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.
Sorry about the hiatus. Let’s get on with the show.
Winner: Doug McDermott
After coming into the season as one of the top NPOY candidates, the Creighton forward has backed that up on the court. He took that to the next level in the Jays’ convincing wins over Missouri State and Northern Iowa last week. McDermott had a season-high 39 points on the road against the Bears, shooting 15-of-19 from the field and 3-of-4 from three-point range, while also grabbing 10 rebounds. He then turned around and went for 31 points against the Panthers, getting back-to-back 30-point games for the second time this season. For Creighton, tomorrow’s game against fellow conference undefeated Wichita State will be the first of two (and hopefully three, if the MVC Tournament breaks right) match-ups between the two elite teams in the Missouri Valley. And no player is a bigger part of what the Bluejays do than McDermott, whose 24 points per game is second best in the country.
(Related winners: Creighton. Related losers: Nets, because McDermott keeps burning them up; the MVC, in which the Jays are 6-0 so far.)
The Cowboys were one of the darlings of the non-conference season, remaining as one of the last four unbeatens before leading scorer Luke Martinez broke a bone in his hand during an altercation at a bar in late December. Since then, the wheels have started to fall off the cart for coach Larry Shyatt’s bunch. Wyoming started out Mountain West play by losing on a buzzer-beater to Boise State, and it didn’t get much better last week. The Cowboys went on the road to beat Nevada in Reno, but didn’t put up a point per possession in the 59-48 win. Meanwhile, police reports were released about Martinez’s fight, which said the guard admitted to kicking a defenseless man in the head as he was knocked out on the ground. Then the Cowboys capped off their week by producing one of the most unwatchable games of the season, a 49-36 snooze-fest of a loss at a mediocre Fresno State, in which they shot 24 percent from the field, 5-of-27 from three-point range and an abysmal 7-of-20 from the free throw line. Wyoming has gone from aspiring to get to the NCAA Tournament to a team that needs to quickly right its ship.
(Related winners: The top of the Mountain West, which will benefit from Wyoming’s heretofore nice computer numbers; Fresno State, for shooting 52 percent against what was one of the best defenses in the country. Related losers: Martinez, who is at risk of serving jail time.)