Here are the most extreme things to happen in college basketball between Friday, December 11th and Thursday, December 17th…
The biggest upset of the week was #313 USC Upstate winning at #175 Navy on Monday. But the Spartans had a 13% chance of winning which doesn’t qualify as a major upset in these parts. So I’ll just go with the old random piece of information here. Baylor’s Johnathan Motley scored 23 points in 14 minutes against Hardin-Simmons on Wednesday. Hardin-Simmons is D-III and normally an effort in a fake game is not glorified in these parts. In fact, I am only using this as a jumping off point to a review of the most action-packed individual effort this season. That was accomplished by the current usage rate leader, Eastern Illinois’ Trae Anderson. Anderson has used a whopping 45.4% of EIU’s possessions to date, eight percent higher than any other qualifying player. His game log is a masterpiece of sorts.
But it didn’t get any better than a November 28th game against Green Bay where Anderson played 11 minutes, took eight shots, five free throws and committed eight turnovers. The calculation used to estimate his usage for the game has him at 76% which implies that four players did not need to cross half-court while Anderson was on the floor. However, this figure is a bit exaggerated since some of Anderson’s playing time was at the end of the game when possessions were short while EIU was trying to close a late deficit. In reality, Anderson was on the floor for 27 possessions and personally ended 17 of them, for a 63% usage rate. That’s still incredible and something for the young ballplayers out there to shoot for the rest of the season.
Least likely comebacks
3) #64 Arizona State 66, #62 UNLV 56 (4.2%), Wednesday. A lot of smart basketball people say UNLV is “talented”. To my knowledge, basketball is the only vocation where saying one is talented does not mean one has ability. If an artist was constantly putting out crappy works of art, we wouldn’t say that artist was talented. If a singer made our ears hurt we wouldn’t say that singer was talented. Yet Stephen Zimmerman is making 42% of his 2’s and people call him talented. Look, Zimmerman will eventually make many dollars playing basketball, probably in the world’s best league. And at some point it will be appropriate to call him talented. But right now he is still learning. Sadly for Dave Rice, he will probably not be coaching Zimmerman when he regularly demonstrates talent. Anyway, this was not Zimmerman’s best work (though with nine points he was UNLV’s leading scorer), and Arizona State overcame a 14-point deficit with 16:48 left to win easily, outscoring the Rebels 35-11 the rest of the way.
2) #194 Delaware 70, #307 Marist 69 (3.6%), Saturday. The Blue Hens were down 65-53 with 5:33 left after two free throws by the Red Foxes’ Phil Lawrence-Ricks. But then Delaware put together the rare five-point possession, when Cazmon Hayes was fouled on a successful two-point basket and Kory Holden converted a three after Hayes’ missed free throw. That got the Delaware comeback started and it concluded when Hayes converted a layup with 27 seconds left to give Delaware the lead.
1) #199 Nebraska-Omaha 108, #181 Grand Canyon 104 (OT) (0.4%), Sunday. Omaha trailed 85-74 with 2:58 to go in regulation after a Grandy Glaze bucket, but the Mavs came all the way back to force overtime in this foul-fest. In fact, Omaha themselves attempted nine free throws during the comeback portion of regulation, making eight of them. I’m not really sure how Omaha pulled this off. Grand Canyon made 9-of-12 free throws down the stretch, and Omaha even missed a couple of shots from the field and had a turnover. It’s like Omaha somehow packed in extra possessions or the scorekeeper just wasn’t counting GCU’s points at the end. Being victimized by a stunning comeback was a familiar feeling for GCU head coach Dan Majerle, whose 1994 Phoenix Suns’ became the second team in NBA history to lose a seven-game series after winning the first two games on the road.
My five-man #ShootersClub of Micah Mason, Isaiah Williams, Jared Brownridge, John Simons, and J.C. Hampton is barnstorming the country this season, spreading goodwill and providing inspiration that you, too, can make three-point shots with enough practice. There was some shootin’ going on this week. Whether it was Jared Brownridge going 5-for-8 against Arkansas-Pine Bluff or JC Hampton going 4-for-5 against Tennessee State, everywhere you looked, club members were knocking down shots. The only shooter that didn’t make half of his 3’s this week was Micah Mason who went 6-of-13. Overall, the Club went 26-of-50 (52%) to raise its season mark to 38.5% (111-of-288).
Fastest game: #199 Nebraska Omaha 108, #181 Grand Canyon 104 (OT) , Sunday. Adjusted for overtime, this game had 85 possessions per 40 minutes, which is the method used to determine fastest game honors.
Slowest game: #125 Stanford 64, #215 Dartmouth 50 , Saturday. Only one of Johnny Dawkins’ previous seven teams at Stanford have played at a pace below the national average. This season’s teams ranks 317th as of this writing. Dawkins gave every meaningful minute as point guard to Chasson Randle last season. Randle is now playing in Prague and the Cardinal offense is much slower and more turnover prone.
Highest-scoring game: #199 Nebraska Omaha 108, #181 Grand Canyon 104 (OT) , Saturday. This game wins the triple crown of excitement honors.
Lowest-scoring game: #92 Alabama 51, #56 Clemson 50 , Sunday. Take a bow, American college basketball teams. There were 270 games last week and each of them had at least 100 points scored. Retin Obasohan had a game-high 23 for Alabama in this quasi-thriller that stayed between 25% and 75% win probability for nearly the entire game. Obasohan scored 46% of Alabama’s points. That’s a nice effort, but a few players have done better this season. None, though, have done better than Jared Brownridge scoring 63% (44 of 73) of Santa Clara’s points in their loss to Arizona earlier this season.
Coaches Pet Award:The CPA goes to the player that averages the fewest minutes per game while appearing in all of his team’s games. I’m tracking the leader for this exciting new award all season.Radford’s Caleb Tanner played one game this week and coach Mike Jones got him on the floor for four minutes of a double-overtime victory against Howard. Meaning that Tanner has played in all 11 of Radford’s games and registered a grand total of 34 minutes. Some players get that many minutes in one game! Tanner hails from Floyd, Virginia, a one-stoplight town where residents once protested the opening of a fast-food restaurant in the mid-90s.
Here are the five games you’ll want to watch this week (as determined by FanMatch, all times eastern):
#4 Villanova at #1 Virginia, Saturday, 12:00, ESPN2
#21 Notre Dame vs. #26 Indiana, Saturday, 2:00, ESPN2
#19 Baylor at #34 Texas A&M, Saturday, 9:00, ESPNU
#18 Iowa State at #22 Cincinnati, Tuesday, 7:00, ESPN2
#10 Louisville at #9 Kentucky, Saturday 12/26, 12:00, CBS