Saturday, April 07, 2007
Durant First Freshman to Claim Wooden Award
The award is given annually - after the conclusion of the NCAA men's basketball season - to the top player in college basketball.
For the first time in the history of the award, the honor went to a freshman: Kevin Durant of the Texas Longhorns. Durant finished #5 in the nation in scoring at 25.1 points, leading Texas to a 25-10 season. He also averaged 11.4 rebounds per game, led the Longhorns in both steals and blocks (1.9/game each) and recorded an astounding 20 double-doubles. At one point, Durant ran off a string of 6 straight double-doubles, averaging 29.7 points and 14.3 rebounds during the stretch.
Durant was a prolific scorer, hitting 83 3-pointers and scoring 30 or more points on 11 occasions, including his career-high of 37, 4 different times.
The Longhorns were bounced from the NCAA tournament in the second round by USC, but Durant's presence was felt in both tourney games. In the opener against New Mexico St., Durant scored 27 points and hauled down 8 rebounds. He had 30 points and 8 boards in Texas' 87-68 loss to Southern Cal.
After receiving the award, Durant declined to comment on whether he would turn pro or return for another season at Texas, saying he was just going to enjoy the moment. The 6'9", 225 lb. phenom is widely assumed to be heading to the NBA after an incredible season, likely to be the #1 or #2 pick in a draft loaded with talented under-and-upperclassmen.
The selection committee had previously named 10 players as finalists for the award on two teams. The 1st Team:
- Arron Afflalo (UCLA)
- Aaron Brooks (Oregon)
- Kevin Durant (Texas)
- Nick Fazekas (Nevada)
- Tyler Hansbrough (North Carolina)
- Acie Law (Texas A&M)
- Joakim Noah (Florida)
- Greg Oden (Ohio State)
- Brandon Rush (Kansas)
- Alando Tucker (Wisconsin)
Purdue's Gene Keady was the recipient of the Legends of Coaching award for the 2006-2007 season.
Candace Parker, a 6'4" forward from the Tennessee Lady Vols, won the award for the 2006-2007 top women's player.
The event was aired live on CBS.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
Early returns: Kansas, Georgetown, Wisconsin close with wins
Durant started off hot, scoring 12 of the Longhorns' first 18 points and finished the first half with 25 points, hitting 5 of 5 3-pointers as Texas raced to a 54-42 lead. Kansas went on a 17-4 run to start the second half, and regained the lead at 59-58. Kansas grabbed a 69-65 lead on Mario Chalmers' 3-pointer, then, Durant, driving the lane, twisted his left ankle and writhed briefly on the floor in pain, but left under his own power, noticeably limping.
Without their star, Texas was not able to stay with the swarming Jayhawks who rolled to an 81-72 lead. Durant returned with just over 7 minutes remaining, but the Longhorns were struggling, hitting only 1 of 10 3-pointers in the 2nd half until Durant hit a long 3 with under 30 seconds remaining, cutting the lead to 5. Following a Kansas turnover, Abrams hit a 3 to cut it to 2 at 88-86 with 23 seconds left. After a Jayhawks free throw, Augustin's attempt for a tying 3-pointer was blocked by Julian Wright. The Jayhawks' Russell Robinson hit another free throw for the winning margin.
A.J. Abrams and D.J. Augustin scored 18 and 19 respectively for the Longhorns. Mario Chalmers led the Jayhawks with 21.
#9 Georgetown 59 Connecticut 46 - Roy Hibbert and Jeff Green may be the most dangerous frontcourt tandem in college hoops. The dynamic duo scored 18 and 14 respectively, boosting the Hoyas to at least a share of the Big East crown, pending the late-night Pitt-Marquette game result. Hibbert notched his 6th double-double with 12 rebounds. The Hoyas will get a first-round bye in the upcoming Big East tournament.
#4 Wisconsin 52 Michigan St. 50 - Alando Tucker was the only Badger in double figures, but his 26 points led Wisconsin to a tough road win in their final regular season game. The badgers finished up at 27-4 and 13-3 in the conference, good enough only for 2nd place behind Ohio State. The Badgers will be no worse than a #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
There were 22 games involving Top 25 teams on Saturday. Everybody except Duke and Pitt were on the court and 8 of those ended up on the wrong side of the score. Even in the one game between two ranked teams, the lower one, #10 Texas A&M, scored an upset over the higher, #6 Kansas. The game was played on Kansas' home court, so maybe the two will change positions in Monday's new poll, though nobody's holding their breath.
On to the action (losers first):
NC State 83 North Carolina 79 - This wasn't just big, it was huge. #3 North Carolina looked like a shoo-in to take over the #2 ranking in the next poll after Wisconsin and UCLA both suffered losses during the week. It was not to be. The Wolfpack sizzled at 60% shooting from the field, including 8-15 3-pointers, and in the process, further muddied the ACC waters. North Carolina's loss, coupled with Boston College's win over Virginia Tech, hoisted two unranked teams, BC and Virginia, to the top of the conference standings.
