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:
Kevin Love, UCLA
The Bruins’ super-frosh has put together plenty of impressive stat lines this season, but even Love himself admitted his performance against Washington State on Saturday was his “best game overall.” He scored 27 points and grabbed 14 rebounds (his eighth double-double of the year) as fifth-ranked UCLA held off a late-game three-point barrage by the fourth-ranked Cougars to win 81-74. Love also added four assists and two blocks – and (surprise!) two three pointers – to lead the Bruins to victory.
Roy Hibbert, Georgetown
Hibbert didn’t hit as many threes as Love did over the weekend, but the senior’s let-him-shoot-it trifecta with less than five seconds left gave the Hoyas a thrilling, come-from-behind 72-69 win over a pesky, Jim Calhoun-less UConn team on Saturday. Hibbert finished with 20 points and eight rebounds, as Georgetown erased a six-point second half deficit to improve to 13-1 overall and 3-0 in the Big East. They’ll face Pittsburgh on the road Monday night in what will be by their toughest conference test of the season to date.
What a difference a week and a half has made for Oregon. The Ducks were on very shaky ground after losing at Arizona State on Jan. 3, but since then, they’ve strung together a trio of very nice Pac-10 wins. They won at Arizona last Saturday to stay in the bracket, and then went out this week and, led by two strong performances by Maarty Leunen, downed Cal and Stanford at home to improve to 3-1 in conference play. Those wins also moved Oregon from a 10 seed all the way up to the last six seed in our Field of 65 this week.
The Bearcats have come a long way since famously losing their season opener to Belmont. After enduring a brutal non-conference schedule, Cincinnati has been at its best over the first two weeks of Big East play. Last week, they beat Syracuse and 17th-ranked Villanova at home to improve to .500 overall and a very surprising 3-1 in conference. The Bearcats’ next stretch of six games is extremely rough, but three of those games (Pitt, UConn, Marquette) are at home, where Cincinnati has already proven its toughness.
UCLA and Oregon weren’t the only Pac-10 teams to have Dean’s List-worthy weeks. Arizona State not only knocked off Arizona for just the second time in its last 26 tries on Wednesday to improve to 3-0 in the Pac-10, they put together a very nice, complete-court-coverage rush afterwards. The win bumped the Sun Devils from an 11 seed up to an eight seed in this week’s bracket, and they’ll have a chance to move up even higher if they can pick up a road win or two this weekend as they visit Cal and Stanford.
Also receiving votes: Jerryd Bayless (Arizona’s stud frosh had 33 points and nine assists against Houston in his return to the lineup on Saturday), Michael Beasley (not to be outdone, Kansas State’s all-world freshman scored 32 points, including the game winner with 2.3 seconds left, as the Wildcats upset Oklahoma in Norman on Saturday), Patrick Patterson (the freshman forward had 23 points and 12 boards in Kentucky’s upset of Vanderbilt on Saturday), Pitt’s frontcourt (junior Sam Young and freshman DeJuan Blair combined for 32 points and 13 rebounds in a win against South Florida on Wednesday and 48 points and 22 boards in a win over Seton Hall on Saturday), Tyler Smith (the sophomore forward had the game-winning lay-in with 4.2 seconds left to help Tennessee knock off previously-unbeaten Mississippi on Wednesday), Missouri (the Tigers shot 70 percent in the second half en route to a 97-84 upset of Texas on Saturday), Dayton (led by Brian Roberts’ 23 points, the Flyers won their showdown with Rhode Island 92-83 on Wednesday), Charlotte (the 49ers picked up a huge OOC win at Clemson on Wednesday), Delaware (the Blue Hens knocked off George Mason and ODU at home to improve to 4-0 in the Colonial), Purdue (the Boilers beat Ohio State 78-75 at home on Saturday), Dick Vitale’s vocal cords (after missing more than a month, Dickie V has been cleared to return to broadcasting, and he’ll do so – guess when? – at the Duke-North Carolina game on Feb. 6)
Teams that can’t score more than 25 points in a game
Several college basketball teams were determined to set the sport back a few decades this week, but only Saint Louis and Savannah State were able to do so on a historically awful level. Savannah State kicked off the brick-laying on Monday, as they shot a record-low 4.3 percent (1-for-23) and scored a record-low four points in the second half of an 85-25 loss at Kansas State. Fortunately for the Tigers, though, their ineptitude was overshadowed by an every more amazing performance by the Bilikens just three days later. That’s when Saint Louis set a now well-documented shot-clock record by scoring just 20 points in a 29-point loss at George Washington, leading Rick Majerus to comically conclude that his team “seems to have some issues in terms of its offensive efficiency.”
Top-10 teams that can’t score more than 40 points in a game
Offensive inefficiency didn’t just infect sub-.500 teams this week – even Big Ten favorite and 6th-ranked Michigan State decided to put up a middle school point total. After taking an 18-9 lead against Iowa on Saturday, the Spartans fell apart at the seams, scoring just 18 more points in the final 28:08 in a 43-36 loss. It was Michigan State’s lowest scoring effort since they had just 36 points in a loss to Michigan in 1952, and it prompted Tom Izzo to rip into his players afterward. He called the result “embarrassing” and said that the game was a “total breakdown by every player on the team.” Ouch...
So this is how the Orange reward us for putting them back in the bracket. A week after returning to the Field of 65, Sryacuse lost road games at Cincinnati and West Virginia to drop back to the Last Four Out list. Neither game last week was close; the Orange trailed the Bearcats by 12 at the half and lost 74-66, and they were down 15 at the break against the Mountaineers before eventually losing by 20. Freshman point guard Jonny Flynn, who has played well of late, struggled mightily in both defeats, going a combined 6-of-25 over the two games and dishing out just five assists while committing nine turnovers.
Usually when a team needs one more quality win to make the next week’s Field of 65, and then goes out and drops 112 points on a good conference opponent, they earn themselves a bid. The Eagles, thanks to a complete no-show against Robert Morris on Monday night, instead earned themselves a spot on the AcPro list. BC was down seven at the half and trailed by as many as nine in the second half in a 57-51 home loss to Colonials, who celebrated their upset by losing by 13 at home to 6-10 Sacred Heart on Sunday.
The Mountain West & The A-10
The Big East, the Big XII, and the SEC were all able to pick up extra bids this week, and they did so in large part because of the shaky play of some bubble teams in the MWC and the A-10. The MWC is back to a one-bid league in this week’s bracket after BYU and SDSU lost bad OOC games and New Mexico lost at home to the visiting Aztecs. The A-10, which had looked like a solid four-bid league for weeks, is now down to just three bids after UMass fell to St. Joe’s. UMass’ upcoming schedule is too brutal to keep them in, and neither St. Joes’ nor Charlotte (even with a W at Clemson this week) has done enough yet to be bid-worthy.
Also receiving votes: Vanderbilt (the Commodores were feisty and forced overtime, but ultimately lost to Kentucky on Saturday to fall from the ranks of the unbeaten), North Carolina State (the Wolfpack was embarrassing bad against North Carolina; they were outscored 32-2 in one stretch in the first half and lost by 31), Houston (the Cougars lost out on their last shot at an OOC win by getting blitzed at home by Arizona on Saturday), Josh Young’s ankle (Drake’s sophomore guard, the MVC’s leading scorer at over 16 ppg, is out indefinitely after spraining his ankle in the Bulldogs’ win Wednesday over Indiana State), Roy Williams’ scalp (Williams needed five stitches in his head after he tripped over a cord in his cluttered office and hit his head on a door), coaches who want to text message recruits (a group of assembled delegates upheld the existing ban on texting at the NCAA Convention in Nashville on Saturday)