It was another eventful week of Division I college hoops for the Aussie contingent repping down under. Saint Mary's lost their first game of the season, Jordan Hunter landed a half-court buzzer-beater, Dejan Vasiljevic delivered a new career-high, Liam Thomas went close to a rarer triple-double, and Harry Froling announced he would be leaving SMU.
After a brilliant start to the season, then #12 ranked Saint Mary's were upset by UT Arlington 51-65 on their home floor. It was the Gaels' first game after final exams and after coming off a great win against Stanford, and they never got things going. While Jock Landale was able to once again deliver in the scoreboard, his trademark efficient scoring deserted him. The 6'11 center provided 14 points but on just 3/10 shooting. He would also add 7 rebounds and 3 blocked shots, but Emmett Naar was well held to just 2 points and just a single assist.
Unfortunately for UC Irvine, they felt the full force of the Gaels frustration as they were outgunned 53-84. Saint Mary's basketball was back, with Landale delivering a game-high 15 points (4/9 FG) with 7 rebounds and 3 assists. Naar bounced back strongly with 10 points (4/7 FG) to go with 2 rebounds , 2 assists and 2 steals, while Dane Pineau stepped up for 7 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals. Jordan Hunter stole the show however, making the steal and then draining a half-court buzzer-beater for the first three-point basket of his short career.
"I practice that all the time so it was just second nature when I let it go," Hunter said with a laugh. "The ball came my way, I jumped in front of Dane (Pineau) and I just let it fly."
In an impressive shooting display, freshman guard Dejan Vasiljevic drained 5-of-11 three-pointers on his way to a game and new career-high 17 points in Miami's 82-46 blowout of South Carolina State. Vasiljevic came off the bench and provided a scoring punch to help run away with the easy win, the Hurricanes third in a row. Miami are now 7-2 to open the season and sit atop the ACC standings so far in non-conference play.
In one of the best individual performance of the season, senior center Liam Thomas was 1 blocked shot away from recording a rare triple-double. The 7'1 big man compiled 14 points (5/7 FG) with 10 rebounds and an amazing 9 blocked shots as the Colonels brushed a side Division II school Thomas (GA) 95-63. His 9 blocked shots broke his own school record for an individual game, while he also managed to dish out 2 assists in just 24 minutes of action. With his big performance, Thomas moved up to 4th in the nation for blocks with 3.8 per game, now just behind fellow Australian Jo Lual-Acuil Jr who sits 2nd with 4.4 (Baylor did not play this past week).
Fox Sports' Olgun Uluc reported this week that freshman big man Harry Froling would be transferring away from SMU. It is an interesting move given that the season is now well underway. Froling had been averaging 4.3 points and 3.2 rebounds in 14.6 minutes per game.
Montana split their games this week, running over San Jose State 81-62 but falling short to Wyoming 83-85 thanks to a game-winning triple with 2 seconds remaining. Forwards Jack Lopez and Fabijan Krslovic delivered two solid games. Lopez started with 15 points, which included 4-of-6 three-pointers, with 2 rebounds and 1 blocked shot in the win against San Jose State. He formed a dynamic duo with Krslovic who recorded an 11 point and 13 rebound double-double alongside a career-best 8 steals and 2 blocks. Between them they dominated inside and out as the Grizzlies earned a commanding win. In the heart-breaking loss to Wyoming, Lopez added 12 points (3/6 3PT) while Krslovic added 12 points and 5 rebounds. For his performances, Krslovic was named by College Sports Madness as Big Sky Conference Player of the Week.
Louisville made it 4 wins in a row when they accounted for Southern Illinois (74-51) and Texas Southern (102-71). Senior forward Mangok Mathiang was at his consistent best, going 6-of-9 from the field for an equal game-high 15 points with 6 rebounds and 1 block. His fellow starter Deng Adel was also in fine form as he collected his first career double-double. He would score 12 points (6/12 FG) alongside 12 rebounds and 2 assists as the Aussies stamped their authority on the contest.
In the Cardinals' 31-point win against Texas Southern, Mathiang and Adel were two of six players to score in double figures. Mathiang would finish with 10 points and 8 rebounds, while Adel added 11 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks. It was also a contest that saw Rick Pitino record his 400th career win as head coach if the Cardinals.
