Welcome back to the Starting 5. The Starting 5 is written multiple times per week by Adam Spencer to keep you up-to-date on all the news and events in the world of college hoops. You can follow Adam on Twitter at @AdamSpencer4 and @SDSBasketball.

1. Opening tipoff


That’s the only word to describe Tennessee’s overtime loss to Texas Tech on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden in the Jimmy V Classic. First, let’s dive into some of the horrendous numbers.

The Vols launched 40 3-pointers on the night. They made 6. That’s a 15% success rate. You aren’t going to win many games shooting that poorly from beyond the arc.

Equally bad? They went 8-for-16 from the free-throw line. You absolutely have to make at least two-thirds of your free throws at this level. Shooting 50% is embarrassing.

The overtime game only resulted in a 57-52 final score because the Red Raiders were nearly as inept offensively. Texas Tech made only 4 of 24 3-pointers (16.7%) and only 15 of 25 free throws (60%). It’s honestly worth wondering if something was wrong with the baskets:

One big problem I spotted was the lack of aggression from freshman sensation Kennedy Chandler. The star Tennessee point guard scored only 9 points in 41 minutes. He also had 5 assists, 3 rebounds, 5 turnovers and 4 fouls.

But, down the stretch, he needed to take over. You’re the superstar, Kennedy. When nothing is going right for your team, you need to put your teammates on your shoulders and make some shots or get to the free-throw line.

His teammates certainly weren’t doing him any favors, missing open shots after incredible passes from Chandler:

It’s great to get your teammates involved, but if they’re not scoring, you need to take over. I wanted to see more of this in the second half:

Chandler is still getting the hang of college basketball. He has enough talent that I’m not worried about him moving forward. He just needs more confidence being an alpha dog. He should be fine as we approach SEC play.

Another guy I enjoyed watching was Zakai Zeigler. He’s a total pest defensively, and he can make exciting plays in the lane:

Don’t count on the Vols shooting 15% from beyond the arc in very many games this year. We’ll see if this team can regroup and regain some confidence heading into the final part of the nonconference schedule.

2. SEC notes

It’s time to start appreciating Arkansas’s leading scorer, JD Notae, some more. Yes, he’s a high-volume shooter, but he’s doing exactly what this Razorback team needs him to do right now.

On Tuesday, the Hogs beat Charlotte by a comfortable 86-66 margin, but Notae continued to provide a huge portion of the offense. He did it all, scoring a game-high 23 points on 18 shots and grabbing 10 rebounds. It was his first double-double in an Arkansas uniform.

He also continued to play aggressive defense, snagging 4 steals. This was the only 3-pointer he made on the night:

He’s been a bit off from long range lately, but I don’t expect that to continue all year. He only had 1 assist in the game against Charlotte, which is a concern, but he starts fast breaks like this:

Devo Davis gets the assist on that Chris Lykes 3-ball, but Notae started the play. That’s a hockey assist. It’s not like he’s a ball hog. He’s just doing what the offense needs him to do. It never feels like he’s forcing shots, which is hard to do when you’re taking nearly 20 a game.

Davis scored 18 points and had 8 assists against the 49ers, so if he can start to heat up and take pressure away from Notae in half-court offensive sets, watch out.

  • Oscar Tshiebwe has recorded at least 10 rebounds in every single game Kentucky has played this year. That’s incredible. He’s averaging 15.4 rebounds per game. He’s also Kentucky’s leading scorer at 15.3 points per contest. It’s easy to see why he’s so popular. Look how hard he works to get his points down low:

  • I still don’t know if this Kentucky team is any good or not. Winning 76-64 at home against Southern isn’t exactly a great result. I want to see this team leave Rupp Arena and play a real opponent for the first time since the opener against Duke. Fortunately, we’ll see that over the next 2 games, as they’ll play at Notre Dame this Saturday and against Ohio State in Las Vegas next Saturday. One thing is for sure, though – Tshiebwe will continue to be a force down low.
  • Florida managed to get back in the win column with an 85-55 win over North Florida on Wednesday. The players were amped up, but I am not getting too excited about this team moving forward. I’ve been fooled too many times by Mike White. I fully expect the Gators to beat Maryland in Brooklyn on Sunday and then lose to either USF or Stony Brook the following week. That’s the Mike White era in a nutshell. Not going to fool me again!

