navy, which knows something about zig-zag patterns, dominated the overtime 21-5.
Georgia Southern’s Tookie Brown and Appalachian State’s Ronshad Sabazz
Shabazz won the scoring duel 36-32. Brown won the game 92-88. Brown scored 17 of his points from the free throw line on 23 attempts and explained his accuracy:
“My routine is just be calm and take deep breaths and act like I’m in a gym by myself.”
South Dakota State’s Mike Daum
He was 10-for-15 from the three-point line and scored 42 points in a 77-67 win over Fort Wayne.
“He’s an unbelievable player, obviously,” his coach T.J. Otzelberger said. “And he shot the ball at an unbelievable rate tonight.”
Florida International’s Eric Nottage
He wasn’t perfect in scoring 37 points in a 94-85 win over UAB, but he was close. Took 12 shots, and missed one. He hit all six three-pointers and all nine free throws.
Charlotte’s Jon Davis
His 35 points included the game-winner at 0.2 seconds over Old Dominion.
“Honestly, when I had the ball in the last 24 seconds, I knew I wasn’t passing it,” he said. “I knew I was taking the last shot.”
Creighton’s Marcus Foster
He took 24 shots and scored 30 points, trying to make up for the loss of backcourt mate Maurice Watson Jr., but was unable to do it against a Marquette team that shot 60 percent, had seven players in double figures and won 102-94.
Iowa State’s Deonte Burton
The Cyclones came from 19 points behind to beat Oklahoma 92-87 in two overtimes. His 31 points were a big reason why.
Notre Dame’s V.J. Beachem
His 30 points keyed an 84-66 romp over Syracuse, the biggest Irish victory over the Orange in 19 years.
Washington’s Markelle Fultz
The top freshman scorer in the land had 30, the bright spot of a bad day for the Huskies in a 94-72 loss to Utah. He shot 55.6 percent on 10-for-18. Everyone else in a Washington uniform shot 30.1 percent.
Valparaiso’s Alec Peters
He passed Bryce Drew as Valpo’s all-time scorer and did it with style, scoring 30 points in a romp over UIC. He’s also second in the nation in scoring behind Keene.
DePaul’s Eli Cain
The Blue Demons trailed only 101 seconds against Butler, but they were the wrong seconds in a 70-69 overtime loss. Cain’s 32 points at least made it tense for the Bulldogs.
Boston College’s Ky Bowman
The freshman kept the Eagles in the game against North Carolina with 33 points, and 7-for-9 shooting from the three-point line. It was the best eight-turnover game you ever saw.
Funny thing is, he originally committed to North Carolina – as a wide receiver. So had the Tar Heels not escaped 90-82, Roy Williams could have blamed the football coach.
Bowman also has some of the most scrutinized hair color in college basketball. He been dying it red, but changed to black, scored only seven points against Virginia, so now he’s back to red.
“The black hair will never be back,” coach Jim Christian said. “Even my son, seven years old, said don’t ever let him go back.”
Brown’s Steven Spieth
Jordan’s brother, the one with the higher handicap, scored 33 for Brown, but Yale won 75-74 on a late free throw.
Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ
Maybe he didn’t break 30, but 28 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and five blocks isn’t bad. They were just enough to get the Badgers past Minnesota 78-76 in overtime.
Yep, all of them. They slid by Ohio State, 74-72, to win in Columbus for the first time in 40 years.
“I think I was three years old at the time,” coach Chris Collins mentioned.
It was also the first 5-2 start in the Big Ten since 1968 and 16-4 overall for the first time in forever. Now anybody with a drop of Northwestern blood is wondering about a first-ever NCAA Tournament bid.
“We’re trying to live in the moment,” Collins said. “March is an eternity away.”
But in a weekend of conspicuous feats, Northwestern’s rise might be even better than a 5-9 guard scoring 26 points in under six minutes.