... the safe, smart AM read for college basketball fans
Look closely. Some of the most important role players in college basketball are starting to assert themselves right in front of our eyes. On Saturday it was the previously-unknown Florida State guard Deividas Dulkys who dropped 32 points on North Carolina to explode onto the scene, and yesterday Ohio State sophomore Lenzelle Smith Jr. joined the foray with a career-high 28-point day to sink Indiana.
Smith's big performance came at the ideal time for the Buckeyes, after last Tuesday's upset loss to Illinois clearly opened some eyes about their depth issues. Smith remains one of the biggest x-factors for Thad Matta's team going forward, and his three-point accuracy (53.1% on the season) affords the Buckeyes a much-needed weapon from the perimeter. Even though consistent shots have been difficult to come by for Smith this year with so many other legit options around him, a game like this could go a long way towards changing that.
* OSU's Aaron Craft: "We were kind of playing with an edge coming off a loss...we were really connected on defense." (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
* JT3 on Hollis Thompson's confidence: "Hollis didn’t realize that he was oh-fer [in the first half]. That’s what makes him a good shooter." (Washington Post)
* It took three games for Maryland's Terrell Stoglin to record an assist in ACC play (Testudo Times)
Chicago State - It took 16 losses, but the Cougars can finally add a check in the win column for the first time this season. And come on, who really cares that yesterday's 91-63 win came over NAIA representative St. Francis (ILL) and not a more legitimate program? Chicago State went to 'The Show' and fought a dangerous San Diego State group to the wire just last week, and it's clear that game might have served as a significant confidence builder. The Cougars' Great West schedule kicks off this Thursday, so this was a nice way to get the ball rolling.
USC - A rivalry game should bring out the best in a major conference team. And with such middling expectations for Southern Cal hoops at the moment, you'd expect a meeting with UCLA to be one of the few "let's-try-to-show-up" games left on the schedule. Instead, the Trojans played decent for about ten minutes and then fell completely flat. Along with failing to reach 20 points in the first half and snatching just 17 rebounds all game, Southern Cal shot a woeful 42.9% from the FT line on the day behind Dwayne Dedmon's 2-for-8 performance. The Trojans, dejected, are now 0-5 in the Pac-12 and look like fair competition for Utah as the league's most pathetic team.
Any game, it can happen," chuckled teammate Abdul Gaddy. Projected as the 14th overall pick in the latest Draft Express 2012 mock draft, the absurdly-talented Ross turned in a second half for the ages on Sunday night. And all his teammates can do is laugh about it. They see it every single day. The 6'6" sophomore poured in 26 of his career-high 30 points after the intermission, and was absolutely integral in a Huskies comeback victory over Washington State last night. Ross also chipped in 14 rebounds and two steals, and tied a season-high with six makes from behind the arc. Make no mistake, when Ross is playing at this type of level, Washington is the class of the Pac-12 without question."
12 - First half turnovers committed by Indiana in its embarrassing loss to Ohio State.