Now, let’s move on to some Big Ten storylines.

3. B1G notes

I told y’all earlier this year to keep an eye on Johnny Davis at Wisconsin!

Wisconsin trailed Indiana by 22 points at one point in the first half and were down 42-25 at halftime and somehow, some way, came back to win.

It was tied for the largest comeback in Wisconsin history and was the biggest comeback in Division I this year so far:

Davis played a big part in that. He scored a game-high 23 points in the Badgers’ 64-59 victory. He also hit this really difficult 3-pointer to give Wisconsin its final lead:

Oh, and he also had 9 rebounds, an assist and a block. His 23 points were even more impressive since none of his teammates managed to score more than 9.

He’s a sneaky pick for Big Ten Player of the Year right now. We’ll see if he can take his show on the road to Columbus this weekend against No. 21 Ohio State (more on that game later).

  • Purdue’s stint as the No. 1 team in the country will be short-lived, thanks to Rutgers and Ron Harper Jr. I mean, look at this shot that beat the Boilermakers:

  • That’s a wild shot, yes, but it’s also not a great look for the Boilermakers to be playing that close of a game with the Scarlet Knights, even if it was a road game. Purdue is still a great team, but that was not a good look for Matt Painter’s bunch on Thursday night.
  • It is officially time to declare Iowa a fraud. It’s also equally time to declare Iowa State a legitimate Big 12 contender. The Hawkeyes started the season 7-0. Their first 7 opponents left a lot to be desired, though – Longwood, Kansas City, North Carolina Central, Alabama State, Western Michigan, Portland State and Virginia. Normally, Virginia would be a great win, but not this year. We’ll dive into that in the next section. Since then, the Hawkeyes have hung tough against Purdue and Illinois, but on Thursday, they were blown out by rival Iowa State, 73-53. Iowa faces Utah State next. That won’t be an easy game for the Hawkeyes. We’ll see if they can pick up that win. Iowa State was picked to finish dead last in the Big 12. Now, the Cyclones are 9-0. What a turnaround by T.J. Otzelberger. He’s an early favorite for National Coach of the Year.
  • Michigan State beat Minnesota 75-67 this week, handing the Golden Gophers their first loss of the season. OK, we’ve got that out of the way. Now, I want to point your attention to this play:

  • Uh, what? Is that what passes for offense under new coach Ben Johnson? If so, it’s going to be a long Big Ten season for Minnesota. I need “Yakety Sax” playing in the background of that. That offensive set makes Cuonzo Martin at Mizzou look like Mike D’Antoni. Kudos to Malik Hall for sticking with his guy. But, yeah, Johnson needs to throw that play out of the playbook. That was embarrassing.

Now, let’s move on to the ACC and other conferences around the country.

4. ACC notes/random tidbits

Is it even surprising when Virginia loses anymore? The Cavaliers are only a couple of years removed from a national championship, but things have gotten bleak in Charlottesville.

On Tuesday night, the Hoos hit the road, taking on in-state foe James Madison. They entered the game 11-0 against the Dukes. Now, they’re 11-1 after an ugly 52-49 loss.

Kudos to Tony Bennett for scheduling the game in the first place. A lot of coaches wouldn’t have the guts to visit an in-state team for a true road game. Bennett explained why it was important to him:

But, the results just aren’t there for 6-4 Virginia this year. The Cavaliers shot 4-for-26 from 3-point range (15.4%) and 3 of those were made by Kihei Clark, who went 3-for-9 from beyond the arc.

James Madison actually made some tough shots down the stretch, as opposed to the Hoos:

Then, it was time to party for James Madison players and fans:

Virginia has a lot of work to do offensively if it wants to stay in the top half of the ACC standings this season.

