Auburn Makes Duke Look Mortal
Before Duke was beaten by Gonzaga the next night, Auburn made them look like they definitely weren’t unbeatable. Duke won 78-72 but Auburn definitely could have won. If I were an Auburn fan I would have been extremely frustrated. Auburn could have pulled off a memorable upset but didn’t because they didn’t box out, threw dumb alley-oops, and tried to match Duke’s style of play. Nobody has the athleticism to come close to beating Duke at their own game.
Despite these repeated mistakes, the Tigers still looked good. Jared Harper proved that he is among the best point guards in the country. He’s an excellent shooter and passer and finished with 22 points and 6 assists while shooting 6-10 from three-point range. Austin Wiley impressed me off the bench. The junior center played physical and put up 17 points and 9 rebounds in just 19 minutes.
For Duke, Barrett, Reddish, and Zion were good as always. It’s gotten to the point that when Duke has a fast break I start leaning forward in my chair. I think it’s completely possible that Zion Williamson dunks on somebody so aggresively that he gets called for a flagrant foul at some point this season. I’ve also noticed that Barrett, Reddish, and Williamson get more time to get off a three than anybody in the country because their defenders are always sagging off so they won’t get blown by. This is one of the many benefits of being that naturally talented. Marques Bolden played a huge role for the Blue Devils and had 11 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 blocks. He won’t get nearly as much attention as the rest of the starters but he brings a lot to this team. Duke led 41-33 at half and kept a lead about that size throughout most of the second half. This game really showed just how talented this Duke team is compared to even another top-10 team.
Duke Goes Down
After several weeks of ridiculous hype, Duke was defeated by a better team. They didn’t play poorly, they just ran into a better team. Gonzaga won 89-87 and led for most of the game. Duke made a run to get back into the game but fell short. Even with four straight missed free throws by the Zags, Duke couldn’t capitalize and get a bucket when they needed one.
Gonzaga showed that they’re the team to beat in college basketball right now, which is scary considering that they are without one of their best players, Killian Tillie. Rui Hachimura looked like an All-American candidate while putting up 20 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocks, and he also stopped R.J. Barrett on the final possession of the game. Brandon Clarke was just as important. He had 17 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 blocks. Duke’s big run to get back into the game came while Clarke was on the bench with 4 fouls. Zach Norvell also had a fine performance with 18 points, 3 rebounds, 3 steals, and shot 4-7 from three.
Zion Williamson turned in yet another impressive performance with 22 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 4 blocks. 7 of those rebounds were offensive and he had yet another violent dunk. R.J. Barrett led the Blue Devils in scoring with 23 but also shot just 9-25 from the field. Duke is still the most talented team in the country but hopefully this will put aside some of the hype around them. They’re still starting four freshmen and are not deep at all.
Virginia Defeats Wisconsin in Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis Championship
Virginia beat Wisconsin 53-46 in a hard-fought and low-scoring game. The Cavaliers carried a 15 point lead into half and held on to the lead despite a cold-shooting second half. DeAndre Hunter had an excellent game and led Virginia offensively, he had 20 points and 9 rebounds. Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome both couldn’t get it going and were a combined 8-27 from the floor.
The Badgers were led by All-American candidate Ethan Happ who had yet another great performance. He carried the Wisconsin offense with 22 points, 15 rebounds, 6 assists, and 4 blocks. Wisconsin’s guards D’Mitrik Trice and Brad Davison shot even worse than Guy and Jerome with a 4-17 showing. Shutting these two down was a testament to how good Virginia’s defense is.
Virginia showed that they are among the best teams in the country. They are not nearly as talented as the other best teams but they can step on the floor with anybody and take home a win.
UNC Bounces Back Against UCLA
North Carolina rebounded from their loss to Texas with a 94-78 win over #17 ranked UCLA. UCLA led 46-41 at half but North Carolina tied it quickly. Cameron Johnson had a great steal and transition layup to tie it up that gave UNC a ton of momentum.
Coby White had another excellent performance and led the Tar Heels with 19 points and 8 assists. He is a great shooter and passer and is UNC’s best freshman despite Nas Little being more publicized. White allows North Carolina to get out in transition and run. Luke Maye is also a great fit with this team, he moves very well without the ball and got open looks off of the drive and kick. Maye had 16 points and 8 rebounds. Nas Little was more agressive offensively and had 14 points, including a nasty dunk over Jalen Hill.
Kris Wilkes played a great game for the Bruins, he had 22 points and was efficient with just 10 shots. Jaylen Hands looked good as well with 14 points and 9 assists. Hands has a nice pullup and excellent vision. Wilkes and Hands are a great duo that will cause a lot of problems for the rest of PAC12 this season.
