2016-2017 CUSA Basketball Discussion
Southern Miss (7-15, 4-6) scores 54 FLIPPING points in the second half en route to a 91-76 victory against Marshall (13-10, 6-4), who seems to be crashing back to Earth after their hot start to the conference slate.
Speaking of crashing back down to Earth, UTSA (9-13, 4-5) fought valiantly against Middle Tennessee State (20-3, 8-0), but the Blue Raiders remain undefeated in conference play with a 69-59 win in San Antonio. I honestly don't know what else Middle Tennessee has to do to crack the top 25. I'd pick this team over half of the teams currently in the top 25, including some teams in Florida.
FIU (5-17, 1-8) had the lead going into halftime at Old Dominion 914-8, 7-3), a place where road teams dreams go to die. Well, with USM and FAU both winning in upset fashion today, FIU's dream of making the conference tournament is on life-support after they choked the game away with just 23 second half points. The Monarchs' 64-57 win puts them in the coveted fourth spot in the CUSA standings, the final seed to earn a first round bye in the conference tournament.
Louisiana Tech (15-8, 7-3) fought off a late rally from Western Kentucky (11-12, 5-5) to win their first since dropping two straight to UAB and Middle Tennessee. St. Petersburg's own Jacobi Boykins scored an impressive 25 points for the Bulldogs, just one shy of his career high. Remember his name, he's going to be a star next season.
The most intriguing game just tipped off on CBSSN, UAB (14-8, 7-2) at UTEP (6-14, 4-4). Remember how UTEP dropped 12 straight before beating FIU in double OT, and then FAU in one round of overtime just days later? Well, since sweeping the Florida schools, the Miners have woken up. Winning 4 out of their last 5, including a MASSIVE BLOWOUT at Marshall and a controversial close loss at Western Kentucky, UTEP looks to be on the rise. Canadian center Matt Willms averaged 9.2 PPG before scoring 27 and 25 points last week on the road. Very deservingly was rewarded CUSA player of the week.
UTEP upsets UAB at the Haskins Center, dropping the Blazers into that fourth spot, and improving the Miners to above .500 in conference play.
Defending player of the week, Matt Willms was held to 14 points, but guard Omega Harris dropped 23.
UTEP has sky rocketed to fifth place in the conference (one short of an automatic bye) after beating Middle Tennessee 57-54. This is the first conference loss from Middle Tennessee all season, a team that was receiving votes going into the weekend. This all but insures that CUSA will be a one-bid league once again. The Miners beat UAB by 4 the Thursday before, giving El Paso hope after losing 12-straight earlier this year.
Louisiana Tech played host to a Marshall squad that is plummeting in the conference standings. With the Bulldogs winning 94-90, the Herd have dropped three straight, and five of their last 7. This is after starting the conference campaign 4-0. Louisiana Tech now has sole possession of second place following losses by Old Dominion and UAB.
Speaking of UAB, the Blazers would be up in the running for worst week in the conference. After dropping a close one in El Paso, UAB was smothered by UTSA 82-67. Having lost two straight, the Blazers now hold fourth place in the standings; the last team with a first round bye.
Western Kentucky rebounded from their loss at Louisiana Tech with a decisive victory at Southern Miss. The Hilltoppers have won three out of their last 4, after dropping four straight. With the loss, Southern Miss falls below FAU in the conference standings, but 3 games clear of FIU and the dreaded 13th position.
Speaking of FIU, they lost their third straight. This time to Charlotte, 95-80. Thank you Charlotte.
My sleeper pick. Rice handled North Texas 95-80 in Denton. Rice improves to 5-5 in conference play, as Marcus Evans and company head to South Florida this weekend. North Texas is in last place in CUSA with a 0-10 conference record. The Mean Green are surely paying the price for their Tony Mitchell days.
WKU junior forward Justin Johnson earned the C-USA Player of the Week honor after averaging 17.5 points and 12.5 boards in the Toppers’ road trip to Louisiana Tech and Southern Miss. The Hazard, Kentucky, native now has four consecutive double-doubles.
