Originally Published: January 24, 2011

Player of the week: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State

Sullinger played his first 40-minute game and it ended up being his best overall performance in his illustrious freshman season.

Sullinger scored 27 points and grabbed 16 boards in Ohio State's 73-68 win over Illinois in Champaign. But more than just the raw numbers, Sullinger had an answer for the Buckeyes every time the Fighting Illini made a run late in the second half. Ohio State knew the Illini couldn't stop Sullinger, so they had to foul him. The 6-foot-9, 280-pound forward ended up going to the line 15 times, converting 13. He also committed only two fouls in 40 minutes. Sullinger has had games where he scored more -- 40 against IUPUI and 30 against South Carolina, a game in which he also grabbed 19 boards -- but those games weren't on the road and weren't against a ranked team, and neither had as much importance as this win for Ohio State.

-- Andy Katz

More performances that wowed us

Trevis Simpson, UNC Greensboro: A freshman averaging nine points a game, Simpson went off for 33 on 12-of-15 shooting as the Spartans beat Davidson and won their third straight after starting the season 0-15.

Justin Harper, Richmond: In a victory over George Washington, the red-hot Harper posted 30 points and 10 rebounds and was 11-of-15 from the field, making 4-of-5 beyond the arc. For the season, Harper is shooting 57.6 percent overall and an even 50 percent on 3s (47-94).

[+] Enlarge
Phil Carter/US PresswireKevin Foster leads Santa Clara in scoring, 3-pointers and steals and was a monster against Gonzaga.

Kevin Foster, Santa Clara: Speaking of red-hot, Foster connected on six 3s, dished out five assists and scored a career-high 36 points, including 11 straight during a key stretch of Santa Clara's 85-71 upset of Gonzaga. He followed it up with 19 in a win over Portland for the suddenly surging Broncos.

Ryan Bacon, St. Peter's: The Peacocks snapped an eight-game losing streak to Siena and Bacon was a big reason why. The senior forward scored a career-high 25 and added 15 boards, five blocks and four steals.

Darrius Morrow, East Carolina: ECU strung together two impressive road wins (at UCF, at Marshall), and in the latter Morrow racked up 33 points and eight rebounds and converted a three-point play with five seconds left and his team down two. He was just 11-of-21 from the charity stripe on the day, but nailed the game winner when it mattered most.

Amu Saaka, Furman: The senior forward missed just three of his 14 shots, was 5-of-7 from 3 and grabbed eight boards in an 85-59 victory over a Chattanooga team that entered 7-1 in SoCon play.

Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Washington: Isaiah Thomas justifiably received plenty of praise for his 22-point, 10-assist performance against Arizona, but his teammate from England also had a heck of a week, scoring 18 against the Wildcats and then putting up a career-high 30 points and nine rebounds against Arizona State.

Cam Long, George Mason: Long was a perfect 4-of-4 from long distance, a near-perfect 8-of-9 overall, and also found time for five assists in a 30-point performance that lifted the Patriots to an important 75-73 road win at James Madison.

Ben Hansbrough, Notre Dame: After a horrendous shooting night against Cincinnati, Hansbrough bounced back in a big way by scoring a career-high 28 (10-15 FG) and adding six assists and five rebounds as he keyed Notre Dame's second-half rally against Marquette.

[+] Enlarge
AP Photo/Dean HareDerrick Williams has posted three straight double-doubles for Zona.

Derrick Williams, Arizona: The Cats pulled off a crucial 65-63 road win at Washington State on Saturday night on the back of their sophomore forward's 17 points and 19 rebounds, nine of which came on the offensive glass. It was Williams' third straight double-double (22-11 at Washington, 31-10 vs. ASU).

Brian Qvale, Montana: Speaking of double-double streaks, Qvale posted his fourth straight by posting a similar line in what was also a crucial conference game. The 6-11 center totaled 17 points and 18 rebounds (10 offensive) in a 75-61 win over rival and fellow Big Sky contender Montana State.

Kyle Weems, Missouri State: In a game that you had to see to believe (thanks, ESPN2), the Bears rallied from 15 down in the second half for a thrilling victory over Creighton. Coming off one of the worst games of his career, Weems led the charge with 23 points and 12 boards and converted the game-winning layup with 13 seconds left.

