NCAA Men: Landale and Simmons earn conference awards

In a big wrap up of the past two weeks, Jock Landale has continued his emergence at Saint Mary's while Ben Simmons continues to dominate college basketball, both earning conference accolades this week.

Since the last update, Saint Mary's have gone 3-1 in the West Coast Conference, with wins over Loyola Marymount (73-48) and Pacific (78-62) sandwiching a loss to Pepperdine (67-64. In the win over the Lions, it was sophomore guard Emmett Naar who led the way with 15 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Dane Pineau was solid with 8 points and 5 rebounds, yet was overshadowed by Jock Landale who contributed 12 points (4/5 FG) and 5 rebounds off the bench. With 8 points and 3 rebounds, Kyle Clark also provided further value off the bench. It was hard to fault the Aussies in the loss to Pepperdine, with both Pineau (7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks) and Landale (6 rebounds) delivering 16 points each. Naar chipped in 10 points 4 rebound and 5 assists, however the Gaels had their 8-game winning streak snapped.

Against Pacific, the emergence of Landale continued. The 6'11 center dominated in the paint with 7/7 shooting, also drawing fouls at will in which he converted 10/12 from the line. With a new career and game-high 24 points with 5 rebounds, the Melburnian was named West Coast Conference player of the week. He was not alone in starring against Pacific, with Naar gathering 21 points including 4/4 three-pointers with 5 rebounds and 6 assists. Pineau added 7 points and 6 rebounds, while Clark chimed in with 6 points.

Ben Simmons continues to dominate college basketball, however LSU fell to Florida 62-68. Simmons was unstoppable, providing 28 points (7/15 FG) including 14/16 from the charity stripe, with 17 rebounds and 4 assists. His only blemish was 8 turnovers, however the Tigers have it up 17 times compared to just 6 turnovers for the Gators. Mississippi were overcome by the Tigers 81-90, and this time Simmons chimed in with 15 points - 11 of which came in the second half, alongside 5 rebounds, 7 assists and 1 steal.

It was a very tight affair against Arkansas, with LSU requiring a put-back with under 5 seconds remaining to secure a 74-76 win. Despite not feeling well, Ben Simmons was huge, delivering his 13th double-double of the season with 16 points, 18 rebounds and 2 assists. for his output, he was named Southeastern Conference freshman player of the week for the 3rd time this season, while he as also named to the shortlisted 25 players for the Wooden Award as the best player in college basketball.

Despite a massive 26 points (9/25 FG) which included 5 three-pointers from Majok Deng, the Warhawks lost an overtime thriller to Arkansas State 65-68. Two of Deng's treys came in the all important extra period to keep his side in the game, however his missed attempt on the second last possession of the game saw his side fall agonisingly short. Deng would also finish with 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocked shots in an otherwise commanding 42 minutes.

Deng continued his great form in a second straight heart-breaking loss, this time a 56-57 result to Arkansas Little Rock. He posted 15 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists in the narrowest of losses. The leading scorer in the Sun Belt Conference then was restricted to a season-low 6 points and 6 rebounds in a 65-51 loss to Georgia. It was just the second time this season he had failed to reach double-digits. He did come back with a 14 point and 11 rebound double-double in his next outing, however it was not enough as the Warhawks lost their 4th straight, going down to Georgia Southern 66-51.

Despite a season-high 29 point outburst from senior guard Peter Hooley, Albany had their wining streak ended at seven as a result of a 79-81 road loss to Maine. Hooley who shot 11/17 from the field (3/5 3PT) also added 2 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals, also making a key lay-up that tied the game at 79. He received great support from junior forward Mike Rowley who went close to a double-double with 12 points and 7 rebounds. The Great Danes responded to their first America East loss by accounting for Binghampton 59-80 at home. Hooley was again very good, compiling 18 points 3 rebounds and 5 assists, while Rowley chipped in 10 points as Albany improved to 4-1 in conference play.

Taylor Dyson continued his hot shooting in Hartford's 76-72 win over Binghampton. He would connect on 7/10 shooting (2/5 3PT) to finish with 18 points 4 rebounds and 2 assists. Despite his big performance, he was outshone by fellow Aussie George Blagojevic who added 20 points on an efficient 7/9 shooting with 4 rebounds and 2 steals in another good outing for the freshman forward. However Hartford lost their next two games to Vermont (83-68) and Stony Brook (77-43), with neither of the Aussie Hawks able to crack double figures in scoring.

Xavier Cooks has logged impressive back-to-back games as Winthrop won three straight. In a 86-66 win over High Point, the 6'8 Cooks was able to muster 17 points on a perfect 7/7 shooting with 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks. Against Liberty, Cooks was even better in racking up a game-high 22 points that included 3/4 from beyond the arc with 6 rebounds and 2 blocks. Winthrop improved to 4-3 in the Big South and are looking to extend their winning streak.

