Dean's List-Academic Probation is a weekly column that analyzes all of the highlights and lowlights from the previous week's games. The teams, players, conferences, etc. that deserve praise for what they accomplished over the past week make our Dean's List; those deserving ridicule are put on Academic Probation.
Here are this week's honorees:
After Texas beat Tennessee, Longhorns coach Rick Barnes said that he felt like his team was stronger in a way this year without Kevin Durant. Blasphemy? Apparently not. The red-hot ‘Horns pulled off the biggest win to date this college basketball season by upsetting top-ranked UCLA 63-61 Sunday at Pauley Pavilion. Sophomore Damion James had 19 points, 10 rebounds, and the game-clinching dunk with eight seconds left and D.J. Augustin added 19 points and four assists to lift Texas to a ginormous road win.
It doesn’t take a Bracketology degree to tell you that the ACC is better than the Big Ten, but this week’s annual conference challenge showed just how much better it actually is. The ACC won 8 of the 11 games played between the two leagues, highlighted by Duke and North Carolina spanking Wisconsin and Ohio State, respectively. Michigan State’s beatdown of overrated NC State was the lone bright spot for the Big Ten, which is looking every bit the four-bid league we had them at as the year opened.
Eric Gordon, Indiana
It’s still up for debate as to who is the best freshman in the country, but make no mistake about it: if any frosh has the tools to put his team on his back and carry it Carmelo-style to the Final Four, it's Gordon. He has been unstoppable over his first seven college games, scoring at least 20 points in each game and averaging 26.6 on the year. This week, he dropped 29 on Georgia Tech and 22 on Southern Illinois as the Hoosiers picked up a pair of Ws.
Ryan Anderson, Cal
Oh yeah, the country has some pretty talented sophomores, too. Anderson put up 36 points in Cal’s six-point win over Nevada on Wednesday and had 15 points and 11 rebounds in the Bears’ 86-72 win over Missouri on Saturday. Cal (B101’s preseason sleeper pick out of the Pac-10) is still unbeaten and will take its spotless record on the road to Kansas State this weekend in what should be a good one.
Bobby Knight’s neighbor
James Simpson of Lubbock, Texas, provided all of us with an early holiday present this week when he unveiled his videotaped confrontation with an angry, defensive, shotgun-holding Knight. All Simpson wanted to do is hang out by his pool; instead, he was allegedly dodging Knight’s shotgun pellets, resulting in this classic footage – and a spot on this week’s Dean’s List.
Also receiving votes: Gonzaga (two more nice road/neutral Ws over St. Joe’s and UConn), Mississippi (still unbeaten after a nice W over New Mexico), Harvard (Tommy Amaker gets a little revenge on Michigan and lots of smart kids get to rush the court), Greg Paulus (18 points in Duke’s thrashing of Wisconsin, big shots and a big steal late in the Devils’ win over Davidson), St. Mary’s (strong start continues with an 85-70 victory over Seton Hall), Arizona (huge OOC win over Texas A&M)
Ohio State’s FG percentage
In what is becoming an alarming pattern for a team that began the season with high hopes, the Buckeyes’ offense was nothing short of atrocious in losses this week to North Carolina and Butler. Ohio State managed only 23 second half points and didn’t have any field goals in one 11-minute stretch against the Tar Heels. They followed up that performance with a 16-point second half effort against the Bulldogs in a 65-46 loss.
People continued to sing the praises of the Patriots earlier this week when they put a 47-point beatdown on (at that point) 5-1 Drexel, but all those good feelings came to a halt three days later when they lost to (gulp) C-USA bottom-feeder East Carolina in the BB&T Classic in Washington, D.C. Mason killed itself from the line, missing 13 of 25 free throws, as East Carolina beat its first D-I team of the year.
Apparently the Syracuse football team doesn’t have the worst defense on campus after all. The Orange basketball team can claim that honor after allowing 107 points to UMass in a seven-point loss on Wednesday. The Minutemen hit 14 threes and scored 59 points in the second half – and then insulted Syracuse again by going out and losing their next game to IUPUI.
Oh, what could have been for the surprising Bears, who blew a 14-point second half lead at home against Washington State and eventually lost a heartbreaker, 67-64. Baylor, which at 5-0 was off to its best start since 2000-2001 when it began the year 12-0, still has a soft enough schedule to get to 11-1 by the end of this month. But this was a golden opportunity and one that could come back to haunt them in March.
The underachieving Rams finally notched a quality win by beating Maryland, but that came in the wake of an inexplicable 64-55 loss to Hampton on Thursday. VCU, which has been hurt in the early going by a real lack of depth, turned the ball over 21 times in that game and managed only 18 first half points. One bid from the Colonial is looking like a distinct possibility right now.
Also receiving votes: Bobby Knight’s exchange with the Centenary fans, the nine D-I teams who still don’t have a win (three are from the pathetic SWAC), Stephen Curry’s “supporting cast” at Davidson (the Wildcats better find a second scoring option before conference play starts), Arkansas State’s Adrian Banks (team’s leading scorer suspended indefinitely for his arrest on gun charges)