Lance Goulbourne, Vanderbilt: Entering last week, the junior forward had zero double-doubles in his Vandy career. He now has two. In double-digit victories over Ole Miss and Saint Mary's, Goulbourne threw up a 14 and 16 against the Rebels and a 15 and 10 against the Gaels.

Jimmer Fredette, BYU: The Jimmer did it again on the road, this time scoring 42 points and making 16 of 17 free throws against a streaking Colorado State team that was hosting its first sellout in seven years. The Cougars were not caught looking ahead to the SDSU showdown, scoring a 94-85 victory.

Josh Gasser, Wisconsin: In what was perhaps the most unlikely triple-double of the season, the freshman guard -- averaging 5.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg and 2.2 apg -- managed 10 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in a 78-46 road blistering of Northwestern.

-- Brett Edgerton

Team of the Week: Texas

[+] Enlarge
Denny Medley/US PresswireJordan Hamilton was a key figure in UT's wins over A&M and KU.

The Longhorns have accomplished what no other team has done since Michigan in 1993 -- beat Michigan State, Kansas and North Carolina in the same season. The Wolverines did that in the regular season and then lost to the Tar Heels in the '93 national championship game. But Texas has now accomplished this feat all on the road. Two of the three were true road games, while the Carolina game was as much of a road game as possible since it was in Greensboro, N.C. But we digress for a moment.

This past week, Texas crushed rival Texas A&M 81-60 in Austin behind Jordan Hamilton's marquee performance (27 points, eight boards). The Aggies had won 13 in a row and were as hot as any team in the country. Then Texas came from 12 down at the half -- 15 at one point -- to shock Kansas 74-63 in Lawrence to end the Jayhawks' 69-game home-court winning streak. The Longhorns are simply playing with more poise, purpose and composure this season after last season's implosion. They now have to be considered the favorite in the Big 12 and could be on their way toward a No. 1 seed -- something that would've been considered unthinkable two months ago.

More teams that impressed us

Connecticut: The Huskies had their second-best week of the season behind only the three wins at the Maui Invitational. Connecticut knocked off Villanova on a last-possession shot by Kemba Walker and then dusted off Tennessee with its most complete team effort of the season.

Pitt: The Panthers, who have established themselves as the best team in the Big East, ran past Syracuse after an odd, streaky start and then easily dispatched DePaul on the road.

Ohio State: The Buckeyes took care of business like they were supposed to with a win over Iowa, and then they jolted Illinois with a comeback win in Champaign on Saturday. The victory over the Illini was easily Ohio State's most impressive since the Buckeyes won at Florida and Florida State in November.

Duquesne: The Dukes continued to roll in the Atlantic 10 with wins at La Salle and versus Charlotte to stand atop the league at 5-0.

[+] Enlarge
Frank Victores/US PresswireTu Holloway has led Xavier to a tie atop the Atlantic 10 standings.

Xavier: The Musketeers are in step with the Dukes after victories at St. Bonaventure and over Temple at home, putting coach Chris Mack's squad in its rightful place in this league -- the title chase.

Florida State: The Seminoles are tied with Duke atop the standings in the ACC at 5-1. And if you're looking for a crazy thought, consider that the Seminoles control their own destiny. FSU doesn't play Duke again and owns the tiebreaker thanks to the win over the Blue Devils. This week, the Seminoles beat Miami on the road and posted a home victory over Boston College.

Purdue: The Boilermakers knocked off pesky Penn State on a buzzer-beater by JaJuan Johnson and then held Michigan State at arm's length to win by 10 on Saturday. That put the Boilermakers one game behind Ohio State in the Big Ten standings heading into the showdown Tuesday in Columbus.

VCU: The Rams assumed their position as CAA favorites again after knocking off Georgia State and then winning at Old Dominion. VCU had the look of an NCAA team in November and then stumbled a bit. The Rams seem to have found their way again.

