Who Won The Week? TCU, Nate Wolters, and San Diego…Posted by CNguon on February 8th, 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.
The Horned Frogs started out their Big 12 tenure on a bad note, going 0-8 in conference and losing only one of those games by fewer than 10 points. And then #2 Kansas came to town. Recipe for disaster, right? It was, just not for the team you would expect. The Horned Frogs pounced on the Jayhawks early, holding them to two points in the first 13:39 of the game. But TCU was able to hold up for the rest of the game, never letting Kansas lead and nabbing a 62-55 victory. Never mind that TCU lost by 17 against a Texas team with two conference wins on Saturday; the Horned Frogs nabbed one of the biggest regular-season upsets ever.
(Related winners: Other teams bidding for a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament; Kansas fans who are wary of being a No. 1 seed. Related losers: Kansas – see below.)
Thanks to getting shelled by a team Ken Pomeroy said had a 3 percent chance of winning a few days after losing a fast-paced shootout against Oklahoma State, the Jayhawks have their first losing streak since January 2006. Kansas got torn up by the perimeter scoring of the Cowboys, whose guards Markel Brown and Marcus Smart had 28 and 25 points respectively. Meanwhile, the Jayhawks shot a tick above 40 percent from the field, eventually falling 85-80 at home. But Kansas doubled down on its offensive woes in Fort Worth, shooting under 30 percent against TCU. Primary ballhandlers Elijah Johnson and Naadir Tharpe combined to go 5-of-27 from the floor Wednesday with three assists and five turnovers. (Against the Cowboys, the pair combined to go 6 of 21 from the field with 10 assists and five turnovers.) It looks like the Jayhawks need to find someone capable of playing consistently at point guard, lest their otherwise-championship-caliber team go to waste in a year with no dominant team.
(Related winners: Kansas State and Missouri fans, who have something to feel good about temporarily; TCU. Related losers: Kansas’ guards.)
WINNER: Nate Wolters
The senior sharpshooter from South Dakota State lit up the Mastodons of IPFW for 53 points after not having topped 30 all season. Wolters led the Jackrabbits to back-to-back wins against Missouri-Kansas City and IPFW last week, but his performance in Fort Wayne was the stuff of legends. Playing all 40 minutes, Wolters made eight of his 14 shots from two-point range, nine of his 14 shots from three-point range and 10 of his 11 free throws, while grabbing four rebounds, dishing out three assists and blocking his fourth shot of the season. After two early hiccups in Summit League play, the Jackrabbits haven’t lost in more than a month, and their guard is as integral a player as any team has in the country.
(Related winners: South Dakota State. Related losers: The rest of the Summit League, because it looks like the Jackrabbits have their team back on track.)
LOSER: Defenses that played against Duke
The Blue Devils seem to have finally figured out their post-Ryan Kelly offense in a big way, as they put up two of the top-five points-per-possession performances of last week against North Carolina State and usually stingy/unusually soft Florida State in a pair of wins (and losses for teams that really needed wins). Though Duke had just 59 possessions against Florida State, it shot 61 percent from the field and from three-point range to handily bounce the Seminoles 79-60. Guards Seth Curry and Quinn Cook picked up the load after Miles Plumlee had just eight points, scoring 21 and 14 respectively. In their 98-85 win against the Wolfpack, the Blue Devils got a huge contribution from Plumlee – 30 points, nine rebounds, two blocks on 9-of-11 shooting and 12-of-16 shooting from the free-throw line – to complement Curry and Cook, who finished with 26 and 21 points respectively. This really serves as a warning to the rest of the Atlantic Coast Conference, including an undefeated Miami team that comes to Durham in three weeks: Duke is back firing on all cylinders.
(Related winners: Duke. Related losers: Florida State and NC State, one of which needed a win to stay on the bubble and the other which needed a win to stay close to the ACC lead.)
WINNER: San Diego
Sometimes, a moral victory is enough to find your way into this column, especially if that moral victory is playing Gonzaga closer than any team in the West Coast Conference has this year. And also when you back that up with a pair of actual victories, one on the road at Loyola Marymount and the other at home to BYU, destroying its faint hopes for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. In each of the three games, guard Johnny Dee led the Toreros in scoring, getting a total of 55 points, and forward Chris Manresa led in rebounding, with 26 in the three games, including a double-double against the Cougars. For a tournament-hopeful St. Mary’s that’s headed to the Slim Gym (Jenny Craig Pavilion, get it?) on Saturday, beware. The Toreros look to be the best they’ve been since upsetting Connecticut in the 2008 NCAA Tournament.
(Related winners: Other at-large teams who don’t have to worry about BYU. Related losers: None.)
After freshman point guard Dominic Artis injured his foot, the Ducks have gone 1-3, losing their last three games as they watched their two-game cushion in the Pac-12 quickly become a one-game deficit to an Arizona squad they beat when Artis was healthy. Saturday’s 58-54 loss against California – Oregon’s 10th straight against the Bears from the Bay Area – saw replacement point guard Johnathan Loyd have eight points, seven assists and six turnovers as the Ducks couldn’t hold onto the ball enough to take advantage of their superior shooting. But that was on the road, against a coach in Mike Montgomery who has perpetually owned Oregon. Thursday’s 48-47 loss at home to Colorado was a different story. Loyd had another tough game, going scoreless on seven shots with a lone assist, and Oregon point forward E.J. Singler had six turnovers along with his 14 points and six rebounds. Despite the teams shooting similar percentages from the field and the Ducks outrebounding the Buffaloes by nine, the turnovers again undid them, as did bizarre officiating that saw the Buffaloes commit seven fouls the whole game, leading to just two Oregon free throws, while the Ducks committed 14. The Ducks lost the game and with it their conference lead. Meanwhile, Colorado has resuscitated its RPI-friendly NCAA Tournament profile that was once on life support after its own three-game Pac-12 losing streak. For the Ducks, the speedy Artis can’t return quick enough.
(Related winners: Colorado; Arizona, who inherited the conference lead. Related losers: Artis; Loyd.)