In a narrow 58-60 loss to Pacific, David Humphries received an opportunity to shine, and he grabbed it with both hands. the senior guard landed 3/6 from long-range on his way to 12 points off the bench, chiming in with 3 steals along the way. Thanks to that strong performance, Humphries was again called upon to deliver at San Francisco. He would drop a career-high 6/10 treys on his way to another career-high 20 points with 5 rebounds and 2 assists as Loyola Marymount prevailed 87-83. Fellow Aussie sharpshooter Joshua Spiers connected on 3/5 triples of his own for 11 points and 4 rebounds in the solid win. Humphries then helped the Lions to a second straight win, this time a 76-66 result over Santa Clara. He would again shoot very well, making 4/6 from downtown to finish with 14 points and 7 rebounds in a battle against fellow Aussie Kai Healy. Healy would play very well too, adding 15 points (5/6 FG) with 3 rebounds and 1 block for the Broncos.

Eastern Washington registered their first Big Sky Conference win 60-75 against Idaho, with the hot-shooting Felix Von Hofe leading the way. The junior forward nailed 5/11 from long-range in registering 19 points and 5 rebounds. Senior forward Venky Jois was uncharacteristically quiet, chiming in with 9 points, 8 rebounds and a big 4 blocked shots. Jois was back to his best quickly however, dunking his way to a 24 point (6 dunks) and 12 rebound double-double with 2 assists and 1 block in the Eagles' 80-106 demolition of Southern Utah. Von Hofe was well held in this game, adding just 4 points, 3 rebounds and 2 steals, all without even attempting a three-pointer. He was again prevented from reaching double figures in Eastern Washington's 73-96 win over Northern Arizona. The 6'5 Von Hofe added just 7 points (1/6 3PT) and 4 rebounds in his second straight quiet outing offensively. Jois however was simply outstanding, shooting a super-efficient 10/12 from the field (5 dunks) in compiling 22 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 more blocked shots. The dynamic forward is now 7th in the nation for field goal shooting percentage with 69.1%, as the Eagles improved to 3-2 in the Big Sky.

Matt Donlan continued his great year, contributing 25 points on 8/11 shooting (4/7 3PT, 5/5 FT) with 7 rebounds in Youngstown State's 93-103 win over Green Bay. Despite adding a further 15 points including 3/5 treys with 5 rebounds, Donlan was not able to prevent the Penguin's falling 64-84 to Northern Kentucky. Youngstown State would then drop a further two straight games to Wright State (81-45) and Valparaiso (96-65), with Donlan restricted to a combined 8 points and 7 rebounds.

Also enjoying a standout performance was Jack Lopez who helped spark Montana to a 58-77 home win against Sacramento State. Lopez had a good night, gathering 21 points on 8/12 shooting that included an impressive 5/8 from long-range. He also collected 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal while fellow Aussie forward Fabijan Krslovic added 6 points and 6 rebounds in the Grizzlies 5th straight win. Their winning streak was extended to 7, with Lopez able to record 9 points and 6 boards in a 65-61 win against North Dakota and remain unbeaten in the Big Sky.

Boise State were on a winning streak of their own, making it 10 thanks to a 74-67 road win over Nevada. Anthony Drmic added 13 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals while Nick Duncan chimed in with 11 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists in the win. This followed an earlier 81-70 victory against Fresno State in which Drmic notched 13 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists and Duncan also had 13 points with 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocked shots in yet another well-rounded performance by both Aussies. Their streak however came to an end at the hands of San Diego State who stunned the Broncos at home 56-53. Duncan was his consistent self with 12 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals, however Drmic went scoreless for the second time this season, adding just 2 rebounds and 3 steals.

Liam Thomas pulled out a career-high 17 point performance in Nicholls State's 76-71 loss to Texas A&M-CC. The 7'1 center connected on 8/12 shots with 8 rebounds, 2 assist and 2 blocks in a complete performance. He has now scored 11 or more six times this season in what has proven difficult for the Colonels who are 1-4 in the Southland Conference and 5-14 overall.

6'7 junior forward Tevin Jackson delivered his best performance to date in McNeese State's 68-72 upset win over Sam Houston State and record their first conference win. Jackson landed 6/10 shots from the field including a perfect 3/3 from beyond the arc on his way to a career-best 17 points with 7 rebounds and 3 assists. It was the third time he had racked up double-digits in scoring this season.

Callum Barker enjoyed two strong outings for Bradley the past week. In their 53-54 win over Loyola (IL), Barker compiled 10 points with 9 rebounds as he went close to a double-double. He did not miss out again in the Braves' 61-42 loss to Missouri State, adding 13 points and 12 rebounds as they fell to 1-5 in conference play.