Inside the numbers behind Wednesday’s top performances:
1. Kemba Walker's shooting woes continue. He went 3-for-14 from the field (21.4 percent), and finished with a season-low eight points in Connecticut’s 66-58 loss to Syracuse. The Kemba vs. Jimmer debate has taken a rather decisive turn in recent days. On Jan. 20, Fredette was averaging 25.8 ppg, while Walker was putting up 25.5. In the four games since, Kemba is averaging 14.5 ppg, while hitting only 30.0 percent of his shots and 15.4 percent of his 3s. Meanwhile, Fredette, who scored 26 last night against Wyoming, is averaging 35.8 ppg and shooting 45.9 from deep in his last four games.
2. Iowa handed Michigan State its worst loss in three years, bolting to a 21-point halftime lead en route to a 72-52 victory. The last time the Spartans lost by this large of a margin was a 35-point defeat at the hands of North Carolina in December 2008. It was all about a fast start for the Hawkeyes, who led 15-2 and 30-8 at various points in the first half. A huge part of that was point guard Bryce Cartwright. Consider that when the score was 30-8, Cartwright had almost as many assists (seven) as the Spartans did points. He finished with eight first-half assists and a career-high 10 in the game. Over the past three games, the Fresno State transfer is averaging 10.7 ppg and 9.0 apg.
3. The nation’s fourth-longest win streak belongs to a team that started 5-5. Duquesne beat George Washington 84-59 to win its 11th straight. Despite that slow start, the 16-5 Dukes are now off to their best start since 1972. They’re doing it with a defense that forces mistakes. On Wednesday, the Colonials committed 26 turnovers, the seventh team to top 25 against Duquesne. Not surprisingly the Dukes are 7-0 in those games. Duquesne’s opponents average 20.8 turnovers per game, most in the nation. Unlike say VMI, this number isn’t the reflection of pace. The Dukes are also first in the nation in defensive turnover rate. For Duquesne’s opponents, 28.5 percent of possessions end in turnovers.
Percent of Opponent Possessions Ending in Turnovers
28.5 - Duquesne
27.9 - Belmont
27.0 - Stephen F. Austin
4. Mustapha Farrakhan scored six points in the final 34 seconds to power Virginia to a 49-47 win over Clemson. Only one Cavalier scored more in the game than Farrakhan had in those last 34 seconds. He finished with 21 points, and continues to be the key to success for UVa. In its last three wins, he’s averaging 25.0 ppg. Compare that to Virginia’s 10 losses this season in which Farrakhan is putting up just 9.1 ppg and shooting 31.5 percent. By the way, the Cavs’ 49 points are their fewest in a win since 2004. Credit also goes to the defense, which held the Tigers to 13 points in the first half.
5. Rice’s Arsalan Kazemi hauled in a career-high 19 rebounds to go with 11 points in a 71-61 win at Tulane. The nation’s third-leading rebounder, he’s averaging 16.3 ppg and 12.0 rpg. Following a four-game losing streak, Rice has won three of its last four. Kazemi is a big reason why, averaging 15.0 ppg and 15.5 rpg during the current stretch. On the season, the Owls don’t have anyone else averaging five rebounds. Yet, because of Kazemi, they are 21st in the nation in rebounding percentage.