Nods to freshman Gordon and No. 1 ousters Texas earn weekly honors

Updated: December 3, 2007

Gary A. Vasquez/US Presswire

Texas knocked off No. 1 UCLA, the second top-10 team the Longhorns have beaten this season.

Player of the Week: Eric Gordon, Indiana

Last week: Averaged 25.5 points on 14-for-28 shooting in wins over Georgia Tech and Southern Illinois

It was only a matter of time before we got to Gordon. Gordon played 40 minutes in each of the two games last week, an 83-79 win over Georgia Tech in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge in Bloomington, and a 64-51 win at Southern Illinois. Gordon scored 29 in the win over the Yellow Jackets and had 22 points in the victory over the Salukis. He was an identical 7-of-14 in each of the two games, making a remarkable 13 of 16 free throws in the win over the Yellow Jackets. Sure, he had eight turnovers and only two assists in the win over Georgia Tech and another poor ratio of three turnovers to one assist at SIU. But he had a combined four blocks and two steals in the two games. Gordon continues to be the focal point for IU and does enough to make the Hoosiers winners. Overall, he's averaging 26.6 points a game. Gordon (as long as the lower back bruise that took him out of Monday's game against Tennessee State is not serious) will be a legitimate candidate for national player of the year at this pace.

Team of the Week: Texas Longhorns

Last week: Wins over Texas Southern (98-61) and No. 1 UCLA (63-61)

I was a believer when I saw Texas beat Tennessee in New Jersey on Nov. 25. Sunday, I wasn't totally shocked that the Longhorns did it again by taking out UCLA, a team deemed more of a favorite for the Final Four than the Longhorns. Texas' win at top-ranked UCLA on Sunday, coupled with the Longhorns' win over Tennessee a week ago, may be the two best wins by any team so far. The Longhorns went on a 17-0 run over 8 minutes, 59 seconds against the Bruins. D.J. Augustin's floating pass/shot that Damion James slammed home to win the game in the final seconds was yet another example how Texas is winning this season. Augustin gets into the lane when he wants and can make something happen. Now, just think about this: Texas looks like it has a better shot to get to the Final Four (in nearby San Antonio no less) than it did a season ago. I know, it's a long, long season, but there's no way you can't say Texas doesn't have the pieces -- and now the proof -- that it will be in the discussion all season long.

3-Point Shots

1. Amazing decade: Gonzaga's wins over Saint Joseph's and UConn this weekend were truly impressive and spoke to the toughness, competitiveness and excellence of the Zag program. This year marks the 10th year of sheer brilliance of Gonzaga basketball, and when you really think about the success of that program, it is absolutely mind boggling. Gonzaga operates on the same level now as a North Carolina, a UCLA or a Duke in that every opponent marks the Gonzaga game as a really big one. In the West Coast Conference, opponents storm the court for a win and fire marshals are called to every game because of overflow crowds. The ticket office at Saint Joseph's referred to the Gonzaga game on Hawk Hill as their "Super Bowl." Even the national powers measure themselves against Gonzaga now. That kind of treatment can take its toll, yet Gonzaga always seems to answer the bell. Of course, the main reason for the success is the coaching staff and the quality of player they attract. But, the importance of the continuity of having Mark Few in charge for so long, and having his players stay for four years, cannot be overstated. Instead of having to train new players every season for the difficulty of playing the Zag schedule, the older guys show the younger guys the way every day in practice and in every competition. Coach-directed teams go only so far. Gonzaga has a top-to-bottom program, and it is a model on the national level. What Mark Few and Gonzaga have done over the past 10 years has been nothing short of amazing.

2. Kansas struggling, relatively: Bill Self's Jayhawks are unbeaten and will be a Final Four-caliber team, but they are not Final Four good yet. However, this team can and will get better throughout the season. Because of injury and some new roles, Kansas has struggled to score efficiently and easily. Yet the Jayhawks have done what it takes to win, which is a really good sign. Against Arizona, Kansas turned the ball over, missed openings and missed open shot opportunities. Against USC, the Jayhawks turned the ball over like they were getting a commission for them, missed open shots (37.9 percent shooting from the field and 4-of-17 from 3-point range), and still won a quality road game. Kansas is doing this with Darrell Arthur moving into a more dominant role, Brandon Rush coming back from knee surgery, and their best pure player -- Sherron Collins -- on the shelf with a stress fracture in his foot. When Collins and Rush are back at full strength by the start of conference play, Kansas will start to take off. By March, the Jayhawks will be as good as anyone.

