Player of the Week
Anthony Gill – Virginia (F, Sr., 6-8, 230, High Point, NC)
The Virginia Cavaliers are currently in first place in the ACC and have won seven consecutive games since starting the season 1-1. This week, the Cavaliers got their sixth and seventh straight wins by handily defeating William & Mary, 67-52, and West Virginia, 70-54, both at home. Head coach Tony Bennett got a balanced effort from his team in both games, but senior forward Anthony Gill stood out with two noteworthy performances.
The North Carolina native posted 16 points, seven rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block in 37 minutes against William & Mary on Dec. 5. Gill shot 5-for-10 from the floor, including 2-for-5 from 3-point land, and 6-for-7 from the charity stripe. The Cavaliers went on a 16-2 run early in the game to open a 22-8 lead, but William & Mary didn’t let the deficit get any bigger. The Tribe was within 32-22 at halftime and twice got within six points early in the second half. But a basket from Gill made it 42-34 and sparked a 9-2 run for Virginia, and the Cavaliers slowly pulled away.
Three days later, Gill recorded season highs of 20 points and 12 rebounds to go along with one assist and one steal for the Cavaliers against West Virginia. This marked his eighth straight game finishing in double figures scoring to open the season, but the first time he’s reached the 20-point plateau. He shot 9-for-11 from the floor. Through both games, Gill averaged 18.0 points on 66 percent shooting and 9.5 rebounds.
Brandon Ingram – Duke (F, Fr., 6-9, 190, Kinston, NC)
The 6-foot-9 freshman has gone through growing pains early this season. However, he stepped up in a big way with 23 points for the Blue Devils in their 82-59 home win over Buffalo on Dec. 5. It was his second straight 20-point performance. He shot 8-for-15 from the field and 2-for-4 from long range to go along with eight rebounds, four blocks and two steals in 38 minutes. Ingram showed off his full potential despite Duke’s offensive struggles throughout the game. Players not named Ingram combined to miss 16 straight shots over a 15-minute stretch, and Duke had just two assists on its 10 baskets in the first half. The fact that Duke led by 10 points at halftime was mainly due to Ingram — who had 15 points at the break — and 13-for-17 free throw shooting.
Jaron Blossomgame – Clemson (F, Jr., 6-7, 220, Alpharetta, GA)
Behind a game-high 22 points from Blossomgame, the Tigers defeated Wofford 66-51 at home on Dec. 6. The junior forward also led the Tigers with a game-high 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season. It was his third game of at least 20 points in his last five, as he paced three Clemson players in double figures. Blossomgame was also one of four Tigers to record three assists as Clemson had 15 assists on 21 field goals overall.
Jamel Artis – Pittsburgh (F, Jr., 6-7, 220, Baltimore, MD)
Pittsburgh has won three consecutive games. In their last two, Artis has stepped up and gone to work for the Panthers. The junior forward went for 14 points on 6-for-10 shooting, four rebounds and four assists in a 97-75 win over Duquesne on Dec. 4. He then scored 17 points on 6-for-9 shooting to go along with two rebounds and two assists in a Dec. 6 win over Central Arkansas.
NC State’s Trio of Guards: Maverick Rowan (G, Fr., 6-7, 215, Fort Lauderdale, FL), Caleb Martin (G, So., 6-7, 215, Mocksville, NC), and Anthony Barber (G, Jr., 6-2, 190, Newport News, VA)
In NC State’s 99-86 victory over Bucknell on Dec. 5, guards Maverick Rowan, Caleb Martin and Anthony Barber each scored over 20 points (combined for 72 points overall). Rowan, a freshman, scored 27 points on 9-for-14 shooting, including 4-for-7 from deep. Martin scored 21 points and added four rebounds. The sophomore shot 7-for-12 from the field, including 5-for-9 from the 3-point line. The team’s leader and best player, ‘Cat’ Barber, went for 24 points on 8-for-17 shooting from the floor. The senior knocked down eight of his 10 free throw attempts.
Matt Jones – Duke (G, Jr., 6-5, 200, Desoto, TX)
The junior guard from Texas contributed just eight points on 2-for-8 shooting in 32 minutes in Duke’s win over Buffalo. Jones struggled to find his outside shot, as he made just one three-point attempt out of four tries. If Jones is not knocking down any outside shots, he becomes rather easy to contain on the offensive end, especially if he isn’t getting to the free throw line. Jones needs to continue to improve his ball-handling and shot-creation skills to keep defenders honest or when they run him off the three-point line.
