Happy Monday Morning and welcome to the Water Cooler.
I don’t have an interesting lede or funny quip about the start of the work week. I’m exhausted and in the early stages of fighting a nasty cold, and the only thing on my mind right now is what kind of soup I’m going to try to throw together to combat it as I sit here to write this.
Anywho, here’s the basketball information you need to know this Monday a.m.
Charles Bassey goes down in WKU’s upset of Arkansas
Western Kentucky handed Arkansas its first loss of the season on Saturday night, but not without paying a hefty price. Star sophomore center Charles Bassey suffered what appears to be a left knee injury late in the second half. The video of the injury below (WARNING: PROCEED WITH CAUTION) did not look good.
WKU’s Charles Bassey just went down and this is stomach turning. Oh no...his left leg. pic.twitter.com/RHVLsrm1sA— Noah Coslov (@NoahCoslov) December 8, 2019
Following the game, Rick Stansbury said that Bassey would undergo an MRI on Sunday.
Without Bassey, a tight Hilltopper rotation gets even tighter. Stansbury has only played a seven-man rotation with any regularity this season, and there isn’t a much depth in the frontcourt to back up Bassey. Senior Matt Horton is the only other player on the roster above 6’6, but he’s only appeared in six games so far this season.
Look for the Hilltoppers to go small and spread the floor without the looming post presence of Bassey taking up real estate in the lane. Taveion Hollingsworth, Camron Justice, Carson Williams and Jared Savage already average double figures, and look for Josh Anderson to step back into a bigger role like he did as a starter last year. Western Kentucky will still have the talent to be one of the best teams in Conference USA, but the absence of Bassey lowers their ceiling significantly.
San Diego State wins at the buzzer to remain undefeated
The Aztecs entered Sunday as one of just nine undefeated teams in college basketball. With San Jose State coming to town, one would think that they would cruise to an easy win to improve to 10-0 on the season. KenPom gave the Aztecs a 99 percent chance of victory, and Vegas had them favored by 29 points.
Naturally, San Jose State held a one-point lead in the final seconds. It looked as if the Spartans — who came into the game ranked No. 333 in KenPom — were going to steal one in Viejas Arena.
Enter Malachi Flynn.
The Washington State transfer has been the Aztecs’ best player so far this season, and he delivered on Sunday with this shot:
Folks, that’s what we in the industry like to call cold-blooded. That shot caps off a 2-0 start to Mountain West play for San Diego State and preserves the undefeated record for a few more days.
Dayton handles Saint Mary’s in Phoenix
In a highly anticipated mid-major tilt, Dayton continued to show that its performance in Maui was not a fluke. The Flyers were in control from start to finish, and the final score of 78-68 does not indicate just how dominant Dayton looked at different points in the game.
The Flyers turned in another buzzsaw performance on the offensive end. Behind a 13-24 performance from behind the arc, Dayton checked in at 1.22 points per possession, which bumped it up to No. 3 in offensive efficiency, per KenPom. The Flyer guards were the story of the game. Jalen Crutcher had a game-high 21 points while Trey Landers and Ibi Watson both cracked double figures as well. The depth on the perimeter was crucial to holding Jordan Ford to just 11 points.
Our own Kyle Cajero was on site for the game and will have more in-depth takeaways to come, but this game is just another feather in the cap for a Dayton team that looks like it could be on its way to a special season.
The Atlantic 10 had a great weekend overall
In addition to the aforementioned win from Dayton, the A-10 put together another great weekend to build on its strong start to the season.
- Richmond dismantled a solid South Alabama team to move to 8-1. The Spiders’ high-powered offense was on display once again as they hit 11-25 from deep.
- Rhode Island dominated a Providence team that isn’t nearly as good as it’s been in recent years, but is still a nice win for the Rams to have on the resume. At No. 78, Rhode Island is one of six teams from the conference in the KenPom top 100.
- Duquesne remained undefeated with a double-digit win against VMI. Per KenPom, the Dukes are projected as the favorite in every game until their Jan. 22 matchup with Rhode Island. Just like we all expected.
- The Bonnies are starting to round into form after a rough first couple weeks of the season. On Saturday, St. Bonaventure beat Hofstra by 28 points to win its fourth-straight game and get above .500 on the year.
- Saint Louis stayed hot by beating Tulane to improve to 8-1. They’ll have a huge test on Saturday against a physical and undefeated Auburn team.
