Who Won The Week? Allen Crabbe, Kevin Ollie and a Marist TransferPosted by CNguon on February 15th, 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 Golden Bears stormed Tucson on Sunday and came out on the better half of a 77-67 game, with special thanks to the Pac-12′s leading scorer, Allen Crabbe, who poured in 31 points. With 15 points in the first half, Crabbe came up strong again Thursday night as Cal dismantled UCLA in Berkeley to keep its undefeated record at home in Pac-12 play. Despite a four-loss non-conference schedule, the Bears have managed to play themselves back into the discussion for an NCAA Tournament at-large bid. Not bad considering that they were 3-4 fewer than three weeks ago.
(Related winners: Crabbe, who combined for 57 points in the two games; Oregon, which regained the conference lead it lost after a three-game losing streak including a loss to Cal. Related losers: Arizona – see below.)
After a foot injury to Oregon point guard Dominic Artis derailed the Ducks and led to a three-game losing streak and a gift of the Pac-12 lead to the Wildcats, they decided to give it right back with a pair of bad losses, stumbling at home to Cal before losing the return game against Colorado a month after a controversial buzzer-beater was disallowed and Arizona rolled in overtime to stay undefeated at the time. This time, the Buffaloes left no doubt about who would win, cruising to a 71-58 win. The Wildcats shot at an even 40 percent clip over the week, while Cal shot 59 percent and Colorado 50 percent. So much for having control over the conference.
(Related winners: Oregon. Related losers: None.)
Despite having a first-year coach in Kevin Ollie and no shot at postseason play, the Huskies haven’t rolled over in the Big East. Instead, they’ve played as an upper-tier team in an upper-tier conference, and this week highlighted that. Guards Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright stood out in the Huskies’ 78-67 road win at Seton Hall on Sunday, with the former getting 22 points, nine assists and six steals, and the latter 20 points, five rebounds and four steals. UConn then followed that up with a 66-58 win in Hartford against perennial power Syracuse in what was the schools’ final match-up in the Big East. Napier and Boatright again guided the Huskies, going for 10 points and seven assists and 17 points and four assists, respectively. Come next year, with Ollie and his star guards gaining more experience and no looming postseason ban, UConn has immense potential.
(Related winners: The Big East. Related losers: Syracuse, who lost despite having sixth man James Southerland back on the bench after off-court troubles.)
LOSER: Saint Mary’s
The Gaels’ season basically boiled down to a single game. They had No. 5 Gonzaga come to Moraga, and they needed a win to bolster an NCAA Tournament resume with the most notable win being a BYU team with no top-75 wins. Instead, despite the best efforts of senior guard Matthew Dellavedova, St. Mary’s fell short, losing 77-60 and getting swept by the Bulldogs. The Australian had 22 points and made six three-pointers along with six assists, but apart from 17 points from teammate Stephen Holt, no other Gael had more than six points. In fact, James Walker III, Jordan Giusti, Jorden Page and Mitchell Young combined to go 4-of-18 from the field. It now looks like the Gaels will have to beat the Zags in Las Vegas in the West Coast Conference final to ensure an NCAA bid.
(Related winners: Gonzaga, other bubble teams. Related losers: Creighton, whose BracketBusters matchup is now a no-win proposition.)
WINNER: Sam Prescott
The junior guard for Mount St. Mary’s has had an anonymous first season in Emmitsburg, Maryland, until Thursday rolled around and he went off for 44 points against Northeast Conference-leading Bryant. The former Marist transfer went 16-of-24 from the field and 10-of-14 from three-point range, while also adding six rebounds. For a player who hadn’t scored more than 16 points for the whole season and had scored 42 points in his previous six games, Prescott made his presence felt against the Bulldogs and narrowed the NEC title race in the meantime.
(Related winners: Robert Morris, who is now half a game out of the NEC lead. Related losers: Bryant.)
LOSER: Nerlens Noel
The reigning top recruit and shot-blocking stalwart for Kentucky suffered a gruesome-looking ACL tear in the second half of the Wildcats’ loss against soon-to-be SEC champion Florida. Kentucky will likely struggle to replace a player who has been the fulcrum of its defense and an increasing offensive presence. And Noel will face a difficult rehabilitation before his likely one-and-done leap to the NBA draft.
(Related winners: Nobody wins when a kid gets hurt like this. Related losers: Kentucky; Noel’s draft stock; whoever wins the NBA draft lottery, because their pick just got even more complicated.)