2019-20 RTC16: Week Seven

Posted by Walker Carey on December 30th, 2019

The final full week of 2019 did not really get going on the hardwood until Saturday when one of the most bitter rivalries in college basketball resumed with #4 Louisville visiting #16 Kentucky. The game did not disappoint, as the Cardinals fought back from an eight-point halftime deficit to force overtime before the home Wildcats grabbed control in the final minute of the extra period to earn a hotly contested 78-70 victory. It was a much-needed win for Kentucky, as it entered riding a two-game losing streak and had not earned an impressive victory since its season opening dispatch of Michigan State. The Wildcats were led by incredible efforts from freshman guard Tyrese Maxey, who tallied a game-high 27 points, sophomore guard Immanuel Quickley, who added a career-high 18 points, and junior forward Nick Richards, who controlled the game inside with 13 points and 10 rebounds. John Calipari‘s squad also did an excellent job frustrating star Louisville forward Jordan Nwora all afternoon, as the standout junior was mostly a non-factor, finishing with just eight points and four rebounds. Kentucky is still far from a finished product, but if it can string together several more impressive efforts, the Wildcats will once again be a factor in both the SEC race and on the national landscape. This week’s Quick N’ Dirty after the jump.

Quick N’ Dirty Analysis.

  • #2 Duke and #3 Kansas are nearing form as conference play is set to begin. Duke moved its winning streak to five games with Saturday’s 25-point win over Brown, as the stunning November 26 home loss to Stephen F. Austin remains the only blemish on the Blue Devils’ record. Freshman forward Vernon Carey, Jr. has established himself as a bona fide force on both ends of the court, averaging 18.7 points and nine rebounds per contest. Duke’s only concern at the moment is the health of point guard Tre Jones. The sophomore has missed the last two games with a foot sprain, but Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski noted that he expected Jones to return to full contact practice Sunday. Kansas had eight days off following the December 21 loss at Villanova and it appeared that the time off was helpful, as the Jayhawks used suffocating defense and timely three-point shooting to overwhelm Stanford in a 72-56 road win. The most notable development in the victory was swingman Isaiah Moss emerging from a shooting slump to drain four of his seven three-point attempts and lead the team with 17 points. Moss being able to hit shots from the perimeter will be an important asset for Kansas as it begins the Big 12 gauntlet this Saturday.
  • #7 Auburn keeps winning. The Tigers moved to 12-0 Sunday with a dominant 27-point victory over Lipscomb. Auburn has been able to offset the departures of Bryce Brown and Jared Harper with a total team effort, as guards Samir Doughty and J’Von McCormick and forwards Isaac Okoro and Austin Wiley are all averaging over 10 points per game. While the Tigers did not play the most difficult non-conference schedule, Bruce Pearl‘s group has to be taken seriously when SEC play begins later this week, as its balance and winning experience should be a factor each time it takes the court.
  • #15 West Virginia enters the RTC16. The Mountaineers are back in the fold among the country’s best teams following a disappointing 2018-19 season where they finished just 15-21 and missed the NCAA Tournament. This season’s team is now 11-1 after Sunday’s 67-59 neutral site win over #6 Ohio State. Much like past successful West Virginia teams, the Mountaineers are being led by their defense, as they currently rank eighth in defensive efficiency. Freshman big man Oscar Tshiebwe and sophomore forward Derek Culver have emerged as one of the best frontcourt duos in the country and their physical presence will certainly present issues for the rest of the Big 12.

Game of the Week. #12 Michigan vs. Michigan State. Big Ten play resumes this weekend — and with that comes a battle between the bitter intrastate rivals Michigan and Michigan State in what will be Wolverines coach Juwan Howard‘s first taste of the rivalry since his days as player. While it is obviously still early in the schedule, Sunday’s battle in East Lansing could very well set the tone for how both teams fare in conference play. Both teams, however, will enter the showdown with injury concerns. Michigan junior forward Isaiah Livers is out indefinitely with a groin injury and Michigan State senior guard Cassius Winston missed this past Sunday’s game with a bruised knee. There is no word yet regarding their availability for Sunday’s showdown at the Breslin Center.

Keep Tabs On. #11 Villanova vs. Xavier; #8 Oregon vs. Colorado; #6 Ohio State vs. Wisconsin; #3 Kansas vs. #15 West Virginia; #9 Butler vs. Creighton; #4 Louisville vs. Florida State; #11 Villanova vs. Marquette; #10 San Diego State vs. Utah State.

Conference Call.  Big 12 (3), SEC (2), ACC (2), Big Ten (2), Pac-12 (1), AAC (1), Atlantic 10 (1), Big East (1), Mountain West (1), WCC (1).

WCarey (318 Posts)

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