T-Rank’s TourneyCast looks promising at this juncture in the season.
The weekend in brutality
It was another active weekend on the brutality front.
Our first came courtesy of Arkansas State as the Red Wolves eked out a 66-63 win over Tulane to tally their second brutality of the season. Mike Balado got great production off the bench from Jerry Johnson and Marquis Eaton as the duo led the team with 16 and 15 points, respectively.
Sunday, however, brought the excitement. Buffalo went into Wintrust Arena and took down a DePaul team that was off to a 9-0 start and on the cusp of cracking the Top 25. The Bulls led by 17 at one point in the second half, but had to hold off a late DePaul rally to seal the 74-69 win. Buffalo has continued to look like it’s going to be able to carry the momentum that Nate Oats generated at the program as Jim Whitesell picks up right where Oats left off. The Bulls are now 6-3 with four of their wins coming away from their home arena.
Some notes on the brutality leaderboard through five weeks of the season:
- Average margin of victory: 8.0 points
- Average KenPom rank: 207.5
- Average KenPom win expectancy: 20.6%
- The Big South, MEAC (!!), and Patriot League are tied for the overall lead with three brutalities given apiece.
- The AAC, SEC and Atlantic 10 are all tied with five brutalities suffered. George Washington and Saint Joseph’s have two each for the A-10.
Delaware’s undefeated run comes to an end
The sensational start was bound to come to an end sooner or later for Delaware, and George Washington was the one to put the nail in the coffin on the Blue Hens’ undefeated start. The Colonials pulled away late in the low-scoring affair and wound up with a 66-56 win for their fourth win in five games.
I wrote in a mailbag column last Friday that George Washington was well equipped to give Delaware problems with the way that it has defended the three-point line so far this season. That proved to be correct (hooray for me, the guy that lives to be correct online). Delaware was held to a 2-13 performance from deep, which was its worst showing of the season. Armel Potter continued a really nice stretch of games with 19 points, six assists and four rebounds for the Colonials.
Other news, notes, tidbits
- Your list of undefeated mid-major teams is down to just three: San Diego State (10-0), Duquesne (7-0) and Liberty (11-0). San Diego State is off this week, and Liberty’s lone matchup is on Saturday on the road against Vanderbilt. Duquesne gets Columbia at home on Monday and Radford on Saturday to start off a stretch of four consecutive neutral court games.
- Gonzaga tallied another win over a ranked team against No. 22 Washington on Sunday. A balanced offensive attack — which might be the best recipe for success moving forward — was the key to the Bulldogs 83-76 win. All five starters scored in double figures, four of whom had at least 15 points.
- The Mountain West started conference play last week because the conference tournament was moved up a week. Results were fairly chalk in the first week. San Diego State, New Mexico, and Utah State all went 2-0 while Nevada and UNLV won their only matchups of the week.
- Manhattan and Fordham played a Plague Ball game that needed overtime to barely crack 100 total points. It resulted in a Jaspers win thanks to a clutch shot from Tyler Reynolds in the extra period.
The heroes of the day for the @GoJaspers - MVP Elijah Buchanan sparking the comeback, @_sstewart4 the shot to send it to OT, then @tytyreynolds11 the three to give @JaspersMBB their first #BattleOfTheBronx win at Rose Hill since 2012 pic.twitter.com/8Sp6nxTPV5— Greg Thompson (@gregthompson27) December 7, 2019
- Saint Louis’s Jordan Goodwin is putting up insane rebounding numbers from the guard position. He’s averaging a double-double with 15.9 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. He hauled in 16 in the Billikens’ win against Tulane.
- Here, enjoy a couple of Obi Toppin highlights:
Okay, swear this is the last crummy video of the day but C’MON OBI TOPPIN WHAT CAN’T YOU DO. pic.twitter.com/hH6h5hSDXp— Rush the Other 26 (@other26hoops) December 8, 2019
- Taylor University’s annual Silent Night game was Friday night. This remains one of the best traditions at any level of college basketball.
That time of year again for @taylortrojans! Their 23rd annual "Silent Night" game. @rjjohnston6 with the call as the students blow off some steam before finals week. Taylor went on to defeat Ohio Chillicothe 89-50.— Dave Furst (@DaveFurst) December 7, 2019
Finals begin Monday.#TUSilentNight @rtv6 pic.twitter.com/9WpiMe9kKj