There’s nothing quite like ringing in the new year with the beginning of conference play. Teams will finally be tested and contenders will separate themselves from pretenders. Some programs ended 2018 on a high note, while others look to make noise in the new year. Here are a few takeaways from the past week in college hoops:
December 24 – 31
Kentucky is Back
After knocking off North Carolina in Chicago a week earlier, Kentucky went to Louisville and dismantled the Cards for back-to-back wins over ACC programs. We finally saw the Tyler Herro we saw in high school, as he came up huge with 24 points. The Cats defense stifled Chris Mack’s squad, limiting them to 58 points for the game. Kentucky is starting to hit it’s stride right before conference play.
Marquette, Markus Howard are really good
After falling to Kansas, the Golden Eagles have rattled off eight wins in a row. That includes wins over Kansas State, Louisville, Wisconsin and Buffalo. A lot of credit belongs to Markus Howard, who is averaging 25 points, four assists and four steals per game. He’s not just doing it by himself, either. Sam and Joey Hauser are capable of dominating down low, as well as stretching the floor by shooting the three. Marquette is a team that shoots the ball as well as anybody, and are a matchup nightmare for any team in March.
UCLA fires Steve Alford
UCLA announced on New Year’s Eve that they would be parting ways with head coach Steve Alford after a 7-6 start to the season. Losses to Michigan State and UNC are understandable, but falling to Belmont and Liberty at home are not. It was clear Alford’s tenure in Los Angeles were nearing an end, as there was no signs of improvement or optimism. Meanwhile, the Pac-12 is downright awful. And the conference’s best team, Arizona State, lost to Princeton at home. Assistant Murry Bartow will fill as interim coach until UCLA finds it’s next coach.
Games to watch this week: Nebraska at Maryland, Oklahoma at Kansas, Utah State at Nevada, Michigan State at Ohio State, Florida State at Virginia, Indiana at Michigan, Nebraska at Iowa
Make sure to check out our college football page for more updates and rankings.