Syracuse, Duke Lose; Ratliffe on Record-Breaking Pace – This Week in College Basketball
Notre Dame beat top-ranked Syracuse, 67-58, on Saturday to give the Orange their first loss of the season. Third-ranked Baylor also suffered its first two defeats in the past week, dropping games to number five Missouri and No. 7 Kansas. After second-ranked Kentucky’s 77-71 win over Alabama on Saturday, the Wildcats are a sure bet to take over the top ranking in the new AP Top 25 poll.
Here’s what’s happening in college basketball:
Team on the Rise: Florida State Seminoles
In the last nine days, Florida State (13-6, 4-1 ACC) beat then-number two North Carolina and Maryland before topping number four Duke on Michael Snaer’s 3-pointer at the buzzer on Saturday. The Seminoles victory ended Duke’s 45-game winning-streak at Cameron Indoor Stadium and gave Florida State a share of the Atlantic Coast Conference lead. If coach Leonard Hamilton can get his team to match its defensive excellence with offensive consistency, it could contend for the league title.
Team on the Decline: No. 13 Connecticut Huskies
Consecutive losses to unranked teams made it a long week for 13th-ranked Connecticut (14-5, 4-3 Big East). Coach Jim Calhoun’s team had inconsistent interior play and meager frontcourt scoring in the 60-57 loss to Tennessee on Saturday. The Huskies also missed freshman guard Ryan Boatright, who is out indefinitely pending an NCAA investigation, in the 70-67 loss to Cincinnati on Wednesday. Guards Shabazz Napier and Jeremy Lamb each played more than 38 minutes in the defeat. If UConn is to stay in the national rankings, Calhoun needs to find minutes from his thin bench.
Player on the Rise: Tyshawn Taylor, University of Kansas
Tyshawn Taylor scored 22 points and added five rebounds and four assists as seventh-ranked Kansas (16-3, 6-0 in the Big 12) held off Texas 69-66 on Saturday. Taylor was even better in KU’s 92-74 stomping of then-undefeated number three Baylor, scoring 28 and adding six assists. Thanks to the senior guard’s efforts, the Jayhawks have won nine straight and are alone in first place in the Big 12.
Player on the Decline: J’Covan Brown, Texas Longhorns
Though he leads the team in scoring at 19.5 points per game, Texas guard J’Covan Brown has not been at his best as Texas (12-7, 2-4 Big 12) lost games to number 25 Kansas State on Wednesday and Kansas on Saturday. Brown shot 7-of-26 (27 percent) from the field against KU and went 8-of-28 (29 percent) against K-State. Brown needs to improve his accuracy if the Longhorns want to play in late March.
Coach on the Hot Seat: Roy Williams, No. 8 North Carolina Tar Heels
After an embarrassing loss to Florida State last week, number eight North Carolina rebounded with a 82-68 win over Virginia Tech on Thursday, but lost junior guard Dexter Strickland for the season with a torn ACL. Coach Roy Williams must figure out who will replace Strickland’s leadership, along with his season totals of 25 steals and 39 assists and 7.5 points per game average. UNC has two games each against Duke and number 15 Virginia before the ACC tournament.
Stat of the Week: Ricardo Ratliffe, No. 5 Missouri Tigers
Forward Ricardo Ratliffe has been all but automatic for Missouri (18-1, 5-1 Big 12). After 19 games, the Tigers forward is shooting 77.1 percent from the field. Steve Johnson of Oregon State holds the NCAA record of 74.6 percent in 1981.