A.J. Turner – Boston College (F, Fr., 6-7, 190, Mount Clemens, MI)
Freshman forward A.J. Turner has struggled to find his shot so far this season for the Eagles. Over his last two games (both losses), he shot 3-for-15 (20 percent) from the floor and 0-for-8 from the 3-point line. Heading into this season, Turner was praised for his shooting stroke and ability to score, which was supposed to help a Boston College team that lost a lot of key pieces from last season. Unfortunately, Turner has yet to get things going scoring wise. Until he does, it looks like the Eagles, who are currently on a six-game losing streak, will continue to struggle offensively.
Top Five ‘Who’s Hot?’ Honorable Mentions
1. Micheal Gbinije – Syracuse (F, Sr., 6-7, 200, Richmond, VA)
Gbinije averaged 20.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 2.0 steals in the Orange’s two games this week. Syracuse lost to Georgetown on the road, 79-72, before beating Colgate, 78-51, at home. Gbinije has shined bright this season as the primary ball-handler for Syracuse. Whether it’s scoring the ball or setting up teammates, he’s doing it all. His shooting has been what’s most impressive, though. He’s hitting 50 percent of his attempts from the field and 3-point line on the season. He’s also defending at a high level, averaging just a shade under three steals per contest.
2. Malcolm Brogdon – Virginia (G, Sr., 6-5, 215, Atlanta, GA)
Brogdon had just as much of an impact in Virginia’s wins over William & Mary and West Virginia as Anthony Gill. Through both games, he averaged 15.0 points on 50 percent shooting, three rebounds and 1.5 assists. Brogdon has been a scoring machine this season and can fill up the box score in a variety of ways. The senior does everything that’s asked of him and is effectively filling the void that Justin Anderson left, as expected.
3. Devin Thomas – Wake Forest (F, Sr., 6-9, 255, Harrisburg, PA)
In Wake Forests’ 88-85 win over Arkansas, Thomas came through with 20 points on an efficient 8-for-11 shooting, 12 rebounds, three blocks and two assists in 28 minutes. The senior forward scored 10 consecutive points in the final nine minutes of the second half after Arkansas had surged into the lead. The Demon Deacons have continued to ride Thomas, who has decided to take a more aggressive approach when he has the ball in his hands.
Notre Dame dominated Stony Brook at home, 86-61, on Dec. 8. The Fighting Irish got double-figure scoring from all five of their starters, but Auguste and Jackson led the way with 23 and 19 points, respectively. The 6-foot-10 Auguste shot 9-for 13 from the field and also contributed 11 rebounds, two assists and two blocks. It was Auguste’s third consecutive double-double and seventh game with double-figures in points and rebounds. Jackson, the team’s electrifying point guard, shot 7-for-10 from the floor and finished with 10 assists, three rebounds and one steal. It was Jackson’s first double-double of the season.
5. Louisville Cardinals
Louisville put up 111 points in its 48-point victory over Grand Canyon. The Cardinals went back and forth with the Antelopes for a few minutes before seizing a lead that was never in doubt for the final 35 minutes. Damion Lee matched his season-high with 24 points, Trey Lewis added 16, and Quentin Snider contributed. Buoyed by 64 percent shooting in the first half, Louisville turned a 12-12 game into a 38-15 lead and poured it on to break 100 points for the first time since Feb. 16, 2014, against Rutgers. Lee shot 7-for-13 from the field, including four three-pointers, as Louisville made 38-of-70 attempts. It was the Cardinals’ sixth 50-percent shooting effort in seven games. The Cardinals were 10-for-22 from behind the arc, compared to 3-for-13 for the Antelopes. Defense factored into Louisville’s first-half run as the Cardinals scored 16 points off eight turnovers and finished with 25 points from 15 takeaways. Louisville made 13 of its first 14 shots from the field leading to 14 straight points during the game-breaking surge for a 61-30 halftime lead. It was the Cardinals’ largest lead after 20 minutes since Nov. 18, 2006, against Northwestern State.