Who Won The Week? Washington, Kansas, Not Michigan…

Posted by Kenny Ocker (@KennyOcker) on December 12th, 2014

wonweekWho Won the Week? is a regular column that outlines and discusses three winners and losers from the previous week of hoops. The author of this column is Kenny Ocker (@KennyOcker), a Tacoma-based sportswriter best known for his willingness to drive (or bike!) anywhere to watch a basketball game.

WINNER: Kentucky

Because of the magic of calendars, Kentucky has gone 3-0 in the previous seven days. (That game against Texas was only a week ago!) The Wildcats asserted their dominance against a highly talented Texas squad Friday, then followed that up with a blowout win over Eastern Kentucky on Sunday. But the most important victory for this team was its grinding game on Wednesday against Columbia, in which the Ivy League school scored the first 11 points and held the lead for the first 27 minutes. Coming back from a deficit and being able to win while playing at the other team’s pace are two valuable skills to learn (especially when you’re missing two rotation players), and being able to do that without taking a loss is a boon. All is not perfect for Kentucky, as Alex Poythress’ knee injury hurts some of John Calipari’s frontcourt depth and a key game against rival North Carolina looming tomorrow.

John Calipari and his super talented Kentucky squad recorded a wonderful week. (AP)

John Calipari and his talented Kentucky squad recorded a good week on the floor. (AP)

(Related winners: Columbia, for showing how deep the Ivy League will be this season, and for playing without fear on the road against the best team in the country. Related losers: Poythress, who certainly didn’t return to school with the intention of blowing out a knee.)

LOSER: Michigan

Man, does that trip to the NCAA title game two years ago feel really far away right now. The Wolverines spent the past week putting the conference-less NJIT Highlanders in the national spotlight in a 72-70 loss last Saturday, then followed that lemon by only putting up 42 points at home against area minnow Eastern Michigan in another loss Tuesday. And now the Wolverines get to try to take down Arizona in Tucson on Saturday. Yeah, good luck with that.

(Related winners: NJIT, which got enough national attention that some conference might finally see the incentive in adding them; Eastern Michigan, for stealing a win they might have to wait a long while before replicating. Related losers: Syracuse and Oregon, both of which have lost to Michigan and are also due for down years after talent exoduses.)

WINNER: Washington

The Huskies only played one game this week but they made it count in smothering San Diego State on Sunday night. The Aztecs may have a cripplingly bad offense with no playmakers (where have you gone, Xavier Thames?), but Steve Fisher’s team plays better defense than damn near anyone. Beating a team like that, 49-36 at home, is a huge statement, and it’s a great sign for coach Lorenzo Romar. As recently as a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t think this Huskies’ team could make the NCAA Tournament. Now, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it end up in the Sweet Sixteen.


Don’t look now, is Washington back? (Getty)

(Related winners: None. Related losers: San Diego State, which desperately needs to find a go-to scorer to reach the same success it had in recent seasons.)

LOSER: Colorado

The Buffaloes, who profiled as a fringe NCAA Tournament team this season, did themselves no favors this week. Last Saturday’s seven-point loss on the road at Georgia is understandable, and a two-point Wednesday loss to rival Colorado State in Boulder is slightly less so. But dropping a pair of close games against similarly talented teams that also needed those victories is painful, and might well loom large in a few months. If it even gets to that point; remember, this is the same team that only put up 33 points on the road at Wyoming earlier this year.

(Related winners: Georgia and Colorado State, which both got nice wins this week. Related losers: None.)

WINNER: Kansas

Remember when the Jayhawks started the season with a level of offensive ineptitude never before seen in the hallowed halls of Allen Fieldhouse? Yeah, neither do I. In the past week, Kansas knocked off Florida at home, then went on the road and took down a talented Georgetown squad in Washington, DC.  That team that only scored 40 against Kentucky has scored fewer than 70 points only once since, and even that came in a 61-56 win over Michigan State.

(Related winners: None. Related losers: Florida and Georgetown, for being used as nothing more than a rebound.)

LOSER: Wyoming

Larry Shyatt’s Cowboys doubled up non-Division I Regis, 70-35, which is good. The rest of last week, not so much. Wyoming fell to an up-and-down SMU squad last Friday, then lost a winnable slugfest at California on Wednesday, the two best non-conference games it had left after an early home win over Colorado. The Cowboys, though talented, won’t have much of a margin in the Mountain West this season. That’s a shame, given the turnaround Shyatt has pulled off in his time in Laramie.

(Related winners: SMU, which needed a stabilizing win; Cal, which prevailed despite missing starting guard Jabari Bird. Related losers: Colorado — see above.)

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