Atchley lacks the ego but has the game

Updated: February 26, 2008

Peter G. Aiken/US Presswire

D.J. Augustin has found his scoring touch of late. He had a team-high 24 points in the win over K-State.

Key Shot

MANHATTAN, Kansas -- As he walked off the floor, Texas big man Connor Atchley bent down to scoop up a Michael Beasley face on a stick, a souvenir from a disgruntled Kansas State fan who tossed the prop as the buzzer sounded on Texas' 74-65 victory.

The move seemed poignant, emblematic of Texas' ability to step over the phenomenal freshman's 30 points and 15 rebounds and into control of the Big 12.

"Nah, nothing like that," Atchley said. "Longhorns don't litter."

It was the perfectly dismissive comment of deep meaning from a player who contentedly toils in the shadows. The 6-foot-10 junior is the guy who sets screens and grinds out on defense, a player who owns a sweet shot but has to be talked into taking it.

But in a game in which Beasley and D.J. Augustin (24 points and five assists) officially turned the Big 12 player of the year contest into a two-man race, it was Atchley who earned his coach's highest praise.

After picking up his third foul early in the second half, Atchley stewed on the bench until the 13:56 mark, watching the Wildcats build a 45-41 lead. Two minutes after he re-entered the game, he grabbed an offensive rebound and swished a 3 to knot the game at 50. And two possessions later, he tipped in a missed Augustin 3. The Longhorns never trailed again.

Atchley, who finished with 14 points and seven rebounds, is now perfect against the state of Kansas, matching Monday's 6-of-6 from the floor, 2-of-2 from the line night with a Feb. 11 date against the Jayhawks when he went 6-of-6 and 4-of-4.

"I think it's a huge factor, helping D.J. get open, running the screens so he can do his thing that he's been doing all year," Atchley said. "It's about being a team and doing whatever we have to do to get a win."

A year ago Texas was K-State, blessed with an outrageously talented rookie who required the offense to go through him. It is impossibly ridiculous to say the Longhorns are better off without Kevin Durant, but a year wiser, they are now a better team. It is because of guys like Atchley. The Longhorns, who have won eight in a row to separate themselves from the rest of the conference (they have a 1.5-game lead on Kansas), are more than a one-man band. In place of the breathtaking ability of a Durant or a Beasley, they have the star power of Augustin surrounded by the steady play of guys like Atchley.

"Guys like him are important to any team, I don't care if you're talking college or any level," said coach Rick Barnes, who labeled Monday's effort Atchley's best game as a Longhorn. "You have to have guys like Connor who have no ego; they just love to compete and are willing to do the little things. He's done that from Day One, but it's nice to see him finally get recognized for it."

To see highlights of the Texas-Kansas State game, click here. ESPN Video

Key Notes

• Texas won 74-65 at Kansas State on Monday night. This despite another in a long line of amazing performances by Wildcats freshman Michael Beasley, who had 30 points and 15 rebounds (his sixth 30-15 game of the season). There have been only 12 other 30-15 games by a Division I player this season, and Cal's Ryan Anderson (two) is the only other player to do it more than once.

• Beasley's effort against the Longhorns was the 11th 30-point game of his young career, setting a new school record for most career 30-point games. The old record of 10 was held by Bob Boozer, who was a two-time All-American and a member of the 1960 U.S. Olympic team. The staggering number, however, is that it took Boozer 77 career games to reach 10 30-point games. Beasley has eclipsed the mark in just 27 games -- 50 fewer games than Boozer's career total.

• While Beasley was a monster again, the Wildcats' other star freshman had a night to forget. Bill Walker, coming off a career-high 31 points in his most recent game, scored one point in the loss to the Longhorns. He was 0-for-14 from the floor, which is the most field goal attempts by a Division I player this season without a made shot. The last player to take more shots without converting one was Pepperdine's Yakhouba Diawara. On March 5, 2005, Diawara was 0-for-18 from the floor in his final career game as Pepperdine lost by six points to San Diego.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff lost at home in overtime to Texas Southern by the final score of 77-76. What made this one bizarre is that Marcelle Goins of Arkansas-Pine Bluff hit a shot from just inside half court to beat the buzzer in regulation, tying the game at 68 and sending the game to an extra session. However, the delirious fans at the game ran on the floor to celebrate the shot -- and the Golden Lions were assessed a technical foul at the beginning of overtime. Texas Southern's Matt Miller sank both free throws and the visitors would go on to get the one-point win.

