O26 Weekly Awards: BYU, Derrick Marks, Bruiser Flint & Southern Miss…

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on March 3rd, 2015

Throughout the season, the Other 26 microsite will run down our weekly superlatives, including team, player, coach and whatever else strikes our fancy in that week’s edition.

O26 Team of the Week

BYU pulled off a stunner in Spokane. (Young Kwak / AP)

BYU pulled off a stunner in Spokane. (Young Kwak / AP)

BYU. Want to know how to get back in the NCAA Tournament discussion? Beat the third-ranked team in the country on its own floor. Snap its nation-leading 41-game home winning streak. Ruin its chance for a No. 1 seed. That might do it. Not only was BYU’s 73-70 victory over Gonzaga on Saturday one of the biggest victories in program history, it put the Cougars right back on the right side of the bubble – a residence they had not visited in weeks. Point guard Kyle Collinsworth led the way for Dave Rose’s club, scoring 20 points, securing eight rebounds (six offensive) and coming up with two huge steals, his aggressive play setting the tone from the outset. “We made a lot of mistakes but we were so energized with each play on both offense and defense,” Rose said of his team afterward. BYU held Bulldogs forward Kyle Wiltjer – likely the WCC Player of the Year – to just four points and never enabled Gonzaga to assemble a serious run. After picking up a solid road win at Portland earlier in the week, the Cougars are now projected to be in the field of 68 by numerous prognosticators. A run to the WCC Tournament title game would probably be enough to guarantee BYU a bid come Selection Sunday. As for Collinsworth’s thoughts on the NCAA Tournament committee and his team’s fate: “I’ll let them decide.”

Honorable Mentions: Boise State (2-0: vs. New Mexico, at San Diego State); Wichita State (2-0: at Indiana State, vs. Northern Iowa); Davidson (2-0: at Rhode Island, vs. George Washington); Northern Illinois (2-0: at Toledo, vs. Central Michigan); UC Santa Barbara (2-0: vs. UC Davis, vs. UC Irvine)

O26 Player of the Week

Derrick Marks' swagger led Boise State to a huge road win. (Kent Horner / Getty Images)

Derrick Marks’ swagger led Boise State to a huge road win. (Kent Horner / Getty Images)

Derrick Marks – Boise State. Statistically-speaking, Marks was probably not the O26 Player of the Week (although his numbers were pretty good). But – much like BYU – Boise State notched a huge, streak-ending, resume-bolstering road victory over the weekend, and the shooting guard was the major reason why. First things first, though: Last Tuesday, Marks dropped 30 points on 5-of-11 threes to go along with five rebounds and five assists in the Broncos’ 11-point win over New Mexico. That performance alone netted him O26 POW consideration. Marks’ excellence is more than just about numbers, however, and that was evident against San Diego State on Saturday night. Despite shooting just 27 percent from the field, the Mountain West’s leading scorer (20.0 PPG) galvanized his team with a thunderous jam midway through the first half and came up with several big buckets in the second to key Boise State’s comeback victory over the Aztecs. Although he ended up leading all scorers with 18 points, Marks’ standout performance was more about his swagger and confidence in the face of a halftime deficit – not to mention San Diego State’s 29-game winning streak at home. Most players would cower, but the senior didn’t, and now his team might be going dancing.

Honorable Mentions: Jameel Warney – Stony Brook (23 points, 12 rebounds vs. UMass-Lowell…32 points, 18 rebounds at Hartford)…Keifer Sykes – Green Bay (36 points at UIC…21 points, eight rebounds vs. Oakland); Andrew Rowsey – UNC Asheville (39 points vs. High Point…27 points at Liberty); Obi Emegano – Oral Roberts (34 points, eight rebounds vs. North Dakota State…25 points vs. Denver); Anthony Livingston – Arkansas State (31 points, 15 rebounds vs. UT-Arlington…20 points, 13 rebounds at Texas State); Alan Williams – UC Santa Barbara (15 points, 16 rebounds vs. UC Davis…15 points, 15 rebounds vs. UC Irvine)

