Who Won the Week? Hurricanes, Orange, and Not Doug McD…Posted by rtmsf on January 25th, 2013
Who Won the Week? is a regular column that will outline and discuss three winners and losers from the previous week. The author of this column is Kenny Ocker (@KennyOcker), an Oregon-based sportswriter best known for his willingness to drive (or bike!) anywhere to watch a basketball game.
WINNER: Miami (FL)
Jim Larranaga’s Hurricanes, by extension the subject of an NCAA inquiry regarding the alleged payment of former player DeQuan Jones, had one of the best weeks on and off the court of any school this season. First, the NCAA botched its investigation so much that it has to investigate its own investigators, according to CBS Sports. Then the ‘Canes went off and destroyed No. 1 Duke by the score of 90-63 on Wednesday, putting the third-worst beating ever onto an AP top-ranked team. Wednesday’s game also marked the return of gargantuan center Reggie Johnson (listed at 6’10”, 292 lbs.), who scored two points and grabbed five rebounds in his first game back from a broken thumb that was supposed to leave him out for up to another month. Miami now has a two-game lead on the rest of the ACC, although a return trip to Duke does remain. You know you had a good week when knocking off the top team in the country isn’t even the best thing that happened to you.
(Related winners: Miami guards Shane Larkin and Durand Scott, who combined to shoot 17-of-28 from the field on their way to 37 total points. Related losers: Duke guards Quinn Cook, Seth Curry and Tyler Thornton, who combined to go 1-of-29 from the field on their way to six total points; the NCAA – see below.)
LOSER: The NCAA
This was all set to be Frank Haith’s spot, as his Missouri team got shellacked by Florida 83-52 on Saturday, barely escaped at home Tuesday against South Carolina, and then news broke that Haith could face unethical conduct charges from the NCAA relating to the aforementioned DeQuan Jones issue. But instead, the NCAA now must review its own investigators’ conduct, particularly related to the release of Haith’s supposed looming punishments. So Haith is safe for now, and all of a sudden NCAA President Mark Emmert has another public relations maelstrom on his hands. Bummer.
(Related winners: Florida, because it still shellacked Mizzou. Related losers: Ethics.)
Before Miami made its own waves by knocking off No. 1, Syracuse did the same thing days before, topping Louisville, 70-68. But the Orange preemptively one-upped their former Big East foes because they did it on the road, the first time a top-ranked team lost at home since 2007. A last-minute dunk by national assists leader Michael Carter-Williams helped Syracuse spring the upset. But the Orange weren’t done there, as they held serve against No. 21 Cincinnati at home, 57-55, in what was an even crazier finish. Still missing the services of suspended star James Southerland, the Orange faced a tied game with under a minute left. Freshman Jerami Grant drove the lane and threw up a layup attempt that eventually rolled in, supposedly off the hand of C.J. Fair, who played the whole game. (He later said he did not know whether he put the ball in the basket.) But thanks to a couple close calls and last-minute wins, Syracuse now has a two-game lead over Louisville; the two will face off again in the Carrier Dome on March 2.
(Related winners: None. Related losers: Louisville, for going off and losing its next game at Villanova; Cincinnati, who most assuredly will no longer be ranked anytime soon.)
LOSER: Tyler Haws
The BYU sophomore guard has played like a man on a mission ever since he came back from his two-year church mission, including a streak of seven straight games with 20 or more points from December 29 through January 19 — all but one of which resulted in a Cougars win. (The only one that didn’t was a 70-69 loss to Saint Mary’s on a Matthew Dellavedova half-court heave to beat the buzzer.) But when his team needed him the most, against what has seemed to be the best Gonzaga team in the Mark Few era, Haws disappeared. The 10th-best per-game scorer in the country at 20.6 PPG had a solitary point as the Zags tore through his Cougars, 83-63, shooting 0-of-9 from the field in the process. The 91 percent free-throw shooter even missed one of his two shots from the line. Talk about a rough night.
(Related winners: Gonzaga, for getting through another of its tough West Coast Conference games unscathed. Related losers: BYU, whose at-large hopes for the NCAA Tournament dim with each loss.)
The Ducks came to Pauley Pavilion and put together a 76-67 win at UCLA, and followed that up with a closer-than-it-appears 68-61 win over Washington State at home, stretching their winning streak to eight games and continuing to hold the inside track on the Pac-12 title. (Oregon has beaten UCLA and Arizona already and does not face them again this season.) Meanwhile, bitter rival Washington has lost its last two games before its trip to Eugene tomorrow, at home to conference doormat Utah and on the road at heretofore-winless-in-conference Oregon State. Things aren’t good in the Emerald City right now, but they sure are good in the Emerald Valley.
(Related winners: Oregon forwards Arsalan Kazemi and E.J. Singler, whose recent performances suggest they have recovered from injuries. Related losers: Washington; Washington State, who never has found a way to shut Singler down.)
Thanks to Wichita State’s shocking loss at Evansville, the Bluejays had a one-game lead in the Missouri Valley when the two teams met Saturday. That evaporated when the Shockers won 67-64, partially thanks to two missed last-minute three-pointers by Creighton guard Ethan Wragge, a 50 percent shooter from long range. But the Jays let that loss snowball by stumbling on the road to a middling Drake squad. Doug McDermott, the Jays’ star and a favorite for NPOY honors, went 0-of-6 from three-point range against the Bulldogs, and Wragge went 2-of-7. Without their outside shots falling, the Jays couldn’t get enough defensive stops to catch up to the Bulldogs, and so they now sit a game behind the Shockers in the Missouri Valley.
(Related winners: Wichita State, which went from a game behind to a game ahead in conference; Drake, which won arguably its biggest game since Keno Davis bolted for Providence. Related losers: McDermott’s NPOY campaign.)