Weekly Awards: Devoe Joseph, Rakim Sanders, Ohio St & More
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Devoe Joseph, Oregon Senior Guard: Joseph led Oregon to wins over Colorado and Utah with 45 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists and four steals.
On Thursday, Joseph went 11-for-16 from the field, including 2-for-4 from the 3-point line, and scored 24 points in the Ducks’ 90-81 win over Colorado. He also had five boards, five assists and two steals in the win.
The senior guard came back for 21 points – on 8-of-9 from the floor – six boards, five assists and a pair of steals in a 94-48 win over Utah on Saturday.
Behind Joseph – Oregon’s leading scorer at 16.8 points per game – the Ducks have won three straight and five of their last six, and at 22-8, they may be a viable option for an NCAA Tournament bid.
MID-MAJOR PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Rakim Sanders, Fairfield Senior Forward: Sanders had team-bests with 15 points and eight rebounds in Saturday’s MAAC Tournament quarterfinal win over Rider.
In Sunday’s 85-75 upset of Iona, Sanders was even better. He went 11-for-17 from the field and 2-for-3 from the 3-point line and scored 26 points as Fairfield advanced to Monday’s title game against Loyola (Md.). He also had 12 rebounds, two assists, two steals and a blocked shot against the Gaels.
For the season, Sanders is averaging 16.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.4 steals and is shooting 50 percent from the floor.
TEAM OF THE WEEK
Ohio State: The 11th-ranked Buckeyes earned a pair of road victories to come two games from behind and clinch a share of their third consecutive Big Ten regular-season title.
Jared Sullinger banked in the game winner with 3.1 seconds left Wednesday to give OSU a 75-73 win over Northwestern.
On Sunday, the Buckeyes overcame an early 23-9 deficit to beat league-leader Michigan State, 72-70. William Buford hit a 20-foot jumper over the outstretched fingertips of Keith Appling with a second to play.
“I was fortunate to knock down the big shot of the night to give us another Big Ten title,” said Buford, who finished with a game-high 25 points.
Ohio State, which finished the regular season 25-6 overall, is the No. 3 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and will face either Purdue or Penn State in Friday’s conference quarterfinal.
SINGLE-GAME PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State Sophomore Guard: Franklin concluded his second regular season at SDSU with his best performance as an Aztec.
In Saturday’s 98-92 overtime road win over Texas Christian, which gave the Aztecs a share of the Mountain West Conference championship, Franklin went off for 35 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, two steals and a blocked shot. He made nine of his 18 shots from the floor, 14-of-17 from the charity stripe and went 3-for-8 from the 3-point line.
For the season, Franklin is averaging 17.1 points, eight boards, 1.4 assists and 1.1 steals.
WIN OF THE WEEK
North Carolina 88, Duke 70: The Tar Heels jumped out to a 24-8 lead midway through the first half and were never really threatened en route to the ACC regular-season crown.
The 18-point win was the third-largest victory ever at Cameron Indoor Stadium. UNC led 48-24 at the half, shot 54.5 percent from the field, out-rebounded the Blue Devils 45-28 in its seventh straight victory.
“We were kind of overwhelmed by them and the situation,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski admitted.
The No. 6 Tar Heels, who were led by sophomore Kendall Marshall’s 20 points and 10 assists, will face either Maryland or Wake Forest in Friday’s ACC quarterfinal as the tourney’s top seed.
UPSET OF THE WEEK
Arkansas State 64, Middle Tennessee 61: Arkansas State entered the Sun Belt Tournament with just 11 wins. The Red Wolves had lost two straight, five of their last seven and 10 of their last 14.
But after Saturday’s first-round win over Florida Atlantic, the tournament’s No. 9 seed earned its biggest win of the season by knocking off the top-seeded Blue Raiders.
Middle Tennessee is 25-6 overall, is ranked 47th in the latest RPI and has wins over UCLA, Akron, Belmont and Mississippi on its resume. The Raiders will have to wait a week to find out whether that’s enough to get them into the NCAA Tournament.
LOSS OF THE WEEK
Fairfield 85, Iona 75: The nation’s leading scoring team was held to 75 points as its 6-game winning streak came to an end.
On the other end, Fairfield shot 59.6 percent from the field, out-rebounded the Gaels 32-20 and went on a 16-1 run midway through the second half to turn a 60-54 deficit into a 70-61 lead.
Iona’s fate will now be decided by the NCAA Tournament committee. The Gaels have 25 wins, a strong RPI at 48 and have victories over Nevada, Maryland, St. Joseph’s, Long Island, Denver, Marshall and Richmond.
PLAY OF THE WEEK
Jewaun Long’s layup sinks Tennessee State’s hopes: Murray State trailed 50-43 with five minutes left, and after a 9-2 run got the Racers even with the Tigers, Long hit a layup with 4.4 seconds left to send Murray to the NCAA Tournament.
The senior scored just six points on 2-of-7 shooting.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in him,” Murray State coach Steve Prohm said. “He hadn’t made a lot of shots all night, but that’s his shot.”
Long’s shot put the No. 9 Racers within a game of their school-record 31st win and gave them their seventh consecutive triumph.
It was heartbreak for Tennessee State, which handed Murray its only loss on Feb. 9. But it was relief for several teams on the bubble. With the Racers already presumably in the field, if the Tigers had held on, they would have bumped one of the current bubble teams out of the field.