O26 Coach of the Week

Bruiser Flint rallied his depleted Drexel team on Saturday. (Steven M. Falk / Philly.com)

Bruiser Flint rallied his depleted Drexel team on Saturday. (Steven M. Falk / Philly.com)

Bruiser Flint – Drexel. “It’s just been one of those years,” Flint said after his team lost to Delaware last Thursday. While the man has a point, he might want try correcting himself – it’s been several of “those” years. Drexel’s impossible string of bad injury luck – Chris Fouch in 2013; Damion Lee last seasonMajor Canady, Kazembe Abif and Rodney Williams this year – reared its ugly head again right when things were turning around for the Dragons. Lee, the CAA’s leading scorer and likely Player of the Year, fractured his hand on February 22 and was ruled out for the remainder of the season. A couple days later, freshman guard Sammy Mojica slipped in practice and hurt his knee. Drexel, suddenly down to seven players, was promptly blown out by the Blue Hens. So, then, why does Flint win Coach of the Week? Because somehow, same way – despite playing just six guys – the Dragons went on the road two days later and beat first-place William & Mary by 14 points. On the Tribe’s senior night, with all the stars aligned for an outright league title, Flint’s crew blitzed the home team with 11 three-pointers and won going away. “This was probably one of the best wins of my career,” the veteran coach said afterwards. In the face of all those injuries, Flint somehow rallied is undermanned squad – and for that, he earns our weekly award.

Honorable Mentions: Archie Miller – Dayton; Mark Montgomery – Bowling Green; Dave Rose – BYU; Leon Rice – Boise State; Scott Sutton – Oral Roberts

O26 Upset of the Week

Southern Miss mounted a 35-8 run and wound up celebrating on Senior Day. (George Clark / AP)

Southern Miss mounted a 35-8 run and wound up celebrating on Senior Day. (George Clark / AP)

Southern Miss over UTEP, 63-60. There were many sizable upsets over the weekend – most notably, BYU’s victory over Gonzaga – but few were more improbable than this one. UTEP, one of Conference USA’s best teams, led Southern Miss – one of its worst (318th in KenPom) – by 24 points with 10:43 left in the game. The Miners’ win probability soared to 99 percent and not even Golden Eagles’ head coach Doc Sadler thought a comeback was possible: “With 10 minutes to go, I’m thinking we’re fixing to get beat (by) 30 or 40 (points).” But his team believed, and in those final 10 minutes it mounted a furious comeback, outscoring UTEP 35-8 and coming away with an incredible senior night victory. It marked the largest comeback in Southern Miss history, a much-needed momentum booster for a postseason-ineligible program.

Honorable Mentions: BYU over Gonzaga, 73-70; Northern Illinois over Toledo, 84-82; Jacksonville over Florida Gulf Coast, 75-67; Drexel over William & Mary, 80-66; Presbyterian over Coastal Carolina, 80-69; Liberty over Radford, 80-69

O26 Dunk of the Week

Tekele Cotton – Wichita State. Cotton added to his already-impressive list of ridiculous dunks with this thunderous jam against Northern Iowa on Saturday. The dude can fly.

Honorable Mentions: Reco McCarter – Campbell; Josh McAdams – Wyoming; Derrick Marks – Boise State

O26 Bizarre On-Court Circumstance of the Week

Central Michigan’s John Simons has close shave. Central Michigan lost to Northern Illinois on Saturday and relinquished its outright lead in the MAC West, but things could have been a whole lot worse. Forward John Simons, one of the best three-point shooters in America, was nearly taken out by the backboard after Pete Rakocevic’s dunk brought the entire apparatus down. Close call.

Honorable Mention: Northeastern’s Devon Begley fakes out College of Charleston’s mop boy.

Tommy Lemoine (250 Posts)

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