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NCAA Men: Simmons the standout, Deng turning heads
Ben Simmons might be drawing all the attention, however there is another Aussie big man who continues to turn heads, that man is Majok Deng.
Deng helped Louisiana Monroe break their 4-game losing streak with a much-needed 85-74 victory over Troy. The 6'10 forward was simply too big and too good for the Trojans, matching his career-high with a game-leading 33 points on an impressive 12/20 shooting. He monstered his opponents inside and out, connecting on 4/9 from long-range and 5/7 from the line with 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 blocked shots. South Alabama were his next 'victim', as Deng collected a further 17 points (9/10 FT) with 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks as the Warhawks won easily, 100-68. With the win, the Warhawks improved to 4-4 in the Sun Belt with Deng providing an outstanding 19.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. For his big week, Deng was named College Sports Madness Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week.
Now we can't ignore what Ben Simmons is doing, as he helped LSU record two wins with one loss this past week. Against #10 ranked Texas A&M, Simmons collected a 10 point and 11 rebound double-double with 5 assists and 3 steals in what proved to be a difficult shooting night. While he still managed an all-round game, the Tigers found it difficult to score in going down 57-71.
Simmons and LSU would bounce back to account for Alabama 72-70 in a close game. In shooting 9/15 from the field, Simmons would compile a game-high 23 points with 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 steal despite battling foul trouble. He would top off the week in delivering his 15th double-double of the season with 22 points, 14 rebounds and 2 steals. In averaging 19.8 points, 12.7 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game, he is leading all freshman in these categories with the exception of assist in which he is tied for second.
Plus he had this nice alley-oop dunk worth watching again or in case you missed it!
West Coast Conference heavyweights Gonzaga were taken down 67-70 following a barnstorming final half run. After shooting just 38.2% in the first half, the Gaels outscored the Bulldogs 36-21 across the final 15 minutes while shooting a super efficient 12/16 from the field in that stretch, making key buckets from the line to hold on. Emmett Naar was outstanding, delivering 16 points (2/3 3PT) with 2 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals in playing the full 40 minutes. Dane Pineau was also very good, adding 8 points and 3 rebounds as Saint Mary's took hold of outright first place in the WCC. Portland then proved no match for a rolling Gaels who ran away with an 89-74 win. Pineau and Naar were even better in this one, with both pouring in 20 points each. With 13 rebounds (2 assists), Pineau delivered his 4th double-double of the season, with his scoring coming from a sizzling-hot 10/11 shooting. Not to be outdone, Naar connected on 2/3 triples (7/10 FG, 4/4 FT) with 3 rebounds and 8 assists, while Jock Landale added 9 points on a perfect 2/2 shooting as Aussies led the way for the efficient scoring.
Both Pineau and Landale are shooting the ball at 65.1% from the field which is now good for 14th in the nation, while Naar leads the country in three-point shooting at an amazing 59.7% clip. Naar was also named Muscle Milk Saint Mary's Student-Athlete of the Week as the Gael's moved to the top of the 15 mid-major programs so far this season.
Nick Duncan feasted on San Jose State in helping Boise State record a punishing 94-69 victory. The 6'8 junior forward landed 6/12 triples on his way to registering 24 to points (6/7 FT) with 4 rebounds in a very good performance. Five of his 6 treys came in the first half as Duncan raced his way to 20 points at the main break. Continuing to battle nerve pain in his lower leg, Anthony Drmic managed to add 7 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal in the big win.
Boise State then improved to a Mountain West best 5-1 after accounting for Wyoming 81-71 on the road. This time it was Drmic who was able to break free, contributing 15 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals in an encouraging all-round performance as he continued to close in on the Broncos all-time scoring record. Duncan was solid, chipping in 8 points, 2 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 steal and further reinforcing his capability to play s a point-forward.
Xavier Cooks has helped Winthrop to an impressive 5 straight wins, including a 71-58 win over Gardner-Webb. While he added 9 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks in this game, it was his performance in the Eagles' 82-68 win over Longwood that really stood out. The 6'8 versatile forward racked up a 19 point and 10 rebound double-double, his 4th of the season. He also contributed 5 assists, 1 steal and 1 block in a complete performance. With the wins, Winthrop remains just 1 game behind first place in the Big South standings.
With Taylor Dyson contributing 15 points (6/13 FG) and 4 rebounds, Hartford pulled away from UMBC to earn a 98-87 victory. Freshman forward George Blagojevic was plagued by foul trouble, managing 5 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 1 block before fouling out in 20 minutes. The Hawks were unable to back up with another win, falling short 71-84 to New Hampshire. Combined, Taylor and Blagojevic added 10 points and 4 rebounds in the loss, and it was not enough to prevent the Hawks slumping to 2-4 in America East play.
Albany bounced back from dropping their first America East game by dropping Binghampton 80-59. Peter Hooley played a large role in securing the win, with the senior guard logging a game-high 18 points with 3 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 steal as he looked to have rediscovered his shooting stroke. He received great support from Mike Rowley who collected 10 points in the convincing win. The Great Danes were outdone by Stony Brook who finished with a 7-0 run to win 69-63. Hooley tried to replicate his heroics from last season, however this time his chance late to get his side back in front missed. He would finish with 13 points and 7 rebounds, while Rowley gathered 9 points and 4 rebounds, leaving Albany with a 4-2 conference record.
After three straight wins, Eastern Washington dropped two on the road this past week against Montana State (71-85) and Montana (69-74). In the loss to Montana State, Felix Von Hofe's shooting cooled off as the 6'5 forward went 1/7 from beyond the arc for 5 points. Venky Jois tried his best to get his team over the line, adding 11 points with 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocks but combined it was not enough.
Against Fabijan Krslovic and Jack Lopez's Montana, Jois lifted to deliver his 5th double-double of the season with 20 points (9/13 FG), 10 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals, moving into 2nd in school history in career scoring and 6th nationally for field goal shooting percentage this season (68.8%). He also made an amazing tip-in on the buzzer heading into the half time break to keep the Eagles within 4 points. However with Von Hofe going scoreless, it was Montana who won a classic Big Sky Conference game. Krslovic was very good defensively, managing to record 7 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 block while Lopez came off the bench for 1 rebound and 1 steal in 20 minutes.
Following a lean 5 point performance in a 65-96 loss to Valparaiso, Matt Donlan returned to score 16 points (4/8 3PT) with 3 rebounds in Youngstown State's 70-55 win against Cleveland State. It was his 14th time this season he has scored in double-digits, and the 11th time he has landed 3 or more treys in any one game as he closes in on the school record for three-pointers made in a single season (currently in 10th place).
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