Here are the most extreme things to happen in college basketball between Friday, February 6th and Thursday, February 12th…
3) #297 Delaware 73, #127 Northeastern 68 (10%), Saturday. It hasn’t been a great year for the Blue Hens. Outside of senior two-guard Kyle Anderson—who has been around so long that I seriously thought he was drafted by the Spurs last June—the Delaware depth chart is littered with freshmen and sophomores. This was Delaware’s sixth win all season, but give them credit: They are feisty in close games. They are 6-18 overall, but 6-7 in games decided by six or less.
2) #338 Presbyterian 69, #208 UNC Asheville 65 (8%), Thursday. The Blue Hose started the season with a 69-point loss to Duke and while things have improved since then, it’s still been a tough season. Presbyterian is 9-17 with four of those wins coming over hapless non D-I competition. So that’s 5-17 against real competition. But the Hose, like the Hens of a similar color, are solid in close games, going 4-3 in contests decided by four points or less. The moral of the story is don’t let a weaker team hang around. Clutch can show up when you least expect it.
1) #295 Rice 72, #111 Western Kentucky 68 (8%), Saturday. If only Rice was the Blue Owls, we’d have a pretty awesome theme going. However, in Rice’s next game on Thursday night, they played the Blue Raiders and won in double overtime, so that’s something. What was also something was that Rice was up three at the end of the first overtime and elected to foul Middle Tennessee’s Jaqawn Raymond with 1.8 seconds left. Raymond made the first, missed the second, and teammate Marcus Tarrance got the offensive board and put-back to force another five minutes. It was a failure of the fouling-up-three approach. I’ll just leave this here.
Least likely comebacks
3) #146 High Point over #176 Winthrop (1.2%), Wednesday. This was a huge game in the chaotic Big South, where seven teams started the week tied for first. These teams were two of them and Winthrop was on the cusp of a big road win, holding a 70-60 advantage with 3:06 left. But High Point has (a) eventual back-to-back Big South kPOY John Brown and (b) #ShootersClub member Devante Wallace. Both contributed to a closing 9-2 run that got the Panthers within three with the ball with 12.9 seconds left. Wallace got fouled with 5.2 seconds left and sank both. HPU promptly fouled Winthrop’s Keon Johnson, who missed the front end of the one-and-one. Brown was fouled on the rebound and he knocked down the game winning free throws. It was the worst possible failure of the fouling-up-three approach: the insta-loss. Winthrop didn’t get a chance for redemption in overtime.
Take it away, Winthrop head coach Pat Kelsey:
“Instead of giving them an opportunity to tie the game with a three-point field goal you put them at the line and all they can make is two. If they miss it you gotta block out and get a rebound. He made both, we inbounded it and they fouled an 85-86 percent free throw shooter. The percentages are in your favor and unfortunately the ball didn’t go in (Johnson’s free throw). He happened to miss the first one and Duby went for the offensive rebound and unfortunately fouled the young man who went down and made some big free throws.”
It sounds like a crazy scenario. But crazy things happen more often than you’d think! About as often as a team hitting a game-tying three.
High Point completed what could be a crucial season sweep over Winthrop. Winning the first meeting in double OT…after Winthrop fouled up three late in the first overtime. (Have you read this yet?) These things don’t happen often, but often enough to make the strategy of fouling up three more dubious that conventional wisdom will have you believe.
2) #84 Tennessee over #54 Vanderbilt (1.0%), Wednesday. After Josh Richardson missed a three-pointer with 15 seconds left, Vandy held a four point lead and a 99 percent chance of success. The lead was three with eight seconds left when Kevin Stallings decided to be the smart guy in the room and foul Tennessee to protect the lead. Josh Richardson knocked down both shots and when Vandy missed one-of-two at the line following a Vols’ foul, Robert Hubbs III sent the game to overtime with a runner in the lane, marking another failure of the fouling-up-three approach. Tennessee went on to win 76-73.
1) #265 Bradley over #122 Evansville (1.0%), Saturday. The Braves, having lost 15 consecutive games away from home, trailed 33-16 with 19:01 left, but went on a 28-7 run to take the lead. This game ended without any late-game drama, so whatever.
My five-man #ShootersClub of Micah Mason, Brett Olson, Michael Frazier II, Seth Hinrichs, and Devante Wallace is barnstorming the country this season, spreading goodwill and providing inspiration that you, too, can make three-point shots with enough practice.
It was another fantastic week for the Club, as they went an aggregate 19-of-41 (46.3 percent) from long range. And distance was no object for the Club. Witness Denver’s Brett Olson drilling one from halfcourt to send his game with North Dakota State to overtime last night. The Club has made 40.8 percent of its three-pointers on the season. And it’s all for a good cause: scoring points. There was some bad news, however, as Florida’s Michael Frazier sprained his ankle against Kentucky and is day-to-day.
Fastest game: Eastern Michigan 83, Miami OH 69 [84 possessions], Tuesday. This track meet was an easy win for Eastern Michigan. The pace was surprising considering Eastern’s dependence on a zone defense. Ray Lee used 37 percent of the Eagles possessions while he was on the floor. A reserved effort compared to EMU’s previous game when Lee used a hysterical 56 percent of the team’s possessions in a loss to Ohio, a season-high for anyone playing at least 20 minutes this season.
Slowest game: Northern Iowa 69, Drake 53 , Thursday. Yes, it’s true. These teams have met twice and produced a 48-possession game in both contests. And it’s conceivable there will be a third encounter on Arch Madness Friday.
Highest-scoring game: Arkansas 101, Auburn 87 , Tuesday. This game wasn’t close for very long but it was fast and therefore, fun. It also featured a rarity (almost). The Hogs’ Anton Beard appeared to record six fouls. After fouling out with 2:11 to go, the Hogs’ Anton Beard received a technical foul from Jim Burr. Six fouls! Alonzo Mourning would be proud. Except that the official play-by-play recorded the foul as a team technical, robbing Beard of his place in history.
Lowest-scoring game: Monmouth 44, Canisius 40 , Sunday. Recently, I added a feature to the boxscores on the site whereby the player of the game is identified. It’s simply John Hollinger’s Game Score plus three for the players on the winning team. (Formula is subject to future tinkering.) Of all the games played this season, this one had the lowest score for the player identified as the MVP. The Golden Griffins’ Josiah Heath earned the honors with his seven-point, seven-rebound, two-assist performance. Perhaps he was the Least Harmful Player. L-H-P! L-H-P! The only double-figure scorer in the game was Canisius’s Zach Lewis who scored 11, but used 13 shots and four turnovers to get there.
Alan Williams Watch: On hiatus while Alan continues to recover from a shoulder injury.
kPOY Watch: Frank Kaminsky has maintained a comfortable margin over a rotating cast of players for many weeks. This week he leads over Utah’s Delon Wright. But I’d like to champion the cause of kPOY #4 Seth Tuttle of Northern Iowa. He’s this season’s face of pacism. No player is more valuable to a top 25 team than Tuttle (I’ll actually hear arguments from D’Angelo Russell) but because of slow-paced affairs like the Drake game above, America’s basketball writers ignore him.
Here are the five games you’ll want to watch this week (as determined by FanMatch, all times eastern):
#7 Villanova at #19 Butler, Saturday, 6PM, CBS Sports Network
#14 Ohio State at #25 Michigan State, Saturday, Noon, ESPN
#13 Baylor at #10 Kansas, Saturday 1PM, CBS
#10 Kanas at #26 West Virginia, Monday, 9PM, ESPN
#13 North Carolina at #8 Duke, Wednesday, 9PM, ESPN