Memphis: The Tigers had two thrilling victories, coming back to win at Southern Miss after being down 17 and at UAB in overtime in easily the best week in coach Josh Pastner's young career. The wins came after Pastner suspended Wesley Witherspoon last week for insubordinate conduct. Witherspoon was suspended for two games -- wins over Marshall and then at USM. He hurt his ankle and missed the UAB game, but the Tigers won anyway to keep pace with UTEP in Conference USA.

BYU: The Cougars won games they were supposed to win versus TCU and at Colorado State in advance of Wednesday's showdown in Provo with unbeaten San Diego State. There was no looking ahead with this group.

Alabama: The Tide's awful November, when they went 0-3 at the Paradise Jam, including a loss to St. Peter's, must feel like another season. Alabama is now a contender to win the SEC West with a home victory over Kentucky by two and at rival Auburn by 10. The Tide are atop the division standings at 4-1.

San Francisco: Coach Rex Walters has the Dons as a legitimate player in the West Coast Conference. Last week, they knocked off two of the projected top-three teams in the league, Portland and Gonzaga. It's the second straight season the Dons have beaten the Zags.

Santa Clara: The depth of the WCC was showcased with the victories by the Bay Area teams over the Northwest ones as the Broncos knocked off Gonzaga and Portland as well. The balance is tremendous for the league's competitiveness, but may hurt its chance at multiple NCAA bids.

Florida Atlantic: Take note of the job Mike Jarvis and his son Mike Jarvis II are doing with the Owls. FAU is off to a 7-0 league start and atop the East division in the Sun Belt after winning at crumbling Western Kentucky and then knocking off Arkansas-Little Rock at home. Sophomore guard Ray Taylor is a stable presence for the Owls on the perimeter.

Wisconsin: The Badgers beat back a gritty Indiana team earlier in the week and then on Sunday dealt Northwestern a crushing home loss, 78-46, behind a triple-double from freshman Josh Gasser (10 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists). The Badgers are 5-2 in the Big Ten, alone in third place.

-- Andy Katz

More scores that caught our eyes

Pittsburgh 74, Syracuse 66: Any game that starts with a 19-0 run that's followed by a 17-0 run is worth another mention. So is this: Pitt is now 9-0 against top-five teams at the Petersen Events Center. Simply remarkable.

[+] Enlarge
AP Photo/Jeff GentnerDamier Pitts and Marshall scored a big win over in-state rival WVU.

Marshall 75, West Virginia 71: A few days after beating Purdue, the Mountaineers stunningly found themselves down 24 in Charleston. They nearly came all the way back, but Damier Pitts (career-high 25 points) provided just enough for the Thundering Herd to win this fierce rivalry game.

North Carolina 75, Clemson 65: Make that 0-55.

Colorado State 78, UNLV 63: Are the Rams suddenly the third-best team in the Mountain West? They sure looked like it at the Thomas & Mack Center, where they led the entire game against the Runnin' Rebels.

Georgia Tech 74, Wake Forest 39: Where do we begin? The 39 points was the lowest total by a Wake team since 1959. The 34.9 percent free throw shooting (9-26) was the worst by an ACC team in the past 15 years. Not sure about the 25.9 percent overall shooting performance, but that was bad too.

Virginia Tech 74, Maryland 57: Perhaps the Hokies' obituary was written a tad early. It looks like it shouldn't have been written at all. This team had been 3-16 all-time in College Park, but jumped out to a 12-0 lead and never looked back. Given the injuries, this season might be Seth Greenberg's finest coaching job.

UCLA 86, California 84: Cal trailed by 14 with four minutes to go before Allen Crabbe's 3 tied it with 10 seconds remaining. But Reeves Nelson scored a career-high 24, including a tip-in in the final second, that saved the Bruins from an epic collapse.

USC 65, Stanford 42: It's hard to believe the game was even this close. The Trojans shot 55.6 percent, while the Cardinal countered with 22.2 percent. Amazingly, Stanford took 64 shots, meaning its points per possession was a mere 0.64, the second-lowest by any major conference team this season.

Florida 45, Auburn 40: And then there was this game, which amazingly gave us two Stanford performances. All you need to know is that the winning team shot 28 percent and scored its fewest points in a victory since 1962.