Trant Simpson of Alabama A&M led all Division I scorers on Monday with 33 points in the Bulldogs' 77-67 win over Alcorn State. It was a career high for the junior, who was 12-for-12 from the free-throw line.

Dominic James of Marquette had 25 points and six steals in the Golden Eagles' 85-75 win at Villanova. He is only the second Big East player this season to record at least 25 points and five steals in a single game. The other is Seton Hall's Jeremy Hazell, who had 26 points and five steals in a 95-69 loss to Notre Dame earlier this month.

• Campbell sophomore Jonathan Rodriguez scored 31 points in the Fighting Camels' 96-87 home loss to Tennessee State. Rodriguez, who scored his 1,000th career point earlier this season, has topped 30 points four times in his career -- and Campbell is 0-4 in those games. In games in which he scored 20-29 points, the Fighting Camels are 15-9.


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On Tap For Tuesday

• Ohio State at Indiana, 7 ET (ESPN)
• Southern Illinois at Bradley, 7 ET (ESPN2)
• Western Michigan at Northern Illinois, 8 ET
• Tennessee at Vandy, 9 ET (ESPN)
• Oklahoma State at Missouri, 9 ET (ESPNU)
• BYU at New Mexico, 10 ET

For the full schedule, click here. All games on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN Full Court also are on ESPN360.com.

Top 25 Scores From Monday

• No. 5 Texas 74, Kansas State 65
• No. 21 Marquette 85, Villanova 75
• No. 23 Saint Mary's 61, San Diego 54

For all scores, click here.

Fans' celebration costs Arkansas-Pine Bluff in OT

Poll Position

How much have the rankings changed since the start of the season? Here is a side-by-side comparison of the ESPN/USA Today coaches' polls released Monday and in the preseason.

Ranking Monday Preseason
1 Tennessee UNC
2 UNC UCLA
3 Memphis Memphis
4 UCLA Kansas
5 Texas Georgetown
6 Duke Louisville
7 Kansas Tennessee
8 Stanford Michigan State
9 Wisconsin Indiana
10 Georgetown Washington State

For all the rankings, click here.

Bruce Pearl excited about No. 1 ranking

A Step Toward Normalcy

The Associated Press

Northern Illinois will take another step toward normalcy when the Huskies host Western Michigan Tuesday in the first athletic event on campus since the shootings on Feb. 14.

Classes resumed Monday, but getting back to routine won't be easy.

Not when there are white crosses on a knoll. Not when there's crime scene tape outside the auditorium where the gunman opened fire, killing five students before taking his own life. Not when counselors are attending classes, offering to help students.

For a school determined to move on, a basketball game is just a small step. Or, maybe it is more than that.

"I think it's huge," coach Ricardo Patton said. "When you talk about trying to get over as best you can and move forward after such a devastating tragedy, I think it's great to get back to some sense of normalcy as best you can."

Countdown to the greatest

ESPN is counting down the greatest college basketball players of all time. The No. 1 player will be unveiled Saturday, March 8, during the North Carolina-Duke game on ESPN (9 p.m. ET). Here is a look at the list so far …

No. 25 DePaul's George Mikan
No. 24 Navy's David Robinson
No. 23 Niagara's Calvin Murphy
No. 22 Notre Dame's Austin Carr
No. 21 Wake Forest's Tim Duncan
No. 20 Oklahoma State's Bob Kurland
No. 19 Seattle's Elgin Baylor
No. 18 Virginia's Ralph Sampson
No. 17 La Salle's Tom Gola
No. 16 Georgetown's Patrick Ewing
No. 15 Michigan State's Magic Johnson
No. 14 Houston's Elvin Hayes
No. 13 North Carolina's Michael Jordan
No. 12 Duke's Christian Laettner
No. 11 Ohio State's Jerry Lucas
No. 10 Kansas' Wilt Chamberlain

To see the videos of the players so far, click here.

Greatest Players: No. 10 Wilt Chamberlain