Last season it was Majok Deng who emerged at Louisiana-Monroe. This season it is Sam McDaniel. The 6'6 junior transfer has made the transition to Division I basketball well, delivering two big performances over the past week. The Warhawks needed overtime to get by Jacksonville State 88-83, with McDaniel coming up with some big free throws late in OT to ice the game. In playing the full 45 minutes, McDaniel contributed a double-double and equaling his career-high of 17 points (5/11 FG) alongside 12 rebounds. Fellow Aussie Sam Alabakis chimed in with 5 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists.
The Warhawks then easily dispatched NAIA side Blue Mountain College 72-41. McDaniel grasped the opportunity to score a new career-best 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting with 7 rebounds. It was a contest that saw the emerging guard average 18.5 points per game over the week (11.6ppg on the season).
Chima Moneke has also been making a name for himself with his performances at UC Davis this season. 6'6 forward Chima Moneke exploded for a new career-high 24 points and 10 rebounds in a standout individual performance against California. While the Aggies would fall short 61-86 for their third straight loss, Moneke was exceptional, going an impressive 10-of-15 from the field against a very good team boasting Ivan Rabb and is definitely someone to look out for more as the season plays out.
Albany went 2-1 over the past week, with 6'8 senior forward Mike Rowley prominent. In their 78-66 win against Marist, Rowley would contribute 14 points and 7 rebounds in a solid outing. While Rowley would have a quiet game in the Great Danes' win against Colgate, he would go on to deliver a 12 point and 10 rebound double-double in their 64-77 loss to Canisius. While the scores were tight throughout the first half, Canisius would run away with the win despite Rowley also adding 2 assists and 2 steals.
Athletic 6'8 forward Xavier Cooks continues to me a model of consistency this season in delivering 16.8 points and 6 rebounds per game. In Winthrop's 106-63 pasting of Division III side Greensboro, Cooks gathered 13 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks in just 22 minutes.
Junior big man Duop Reath played a major role in keeping LSU in the contest early in their game against North Carolina Central before the Tigers managed to escape down the stretch for a 70-66 win. Reath was at his efficient best, scoring 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting with 8 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 blocked shot. Thanks to their come-from-behind win, LSU remained unbeaten at home with their fifth victory and now improve to 6-2 on the season, with Reath playing a lead role in their surge.
Eastern Washington continued to manage winning the close ones, winning a fourth overtime game for the season for their 7th win in a row. Felix Von Hofe played a crucial role in compiling 15 points and 4 rebounds. He would miss a potential game-winning three-pointer in regulation, but the Eagles did enough in the extra period to prevail over Morehead State 88-86. Fellow Aussie Mason Peatling played 14 minutes off the bench for 4 points and 2 rebounds. Eastern Washington had been outstanding in close finishes, winning two overtime and two double-overtime games, and now easily boast the best record in the Big Sky thanks to an 8-2 non-conference record.
Matt McCarthy has emerged as an integral player in the rotation for San Francisco, going close to his first career double-double in their 91-59 win against Division II school San Francisco State. McCarthy would shoot 6-of-8 from the field for 12 points with 9 rebounds and 3 assists in the big win. The 6'9 forward is averaging 6.5 points and 5 rebounds per game, and has worked his way into the starting group.
Freshman Jayden Hodgson managed to collect a new career-high 10 points in Bradley's 83-48 demolition of Chicago State.The 6'3 guard connected on 2-of-3 from long-range and added 2 assists in an encouraging outing. Fellow Aussie Callum Barker came off the bench to provide 5 points and 4 rebounds.
Another freshman making his mark is Will Magnay at Tulsa. Already entrenched in the starting lineup, Magnay pulled down 13 rebounds with 10 points to register his first career double-double in Tulsa's 70-68 win against Illinois State. He would go on to post 6 points, 3 rebounds and 4 blocks in their narrow 67-71 loss to Oklahoma State. The 6'10 Queenslander is averaging a respectable 6 points and 4.5 rebounds per game in his rookie season.