North Texas guard A.J. Lawson claims his second C-USA Freshman of the Week honor of the season after pouring in a career-high 30 points against Rice.
Awards are chosen by a vote from a media panel representing the 14 member schools.
FAU's next opponent Rice, handled FIU 89-78. Guard Marcus Evans had the highest point total in CUSA on Thursday with 27 points, as he played all but 4 minutes in Miami. Rice has won three straight.
UAB remains in the regular season title race with their big 82-69 victory over a struggling Charlotte side. The Blazers were led by their duo of in-the-paint threats of Chris Cokley and William Lee who combined for 34 points.
Middle Tennessee bounces back from their loss in El Paso with a solid 13 point win against Old Dominion. In a rematch of the 2016 conference championship, Blue Raiders' Reggie Upshaw scored a game high 18 points, after going 7-13 from the field.
Louisiana Tech fights off a surging UTEP team, to remain in second place and two games behind Middle Tennessee.
UTSA beats Southern Miss in San Antonion, 57-51. Jeff Beverly scored a game high 17 points for the Roadrunners, who are now 10-1 at the UTSA Convocation Center. With the loss, USM remains behind FAU in the CUSA standings at 12th place.
|CUSA Standings as of 2/10|
1. Middle Tennessee (24-4, 14-1)
The first place Blue Raiders have stretched their win streak to four games following victories over "100 Miles of Hate" rival WKU and Marshall. The Raiders completed their sweep of the Hilltoppers via a 78-52 thumping in Bowling Green, already dubbed the "Bowling Green Massacre." In the 134th edition of the rivalry, Reggie Upshaw scored 19 en route to a double-double performance while JaCorey Williams earned his 11th double-double this season. Coach Kermit Davis earned his 300th career victory after Middle Tennessee beat Marshall 97-86 in front of a raucous crowd of nearly 8,000 fans in Huntington.
2. Louisiana Tech (20-8, 12-3)
The Bulldogs have stretched their conference best win streak to six games following sound wins over FAU and FIU. Eric McCree, one of the favorites to win CUSA Player of the Year, recorded his conference best 12th double-double on Saturday agaisnt FIU with 27 points and 10 boards. This was following a below average game against FAU on Thursday.
3. Old Dominion (16-10, 9-5)
The Monarchs lone game of the week was a dominating 72-48 victory against Charlotte. This was ODU's largest margin of victory of the season. Talented PG Ahmad Caver scored 17 points and dished out 8 assists in the victory. The Monarchs have won 5 of their last 7, with the only losses being back-to-back hiccups against FAU and Middle Tennessee
4. UTEP (11-15, 9-5)
That's right, the Miners now claim the last spot for a first round bye. The same team that once lost 12 straight have won 6 of their last 7, including the only team to give Middle Tennessee their only conference loss. The Miners held off both North Texas and Rice in close contests, 77-71 and 79-71 respectively. F Paul Thomas has splashed onto the scene recently giving the Miners a new threat from inside. He scored 24 and 17 respectively and earned a double-double in both games.
5. Rice (18-, 8-6)
The Owls from Houston have fought to put themselves within one game of a first-round bye in the tournament. They were riding a five game win streak before losing to UTEP on Saturday. PG Marcus Evans scored 26 in the Owls' victory over UTSA on Thursday
6. Marshall (15-12, 8-6)
once atop the conference with Middle Tennessee, the high scoring Herd's defensive woes have caused MU to drop 4 of their last 6 games. Marshall is now on the outside looking in for the last first-round bye. Beating a struggling UAB squad 74-59 has allowed Marshall to remain in the conversation, but Saturday's 97-86 loss to Middle Tennessee further proves that we may have overrated the Herd in January.
7. UAB (15-13, 8-7)
What in the world is going on in Birmingham? Losers of 5 of their last 6, the Blazers stock has plummeted as they have fallen out of the top four teams in the conference. The poor effort in 74-59 and 76-64 losses to Marshall and Western Kentucky were not handled well by the Blazer faithful on social media.
vs. Middle Tennessee
8. Western Kentucky (13-14, 7-7)
The Hilltoppers snapped their two game skid with their 76-64 victory over UAB on Sunday. Junior Forward Justin Johnson scored a career high 26 points in a double-double effort against the Blazers. The 'Tops' victory against UAB was following a blowout at home to rival Middle Tennessee
9. UTSA (11-16, 6-8)
The Roadrunners continue their inconsistent play this conference campaign, this time by dropping two winnable games to in-state rivals Rice and North Texas. once seen as a potential darkhorse following strong play against some of CUSA's best, The 'Runners are nearly mathematically eliminated from receiving a first round bye in the tournament. To their credit, UTSA is one win away from clinching their spot in the conference tournament.
10. Charlotte (11-14, 5-9)
Losers of 5 of their last 6 games, the 49ers now one loss (and one win from both USM and FAU) away from being the last team into the CUSA Tournament. Normally a high scoring squad, the 'Niners were dominated by Old Dominion in Norfolk, 72-48.
11. Florida Atlantic (9-16, 5-9)
The Owls split their weekend series with a loss at Louisiana Tech and a victory at Southern Miss. Gerdarius Troutman lead FAU in scoring in both games, with 13 against LTU and 25 against USM. The effort agaisnt USM included netting seven three-pointers.
@ Middle Tennessee
12. Southern Mississippi (8-19, 5-10)
The Golden Eagles overcame a 14 point deficit in the second half to force overtime. once in the extra session, D'Angelo Richardson hit a buzzer-beating thee to beat FIU 69-66. USM could not keep the momentum going into Saturday, losing to FAU 94-82, putting the Golden Eagles back into the last seed in the CUSA Tournmant.
13. FIU (6-21, 2-12)
Facing elimination from tournament contention, the Panthers dropped two straight. An overtime loss to Southern Miss on Thursday may have been the dagger to FIU's tournament dreams. The Panthers' 77-61 loss to Louisiana Tech the following Saturday only further exasperates FIU's level of desperation going into their final home stretch this week.
14. North Texas (8-18, 2-12)
The Mean Green kept their slim tournament hopes alive with a surprising 83-73 win over UTSA in Denton. UNT is punching above their weight following their stellar performance against FAU in Boca. This includes a valiant effort in an OT loss to UTEP, in which freshman Ryan Woolridge fell one assist short of a triple-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
If the season ended today, here's how the tournament would shape up:
(click image to enlarge)
With just two weeks left in the regular season, here's what the Conference USA tournament would look like if the season ended today. pic.twitter.com/vWNlRmB4pi— Pat James (@patjames24) February 20, 2017
All times are Central, so plan accordingly and add an hour.
Here's some discussion topics to keep us busy before the tournament tips-off on Wednesday
1. Who do you all have winning the tournament this year?
2. Do you think that Middle Tennessee can secure an at-large bid if they don't win the tournament?
3. Who is your dark horse? Who will surprise the most people with either solid performances or a deep run?
For me, I think you have to pick Middle Tennessee to win it all. They've been the best team throughout the conference campaign, but more importantly, their playing their best ball RIGHT NOW.
If Middle does the unthinkable, and lose their first game against either UTSA or WKU, then I can see the Selection Committee shutting the Blue Raiders out. The only way I think MTSU gets an at-large bid is if they lose in the tournament final to Louisiana Tech.
My dark horse is Rice. I am crazy about Marcus Evans and Egor Koulechov. In fact, the Rice duo are the only teammates that made CUSA's first team. I see Rice going far, until they face Middle Tennessee in the semis.
#8 Western Kentucky - 52
#9 UTSA - 56
The Roadrunners held the lead the majority in this offensive struggle. The game's MVP for the 'Runners would have to go to Byron Frohen, whose 13 rebounds and 11 points were as clutch as it got. After a missed shot, Frohen inserted the dagger when hemuscled his way to the boards for a rebound, the getting fouled while scoring on the second chance shot.
Western Kentucky ends their 2016-2017 season with a disappointing 15-17 record.
#12 Southern Miss
This one could get ugly, QUICKLY.