Texas A&M 69 Kansas 66 - Acie Law played 39 minutes and scored 23 points to lead the #10 Aggies to their most important win of the season. By virtue of Texas' loss to Kansas State, A&M wriggled out of a 3-team logjam atop the Big 12 and came out on top, a game better than #6 Kansas and #22 Texas.
USC 71 Oregon 68 - The Trojans proved that their win at Oregon was no fluke, holding off a spirited late rally by the #9 Ducks for the win. Oregon has had a tough week, losing to both SoCal teams. UCLA beat them on Thursday, securing first place in the Pac-10. On Saturday, USC relegated Oregon to middle of the pack status and moved into a tie with Washington St. for 2nd place at 8-3. USC plays UCLA at Pauley Pavilion this coming Wednesday.
USC shot 60% for the game while holding the Ducks to just 33% (22-66). The disparity in shooting percentage was mandatory for the Trojans as they were outrebounded 41-20, an area they must address in the near term.
Colorado 89 Oklahoma St. 77 - This was not expected to happen. Colorado was just 1-7 in the conference going in and 3-7 at home overall. But senior guard Dominique Coleman scored 21 points and pulled down 14 rebounds. Teammates Kalvin Bay and Richard Roby contributed 21 and 20 respectively to pull off one of the more stunning upsets of the day. #12 Oklahoma State fell to 5th place in the Big 12 at 4-3.
Boston College 80 Virginia Tech 59 The #16 Hokies fell for the second straight time to an unranked opponent. On Wednesday, they lost at home to NC State, 70-59, and on Saturday took their show on the road. The loss boosted Boston College into a first-place tie with Virginia at 7-2 and dropped the Hokies to 4th place at 6-3. Senior forward Jared Dudley matched his season high with 30 points for the Eagles while snatching 13 rebounds (7 offensive) for his 8th double-double of the season.
South Florida 69 Notre Dame 63 - Another poor performance on the road sent the #21 Fighting Irish to their 5th loss of the season and 4th out of 6 on the road in . Colin Falls had 26 points for Notre Dame, but McHugh Mattis had 23 as the Bulls took an early lead and never relinquished it. The Bulls outrebounded Notre Dame 48-38 and outscored them from the foul line, 20-6. The loss dropped the Irish to 6-4 in the heady Big East.
Kansas St. 73 Texas 72 - #22 Texas' Kevin Durant had 32 points and 9 rebounds but Cartier Martin (27 points) hit a 3-pointer and two key free throws to send the visiting Wildcats to their 6th straight Big 12 win and into a second place tie with rival Kansas at 6-2. Unranked K-State plays next at Kansas on Wednesday while Texas has a date at #10 Texas A&M on Monday night.
Georgia Tech 80 Clemson 62 - Georgia Tech ended a four-game losing streak and demolished the #25 Tigers in Atlanta. The Yellow Jackets outshot Clemson 46-41% and won the battle of the boards, 44-28. Clemson, undefeated at 17-0 just 3 weeks ago, has dropped 5 of their last 6, all ACC games. At 4-5, they are alone in 7th place in the conference.
Saturday's Top 25 Winners:
#1 Florida 91 Tennessee 78 - The Gators run their streak to 14 straight wins, currently the longest in the nation. They lead the SEC East at 8-0.
#2 Wisconsin 69 Northwestern 52 - The Badgers recovered from their first conference loss with a convincing home win. Alando Tucker had 20 points and 9 rebounds. Running mate Kammron Taylor scored 15.
#3 Ohio St. 63 Michigan St. 54 - Greg Oden led the way with 16 points and 11 rebounds (7 offensive), keeping the Buckeyes tied for first place with Wisconsin in the Big 10.
#5 UCLA 82 Oregon St. 35 - In one of the most lopsided games of the season, the Bruins shot 58% overall and hit 7-15 3-pointers. 11 different players scored for UCLA as bench sitters got extended playing time as the Bruins built a 30-point halftime lead.
#10 Texas A&M 69 #6 Kansas 66 - See recap above.
#11 Memphis 88 SMU 52 - Memphis improved to 9-0 in Conference USA and won their 11th straight overall. They lead by 3 1/2 games and may end up being the only representative from that watered-down conference in the NCAA tournament.
#13 Butler 66 Wisconsin-Milwaukee 47 - The 22-2 Bulldogs won their 14th straight home game without a loss.
#15 Nevada 69 Hawaii 68 - Nick Fazekas had 21 points and 10 rebounds for his 11th double-double of the season as the Wolf Pack survived a scare from the visiting Rainbow Warriors.
#17 Air Force 88 Wyoming 43
#18 Washington St. 48 Arizona St. 47 - The Cougars squeezed out a road win to improve to 19-4 and remain tied for 2nd in the Pac-10 at 8-3.
#19 Alabama 64 South Carolina 61 - The Crimson Tide won their second straight, improving to 4-4 in the SEC West, good enough for a 1/2-game lead over Mississippi and Auburn.
#20 Arizona 84 Washington 54 - The Wildcats won for just the 3rd time in their last 9 games.
