Sunday, December 18, 2005

Week in Review

At the Top

Duke followed up their dominant win over Texas last weekend with a nice seven-day layoff before beating Valparaiso handily Sunday night. Greg Paulus had 15 assists in the win, while JJ Redick had 30 points. Connecticut continued their blitzkrieg through the country with a 42-point win over New Hampshire on Sunday. The Huskies are beating teams by an average of more than 22 points per game. Marcus Williams also became eligible, even though he can’t play in a game until January 3rd. However, he can practice and shoot-around prior to the game, as well as travel with the team, if Jim Calhoun chooses to allow it. Villanova had a tough game on the road against Penn, and came out with a hard-earned 7-point victory. If they could get any sort of consistent inside production, the Wildcats would be nearly unbeatable. Memphis keeps on winning—and also on the road. The Tigers played their third straight major-conference team away from home—this time it was Ole Miss—and won convincingly. Starting point guard Darius Washington is still hampered by an injury, and only played eight minutes. Rodney Carney had 19 points off the bench. Louisville played their first meaningful game of the season and got blown out of the gym by archrival Kentucky. The Cardinals looked awful on defense, while leading scorer Taquan Dean was 5-14 shooting the ball. Kentucky, on the other hand, looked like a potential SEC champion. Rajon Rondo had 25 points and the inside players finally provided some punch down low. Washington had another easy win, this time over Eastern Washington. Jamaal Williams had 26 points, while Brandon Roy finished with 25.

Rest of the Best

Gonzaga, like most teams, took the week off, and then took the court this weekend. They had more trouble than expected at home against Virginia, but still came out with an 11-point win. Adam Morrison had 27 points, and point guard Derek Raivio came back from injury for an 18-point game. Texas showed an inability to bounce back from their shellacking against Duke last weekend in a 17-point loss at home to Tennessee. They were without starting power forward Brad Buckman, and point guard Daniel Gibson only played nine minutes after a concussion ended his day early. Tennessee looked like an SEC contender after shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc, and having five players in double-figures. Oklahoma played yet another cupcake and turned in another less-than-stellar performance. In a 14-point win over Southern, the Sooners shot 21% from three-point range and their starting guard trio of Terrell Everett, Michael Neal, and David Godbold shot a combined 8 for 35 from the field. Florida won their 10th straight game to start the season with 43-point victory over Jacksonville. The Gators had 5 guys in double-figures, with three collecting double-doubles, including Corey Brewer’s triple-double. Illinois was the first team in the country to 11 wins after their victory over Coppin State on Sunday. They only managed 61 points, including only one player in double figures. Michigan State was one of the few teams to play two games this week, and the Spartans won both to get their 7th and 8th straight wins. A surprisingly tough contest against Cleveland State on Friday was followed by a 27-point victory over Florida International.

Teams Looking Good

UCLA followed up last week’s impressive win against Nevada with another very good win, this time on the road at Michigan. The backcourt of Jordan Farmar and Aaron Afflalo is easily one of the best in the country. George Washington continued their stroll through the cupcakes of America (with the exception of their game against Maryland) with a blowout win over Maryland-Eastern Shore. The Colonials are beating opponents by an average of almost 22 points per game. North Carolina State won their opening game of the ACC season against Miami in a solid, well-round performance. They had five guys in double figures, along with Cedric Simmons’ 8-point, 9-rebound, and 7-block game and Gavin Grant’s 6-point, 7-rebound showing. Cincinnati again looked very solid in a win, this time an annihilation over Tennessee Tech. Devan Downey might be the best freshman point guard in the country; James White is one of the better all-around players in the Big East; and Eric Hicks is a double-double threat every time he steps on the court. Ohio State continues to fly under the radar as an undefeated team, this week winning on the road against Iowa State. The Buckeyes improved to 7-0 after a late run propelled them to victory. Guard Je’Kel Foster is shooting an unbelievable 61 percent from beyond the arc. Virginia Tech went out to Las Vegas and defeated Stanford for a hard-fought win. On a day when their two star guards, Jamon Gordon and Zabian Dowdell shot a combined 8 for 26, the Hokies were able to win as they outscored the Cardinal by 16 in the second half, and destroyed Stanford on the offensive glass. Pacific is beginning to look like the Pacific teams of the past two seasons after they beat WAC contender Fresno State by 33 at home. Christian Maraker is developing into a star after he had his fourth straight game with at least 20 points, but snapped his 5-game double-double streak. Wisconsin continues to find ways to win, as demonstrated by two more tight wins over mid-majors at home. UNC-Wilmington and Wisconsin-Milwaukee both hung in the game and had chances to win in the second half, but the Badgers came out of both with a W. Minnesota welcomed back star wing Vincent Grier from injury, and got a much-needed win at home against UAB in a matchup of potential bubble teams. Grier had 12 points in his first game back. Creighton is back to their winning ways after a short struggle period after the potentially season-ending injury to star Nate Funk. The Bluejays pulled out a 2-point victory at home against Xavier. They held the Musketeers’ leading scorer, Brian Thornton, to only 2 points. Anthony Tolliver had 26 points. Arizona could be back on track. They won their third in a row, this one a 30-point blowout victory on the road at Utah. Hassan Adams finally demonstrated his dominant side, scoring 27 points. Arkansas became the first team to beat Missouri State on Thursday, and then came back Saturday to defeat Rice. They could be an SEC contender if they get more consistency out of their inside players.

Not-So-Impressive Teams

Just when you thought Wake Forest had their point guard situation figured out and were back on track, they lose to DePaul—at home. Justin Gray shot 3 for 11 from the field, and the Demon Deacons shot a paltry 29 percent from beyond the arc. They did, however, beat Princeton on Sunday. Houston ruined their first Top 25 appearance in years by losing on the road to South Alabama on Saturday. The Cougars shot less than 33 percent as a team from the field, and just above 22 percent from three-point territory. Iowa State was coming off of a solid win over Iowa, but couldn’t keep the momentum going as they lost at home to Ohio State. The vaunted backcourt duo of Will Blalock and Curtis Stinson shot 11 for 28 from the field, and the entire team only shot 15% from three. Ohio was supposed to be a top mid-major team, capable of beating some powers this season. So they went into Cincinnati—and lost by 28. The Bobcats shot a awful 32% from the field. Their top three scorers—Leon Williams, Mychal Green, and Jeremy Fears—combined to shoot 7 of 33. Princeton scored 21 points in an entire game against Monmouth. Enough said. Temple came off of a very solid win against SEC contender Alabama last week and went into SEC cellar dweller Auburn and lost by 31. The Owls are expected to be a bubble team come March, but losses like that don’t help their resume.

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