Villanova 83, Syracuse 72: Any time you can beat an 18-1 team in front of 33,000 hostile fans and avenge an 18-point beating in the same setting last season, well, you deserve some love. It was almost forgotten on a hectic Saturday, but that was one heck of a win for Villanova.

Rice 57, UCF 50: Knights, your 15 minutes might be up. A four-game losing streak is not exactly what UCF had in mind heading into its show-me game at Memphis. Losing on the road is one thing. But home losses to East Carolina and Rice? Ouch.

Vanderbilt 89, Saint Mary's 70: Speaking of show-me games, the Gaels didn't exactly wow anyone as a ranked team for the first time in five years. This was a long trip and a tough environment, but that 11-game winning streak sure ended with a thud, didn't it?

Oklahoma 67, Colorado 60: So much for that 3-0 start in the Big 12. The Buffaloes hit the road and lost to an average team (Nebraska) and a bad team (Oklahoma). Not a good week for CU, which now gets a ticked-off Kansas squad in Boulder.

Providence 72, Louisville 67: The Friars have been competitive enough that a 17-game losing streak in the Big East was probably a bit deceptive. But it was a 17-game losing streak nevertheless, and the underrated Marshon Brooks (23.6 ppg) scored 20 of his 27 in the second half to put an end to the drought.

Cincinnati 53, St. John's 51: This is one of those results that could loom very large on Selection Sunday. A three-point play by Yancy Gates with eight seconds left did in the Johnnies, who shot just 12-of-26 from the free throw line.

Wichita State 93, Indiana State 83 (3 OT): The surprising Sycamores were coming off a last-second win over league leader Missouri State and very nearly pulled off another nail-biter. Instead, preseason Valley favorite Wichita avoided its third straight home loss by ending the game on a 12-0 run and pulling even with ISU (7-2) in a tie for second behind the 8-1 Bears.

-- Brett Edgerton

Observations from the week that was

Andy Katz

• The coach-of-the-year race may come down to three recognizable names: Connecticut's Jim Calhoun, Texas' Rick Barnes and San Diego State's Steve Fisher.

At this point in the season, Calhoun may be the favorite since the Huskies were picked near the bottom of the Big East. UConn does have the potential player of the year in Kemba Walker, but the Huskies still had to find ways to beat Michigan State, Kentucky, Texas (on the road), Villanova and Tennessee in a collective manner, and Calhoun has molded this young team around Walker. It has been his best coaching job in years, despite starting the season missing the first practice while in front of the committee on infractions answering questions about whether he promoted an atmosphere of compliance. The irony is that Calhoun just signed a new four-year deal last spring amid an unexplained absence last season that made it appear he might retire. Now he's looking as energized as ever.

Barnes has done a sensational job with the Longhorns, a year after his most difficult season. Texas is doing a masterful job of winning big-time games at Michigan State, over North Carolina in Greensboro and at Kansas. The Longhorns also have asserted themselves over Texas A&M to become the top team in the Big 12. Barnes is maximizing the talent and has Jordan Hamilton playing within the system after he never turned down a shot last season. The defense has been solid and freshmen Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph came in ready to contribute at a high level.

Fisher is completing quite a career turnaround after being fired at Michigan. The Aztecs were the Mountain West Conference preseason favorite and are living up to the hype. San Diego State has experience at all five positions and has won games playing quickly and in the half-court.

For more of Katz's observations, see the complete post in the Nation blog.

Eamonn Brennan

• Pittsburgh appears to be the Big East's best team. Thanks to Villanova, the Big East is suddenly difficult to figure. What seemed to be a three-team race between Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Villanova has turned into something of a free-for-all after this week's results. Connecticut beat Villanova at home just a few days before Villanova took it to Syracuse -- and by "took it to Syracuse," I meant that in the most literal hoops-related manner possible; basically, the Wildcats scored at will -- in front of 34,000 orange-clad fans at the Carrier Dome. Coupled with Pittsburgh's win over the Orange on Monday, it appears the Panthers are the league's nominal favorite to this point. But you can't count out Villanova, which played its best game of the season Saturday, any more than you can count out Syracuse or Connecticut. At this point, all four deserve your respect, and all four will be in the Big East title chase for weeks to come.

For more of Brennan's observations, see the complete post in the Nation blog.


You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?