If the first week of conference play is any indication of how the next three months are going to be, then we’re in for a heck of a ride. From buzzer beaters to upsets, to Zion 360 dunks, this week had it all. Here are some takeaways from the past seven days in college hoops:
December 31-January 6
“Lights Out” Player of the Week: Shamorie Ponds (St. Johns)
In two games against Big East foes this past week, Ponds averaged 31.5 points, five rebounds and 5.5 assists. The Johnnies won both of those games, too, against Marquette and Georgetown. His ability to create his own shot, as well as finish around the rim, makes him the clear favorite to win Big East player of the year. His ability to score the ball in a variety of ways has many comparing him to James Harden. The Big East has never been as wide open as it is now, as Ponds could lead the Red Storm to their first regular-season conference title since 1992.
Team of the Week: Iowa State Cyclones
The Cyclones won a tough road game in Stillwater against Oklahoma State by six on Wednesday. On Saturday, they picked up their biggest win of the season by routing fifth-ranked Kansas in Ames. In the win over the Jayhawks, Marial Shayok dropped 24 points and the Cyclone defense forced Bill Self’s team into 24 turnovers. With the return of Lindell Wigginton, this team is a dangerous squad that is fully capable of ending Kansas’ reign of 11 consecutive Big 12 titles.
Upset of the Week: New Mexico Routs #6 Nevada
The sixth-ranked Wolfpack were held to a season-low 58 points when they suffered their first loss to the hands of New Mexico. The Lobos’ Anthony Mathias poured in 27 points, while Vance Jackson contributed 18 points and 10 rebounds off the bench. The story here should be New Mexico’s outstanding defense, as they limited the Martin twins to just 17 points combined. They also held the Wolfpack to 33% shooting and allowed a hot-shooting team to only four three-pointers.
Injury News: Bol Bol, Azubuike Out for Season
The injury bug has significantly affected two programs in Oregon and Kansas. Both lost their best players and big men, and both struggled mightily in their first games without them. Bol Bol, a projected lottery pick, will miss the rest of the season with a left foot injury. His absence was clear, as the Ducks fell at home to Oregon State. Udoka Azubuike, arguably Kansas’ most important player, is out for the year with a torn hand ligament. The Jayhawks were routed by 17 at Iowa State in their first game without Azubuike.
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