#23 Stanford 90 California 71 - The Cardinal won the boards 43-29, shot 54% and hit 22-24 free throws for a much-needed road win.
#24 Vanderbilt 66 Georgia 61 - The Commodores avenged an earlier loss at Georgia with 20 points from Derrick Byars and 19 from Dan Cage.
With the Super Bowl taking most of the sports interest today, only one Top 25 team will see action on Sunday as #8 Duke hosts Florida State.
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Gators Roll On as Badgers Fall; Durant hits 37 again
Indiana 71 Wisconsin 66 - The Hoosiers established themselves as a legitimate contender in the Big 10, ending the #2 Badgers' winning streak at 17 and improving to 6-2 in the conference. A.J. Ratliff had 20 and D.J. White, 16 points for Indiana, while Alando Tucker continued his scoring blitz with 23 for Wisconsin. The Hoosiers fell out of the Top 25 on Monday, but will likely be reincluded following next Monday's votes though Indiana faces a tough test at Iowa on Saturday as Wisconsin hosts Northwestern (1-7 Big 10).
North Carolina 105 Miami (FL) 64 - Tyler Hansbrough led 5 players in double figures with 22 points and 13 rebounds as the #3 Tar Heels cracked the century mark for the 6th time this season. North Carolina took over the ACC lead at 6-1 as Virginia Tech lost to NC State. North Carolina ranks 2nd in the nation in scoring at 88.5 points per game.
Ohio St. 78 Purdue 60 - The #4 Buckeyes improved to 19-3 overall and moved into a tie with Wisconsin for 1st place in the Big 10, bombing the Boilermakers with an impressive road victory. Greg Oden played only 21 minutes as Ohio State pulled away in the 2nd half for the relatively easy win.
Texas A&M 73 Iowa State 49 - Joseph Jones scored 21 points for the Aggies as they remained tied with Kansas and Texas for the Big 12 lead at 6-1. The logjam atop the conference should see some resolution in the next week. The #10 Aggies play at Kansas on Saturday and host the Longhorns Monday, Feb. 5.
Memphis 87 Central Florida 65 - #11 Memphis continued to cruise through their Conference-USA schedule with another dominating road win. Joey Dorsey scored 22 points and hauled in 9 rebounds in the one-sided affair. The win was the 10th straight for the Tigers, who improved to 18-3.
Butler 71 Youngstown St. 58 - Mike Green had 23 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists to lead the #13 Bulldogs to their 21st win against just 2 losses, tying them with Wisconsin for the nation's best record. North Carolina, Nevada and Florida are 20-2.
Nevada 79 Louisiana St. 71 - Nick Fazekas and Marcellus Kemp each scored 20 points as the #15 Wolf Pack reached the 20-win mark and remained tied with New Mexico State atop the WAC at 8-1.
North Carolina State 70 Virginia Tech 59 - The Wolfpack won only their second road game of the year, but it was a big one, knocking off #16 Virginia Tech. The win was also NC State's 2nd conference win in 7 tries. They are 0-5 in the ACC at home and 12-8 overall. The Hokies dropped into a tie for 2nd place in the conference with Boston College at 6-2, a half-game ahead of Duke (5-2)
Alabama 73 LSU 70 - The #19 Crimson Tide finally got a road win in the turbulent SEC. LSU's woes continued. Jermareo Davidson scored 31 for Alabama, which had lost all of their conference away games - at Arkansas, Vanderbilt and Auburn - had lost 4 of their last 6 overall and had fallen from #12 to #19 in the current AP poll.
The loss for the LSU Tigers was their 4th in a row, dropping their record in the SEC to 2-5 and 13-8 overall. After a great run in last year's tournament, the Tigers are in jeopardy of not getting an invitation this season.
Texas 76 Texas Tech 64 - Kevin Durant may have had his best game of the season last night in Lubbock, leading the #22 Longhorns to another important road win with 37 points and 23 rebounds. It may have been the best performance by any player in the NCAA this season. Durant was 15-29 overall, including 5-9 from 3-point range. The Longhorns were down 4 at the half, but Durant's heroics helped produce a 38-22 2nd-half drubbing. Earlier this season, Durant had scored 37 against Oklahoma State and again vs. Colorado. The phenomenal frosh scored 34 against both Baylor and Missouri.
Gonzaga 90 Stanford 86 2OT - Unranked Gonzaga reminded West Coast watchers that they are still a team to be reckoned with, pulling off the upset over #23 Stanford on the road. despite their 16-7 mark, the Bulldogs still dominate the West Coast conference, leading it at 6-1. The main knock on Gonzaga is their record against ranked teams, though last night's win was their 3rd road win over a ranked team this season. Previously, the Bulldogs beat North Carolina and Texas, but lost to Butler, Nevada and Duke.
With one of the toughest schedules in the nation, Gonzaga also lost to Washington St., Virginia and Georgia, while beating Washington earlier in the season. With 7 of their remaining 8 games in conference, the focus will be on a February 17 tilt with #11 Memphis which will be played on Gonzaga's home hardwood.