Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, February 9, 2015 at 12:00 AM
THE COLLEGE HOOPS REPORT –
WE’RE HANDING OUT OUR OWN
AWARDS FOR THE WEEKEND WINNERS
AND THAT INCLUDES A FINAL SALUTE TO
THE LEGENDARY DEAN SMITH …
PLUS QUICK-HITTER LOOKS AT KEY
INCLUDING #1 KENTUCKY AT LSU
Hey, multi-Grammy Award winner Sam Smith wasn’t the only one who had a great weekend!
As a matter of fact, each/every College Basketball team ranked in the Associated Press’ Top 5 snagged wins this past weekend as
Kentucky, Gonzaga, Virginia, Duke and Wisconsin had varying degrees of greatness in their respective “W’s” – but in staying with the theme of handing out awards for specific categories, we’ll have some fun in today’s edition of Jim Sez when it comes to the college hoops world.
But we start by getting serious …
CAREER IN EXCELLENCE AWARD -- To the late/great Dean Smith (North Carolina head coach from 1961-1997).
No doubt the maestro of modern-day college basketball head coaches was being hailed posthumously from coast-to-coast by former players and coaches alike following his passing last Saturday night at the age of 83 years old.
Smith retired in October 1997 – so it had been awhile since he’d truly been in the public spotlight -- but his 879 wins (which ranked #1 at the time of his retirement) and his 11 Final Fours and his two National Championships were only part of the story.
Hey, when the President of the United States and the greatest basketball player on earth laud you in written statements the day after you die, well, then you were a really big deal.'
Maybe it’s only fitting that the North Carolina Tar Heels – Smith’s pride-and-joy for most/all of his adult life – are idle until this Saturday so that the Chapel Hill community can honor him with tributes all week long.
Now, back to our awards …
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A RANKED TEAM –
Yes, coach Smith’s longtime rivals played fanatical ball in last Saturday’s rollicking 90-60 win/cover against 10 ½-point underdog Notre Dame as not only did Mike Krzyzewski’s squad gain a major measure of revenge for a 77-73 loss in South Bend back in late January but the Blue Devils played their most complete game of this whole 2014-15 season.
The Dookies went on a wild 43-7 surge to pull way ahead and how about the following game notes:
Freshman C Jahlil Okafor registered 20 points and 10 rebounds while playing just 23 minutes and Duke shot an eye-popping 81 percent in the first half en route to a 50-24 intermission lead.
And get this …
Overall, Duke shot 31-of-51 from the floor (that’s 60.8 percent) and starting guards Quinn Cook and Tyus Jones combined for zero turnovers and 12 assists while playing 36 and 34 minutes, respectively.
BEST UPSET OF A RANKED TEAM – Arizona State over #6 Arizona
When you’re the “little brothers” from Arizona State and you beat “big brother” Arizona, it’s always a big deal in the hoops world but toss into the equation the fact that the U of A Wildcats – now 20-3 overall and 8-2 in Pac-12 play – entered last Saturday’s game as the nation’s sixth-ranked team and the A-State Sun Devils (now 12-11 and 4-6 in league play) are considered on the outside-looking-in at a potential NCAA Tournament berth and the win by 8-point home pup Arizona State just got a whole lot bigger.
The biggest factors for State here was the three-point accuracy – how does 7-of-15 from outside the arc grab ‘ya? – and the fact that Arizona was slow to react on defense which clearly was not a problem back on Jan. 4th when ‘Zona smashed the Sun Devils 73-49 in Tucson.
All we’ll say is that Arizona might well have cost itself a #1 seed in next month’s NCAA Tournament with the loss … that’s all!
BEST SHOWING BY AN UNDER-THE-RADAR/UNRANKED TEAM – Boise State
The B-State Broncos (17-6, 7-3 Mountain West Conference) get slightly less attention for their on-the-hardwood accomplishments than the school’s football team but don’t let the fact that Boise State just bury 1-point road favorite San Diego 61-46 on Sunday evening startle you, okay?
The Broncos are a “for real” team that just won their seventh consecutive game and this one was an unexpected but veritable walk in the park as Boise State never – ever – trailed while building a monstrous 17-point first-half lead and so if you don’t know about the likes of Derrick Marks (19 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists versus San Diego State) and this bunch that canned 15-of-19 free throws than maybe high time you learned about ‘em just as the AP voters are learning about ‘em.
BEST COACHING JOB THIS PAST WEEKEND – Fran Dunphy, Temple
Okay, so maybe we’re slightly biased because the Temple Owls – a 3 ½-point underdog at Memphis last Saturday afternoon – roared back from a 38-28 halftime deficit to win 61-60 in a key Jim Hurley hoops phone/online selection but consider that Temple shot a lowly 19-of-57 from the floor (that’s 33.3 percent) in the road win and also missed a dozen free throws and still the Philly gang found a way to win as Josh Brown’s game-winning jumper with six seconds left did the trick.
Dunphy’s been a fantastic coach for years – everyone remembers his great team at Penn – but in this gotta-have-it game in the American Athletic Conference, there was Dunphy pulling all the right strings for his Owls (17-7, 8-3) who – all of a sudden – are honing in on one of those 68 NCAA Tournament bids.
And now hear this …
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will continue to pile up the profits all this week/month with loads of NBA and NCAA Basketball winners right here online at www.jimhurley.com or at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 – so go ahead and win with all the hardwood action today!
MORE COLLEGE NEWS/NOTES
Let’s zoom ‘round the land while taking a look at a couple of key Monday/Tuesday games …
The back half of ESPN’s “Big Monday” doubleheader is a real big bash as Iowa State (17-5, 7-3 Big 12) visits Oklahoma (16-7, 7-4 Big 12) and both ranked teams come off gigantic weekend wins – the I-State Cyclones pulled within a game of Kansas atop the league standings with a 75-38 romp over 17-point dog Texas Tech but can Jameel McKay (career-high 17 points with 8 rebounds) stay red-hot here after draining all seven of his field-goal tries while Oklahoma (10-1 at home) is fresh off a 68-56 win at 3-point pup TCU as Ryan Spangler matched a career best with 21 points.
Top-ranked Kentucky (23-0, 10-0) continues its quest for perfection with an SEC road game at LSU (17-6, 6-4) and these days the Las Vegas oddsmakers can’t make John Calipari’s club big enough betting favorites – just let’s go back a few games and you’ll see Kentucky’s been favored by 8 points in a 68-61 non-cover win at Florida, by 18 points in a 69-58 non-cover home win against Georgia and by 19 points in a 70-55 home non-cover win against Alabama back on Jan. 31 and so the storyline here is Kentucky keeps winning but the opponent keeps cashing … let’s see if that’s the case here with the Bayou Bengals a hefty home pup against the country’s second-ranked defense (allowing just 51.5 ppg) and keep an eye peeled for Kentucky tag-teamers Aaron Harrison and Devin Booker who each have canned 40 trifectas apiece while it’s the funky-shooting Keith Hornsby who leads the LSU side this year with 44 triples (in 118 attempts).
If you wish to take a sneak peek at an always-busy Wednesday night card, then you’ll likely be interested in Pittsburgh at Louisville and a late-nighter between Wyoming at San Diego State.
NOTE: Catch more NCAA Previews plus NBA News/Notes in the next edition of Jim Sez.