Florida State Picks Up Good OT Win Over LSU
Florida State and LSU are both big and athletic teams and played a close game the entire way. Florida State won on Mfiondu Kabengele’s corner three in the final seconds of overtime. I think both teams were overranked going in to the game and I still do, but I still like both teams. Florida State can’t shoot all that well and just doesn’t ever look comfortable in a half court set. LSU has talent but is not deep and turns the ball over a lot.
LSU’s starters were very good though. Tremont Waters can get to the hoop and finish as well as anybody in the nation and can distribute and guard the ball well. Skyler Mays is a terrific and very efficient all around player. He had 19 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists, while shooting 7-9 and 4-5 from three. Naz Reid, the best player in LSU’s stacked recruiting class is a scary mix of size and skill. He is 6’10” and 240 lbs. but can shoot, dribble, and pass very well. Ja’vonte Smart wasn’t hitting from three but still filled the stat sheet with 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 8 assists. Emmitt Williams was huge for the Tigers on the defensive end, he had 2 blocks and seemed to be involved in every forced turnover.
M.J. Walker looked like a star for Florida State. He had 21 points and was 5-9 from behind the arc. Trent Forrest had a nice drive and finish to send the game to overtime and also had 10 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals. Mfiondu Kabengele also had a nice showing, besides hitting the game winner, he also had 15 points and 4 rebounds. This Florida State team is talented but I think they’re a little overrated right now. They have a lot returning from their team that made a run last year but won’t be able to beat the best teams in the ACC.
Michigan State Rallies from Slow Start to Beat Texas
Early on it looked like Texas was picking up right where they left off in their upset win over North Carolina. They jumped out to a 22-6 lead and didn’t look back for most of the first half. The Longhorns forced a ton of turnovers and were hitting shots. Michigan State finally woke up and fought to get the defecit down to 8 points at half. The Spartans got hot in the second half and Texas seemed to panic a little. I thought they should have slowed the game down but they ran in transition and had turnovers and bad shots. Michigan State ended up winning 78-68 and outscoring Texas 42-24 in the second half.
This Texas team showed a lot this week, Kerwin Roach played another good game and looks like he could be a star after his performance against UNC. He was only 4-14 against Michigan State but finished with 15 points, 5 assists, and 3 steals. Jaxson Hayes really stuck out to me as well. Hayes plays with a lot of effort and came off the bench to put up 11 points, 3 rebounds, 3 steals, and 3 blocks. He made a huge difference on the defensive end and made Michigan State uncomfortable all night. Dylan Osetkowski had 13 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 steals. Osetkowski plays hard and plays smart, he plays within himself and seems to always make the right play. I think Texas could be a dangerous team this season, they sent a message in their win over North Carolina that they can beat the best in the nation.
Joshua Langford led the Spartans and played the best game I’ve seen him play. He had 29 points and 5 rebounds. Langford can score from anywhere and was also 5-6 from three. Cassius Winston showed his incredible shooting and passing skills with 20 points and 10 assists. It looks like Michigan State will be right in the thick of a tough conference title race all year long.
Kansas Outlasts Tennesse in Overtime
The Kansas Jayhawks started a tough debate for the best team in the country with their 87-81 win over fifth ranked Tennessee. It was back and forth the entire way and the loss really didn’t make me think any less of Tennessee. Tennessee played a great game, they did a great job on the offensive glass and guarded Kansas’ ball screens very well. They were definitely hurt in overtime by Grant Williams fouling out with about a minute and half to go in regulation. Kansas once again looked very good, they shot and rebounded well but did turn the ball over a lot.
The Grant Williams and Dedric Lawson matchup certainly lived up to the hype. Williams had 18 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, and a block. Lawson didn’t have a half-bad showing either with 24 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 assists. These two are both incredible and should be in the All-American conversation and their respective conference player of the year conversation. Devon Dotson was the second leading scorer for the Jayhawks and had one of his best games with 17 points, he had a lot of easy buckets in transition and was 6-7 from the foul line. Charlie Moore had 9 points off the bench. I think Moore is a good player but has been overshadowed by the other transfers: Dedric and K.J. Lawson. Jordan Bone looks like he has developed into a great third option for Tennesse behind Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield. Bone had an efficient 16 points along with 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Schofield was the Volunteers’ leading scorer with 21 points.
Because of Gonzaga’s win over Duke, this game was not given as much recognition as it should have been. This was an incredible game and was probably one of the best non-conference games of the whole season.
Next Week’s Best Games
Villanova vs Florida State
Oklahoma State vs LSU
Miami vs Seton Hall
Nebraska at Clemson
Virginia Tech at Penn State
Michigan State at Louisville
NC State at Wisconsin
Indiana at Duke
Syracuse at Ohio State
Virginia at Maryland
Purdue at Florida State
North Carolina at Michigan
Alabama at UCF
Wisconsin at Iowa
Louisville at Seton Hall
Gonzaga at Creighton
Kansas St. at Marquette
San Diego State at Illinois State
Purdue at Michigan
Nevada at USC
Vanderbilt vs NC State
Butler at St. Louis