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:
There may not be a player that has been called on to do more for his team over the past two weeks than Price – and the sophomore guard has responded by playing the best ball of his career. Price’s recent scoring tear continued this week as the red-hot Huskies – still playing without suspended leading scorer Jerome Dyson – picked up two more huge wins to extend their winning streak to five games. Price, who is averaging 20 points, six assists and five rebounds over that span, had 20 points in UConn’s 69-67 victory over Louisville at home on Monday and had 21 points, including a key driving lay-in with just over a minute to play, as the Huskies downed Pitt 60-53 on Saturday. Those wins shot UConn up to No. 19 in this week’s polls, and earned them a four seed in our latest Field of 65.
Plaxico Burress wasn’t the only athlete backing up a bold prediction last week. POY candidate Michael Beasley, who had previously guaranteed that Kansas State would break “The Streak” and beat rival Kansas at home for the first time in 24(!) years, scored 25 points and had six rebounds to lead the Wildcats to a thrilling upset. Bill Walker had 22 points and Jacob Pullen added 20 for Kansas State, which celebrated in style after the win, dancing on the scorer’s table and high-fiving the sea of purple-clad fans that had stormed the floor.
Anderson might be the best big man in a big conference that no one knows about. His incredible sophomore season continued last week, as Cal ripped off two huge wins against Washington and Washington State to improve to 4-5 in the Pac-10. Anderson had 27 points and nine rebounds in a 69-64 win over the Cougars on Thursday and then blew up for 33 points and 17 rebounds in a 79-75 win over the Huskies on Saturday. The 6-foot-10 forward scored 15 of those 33 points in a row in one stretch in the second half, as the Bears overcame a five-point halftime deficit to earn the win.
For months, it looked like Washington State would be the only Pac-10 team to pose a challenge to UCLA. But after another two-win week – including a road victory over Wazzu – it’s upstart Stanford that is suddenly breathing down the Bruins’ necks. Led by Brook Lopez, who scored a career high 31 points against Washington on Thursday and by twin bro Robin, who made a huge lay-up late against Washington State on Saturday, the Cardinal extended its winning streak to five this week and improved to 7-2 in conference. They should be able to push that mark to 9-2 this week with home games against Oregon and Oregon State.
A little home cooking worked wonders for A&M’s previously-unimpressive Big XII resume last week. The Aggies crushed Texas in College Station on Wednesday (they led by 22 at one point), and then erased a shaky first half to beat Oklahoma 60-52 on Saturday to improve to 4-3 in conference. Some stingy defense and the play of senior forward Joseph Jones proved to be the keys to both games. Jones had 14 points in just 21 minutes against the Longhorns, and then scored 18 points to go along with six rebounds versus the Sooners.
Also receiving votes: Arkansas (the Razorbacks proved they belonged in the bracket by beating fellow SEC bubble boys Mississippi State and Florida last week), Wisconsin (the Badgers crushed Indiana at home and Minnesota on the road last week to move into a first-place tie with Purdue in the Big Ten), Penn State (the free-falling Nittany Lions pulled off the biggest upset of the week, stunning – and rushing on – 7th-ranked Michigan State on Saturday), Drake (the victories keep on coming for the Bulldogs, who beat Creighton and Indiana State this week to stay perfect in the MVC), Chris Douglas-Roberts (Memphis stayed unbeaten this week thanks to two huge performances by Douglas-Roberts; he scored 30 points in the Tigers’ win at Houston on Wednesday, and had 24 points and seven rebounds in a much-closer-than-expected home win over UTEP on Saturday), Derek Wright (the senior guard had 43 points – 32 more than his season average – and added seven steals in Austin Peay’s triple OT loss to Southeast Missouri State on Monday), Will Thomas (the senior forward had 21 points and 15 rebounds in George Mason’s 63-51 win over VCU on Tuesday), Jason Thompson (Rider’s underrated senior forward had a Beasley-esque 23 points and 21 rebounds in the Broncs’ win at Siena on Saturday), Luke Harangody (the sophomore continued his recent tear by scoring a career-high 31 points and grabbing 14 rebounds in Notre Dame’s win over Providence on Thursday, and by scoring 29 points to go along with 14 rebounds as the Irish downed DePaul on Saturday), Paul Harris (the sophomore scored a career-high 28 points in Syracuse’s win at Villanova on Saturday), Kevin Love (make it 13 double-doubles for Love this season; he had two more this week as UCLA swept Arizona State and Arizona at Pauley Pavilion), Chase Budinger (the super-soph had 29 points and eight boards in Arizona’s win at USC on Thursday), Ben McCauley (his put-back dunk at the buzzer gave North Carolina State a crazy 67-65 win over Wake Forest on Sunday), Eddie Sutton (Sutton finally got his 800th career win this week, as San Francisco rallied from a 12-point halftime deficit to beat Pepperdine 85-82 in Malibu on Saturday)
