College Basketball Thoughts

The college basketball season is already one week old. Here are some thoughts on the young campaign.                   

• Seton Hall will be a much better team if shooting guard Jeremy Hazell becomes a more efficient scorer. In Sunday’s 92–68 win over Cornell, Hazell scored 28 points on only 11 shots. In the opener, a six-point loss to Temple, he scored 17 points on 15 shots. In two games, that’s 45 points on 26 shots, an average of 1.73 points per shot.
Last year, Hazell averaged 1.23 points per shot.

• Northwestern’s Big Three got off to a great start as the Wildcats ripped Northern Illinois, 97-78, in DeKalb. Forward John Shurna led the way with 31 points (on the strength of seven 3-pointers) and nine rebounds; swingman Drew Crawford scored 20 points (9-of-13 from the field); and point guard Michael Thompson added 15 points and six assists. Northern Illinois is picked to finish near the bottom of the MAC West, but this was still a solid start for the Cats.

• Brad Tinsley made headlines in Vanderbilt’s 88–47 win over Presbyterian, recording the first triple-double in school history (11 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists). But the more important development for Vanderbilt was the outside shooting of Jeffery Taylor. The junior swingman hit 3-of-4 from 3-point range en route to a 27-point night. If Taylor, who made a total of four threes in his first two seasons, can hit from the outside with regularity, he will become one of the toughest covers in the SEC.

• It wasn’t a surprise to see Auburn lose at home to UNC Asheville (70–69 in overtime). It’s going to be a very long season for first-year coach Tony Barbee. The Tigers lost four starters from a team that went 6–10 in the SEC, and the only returning starter, guard Frankie Sullivan, tore his ACL over the summer. This team will struggle to win more than a couple of games in league play.

• Kentucky’s lack of size will be an issue all season, but John Calipari’s second Wildcat team will shoot the ball much better from the 3-point line. UK hit 13-of-26 from the arc in a solid 88–65 win over ETSU Friday night. Five Wildcats hit at least two threes — Brandon Knight (4-of-7), Doron Lamb (3-of-5), Terence Jones (2-of-3), DeAndre Liggins (2-of-3) and Darius Miller (2-of-5). Last year, UK shot 33.1 percent as a team from 3-point range.

• Western Kentucky and North Texas are expected to be the best two teams in the Sun Belt Conference. The Hilltoppers got off to a great start, pounding Saint Joseph’s, 98–70, in Philadelphia. Former Oklahoma Sooner Juan Patillo had a nice debut, scoring 17 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in 26 minutes.

• Jason Capel picked up his first win as a head coach as Appalachian State posted an 89–86 win at Tulsa. The Mountaineers were led by Charleston Southern transfer Omar Carter, a junior forward who scored 35 points in his debut at App State.

• Illinois is already 3–0, with wins at home over UC-Irvine, Toledo and Southern Illinois. Senior point guard Demetri McCamey has been outstanding, with averages of 14.7 points, 8.0 assists and only 2.0 turnovers.

• Duke’s four-headed monster in the backcourt (freshman Kyrie Irving, sophomores Andre Dawkins and Seth Curry and senior Nolan Smith) combined to hit 10-of-20 from 3-point range in the Blue Devils’ 97-60 win over Princeton Sunday.

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