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Barnes finally living up to hype
Harrison Barnes was a preseason All-American.
He’s finally starting to live up to the hype.
The North Carolina freshman, the first frosh to ever earn AP first-team All-American honors before his first collegiate game, has started to play the way most expected.
The 6-foot-8 Iowa native hit the game-tying shot and also the game-winner early in the week to beat Miami on the road and followed it up with a career-high 25 points and six rebounds in an easy win against N.C. State in Chapel Hill.
While Marshall may not be as athletic as Drew, he’s more cerebral and has gotten the ball to Barnes in spots where he can be successful.
With Marshall in the starting lineup and Barnes starting to look comfortable, North Carolina has reeled off three straight wins.
The Tar Heels – and Barnes – won’t live up to the preseason expectations, but it’s looking more and more as though they won’t make a return trip to the NIT.
TEAM OF THE WEEK: Louisville Cardinals – Rick Pitino’s team has dealt with its share of injuries and a lack of a star, but the Cards won a tough game at home against West Virginia and then got the resume victory they needed on the road over a Top 10 UConn squad. Peyton Siva was the star this week, though, as he went for 19 points, had seven assists and scored the tying basket in regulation and overtime against UConn. He also had the game-winner with 4.5 seconds left against West Virginia.
STUD (PLAYER OF THE WEEK): The Jimmer – In the hyped matchup against previously unbeaten San Diego State, BYU’s Jimmer Fredette didn’t disappoint. He went for 43 points in Provo to help give the Cougars a huge win against the Aztecs – and the entire college hoops world took notice. The Cougars lost at The Pit against New Mexico, but Fredette still finished with 32 points, seven assists and five rebounds in the setback.
MOST IMPRESSIVE WIN: Notre Dame going to the Peterson Events Center – where Pittsburgh is nearly unbeatable (the Panthers had won 20 straight and 51 of their past 52) – and coming out with a road win. This win put Mike Brey and the Irish in the Top 10 – and also proved to the critics who continuously question Notre Dame’s toughness that this group – largely due to Ben Hansbrough – has plenty of grit.
SHOWCASE PERFORMANCE: A game after his worst game of the season, Saint Mary’s senior guard Mickey McConnell stepped up and went for 27 points and also hit the game-winner – an off-balance 10-footer – on the road to knock off Gonzaga.
WEEK TO FORGET: Syracuse – It’s actually been a couple of weeks for Jim Boeheim and the ‘Cuse to try to block out of their heads. Syracuse lost its third and fourth straight games – a brutal blowout home loss to Seton Hall followed up by a close road setback against Marquette.
DUD: Illinois going into Bloomington and coming back home with a loss to an Indiana team whose only Big Ten win came at home to Michigan. The Illini didn’t just lose to a Hoosiers team that may compete for the cellar in the league, but IU doesn’t even have Maurice Creek, who is done for the season after knee surgery.
WORST LOSS: Michigan State dropping one in East Lansing to Michigan. As if this season hasn’t been bad enough for Sparty, now Tom Izzo’s team loses at home to that program down the road, one that will be fortunate to earn a spot in the NIT.
MID-MAJOR TEAM OF THE WEEK: Santa Clara – I’m actually giving it to the Broncos for what they’ve done over the past two weeks. Kerry Keating’s team has won four straight, beginning with a huge victory against Gonzaga at home in which Kevin Foster had 36 points. Foster had 28 in a road win over Loyola Marymount on Saturday as Santa Clara went to 5-2 in WCC play.
FEELING SORRY FOR: Tubby Smith – Minnesota’s coach appeared to have a group that could legitimately make some noise in the NCAA tournament. Now, after the loss of Devoe Joseph – who transferred – and the recent injury to starting point guard Al Nolan, it’s hard to imagine the Gophers doing any real damage come March.
NCAA UPSET SATURDAY
- Louisville stuns UConn in double OT
- Freeman's 30 leads Hoyas over 'Nova
- No excuses for 'Cuse after another loss
- Jimmer's 32 not enough for BYU
- Huskers hold A&M to 48 in upset
- Battle leads Penn St. over Wisconsin
- Arkansas junior drops 36 on Vandy
- Clemson pulls off upset vs. 'Noles
- Gators lose SEC battle to Miss. St.
FEELING SORRY FOR, PART II: Kawhi Leonard – San Diego State’s star forward was sick for the second straight year at BYU. A year ago, he had the flu, and this time around, he was vomiting all day and needed an IV before the game. Leonard didn’t look like himself, but still managed 22 points and 15 rebounds in the loss.
UNRIVALED CELEBRATION: After Indiana’s win against Illinois in Bloomington, the crowd rushed the court and then Hoosiers coach Tom Crean – who hadn’t beaten a ranked team since he took over three years ago – celebrated in the lobby of Assembly Hall. I understand Indiana fans haven’t had much to cheer about lately, but this may be a little much.
UNBEATEN: Ohio State is still the lone team without a loss, but the Buckeyes almost fell from the ranks of the unbeaten at Northwestern. The Wildcats missed a halfcourt, desperation 3-pointer that kept Thad Matta’s team without a setback.
STILL LOOKING: Still feeling better for Centenary coach Adam Walsh and the Gents. They are 0-23 overall and 0-11 in Summit League play. Maybe they can finally get one this week with home games against North Dakota State and South Dakota State.
WEEK’S TOP MATCHUPS:
1. Syracuse at UConn, Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET – The Orange are struggling big-time and UConn is coming off a tough home loss to Louisville. This is one that Jim Boeheim & Co. could desperately use.
2. Kentucky at Florida, Saturday at 9 p.m. ET – This could wind up being one that determines the SEC East regular-season champion.
3. Memphis at Gonzaga, Saturday at 4 p.m. ET – Two of the most successful programs from outside the Big Six leagues over the past few years – and also a pair of teams that desperately need a resume win. The problem: I’m not sure this is a resume win for either club right now.
4. North Carolina at Boston College, Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET – Tar Heels freshman Harrison Barnes has had a couple of big games. Can he keep it going – and can UNC get a key road victory?
5. Texas at Texas A&M, Monday at 9 p.m. ET – The Longhorns crushed Mark Turgeon’s club in Austin a few weeks back, but can the Aggies give Texas a game in College Station?
6. Michigan State at Wisconsin, Sunday at 1 p.m. ET – The Spartans could sorely use a key road win like this to start to get their swagger back. The Badgers are tough to beat at the Kohl Center.
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