College basketball: Team, Player of the Week honors and more
It's Monday, which means it's time for the weekly honors. The best of yet another eventful week in college basketball:
Team of the week
Clemson. What a way for Brad Brownell to get win No. 300. The Tigers are now officially a serious contender to be in the NCAA tournament and be an upper half ACC team. No joke. Think about this: Clemson knocked off No. 22 Florida IN FLORIDA Saturday. OK, so it wasn’t in Gainesville, but it was in the state at Sunrise, Fla. Clemson came back from a dozen down to beat the Gators 71-69 on a an Elijah Thomas dunk off a three-quarter pass from Marcquise Reed pass with 37 seconds left.
The Tigers are 9-1 and own a true road win at Ohio State in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. The only loss came against Temple on a neutral court. The Tigers have played their non-conference schedule exceptionally well, with two more to go, including the rivalry game against South Carolina Tuesday. Clemson will have to get through a gauntlet of games in the ACC that includes a stretch against Miami, at North Carolina, Notre Dame and at Virginia for 10 days in mid-January. But the win over Florida should give the Tigers enough confidence that this team won’t be rattled for any of the aforementioned ACC games.
Player of the week
Juwan Morgan's 34 points yesterday set a new Crossroads Classic Record. pic.twitter.com/EqCLkLE4a8— Indiana Basketball (@IndianaMBB) December 17, 2017
Indiana’s Juwan Morgan had himself a game for the Hoosiers in their best win of the season. He scored 34 points, grabbed 11 boards and made 13 of 17 shots by playing in 40 of a possible 45 minutes in the 80-77 overtime win Saturday at the Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis. Morgan is leading the Hoosiers in scoring and his leadership is the difference for this squad.
Beating Notre Dame, a week after losing at Louisville, capped a grueling five-game stretch for Indiana. The Hoosiers went 2-3, losing to Duke and at Michigan as well. The other win was over Iowa. But the Notre Dame win gives this team the confidence it needed that they can be successful this season.
Most impressive win
Oklahoma's win over Wichita State. Freshman Trae Young scored 29 to lead the Sooners to the road win and improve to 8-1. The Sooners can challenge Kansas, TCU and others for the Big 12 title because they have the best player. Young has to be in any conversation for national player of the year after the first five weeks of the season. He’s that good. He’s that much of a difference. Oh, and if you start mocking any NBA draft, he has to be in discussion for the No. 1 pick, too.
Shot of the week
Svi Mykhailiuk's 3-pointer to lift Kansas over Nebraska in Lincoln Saturday night. The Huskers had a golden chance to knock off their once Big 8 rival but Svi crushed their hopes. The win would have been a game changer for Nebraska. Instead it was heartache. Kansas desperately needed Svi to make that shot after losing games a week ago to Washington in Kansas City and Arizona State in Lawrence. Kansas still has plenty of work to do, but this staved off a potential, gulp, three-game losing streak.
Oklahoma State upsets Florida State, 71-70, in Sunrise, Fla. The Cowboys lost at home to Wichita State last week. Then, they dumped reserve guards Davon Dillard and Zack Dawson for violating team rules. So, what do they do? Boost the Big 12 by getting a much-needed win on a tip-in by Mitchell Solomon with six seconds left. The loss was the first for Florida State.
Rutgers over Seton Hall. The Scarlet Knights beat their rivals in a Big Ten-Big East matchup in front of a rocking house. Corey Sanders scored 22 points for Rutgers. Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell needed to get this one, to show the progress and ability to compete within the rivalry and in the New York area. The win should do wonders for Pikiell locally. Rutgers has a brutal slate to restart the Big Ten, playing at Purdue and Michigan State in two of the first three games. But this shows Rutgers has a chance to move up out of the bottom of the Big Ten.
Best bounce back team
Cincinnati has returned from its mini in-season issues. After losing consecutive games to Xavier and to Florida, the Bearcats have put that stretch in the rearview mirror. Cincinnati knocked off previous unbeaten Mississippi State and then dominated UCLA at Pauley Pavilion. The Bearcats can now return to their spot as one of the two favorites for the American title.
Toughest home court
UMass. The Minutemen stunned two teams on the past two Saturdays — Providence and Georgia. UMass nailed 12 3s in the win over the Bulldogs. Matt McCall was facing a major rebuild with the Minutemen. But he may be well ahead of schedule after beating two teams that are likely heading to the NCAA tournament.
NC State loses to UNC Greensboro; LSU falls to Stephen F. Austin; Ole Miss goes down to Illinois State; Colorado loses to San Diego; Illinois drops a game in Chicago to New Mexico State. What does it tell us? The power schools are all in various stages of retooling/rebuilding. If I had to pick one of this group that could still make the NCAAs then I would go with the Buffaloes.
Best game-management staff
Ohio State. A smoke alarm from a concession stand went off, indicating an alarm at the Appalachian State game Saturday. An announcement came over the loud speaker and game management orchestrated the evacuation seamlessly. The fans didn’t even balk at getting up and leaving the bowl of the arena. Ohio State and App State went to the locker rooms for 20 minutes. The all clear was given and the Buckeyes went on to win handily. But the test run of an emergency situation by the staff at Value City Arena went without a hitch.