College Basketball Weekly Awards: Lillard, ORU, Fordham
A review of the week that was in college basketball focusing on the best (and worst) performances. Check in every Monday morning for our weekly awards.
COLLEGEHOOPS.NET PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Damian Lillard, Weber State Junior Guard: Lillard led the Wildcats to a pair of Big Sky Conference victories by scoring a combined 68 points last week.
On Thursday, the junior scored 30 points, grabbed seven rebounds, dished out five assists and blocked a shot in a 76-69 win over Eastern Washington.
He came back with a 38-point, 5-rebound, 5-assist performance in Saturday’s 88-81 triumph over Portland State.
For the season, Lillard is leading the country at 26.3 points per game. He’s shooting 48.9 percent from the field, 47.4 from the 3-point line and 90.9 at the charity stripe. Lillard is also averaging 5.9 boards and 3.6 assists for the Wildcats, who are 12-3 overall and 4-0 in the Big Sky.
Last week's Players of the Week were BYU's Brandon Davies and Lehigh's CJ McCollum.
COLLEEGHOOPS.NET TEAM OF THE WEEK
Oral Roberts: The Golden Eagles took on their top three Summit League challengers and defeated them all last week.
ORU opened the week with 89-80 wins at Oakland and at home against North Dakota State on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.
The Eagles then improved to 6-0 in the league with Saturday’s 97-75 win over South Dakota State, which was also 5-0 in the Summit heading into the showdown. Dominique Morrison had a career-high 38 points in the win over the Jackrabbits.
Oral Roberts is 14-4 overall.
SINGLE-GAME PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
Tony Mitchell, North Texas Freshman Forward: In only the seventh game of his career, Mitchell scored 32 points – on 11-of-14 from the field, including sinking all three of his 3-pointers, and 9-of-11 from the foul line – in the Mean Green’s 78-73 Sun Belt victory over South Alabama. Mitchell, who scored in double-figures in his first four career outings, also had 16 boards, two assists and two steals in the win.
Mitchell’s point-rebound total was the third-best in school history and the most since Jesse Ratliff had 38 points and 16 rebounds against South Alabama in 1992.
UPSET OF THE WEEK
Fordham 60, Harvard 54: The Rams outscored Harvard 36-27 in the second half to steal a victory from the 21st-ranked Crimson.
Fordham shot 48.8 percent from the field and held Harvard, which led 29-24 early in the second half before a 20-5 Ram run, to 36.4 percent.
“Congratulations, Fordham,” Harvard coach Tommy Amaker told the AP. “They played inspired basketball. Give them credit. They did a tremendous job.”
Fordham is 7-8 overall, while the Crimson bounced back with a 63-47 win over Dartmouth in their Ivy League opener to improve to 13-2 overall.
WIN OF THE WEEK
Kansas State 75, Missouri 59: Kansas State not only knocked off one of four remaining unbeatens, it made it clear that it is a likely NCAA team itself with Saturday’s blowout victory.
The Wildcats beat up Missouri and held the Tigers to 33 percent from the field, 29 percent from the 3-point line and to 27 points below their season average.
“I felt like Missouri hadn’t seen a team like us, a team that can really get up and pressure you on defense,” Kansas State sophomore guard Will Spradling told the AP.
Missouri leading scorer Marcus Denmon concurred with Spradling.
“We weren’t able to make our cuts freely, so we couldn’t get guys open,” Denmon said.
The Wildcats are now 12-2 overall and 1-1 in the Big 12. Missouri suffered its first defeat after 14 straight victories to open the season.
LOSS OF THE WEEK
Iowa State 74, Texas A&M 50: It isn’t just that the Aggies lost to an improving Cyclone squad Saturday, it’s how it happened.
Texas A&M – in its fourth loss in five games – was outscored 42-23 in the first half at home, falling behind 36-16 in the first 17 minutes.
They also allowed Iowa State sophomore Royce White to dominate the contest. White finished with 10 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists.
“Obviously, we struggled scoring in the first five minutes of the game,” Aggie coach Billy Kennedy said. “You have to give them credit. They’re very difficult to guard with Royce White handling and passing the ball, but we have to compete at a higher level.”
At this point – after opening the season ranked 20th in the nation – A&M looks like a longshot to reach the NCAA Tournament. Iowa State, on the other hand, is 12-3 overall and 2-0 in the Big 12 after also beating Texas on Wednesday.
PLAY OF THE WEEK
Moe Harkless’ tip-in to beat Cincinnati, 57-55: Harkless was the hero for St. John’s for the second time in two weeks when he put back a missed DeAngelo Harrison floater and put it back as the horn sounded Saturday.
The upset win snapped the Bearcats’ 7-game win streak and put St. John’s back above .500 at 8-7 and at 2-2 in the Big East after back-to-back losses to Connecticut and Louisville.
“This group doesn’t get down,” Red Storm interim coach Mike Dunlap said. “We’re going to be up-and-down all year long, but we have to ride it with them and continue to teach.”
Harkless finished with 14 points and 14 boards in the triumph. The freshman now has four career double-doubles. Harrison, who is also a freshman, added 18 points and seven boards.
THE COLLEGE BASKETBALL LIST
NATION’S BEST SHARPSHOOTERS
When these players put a shot up, you’re almost certain it’s going in:
1. Marcus Denmon, Missouri (Sr.): After lighting it up early, Denmon has struggled a bit of late. There’s still no player in America you’d rather have shooting a big 3 late in the game. Denmon leads the 14-1 Tigers at 18.7 points per game and is shooting 44.7 percent from deep.
2. Jordan Hulls, Indiana (Jr.): Hulls has the purest stroke in America and is shooting 58.2 percent from the 3-point line, 54.5 percent from the field and 86.7 from the foul line. He’s averaging 12.3 points and, oh yeah, he’s a point guard. Hulls has helped revitalize the 15-1 and 12th-ranked Hoosiers.
3. Doug McDermott, Creighton (So.): After his incredible freshman year, McDermott’s scoring surge hasn’t been a surprise, but his 58.2 percent clip from the 3-point line is astounding. He’s also shooting 63.2 percent from the field and is second in the nation at 25.2 point per contest, leading the Blue Jays to a 13-2 start.
4. Scott Wood, North Carolina State (Sr.): Wood is the 12-4 Wolfpack’s 3-point specialist, who has connected on 46.1 percent of his 3-pointers and 49.2 percent of all of his shots. He’s also 37-for-37 from the foul line after making 92.3 percent a year ago.
5. Ryne Smith, Purdue (Sr.): Over 80 percent of Smith’s shots and points come from the 3-point line. He’s making 45.3 percent from the 3-point line and averaging a career-best 10.2 points per game for the 13-4 Boilermakers.