In a week which featured many of college basketball’s well-known rivalries, a renowned one via the Colonial Athletic Association featured an improbable ending on Thursday.
After trailing by 16 points to College of Charleston (19-7, 10-3 CAA) at halftime, Northeastern (14-11, 7-6) stormed back in the second half to pull of a miraculous 73-72 victory. Within the final seconds, guard Bolden Brace hauled in an offensive rebound right in front of the baseline and subsequently released a prayer from behind the backboard. The freshman’s shot somehow rattled in to stun the Cougars, who had a chance to reposition themselves in a tie for first-place in the conference standings.
— Evan West (@EvanWestWCBD) February 10, 2017
Since the Huskies still sit in fourth-place, though, they’ll need a run in the CAA tournament to break into The Comeback’s College Basketball Stock Watch. Instead, a different team, along with a player, jolted upward on the list while another pairing stumbled.
Duke (No. 18 in AP Top 25, No. 19 in coaches’ poll)
Arguably, the most hated player in college basketball has finally rediscovered his offensive prowess, and the rest of the Blue Devils (19-5, 7-4 ACC) are heavily benefiting amid their four-game win streak. In the 86-78 victory against No. 8/7 North Carolina (21-5, 9-3) on Thursday, guard Grayson Allen manufactured 25 points, as well as hitting a season-high seven threes. Although he’s shooting just 34.3 percent overall from the perimeter this season, the junior owns a 48.7 percent clip in the last four contests.
Thanks to opponents fearing his three-point touch, Jayson Tatum, Luke Kennard, and Frank Jackson have found plenty of room to operate inside the arc. The three combined for 50 points against the Tar Heels. Additionally, Tatum scored all of his 19 points in the second half following an 0-of-3 shooting performance in the first 20 minutes, where he appeared a bit fazed by the atmosphere. Then, he began to terrorize the Tar Heels’ interior defense.
— Ricky O'Donnell (@SBN_Ricky) February 10, 2017
Duke looks to be finally transforming into the national title favorites, as it was pegged in the preseason polls. Considering much-hyped freshman Harry Giles, who amassed a mere 10 minutes versus UNC, has yet to truly adjust to the college level, its rise back to prominence is all the more so impressive.
Andrew White III, Syracuse
Just five games ago, the Orange had lost three of their last four games and laid in basketball discontent. Well, White and his co-workers haven’t lost since, including two massive wins over the past several days. On Saturday, Syracuse topped No. 12/13 Virginia 66-62 at Carrier Dome. Three days later, fellow guard Tyus Battle drilled a triple at the final horn to fend off Clemson 82-81.
During the undefeated trek, White’s production (25 ppg) is carrying coach Jim Boeheim’s bunch (16-9, 8-4 ACC). In fact, he has scored 20 or more points in five consecutive games, becoming the first player to do so for the Orange in 10-plus seasons. Plus, the 6-foot-7, 210-pound guard boasts a 47.6 percent clip from the field over that stretch.
Typically, players with his stature rely on their size to bully their way into the paint. But White is a legitimate threat from the perimeter, too, hitting at least three triples in the last seven contests. Thanks to his recent dominance, Syracuse seems like a lock to receive a ticket to March Madness.
Kentucky (No. 15 in AP Top 25, No. 12 in coaches’ poll)
Clearly, coach John Calipari can haul in elite freshman recruits, resulting in four trips to the Final Four in his tenure. However, their defensive lapses have never resulted in this level of panic. Over the last five games, the Wildcats yielded 82.6 points per game. Even in a seven-point win against LSU on Tuesday, Kentucky allowed 58 points in the second half to the Tigers, who rank No. 194 in the country in offensive efficiency.
Moreover, fans saw what could happen to Calipari’s unit when its offense collapses in a 22-point loss to No. 17 Florida on Saturday. With star guard Malik Monk (21.9 ppg) looking out of sync throughout, his teammates followed suit, combining to shoot 37.7 percent from the field. On the flip side, the Gators offense, which places No. 40 in the country in offensive efficiency, possessed a juggernaut-like 48.4 percent clip.
Prior to the season, Kentucky (19-5, 9-2 SEC) was regarded as the favorite to win the conference. Nevertheless, the program is now in a three-way tie with Florida and No. 19/16 South Carolina for first-place. While Monk, Isiah Briscoe and De’Aaron Fox weave together to makeup one of the best trio of guards in college basketball, an exit in the semifinals the SEC tournament could be on the horizon.
Melo Trimble, Maryland
Despite the No. 21/22 Terrapins (20-4, 8-3 Big Ten) sitting in third-place in the conference standings, they’ve lost their last two contests (vs. Purdue, at Penn State). Trimble (16.9 ppg) doesn’t sit in the center of their concerns, but his shooting woes should generate some concern.
In the aforementioned affairs, he combined to hit just 28.5 percent of his shots, along with a 12.5 percent clip from downtown. Even though the 6-foot-3, 185-pound guard owns a respectable 43.6 percent clip overall, that total is somewhat flawed. Although Trimble finishes 69.3 percent of his attempts near the rim, his 29.2 percent clip on two-point jumpers leaves little to be desired. On top of that, he’s surprisingly more effective from the perimeter (33.9 percent).
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) February 4, 2017
Trimble earns plenty of respect by forcing his way to the basket, yet Maryland needs him to exhibit more consistency with his jumper. Before his meltdown, he was shooting 50 percent from the field in the four previous affairs. If the junior can just hover around 40 percent, he’ll aid the programs hopes of making a run in the Big Dance, as well as helping his draft stock in the process.