College Basketball's All-Week 11 First Team: Top Performers at Every Position
Week 11 of the college basketball season gave us some memorable sidekicks. These aren't the stars of the really good teams, but they're the guys who you can't win without.
Naturally, we hit up the Michigan State Spartans after their reclamation project against the Maryland Terrapins on Saturday. Perhaps guard Denzel Valentine will give his teammate another hearty chest bump like the one pictured above.
The Big 12 gets some attention with Oklahoma Sooners guard Isaiah Cousins—who isn't quite teammate Buddy Hield but who sure had it going this week for the (still-deserve-to-be) No. 1 Sooners.
We even went with a prime-time bench performer from the Pac-12 (the Arizona Wildcats sure thought he was a Bear) and a Duke Blue Devils afterthought on the second team.
That's what makes college basketball so great—big games can involve anyone. That's what we examine here.
Every week, we pick a first-teamer and second-teamer at all five positions and also a duo off the bench. Stat-stuffing games are seriously considered, but we also take a look at cumulative consistency against strong competition and those who have played above their season averages from last Sunday through Saturday night's games.
Surprise stories help make up the ranks, too.
Let us know what you think of our picks and share your own in the comments.
Point Guard: Isaiah Cousins, Oklahoma
Jan. 18 at Iowa State: 26 points, seven rebounds, four assists
Jan. 23 at Baylor: 13 points, nine assists
It seemed like 6'4" senior Isaiah Cousins could do no wrong this week. Sure, the Oklahoma Sooners lost at the Iowa State Cyclones, but Cousins was a dynamic force. Then he picked his spots favorably amid his team's thrashing of the Baylor Bears, including an early second-half three-pointer that started to put some doom and gloom in the Bears' upset bid.
He's not Buddy Hield, but that's just fine for OU.
Second Team: Monte Morris, Iowa State
Jan. 18 vs. Oklahoma: 20 points, seven rebounds, three assists
Jan. 23 at TCU: 18 points, six rebounds
Don't count out the Cyclones in the Big 12 race quite yet. We mentioned in the slide opener that sidekicks had a big week. Well, Monte Morris—the Robin to senior forward Georges Niang's Batman—produced two masterful games in a terrific week, which included a home-court upset of No. 1 Oklahoma. The 6'3" junior made eight of 12 shots that Monday night and was 15-of-23 for the week.
Morris finished off the Sooners with a variety of moves and scores, atoning for missing a three-pointer in the closing seconds of the teams' first meeting at OU, which would've put ISU in the driver's seat of the highly competitive Big 12 race. He stuck with it, though, and he gets rewarded here.
Shooting Guard: Kevin Punter Jr., Tennessee
Jan. 20 vs. Vanderbilt: 26 points, four rebounds, three assists
Jan. 23 vs. South Carolina: 36 points, four steals
No one's been talking about the Tennessee Volunteers that much, but let's give some due here: Senior Kevin Punter Jr. had a monster week, including a career-high points tally against the South Carolina Gamecocks. He scored 27 in the second half, when he made five of six three-pointers and hit all 12 of his free throws. He finished the week 9-of-16 from behind the arc and made 19 of the 20 free throws he attempted.
Second Team: Buddy Hield, Oklahoma
Jan. 18 at Iowa State: 27 points, six rebounds, four assists
Jan. 23 at Baylor: 19 points, eight rebounds, three assists
Oh, sure, we can hear the boos coming out of Norman. Buddy Hield puts up numbers seemingly every week that should make him a first-team all-star. But we try to spread the love around here. That said, the senior star deserves some recognition, especially for the sizzling, exciting way he played against the Baylor Bears in an early afternoon game Saturday that had all sorts of folks gushing about him on Twitter. The man can shoot the three.
Small Forward (Wing): Tyler Roberson, Syracuse
Jan. 18 at Duke: 14 points, 20 rebounds, three steals
It was only a one-game week for the Syracuse Orange, as Saturday's game at the Virginia Cavaliers was pushed to Sunday because of bad weather in that part of the country. But we're certainly not going to hold that against Tyler Roberson, a 6'8" junior who was a terror at the Duke Blue Devils.