3. Another freshmen factor: While everyone is giving reasons for the emergence of so many freshmen this season, there is one I have not yet heard that I think is worth considering. Clearly, this is a great freshman class with unusual depth of players who are ready to be stars. There are several reasons for this: (1) These kids play a lot of basketball all over the country and are more skilled and prepared than ever before; (2) the NBA age limit sends more stars to college that otherwise would have gone pro out of high school; and (3) these freshmen have less resistance from lottery-quality juniors and seniors, because those players are gone to the NBA already. Well, I think you can add another reason for the emergence of so many freshmen: These kids are not really kids in many cases. Because of prep schools and being held back in starting school, freshmen today are older now than ever. USC's O.J. Mayo is 20 years old. The Trojans' Davon Jefferson is 21 years old. Arizona's Jerryd Bayless, Duke's Kyle Singler, Gonzaga's Austin Daye, Texas A&M's DeAndre Jordan, Syracuse's Donte Greene, Memphis' Derrick Rose and UCLA's Kevin Love are all 19 years old. Of the best, the only one who is still 18 years old is Kansas State's Michael Beasley, which is scary because he looks and plays the oldest.

Upset Watch

Scouts Inc.'s Reggie Rankin takes a look at five upsets that could happen this week:

Monday: Jacksonville over Florida,, 7 p.m. ET
JU is the preseason favorite in the Atlantic Sun South Division with three returning starters. Coach Cliff Warren has rapidly improved the program. Last season, the Dolphins put 15 wins, including 11 conference wins, on the board. The former Georgia Tech assistant has recruited well in Florida and in his old stomping ground of Georgia. Sophomore guard Ben Smith runs the show and is the team's leading scorer (16.8 points). Forwards Lehmon Colbert and Marcus Allen are both double-figure scorers and the team's top rebounders. Make no mistake about it, the Gators reloaded and will have some surprise wins this season because of their talent level. But Billy Donovan will dress seven freshmen and start three, and there will be some growing pains. It will be interesting to see whether the Dolphins can survive in the Swamp.

Tuesday: Bradley over Michigan State, ESPNU, 9 p.m. ET
Drew Neitzel will lead the deep and athletic Spartans into Peoria, Ill., where the Braves will be waiting with the veteran backcourt of seniors Daniel Ruffin and Jeremy Crouch. Both were double-figure scorers as juniors and this season will be no different. Ruffin is preseason first team All-Missouri Valley Conference performer, and with the addition of four impact juco transfers, Bradley could be a tough task for State.

Thursday: LSU over Villanova, ESPN, 9:30 p.m. ET
Even without preseason all-SEC third team forward Tasmin Mitchell, who recently went down with a stress fracture in his left ankle, the Tigers might have enough bite to take out Villanova in Philly as part of the Big East/SEC Invitational. Guard Marcus Thornton, center Chris Johnson and 6-11 impact freshman Anthony Randolph are all double-figure scorers. LSU might be athletic enough to keep up with the Wildcats' attack of guards Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher and forwards Shane Clark and Dante Cunningham.

Saturday: Washington over Pittsburgh, 3 p.m. ET
Pitt is in transition after the departure of 7-0 center Aaron Gray … literally. The Panthers are running more this season due to smaller and quicker personnel. An experienced backcourt returns in junior Levance Fields and senior Ronald Ramon. Forward Sam Young and impact freshman DeJuan Blair will close the gap, along with double-figure scorer Mike Cook. The cross-country trip to visit the Huskies will be a tall order with coach Lorenzo Romar returning four starters who won 19 games last season. Even with the early exit of 7-0 freshman Spencer Hawes to the NBA, Washington is loaded. The Huskies are led by juniors Jon Brockman and Justin Dentmon as their inside-outside point producers. Sophomore Quincy Pondexter can score in bunches coming off a double-figure freshman campaign.

Saturday: Wright State over Butler, 7 p.m. ET
The hot-shooting Butler Bulldogs travel to Dayton for a little revenge from last season when Wright State not only captured a share of the regular-season title but went on to win the Horizon League tournament as well. Butler has a wealth of experience and four players -- A.J. Graves, Mike Green, Pete Campbell and Drew Streicher -- currently shooting better than 46 percent from 3-point range. The Raiders will do battle without last season's conference Player of the Year DaShaun Wood, but three starters return. Coach Brad Brownell will rely on sophomores Todd Brown and Vaughn Duggins and seniors Scottie Wilson and Jordan Pleiman. Depth is on the way with the addition of 6-8 junior college transfer Gavin Horne and four-year transfers 6-9 Ronnie Thomas (from Duquesne) and 6-4 guard John David Gardner (from UNC Wilmington). Wright State is tough in the Nutter Center, and Butler has first-hand experience.