  • Villanova saw Tennessee launch 40 3-pointers in the first game of the Jimmy V Classic on Tuesday and said “hold my beer.” The Wildcats shot a whopping 50 long balls against Syracuse in a 67-53 win over the struggling Orange. That’s only 3 fewer 3s than Syracuse had total points. They only made 26% of them (13-for-50), but it was more than enough. Syracuse, as I’ve mentioned often this year, continues to rely too heavily on people with the last name “Boeheim.” Jim Boeheim is the coach and he continues to give free reign to his sons Buddy and Jimmy. Buddy scored 6 points on 15 shots, going 0-for-5 from 3-point range. Jimmy had a game-high 21 points, but he needed 19 shots to get there. That’s 27 points on 34 shots from the Boeheims. Highly inefficient. Also, only 1 player shot free throws for the Orange – big man Jesse Edwards. And he only went 8-for-15 from the line. Bad coaching by Jim Boeheim. It might be time for a change of leadership at Syracuse after the season.
  • Arizona is having a great season. The men’s hoops team is 8-0, while the women’s team is 7-0. The men’s team is ranked No. 11 in the country. The women’s squad is No. 6. The Wildcats are the last remaining school with undefeated men’s and women’s hoops teams:

  • We saw what Adia Barnes could do with the women’s team last year, guiding the Wildcats to the title game before losing to Stanford. But, Tommy Lloyd is doing some great work with the men’s team in his first year at the helm. We’ll see if he can keep it going at Illinois on Saturday (more on that game later).

Now, let’s take a look at some of the best games of the weekend.

5. Outlet pass

I cannot wait for this weekend of college basketball. There are so many great games on both Saturday and Sunday, I won’t want to get up off the couch. Here are the 5 games between now and Tuesday’s column that I can’t wait to watch:

  1. No. 14 Houston at No. 9 Alabama (Saturday at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN2) – Alabama has already knocked off 1 of last year’s Final Four teams (Gonzaga last Saturday). Can the Tide take down another? They still have a game against Baylor coming up in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge later this season, too. Speaking of Baylor …
  2. No. 6 Villanova at No. 2 Baylor (Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on ABC) – Villanova only has 2 losses this year – at then-No. 2 UCLA and vs. then-No. 6 Purdue. The Wildcats will continue testing themselves this nonconference season by heading to Waco to take on Baylor. Can they pull off a top-10 upset this time around?
  3. No. 11 Arizona at Illinois (Saturday at 5 p.m. ET on FOX) – A rematch of the thrilling 2005 Elite 8 game in which the Illini closed a 15-point gap in the final minutes to force overtime? Sign me up! I still remember where I was when that comeback happened when I was 15 years old and growing up in Illinois. Hopefully, the Illini can pull off the win once again!
  4. No. 22 Wisconsin at No. 21 Ohio State (Saturday at noon ET on BTN) – Wisconsin just pulled off a big home win against Indiana, but now the Badgers have to hit the road to Columbus. The Buckeyes have been vulnerable at times this year, but they also have a win over then-No. 1 Duke. Something’s gotta give on Saturday afternoon!
  5. Mizzou at No. 8 Kansas (Saturday at 3:15 p.m. ET on ESPN) – The Border War rivalry game is back! Is it going to be a competitive game? Probably not. My Missouri Tigers are terrible and Kansas is a potential Final Four team. But, these rivalries need to be played every year, so it’ll be fun to have this game back in the rotation even if it does turn into a blowout.

That is an absolutely loaded weekend of college basketball action! Thank goodness for that, since there’s only 1 college football game – the annual Army-Navy clash – on the schedule for Saturday. It’s almost time for even casual hoops fans to dive into the action on the court!

Enjoy the Starting 5? Have a question? Want to yell at me about something? Follow me on Twitter @AdamSpencer4 or email me at ASpencer@SaturdayDownSouth.com.