Mind you, the performance came just two days after he posted 16 points and 13 rebounds at the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Roberson set the record for most rebounds by an opposing player at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Second Team: Kyle Collinsworth, BYU
Jan. 21 at Loyola Marymount: 10 points, 13 rebounds, 15 assists, five steals
Jan. 23 at Pepperdine: 18 points, seven rebounds, three assists
Like Denzel Valentine at Michigan State, 6'6" senior Kyle Collinsworth can be moved all over the place. Some would insist he's simply a point guard, as he handles the ball a ton. But he can also be a point forward, like Valentine. We wanted to get the triple-double master some attention—despite the BYU Cougars' rough season, which includes a loss at the Pepperdine Waves—for a career-high assist total at the Loyola Marymount Lions, which led to Collinsworth's fourth triple-double this season and the 10th of his career.
Power Forward: Matt Costello, Michigan State
Jan. 20 vs. Nebraska: Eight points, 10 rebounds, three assists
Jan. 23 vs. Maryland: 15 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks
It was Matt Costello's fourth double-double in the last nine games, and the sputtering Michigan State Spartans were revived in particular by his defense of Maryland Terrapins freshman stud Diamond Stone—who was limited to three shots. As Bleacher Report's Kerry Miller pointed out, it had been nearly two months since Stone hadn't scored in double figures.
Costello's performance was just what the Spartans needed. He was a bright light for the week amid some dark times for MSU, which was stuck in a three-game losing streak until it beat the Terrapins.
Second Team: Alex Poythress, Kentucky
Jan. 21 at Arkansas: Seven points, six rebounds
Jan. 23 vs. Vanderbilt: 16 points
Sometimes you've got to give it up for guys who know how to pick their spots. Alex Poythress, the 6'8" senior, made 11 of his 15 shots for the week and was intent on scoring near the rim, even with a size disadvantage against the Vanderbilt Commodores' 7' towers. Poythress scored the Kentucky Wildcats' first six second-half points, and his play made a non-issue of what should've been a good game.
Center: Evan Fitzner, Saint Mary's
Jan. 21 vs. Gonzaga: 20 points, five rebounds
Jan. 23 vs. Portland: 13 points, six rebounds
You may not have heard much about this guy—fair enough—but he came up huge late Thursday night against the Gonzaga Bulldogs and all of their size. Evan Fitzner, a 6'10" freshman, made seven of nine shots and helped the St. Mary's Gaels snap an eight-game losing streak—over nearly four years—against their big brother in the West Coast Conference.
Fitzner has SMC alone in first place after he sank a pair of free throws with 2.9 seconds left to help secure a 70-67 win. His 20 points more than doubled his scoring average.
Second Team: Chinanu Onuaku, Louisville
Jan. 20 vs. Florida State: 11 points, 14 rebounds
Jan. 23 at Georgia Tech: 12 points, 11 rebounds, four assists
Chinanu Onuaku, a 6'10" sophomore, has played a big role in the Louisville Cardinals' success, and he ran his double-double streak to six games with two standout performances this week. Even more impressive is that it's happened in ACC play.
Off the Bench: Jordan Mathews, Cal
Jan. 21 vs. Arizona State: 10 points
Jan. 23 vs. Arizona: 28 points, three rebounds
OK, so junior guard Jordan Mathews isn't as excited about his team's win against the Arizona Wildcats as the guy over his left shoulder. But Mathews was sure stirred up during the game, scoring a season-high 28 points at a desperately needed time for the Cal Golden Bears, who had been reeling.
Mathews helped produce a two-win week, making eight of 15 three-pointers and scoring a tough layup with about a minute left to aid the winning effort against Pac-12 favorite UA.
Second Team: Max Bielfeldt, Indiana
Jan. 19 vs. Illinois: 16 points, eight rebounds, three assists, three steals
Jan. 23 vs. Northwestern: 13 points, four rebounds
Senior Max Bielfeldt had it going in a couple of more wins for the hot Indiana Hoosiers. He even knocked down a three-pointer against the Northwestern Wildcats, running his season total of makes to 12. Bielfeldt had only 11 threes in three seasons at Michigan.