- Indiana Shocks Kentucky
- Xavier/Cincinnati Brawl
- West Virginia’s Kevin Jones
- Louisville/Memphis Preview
College basketball never ceases to amaze me. Again, we had a tremendous week in the world of hoops! We experienced that the state of basketball is back, UFC 152 exists in college basketball, and the rising stock of a Mountaineer. Plus I will preview a border-battle that figures to be intense and thrilling.
Week in Review
Game of the Week: Indiana Hoosiers v. Kentucky Wildcats
Over the last few seasons, Assembly Hall has been down in the dumps. The home games haven’t been exciting and their team has stunk up the joint. Saturday might have been the beginning of the end of those days. The Indiana Hoosiers pulled off the upset, shocking the #1 Kentucky Wildcats on a buzzer-beating three-point shot by Christian Watford. It was a game that featured a fast-pace of play for most of the first half. Lots of turnovers committed by the Hoosiers, but Kentucky wasn’t able to take advantage. Indiana freshman phenom Tyler Zeller managed to get Kentucky freshman phenom Anthony Davis in foul trouble in the first half. Indiana escaped into the locker room at halftime with a 30-29 lead. Indiana came out on fire in the second half, throwing left and rights at Kentucky, but failed to deliver the knock-out punch. The Hoosiers grew their halftime lead to as much as 10 points with 9:05 left in the game. As you would expect, Kentucky wasn’t going down without a fight, even if Davis had 4 fouls. Free-throws and lay-ups helped Kentucky trim the lead to 68-67. With 2:00 remaining, Kentucky got a dunk from their sixth-man Darius Miller to give them the lead. Indiana turned the ball over, fouling Kentucky’s Doron Lamb to send him to the line with Kentucky up 71-70. Lamb missed the first free-throw, but made the second to put the ‘Cats up 72-70. That missed free-throw proved to be costly. With just under six seconds left, Indiana in-bounded the ball Verdell Jones III, Jones brought the ball up the floor, penetrated the lane, and flipped it back to a wide open Watford. Watford rose up and knocked down the three-pointer that sent Assembly Hall into a loud raucous. This win puts Indiana back on the basketball map and the rest of the college basketball world on notice. The Hoosiers are relevant, again.
How good are the Xavier Musketeers? Uh, pretty good. They took on in-state rival Cincinnati on Saturday in a game that didn’t feature too many intense moments, until the end. With 9.4 seconds left and the game comfortably in hand, Xavier guard Tu Holloway started chirping at the Cincy bench. That didn’t go over to well. That led to players on the floor to start pushing each other. Nobody thought that it would lead to Cincy’s Yancy Gates sucker-punching Xavier center Kenny Frease on the bridge of nose, splitting him wide open. The benches cleared and the melee continued for roughly two minutes when finally referees called the game off. It was announced today that Cincinnati and Xavier suspended a total of eight players, four from each team. Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin released this statement on ESPN.com on Sunday, “Before any of them put a uniform back on they will apologize and that’s just the first step before putting the uniform back on,” Cronin said. “Just because the press release says what it says that doesn’t mean they’re all back. They’re going to sit in front of a camera and say how sorry they are and how grateful they are for getting a second chance. “If I don’t believe it then they won’t be on the team — and if they don’t demonstrate that they won’t ever put on a jersey again — period,” Cronin said. “They’re going to sit in front of a camera and say it. I can tell the difference as to how genuine they are. The university issued the suspensions and I supported it. But for me it’s different. I have the autonomy to not let anybody back on the team.” Those are some strong statements. There is absolutely no need for that in college basketball.
Most of us, who watch and follow college basketball, know the big names: Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger, Anthony Davis, Terrence Jones, etc. But there is one guy who is flying under the radar, quietly going about his business, and is reaping the benefits. His name is Kevin Jones. The 6’8 senior forward from Mount Vernon, New York is having a tremendous senior season for the West Virginia Mountaineers. Jones is averaging a double-double (20 points and 11 rebounds a game), shooting 55% from the field and 75% from the line. Last year, Jones liked to sit outside the three-point line and jack up threes. He wasn’t too successful, only 31-103, but this season he has only taken 34 threes through eight games. He has already had some big games this season. He had 30 points and 12 rebounds in a big victory over Kansas State this past week, 29 points and 13 rebounds against Alcorn State, and 15 points and 18 rebounds against Kent State. He is also logging 36 minutes a game. With his performances so far this season, he has opened up NBA scouts’ eyes. Keep an eye on Mr. Jones throughout the season. I expect more from this guy along the way.
As I was checking this week’s basketball schedule, I was disappointed. There is really only one marquee game this week. Now, Tennessee and Kentucky are bordering states. I know that Louisville and Kentucky play each other every year, but they are both from the same state. I don’t know why Memphis and Louisville don’t play every year. However, this Saturday, these teams will square in a battle of Top 25 teams. Memphis began the season ranked #10th in the nation, but they have hit a few bumps in the road losing to Michigan and Georgetown (in OT). On the other hand, Louisville has continued a steady climb in the polls. They are undefeated at 9-0, while Memphis is 5-2 (currently playing Murray State as I type this). Memphis is led by their guard play. Will Barton leads the team in scoring (19.4 a game); while Joe Jackson is second (12.4) and freshman Adonis Thomas is third (10.4). Memphis can stroke the three just as well as any team in the country (40% as a team). Louisville is led by Kyle Kuric, Chris Smith, and Peyton Siva. All three are averaging double-figures in the scoring column. Big men Gorgui Dieng and Chane Behanan crash the boards with the best of them (9 and 8 rebounds a game, respectively). The size of Louisville will pose just as big of a threat to Memphis as Memphis’ speed and quickness will pose for Louisville. This will be a battle till the death. The game will take place in Louisville, so you would have to think that they will have to advantage right? We’ll have to wait until Saturday to find out.