Winning on the road in conference isn’t easy for any team, but for Miami it appears to be impossible. The Hurricanes dropped two more road contest last week (at Wake Forest and at Duke) to fall to 0-4 on the road in the ACC. The loss at Cameron Indoor was understandable, but what really hurt the ‘Canes’ resume this week was falling in Winston-Salem to the Demon Deacons. In losing 70-68, Miami missed out at an opportunity to pick up a nice road win and, more importantly, a chance to deal a fellow ACC bubble team a home loss. At 2-5 in conference, the Canes have a ton of work to do if then plan on eventually getting to 9-7 – a mark that should guarantee them a bid.
The Sun Devils’ freefall toward irrelevance continued this week, as they dropped two more games (at UCLA and at USC) to extend their current losing streak to five. Losing to the Bruins on Thursday was certainly excusable, but the final score wasn’t – ASU was down 22 at the half and lost by 33. They weren’t much better at USC two days later, losing by 13 to the Trojans. The Sun Devils are now locked in a tie for sixth in the crowded Pac-10, and have the tough task of playing at Arizona in their only game this week.
The only big conference team tumbling faster than Arizona State is Villanova, which has now dropped five of seven (six of eight if you count their blowout loss at St. Joseph’s yesterday) to fall to 13-8 overall and 3-6 in the Big East. Ranked in both polls and slotted as high as a seven seed in our bracket just two weeks ago, Villanova is playing like a team that may not be heard from again. Their last five losses have all been by double figures, the most disturbing of which was their 14-point loss at home to Syracuse on Saturday.
The Cougars picked a poor week to lose their shooting touch. They made just eight of 32 three point attempts in home losses to Cal and Stanford last week – losses that dropped them to a less-than-stellar 5-4 in the Pac-10. Wazzu also had its issues from the free throw line against the Cardinal, making just four of their final nine attempts from the stripe in a 67-65 OT loss. Senior Kyle Weaver missed a key FT with just under 10 seconds left that would given the Cougars a late lead in that game, and then missed another one in the closing seconds of overtime that would have tied the game.
Most fans in the Nutmeg State figured Doug Wiggins (who had already failed two drug tests this season) would be the one in the most trouble after he and Dyson were caught with alcohol in a car and were subsequently drug tested. In the end, though, it was Dyson’s love of marijuana that got exposed, landing him a 30-to-60 day suspension. UConn coach Jim Calhoun has still not said when Dyson will return to the team.
Also receiving votes: Ty Lawson’s left ankle (UNC’s lightning-quick point guard sprained his ankle against Florida State on Sunday, leaving his availability for Wednesday’s showdown with Duke in serious doubt), Missouri’s Jason Horton and Stefhon Hannah (Horton, a senior guard, was arrested Friday on a misdemeanor assault charge following a weekend brawl that left Hannah, the Tigers’ leading scorer, with a broken jaw; five Missouri players were suspended indefinitely by coach Mike Anderson for their roles in the incident, which occurred at a night club in downtown Columbia), Wake Forest (the Demon Deacons missed out on a shot at making this week’s bracket by blowing a seven-point halftime lead and losing a heartbreaker to N.C. State), Mississippi (the Rebels followed up their big win over Vanderbilt with a home loss to South Carolina), West Virginia and St. Mary’s (the Mountaineers and Gaels had bad hiccups at home last week too, falling to Cincinnati and San Diego, respectively), Dalonte Hill’s blood alcohol level (the Kansas State assistant was arrested early Thursday morning on suspicion of driving under the influence, hours after the Wildcats upset Kansas; he has since been charged with a DUI and has been suspended one game)