Buckeyes a year early? Vols ahead of schedule
Indiana at Charlotte, Monday, ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET: Will D.J. White play or not? Regardless, this is a huge game for both schools. For Charlotte, it's a chance to show it will be in the mix in the A-10 and possibly for an NCAA bid. For IU, winning at Charlotte could go down as one of the most significant results of the season. Following up a Kentucky W with one at the 49ers would do wonders for this team's postseason profile.
Florida at Miami, Thursday: The Gators are rolling. The Canes aren't. Miami needs this win a heckuva lot more than Florida.
Tennessee vs. Oklahoma State (in Oklahoma City), Thursday, ESPN2, 6: The nightcap suddenly has meaning after the Vols dropped Texas. Beating Oklahoma State, too, would mean the Vols should be on the NCAA Tournament radar for some time.
West Virginia vs. Oklahoma (in Oklahoma City), Thursday, ESPN2, 8:30: The Sooners couldn't overcome Villanova in their first marquee game. West Virginia's intricate offense and active defense will be a worthy barometer.
Cincinnati vs. LSU, Friday, Las Vegas Holiday Classic: This should be quite an up-and-down affair with the game in the 80s or possibly 90s. Two of the better freshmen in the country -- Cincy PG Devan Downey and LSU forward Tasmin Mitchell -- will be on display in a high school gym in Vegas. The Bearcats' turnaround after beating Vandy on the road makes this game even more intriguing, since both teams are now expected to be tourney-worthy come March.
Tennessee had played a cupcake-filled nonleague schedule prior to its clash with Texas on Saturday, in which the Volunteers proved some legitimacy with a resounding effort. The one thing, though, that Tennessee can do as well as any team in the SEC is put five legitimate scorers on the floor.
With Chris Lofton, C.J. Watson, Major Wingate, Andre Patterson and Stanley Asumnu, Bruce Pearl's team is one of four in the league that has five players averaging double figures in scoring. The Vols racked up some impressive stats in their first five games, but matched or bettered those numbers against Texas, shooting better from the field, free-throw line and from 3-point land than they had against other lesser opponents.
Women's basketball is what garners all the attention in Knoxville, but Pearl might be positioning a team that doesn't have an abundance of household names yet for a nice run.
|COMBINED PPG||FG %||3-PT %||FT %|
Rocking The Rim
UCLA's Jordan Farmar has shown in the last three games that he's healed up and able to score again at a top level. The Bruins' point guard has been particularly good in the last two outings -- wins over Nevada and at Michigan that have helped cement the Bruins' status as a Top 25 team.
UCLA hasn't exactly overwhelmed anyone, winning its last four by a combined 31 points, but Farmar has shown that he can come through in big spots and his contributions aren't coming at the expense of production by his teammates.
|First four games||Last three games|
|% of UCLA's points||20.5%||29.9%|
Matchup of the week
Sure, St. John's has already lost to Hofstra and Marist this season, but it doesn't seem to matter how the Red Storm are playing because they ususally seem to rise to the challenge of playing Duke.
The two will meet Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN2 as part of our Holiday Hoops slate of games. Though four of the last five meetings have been decided by double digits, the memories of other recent matchups are certainly fresh enough in Mike Krzyzewski's mind that he won't let his team take this game lightly.
|The Blue Devils shot 31 percent. Lee Melchionni had 16 points and nine rebounds while J.J. Redick was held to 2-for-11 shooting.|
|Marcus Hatten's free throw at the buzzer gave St. John's a thrilling win as Mike Jarvis became the sixth coach to win 100 games at three different schools. St. John's rallied from 11 points down with 4:05 left to pull out the victory.|
|Bootsy Thornton's jumper with 13 seconds remaining gave St. John's a dramatic road win and snapped Duke's 64-game winning streak against unranked opponents. Thornton finished with 22 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists.|
|Bootsy Thornton scored 40 points and Ron Artest tied the game with a 3-pointer in the final seconds of regulation, but Duke won in overtime. Duke's Chris Carrawell had 17 points, nine rebounds and six assists, as well as two key free throws in OT.|
|Duke advanced to the Sweet 16 on Robert Brickey's tiebreaking basket with 32 seconds remaining to cap a rally from an eight-point second-half deficit. Brickey had 22 points, including two free throws in the final seconds to clinch the win.|
In the bonus
Sunday was mostly a day to forget for Davidson senior Brendan Winters, who went 4-for-18 from the field (and 1-for-12 from 3-point range) in a loss at Syracuse, but it was memorable in one regard: Winters broke the team's record for consecutive free throws made, clearing the previous mark of 36 by one before missing his last attempt in a 6-for-7 afternoon from the line.
Earlier this season, Duke fans chanted "You're not Redick" at the normally precise Winters, who entered the Syracuse game with Redick-light numbers (17.3 points and 39 percent shooting from 3-point range). He does have the Duke megastar beat in one respect though, as he's currently the best free-throw shooter in the state of North Carolina.
Winters is shooting 92.7 percent from the free-throw line, among the best in the NCAA and nearly 4 percent better than Redick. Last week, the son of former NBA coach Brian Winters credited his success to a new regular ritual at the stripe.
"I think I just settled on a routine," said Winters, who shot 77, 84, and 74 percent in his first three seasons. "It's changed over the years. Once, I tried to back off the line and shoot from a foot away. I've tried different spins and dribbles. Now I spin the ball in front of me, catch it, dribble twice, and shoot it. I got comfortable with it, and once I did, I got more confidence. Now I'm confident that every time I step to the line, I'll make two."