GAMES OF THE WEEK:
Xavier 70, Saint Louis 68
Pitt 55, West Virginia 54
Indiana 83, Illinois 79 2OT
Three outstanding games on Thursday with great finishes. Xavier almost blew a 16 point second half lead against Saint Louis only to be saved by by a tip-in from Derrick Brown with 0.1 seconds left. Brown's heroics overshadowed an incredible performance by Kevin Lisch in the last minute of the game - he scored 12 of his 25 in the final minute, including three 3's and a three-point play with 11.6 seconds left to tie the game.
Alex Ruoff of West Virginia missed one of two free throws with 9 seconds left that would have given West Virginia a three-point lead, but instead Ronald Ramon hit a three as time expired off of a drive and kick from Keith Benjamin. Sam Young and Benjamin led Pitt with 10 apiece, while Darris Nichols scored 16 for the Mountaineers.
Eric Gordon made a triumphant return to Illinois, the school he originally committed to, scoring all but 1 of his 19 points after halftime, including banking in a three with 20 seconds left to send the game into overtime. Armon Bassett was the real hero for the Hoosiers, however, scoring 11 points in the decisive 2nd OT, including eight straight free throws in the last 1:52 to seal the win. Illinois had plenty of chances to win. Shaun Pruitt, the Illini's center, missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 8 seconds left in regulation and two free throws with 2 seconds left in the first overtime that would have won the game.
CO-PLAYERS OF THE WEEK:
Jeff Adrien and Hasheem Thabeet, UConn
Yes, I know Tyler Hansbrough averaged 33ppg and 16rpg this week, but it wasn't as dominating of a performance as the two stars of the UConn frontline had in wins on the road against Syracuse and at home against Georgia Tech. For the week, Thabeet averaged 15 ppg, 11 rpg, and 6.5 bpg while Adrien averaged 21 ppg and 11.5 rpg. But more than their numbers was the fact that they dominated the inside in both games. With their lack of perimeter scoring, especially with Jerome Dyson out, UConn has relied heavily on their offensive rebounding for points. On defense, they play swarming perimeter defense, funneling people into the paint where they lead the nation in shot blocking for the sixth year in a row. With the emergence of AJ Price recently, if the Huskies can get this kind of effort from Thabeet and Adrien on a nightly basis, they can go a long way.
TEAM OF THE WEEK:
With a 2-0 week, the Boilermakers moved into first place in the Big Ten. The Baby Boilers have now won nine in a row, and host Michigan State Tuesday, giving a chance to avenge their only conference of the season. Purdue was led by freshman Robbie Hummel this week, who scored 17 is a win over Penn State and then had 21 in the upset win over Wisconsin, giving the Boilermakers a sweep over the Badgers this year. Purdue is looking for its first Big Ten title since 1996.
MATCHUPS OF THE WEEK:
2/11 Kansas @ Texas - The two preseason favorites in the Big XII go head-to-head in a very important game for Texas if they want to keep their regular season conference title hopes intact.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Connor Atchley, Texas and Mario Chalmers, Kansas - Chalmers draws the unenviable assignment of guarding Big XII Player of the Year candidate DJ Augustin, while Atchley, Texas lone "true" big man, has to deal with the huge front line of Kansas.
2/12 Michigan State @ Purdue - One of the last tests for the Boilermakers in the regular season, a Michigan State heads to Purdue with a chance to move even in the loss column in the Big Ten standings.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: E'Twaun Moore, Purdue and Drew Neitzel, Michigan State - Moore, one of the best freshman in the Big Ten, has been playing great in conference play (13 ppg), while preseason All-America Drew Neitzel has been playing better of late.
2/12 Kentucky @ Vanderbilt - Both teams desperately need a win - Kentucky needs all the wins they can get following their atrocious start, and Vanderbilt has been stumbling in league play after a fantastic start.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Patrick Patterson, Kentucky and AJ Ogilvy, Vanderbilt - The two best freshman in the SEC may also double as the two best big men.
2/13 Maryland @ Duke - Now 6-3 in league play, Maryland is looking to emerge as the third horse in the ACC race behind Duke and UNC.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Grevais Vazquez, Maryland and Greg Paulus, Duke - Never thought I'd say this, but Paulus has been a catalyst for the Blue Devils offense the last two weeks, while Vazquez has played well all year for the Terps.
2/13 Wisconsin @ Indiana - Indiana looks to avenge a loss at Wisconsin in January.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: DJ White, Indiana and Brian Butch, Wisconsin - The two best big men in the conference square off. Butch will have his work cut out for him, however, against the much stronger White.
Notre Dame @ UConn - The two biggest surprises in the Big East face off. Notre Dame beat UConn at home earlier in the year after nearly blowing a 21 point lead.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Luke Harangody, Notre Dame and AJ Price, UConn - Both have been superb in conference play - probably the two frontrunners for conference player of the year.
2/15 Pittsburgh @ Marquette - Two early season favorites in the Big East have both been struggling a bit in a tough Big East, and both need a win to stay in front of the middle of the pack.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Sam Young, Pitt and Dominic James, Marquette - James was thought of as a potential first round pick at the end of last season, but has not lived up to the hype this year whereas Young has turned himself from an athletic big man, to a combo forward with one of the best jumpshots in the Big East.
2/16 Michigan State @ Indiana - The Spartans head to Assembly Hall to take on the Hoosiers in the last of three huge games atop the Big Ten.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Raymarr Morgan, MSU and Jamarcus Ellis, Indiana - Morgan has emerged as a star during his sophomore season, while Ellis has a reputation as one of the better defenders in the Big Ten.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
GAMES OF THE WEEK: