The Texas Longhorns walked onto the court of the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion on the UConn campus with nothing but another victory on their mind. After all, they were the number one ranked team in the nation and UConn had just snapped a season-long three game losing streak against a weak St. John’s team.
In addition, UConn’s Hall-of-Fame Coach had just announced he was taking a medical leave of absence for an undisclosed amount of time.
With Texas’s aspirations at a season-high no one was giving the fading Huskies a shot at beating the nation’s top team, and this looked even less likely at halftime when UConn was down by 42-34.
However, Ater Majok and the Huskies came out of the break on fire posting 54 points in the second half, and knocking off the Longhorns with an 88-74 final score.
Majok saved his best game of the year for this clash of college basketball titans; he posted career-highs in minutes played (31) and blocked shots (4), and equalled career-highs in both points (5) and rebounds (6).
Majok finally showed signs of the potential that has been talked about since he first stepped on court this season. He continues to grow from week to week, and, instead of just getting experience on court, is now making a difference and contributing on both the offensive and defensive ends.
This was evident in a few key points during the Texas game when UConn’s guards Kemba Walker and Jerome Dyson regularly looked for Majok after pick-and-rolls -unlike in past weeks- and even tried to toss Ater a few ally-oops.
Acting Head Coach George Blaney seems to have a lot of confidence in Ater, so in this week’s matchups against Providence and Marquette look for Majok to play a bigger role then he has had.
Also playing a major role, once again, for the Vanderbilt Commodores was AJ Ogilvy. He continued his dominance over South Eastern Conference foes by posting 17 points, eight rebounds, five blocks, and two steals in Vandy’s win over Auburn to move them to 4-0 in SEC play.
The 15-3 Commodores have also cracked the top 25 for the first time this season landing in the #23 spot. This week, though, may be the toughest week of the year for them.
Vanderbilt will travel to Tennessee to face the 14th ranked Volunteers and less than three days later head into Kentucky to face the #1 Wildcats.
The Commodores are in the midst of a nine-game winning streak, and it’s no surprise that Ogilvy has recorded double-digit points during that stretch.
This season, when Ogilvy has scored 10+ points Vanderbilt is 13-1. In order for the Commodores to have a chance verse the nation’s top teams Ogilvy needs to be on his game.
Not quite on his game this week, Matthew Dellavedova didn’t quite dominate like he has been but the Gaels still got past conference opponent San Diego State.
In their easy 71-56 win, Delly posted five points, five assists, three rebounds, and one steal in the game that moved St. Mary’s to 4-1 in conference and 17-3 overall. As a result, the Gales also received votes for a top 25 ranking for the first time this year.
They have two big conference matchups this week against Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount. If the Gaels come away with two wins and one or two ranked teams lose they may earn a spot in the top 25.
Another Australian player who has played solid all year, but who has not been mentioned in this column before is Anatoly Bose of Nicholls State, who represented Australia at the 2009 World University Games.
This past week, Bose registered a mindboggling 46 points making 11-of-21 shots from the field and going a blistering 19-of-24 from the foul line. However, his thrilling performance in the end couldn’t help the Colonels who lost the game 99-98 in double overtime to Northwestern State.
In the NBA, Milwaukee’s Andrew Bogut finally saw his streak of double-doubles end at six. Even though the streak ended, Bogues had another astounding week.
In the Bucks’ 2-and-2 week Bogut averaged 20.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, four blocks, and 2.5 assists. He shot 67.3 percent (33-49) from the field during the four games and continued to play the most consistent and dominating basketball of his career.
During Milwaukee’s matchup against Houston, Bogut played a season high 45 minutes, but came down with a heartbreaking 101-98 loss to David Andersen’s Rockets.
Andersen has continued to get limited time off the bench averaging 10 minutes per game this past week. He also averaged five points and 2.7 rebounds. During his matchup with Bogut, Andersen had a week-high six points and five rebounds.
Nathan Jawai also had a disappointing week after seeing his playing time increase last week.
In four games (1-3), Big Nate saw limited minutes in Minnesota’s first two games of the week and then none in the last two.
Jawai’s standout performance came in the Timberwolves heartbreaking 94-92 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. In the contest, Nate played a week-high eight minutes, grabbed two rebounds, scored two points, and had one assist.
However, Australia’s other indigenous NBA player, Patty Mills, continued to post solid numbers in the D-League.
In the Idaho Stampede’s win against the Utah Flash, Mills scored 21 points, dished out six assists, grabbed two rebounds, and had two steals. Even though Patty recorded 21 points, he shot only 26.3 percent (5-19) from the field.
His performances earned him another call up to the big show after a couple of short-term injuries to Portland guards Jarryd Bayless (sprained ankle) and Rudy Fernandez (hamstring). But Mills didn’t get any court time as the Trail Blazers topped the Detroit Pistons 97-93 and were pipped by the New Orleans Hornets 98-97 as Bayless returned to the court.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED:
• Milwaukee vs Houston, 1:28 remaining in OT: Bogut ties career-high by recording his sixth block of the game.
• Milwaukee vs Houston, :33 remaining in OT: Bogut’s tip-in pulls the Bucks to within two, 100-98. Houston would go on to win 101-98.
• Stampede vs Flash, :24 remaining in OT: Mills hits a pair of free-throws to close out the game. Stampede win 116-108.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR:
• Can another Aussie knock off the nation’s #1 team?
• Ogilvy and the Commodores verse #14 Tennessee and #1 Kentucky
• Majok’s increased confidence in Big East matchups (Providence and Marquette)
• Bogut verse Dirk Nowitzki when the Bucks visit the Mavericks
By Phil Moskowitz for Basketball Australia