Let’s dive into the weirdest, most unexpected, impressive and (in some cases) random statistics from the season thus far.
*Missouri already has more wins than it did last yearAnd it’s done so almost entirely without Michael Porter, Jr., who played two minutes in the first game of the season before leaving with a back issue. Missouri is 9-2, and it would still finish with a better record than last year if it lost every remaining game on its schedule. The Tigers would also be just as good as they were in 2014-15, when they finished with nine wins.
Credit Cuonzo Martin for steering this thing in the right direction – a 9-2 start felt about right with Porter in the lineup. He’s not, and guys like Kassius Robertson, Jordan Barnett and Kevin Puryear have stepped up.
We’ll see how Missouri fares in the revamped SEC. But it’s safe to assume the Tigers will perform significantly better than they did last year.
*Collin Sexton scored 40 points in a game where his team played three on five for 10 minutes
One-in-a-thousand circumstances forced Alabama to play Minnesota, ranked at the time, three on five in the final 10 minutes of their game. Shockingly, the Crimson Tide outscored the Golden Gophers during that span.
That’s mainly because Sexton plays for Alabama. Perhaps the fiercest competitor in college basketball, Sexton almost looked more comfortable in a three on five setting; he scored 40 points, and Alabama only lost by five. The Gophers were double and triple-teaming the freshman, but to no avail. Sexton torched them with a combination of hellacious drives and smooth stepback jumpers.
Sexton is averaging 21.8 points and could lead the Tide back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2012. But it’s hard to picture him topping that performance.
*Oliver Tot had a 19 trillion before making a game-winning, 50-foot buzzer-beater
A “trillion” is a phrase coined by former Ohio State walk-on and current The Ringer college hoops writer Mark Titus. It’s when a someone plays in a game, but doesn’t record any counting stats. Usually, it’s reserved for mop-up duty – guys enter the game in a blowout and don’t record a point, rebound, assist, steal or block.
Tot was well on his way to recording a 19 trillion – yes, 19 – until he decided to hit a 50-foot, game-winning buzzer-beater. Take a look:
Tot went from – let’s be honest – not doing much of anything for 19 minutes, to making what was easily the most spectacular play of that game, and perhaps the whole college basketball season. Incredible.
*Jalen Brunson is shooting 69 percent from 2, 54 percent from 3 and 63 percent from the floor
Brunson is on his way to having one of the most efficient shooting seasons ever, and point guards are usually the least efficient players in the lineup. You’d think Brunson was shooting something like 90 percent from the free-throw line, so we could say he had a shot at the 60/50/90 club.
Not so fast. Brunson is shooting 74 percent from the line – which is decent – but considering he’s making nearly 70 percent of his 2s and 55 percent of his 3s, it jumps off of the page.
These numbers would be more believable if they belonged to a low-volume bench player or role guy. Brunson is averaging 18.5 points on just 10.5 shot attempts per game. He’s the best player on the No. 1 team in America and has a legitimate chance at the Naismith.
*Villanova extended its November winning streak and hasn't lost in the month since 2012
Villanova is on a 33-game November winning streak, and hasn’t lost in the month since Nov. 25, 2012 against LaSalle. And the Wildcats aren’t just playing cupcakes. They beat Gonzaga and Tennessee this season and entered the same Thanksgiving tournament as Arizona and Purdue. It seemed more likely than not that the streak would end this season.
It didn’t, and it was never even close. No program is operating at a higher level than Villanova.
*Trae Young has more impressive numbers than Steph Curry ever posted at Davidson
Of course, it’s early. This may not hold up. But if does, Young will have more impressive stats than Curry ever posted at Davidson:
Curry went bonkers for two full years with the Wildcats (his freshman season wasn't quite as great). Young has only played in nine games for the Sooners. But if Young even comes close to Curry’s stats, it will be incredibly impressive – especially when you consider the difference in conference quality.
*Evansville has the highest 3-point percentage of any team in the last 16 years
Evansville is making an astounding 47.1 percent of its 3s this season. The Purple Aces are loaded with snipers, and their three most common launchers are all making at least 47 percent of their 3s: Dru Smith (57 percent); Blake Simmons (54); and Ryan Taylor (47).
No team has made 3s at a higher clip in the KenPom era, which dates back to 2001-02. Last year, Marquette led the nation in 3-point shooting at 42.9 percent.
It will be fascinating to see if Evansville can maintain this torrid pace. It’s also worth nothing – Virginia Tech (46.7 percent) isn’t far behind.
*Arizona went from No. 2 in the AP Poll to unranked in one week
And in doing so, the Wildcats did something no team had done in more than 30 years:
After losing three games in the past week, Arizona (previously No. 2) drops out of the AP Poll.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 27, 2017
The Wildcats are the second men's basketball team in AP Poll history to go from Top 2 to unranked in back-to-back polls (1986 Louisville).
Arizona lost to N.C. State, SMU and Purdue at the Battle 4 Atlantis that week. Since then, however, the Wildcats have reeled off six wins in a row. Rawle Alkins’ return has done wonders for Sean Miller’s squad, and the DeAndre Ayton-Allonzo Trier one-two punch remains one of the most dangerous in the country.
This may wind up being nothing more than a footnote. Or, it could be a sign that Arizona isn’t as good as we’d previously thought. The Wildcats are one of the most interesting teams in the game.
*Arizona State is ranked third despite having the No. 126 defense
Arizona State is ranked third, and it’s mid-December. The Sun Devils may be the story of college hoops this year. Tra Holder, Shannon Evans, Kodi Justice and Romello White play an electrifying brand of basketball. ASU has proven it can beat anyone.
But as it pertains to the national championship picture, Sun Devil fans may not want to look at this:
While that doesn’t bode well for Arizona State’s title hopes, it makes what the Sun Devils have done offensively all the more impressive. They have wins over Kansas, Kansas State, Xavier and St. John’s with a sub-100 defense. They play their best when it matters most, and Bobby Hurley has done a fantastic job with this group.
*Kentucky’s top six scorers are freshmen
Yes, this is out of the ordinary – even for the annually youthful Wildcats. John Calipari uses an eight-man rotation — six of them are freshmen; two are sophomores. Wenyen Gabriel and Sacha Killeya-Jones are the “veterans” of the group; they’re seventh and eighth on the team in scoring, respectively.
And yet, the Wildcats are 9-1, and their only defeat was to Kansas on a neutral floor. Kevin Knox has been as good as advertised, and while UK has looked out of sync at times, a 9-1 start is spectacular for a squad this young. We’ll see if the Wildcats can hold up in the improved SEC.
*Luke Maye is averaging 14 more points and 6.4 more rebounds than he did last season
Naturally, we must follow a Kentucky nugget with a Maye nugget. The stretch four was a bit player as a sophomore for the Tar Heels – he had a few big games, as the Wildcats know. But he was the fourth big man playing behind Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks and Tony Bradley.
But with all of those guys gone, Maye had a prime opportunity with a junior. To say he’s made the most of it is an understatement. After averaging 5.5 points and 3.9 rebounds as a sophomore, he’s averaging 19.5 points and 10.3 rebounds as a junior.
The Tar Heels are ranked fifth despite not having Cam Johnson at all thus far due to injury. Joel Berry and Theo Pinson were the only returning starters from last year’s championship team. Some regression was expected.
It hasn’t happened, and Maye is the main reason why. What a player.