What I'm looking forward to this week

• How O.J. Mayo and Davon Jefferson handle the New York stage against Memphis and Derrick Rose, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Joey Dorsey in the Jimmy V Classic on Tuesday (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET).

• Whether Rhode Island can stifle Providence in a rivalry game that gets little pub outside of the Ocean State on Tuesday.

• Whether Michigan State can win a tough road game at Bradley on Tuesday (ESPNU, 9 p.m. ET).

• Whether Duquesne can knock off the scalding hot Pitt Panthers at home Wednesday (ESPNU, 7 p.m. ET).

• How Syracuse will handle a true road game at Virginia on Wednesday (ESPN2, 7:30 p.m. ET).

• Whether Creighton can pull off an upset and win at Xavier on Wednesday.

• What kind of atmosphere and quality of play will exist Wednesday night in Spokane for Gonzaga-Washington State (ESPNU, 11 p.m. ET).

• Whether George Mason can right itself after a Sunday loss to East Carolina and win at Kent State on Saturday.

• Whether Wisconsin has recovered from the Duke smacking to beat Marquette on Saturday (ESPN2, 6 p.m. ET) at the Kohl Center.

• Whether Davidson can finally win one of these elite games and take out UCLA in Anaheim in the Wooden Classic on Saturday.

• Whether Cal's Ryan Anderson and Devon Hardin can throttle Michael Beasley and win at Kansas State on Sunday.


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Indiana rolls over Southern Illinois

Wins that have legs

• Saint Mary's beating Seton Hall by 15: The Gaels now have wins over Oregon and the Hall at home.

• Kansas over USC: That's the kind of win that can help the Jayhawks get a No. 1 seed.

• Arizona over Texas A&M: The Wildcats needed a signature win after losing to Virginia at home and at Kansas.

• Oregon over Kansas State: Quality road win for the Ducks early in the season for the second year in a row after they won at Georgetown last year.

• Gonzaga won at Saint Joseph's and then over Connecticut in Boston.

• Washington State won a true road game at Baylor.

• Cal won at Nevada and then beat Missouri at home to remain undefeated.

-- Andy Katz,

Zags beat UConn in Boston

Mid-Major Top 10

1. Butler
2. Xavier
3. Saint Mary's
4. BYU
5. George Mason
6. Creighton
7. Northern Iowa
8. Davidson
9. Dayton
10. UC Santa Barbara

In case you hadn't noticed …

• Ole Miss is undefeated after beating New Mexico.

• UC Santa Barbara is off to a 7-1 start after beating UNLV.

• Pitt junior Sam Young is having a monster season for the Panthers, averaging 18 points and nine boards.

• Dayton is off to a flying start, winning a gritty 63-62 game at Miami of Ohio on a Brian Roberts 3-pointer with five seconds left and then winning at Holy Cross.

• San Diego has already swept Hawaii. Why is this relevant? I don't know, it just seems interesting that a two-game sweep has occurred by the first Monday in December.

• Stanford is 8-1 after winning at Colorado, and Brook Lopez still isn't back yet.

• VCU plucked off Maryland by nine behind 30 points from James Shuler.

• Miami is still undefeated after beating St. John's at home Sunday.

-- Andy Katz,

Pitt is rolling with 7-0 start

Don't forget that …

Stephen Curry, Davidson: He scored 38 points in a win over Appalachian State. Those kinds of numbers will be hard to duplicate.

• North Carolina won at Ohio State and at Kentucky last week.

• Duke beat Wisconsin easily and then beat Davidson in Charlotte.

• Vanderbilt continued to roll behind Shan Foster in beating South Alabama in double overtime and then taking out Georgia Tech at home.

• Michigan State smacked NC State.

• Clemson beat Purdue without injured James Mays.

• Butler beat Ohio State comfortably at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

• Too bad there wasn't a highlight of Northern Arizona's Josh Wilson hitting a last-second 3-pointer to beat Western Kentucky 64-61.

-- Andy Katz,

Duke thwarts Davidson's upset bid

Just bizarre …

• Providence was up 24 on Boston College, lost a lead to the Eagles and was down six before winning by nine in overtime.

• Kent State beat Saint Louis by 41.

• IUPUI beat UMass by 12, a few days after the Minutemen won 107-100 at Syracuse.

• Centenary won, 70-66, over Texas Tech in Bossier City, La., in a game in which Bob Knight had a little chat with students who were taunting him at halftime and then didn't return for the second half because he was ill.

• Hard to figure that George Mason crushed Drexel 85-38 but then couldn't beat East Carolina on Sunday in D.C.

• Harvard fans stormed the court after the Crimson beat Michigan at home. Harvard basketball and court storming haven't been in the same conversation very often.

-- Andy Katz,

Amaker's new team beats his old team