Starting 5: Coach K’s bizarre and hilarious rant, LSU’s big win and Virginia is back
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.
1. The Opening Tip
We need to talk about Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and his bizarre outburst on Tuesday night. This wasn’t a rant directed at the refs or the other team or even his own players.
No, on Tuesday night, Coach K took the Cameron Crazies — Duke’s famous student section — to task for… well, that’s the question. What exactly was he upset with them about? Here’s a look at his rant toward the students. At one point, he even had to be restrained by the refs:
After Cameron Crazies started yelling "Jeff Capel, sit with us," Coach K could be seen yelling "Shut up" and "He's one of us."
Capel played at Duke and coached there for 7 seasons. pic.twitter.com/OdKeJ62MMv
— ESPN (@espn) January 29, 2020
So, what were the Crazies chanting? Well, like with literally every former Duke coach or player who has returned to Cameron over the years, they were chanting at Pitt coach Jeff Capel to come sit with them. Really, it’s an innocent chant that shows respect toward the coach or player — they want to sit with him, after all — but Coach K absolutely lost it.
The best part of the whole scenario may have been the reaction of the Crazies in the front row. Look at these Duke kids:
When Coach K tells you that you aren’t getting any Vineyard Vines stuff for your birthday. pic.twitter.com/Dk6wIkK1UL
— Colin Dunlap (@colin_dunlap) January 29, 2020
A couple of them look like they’re about to cry. Also, there’s plenty of confusion in that picture, because they weren’t actually saying anything even remotely mean about Capel. Look at their pregame dirt sheet:
— Caroline (@carolllpetro) January 29, 2020
So, what got Coach K all hot and bothered? He actually said he was reeling emotionally from Kobe Bryant’s death. Yes, Coach K and Kobe had a great relationship from Coach K’s days as the Team USA coach, but in my opinion, that doesn’t give K the right to be a jerk to kids 50 years younger than him. Going through grief is natural, but it’s no excuse for acting the way K did toward those Duke students. You make $7 million a year, Mike. Be the bigger person.
Do we have time for one more funny thing from this whole interaction? We do? OK, good. Listen to Coach K explaining what sorts of cheers Duke fans should do instead of the one they did on Tuesday:
Coach K trying to coach his fans into becoming better fans is just incredible and hilarious content pic.twitter.com/r0ZyPCjzdJ
— Kyle Boone (@Kyle__Boone) January 29, 2020
I cannot stop watching that video. Something tells me those cheers are not going to catch on. We can only speculate about what will set Coach K off next.
Although, to be fair, I understand that sort of irrational anger:
Me when anyone says anything negative about Drew Lock: https://t.co/pKF0V0GIfX
— Adam Spencer (@AdamSpencer4) January 29, 2020
Don’t say anything mean about Drew Lock or I’ll come after you. Anyway, let’s move on to some of the top SEC stories from the past few days.
2. Home-Court Advantage
The game of the week in the SEC took place in Baton Rouge, where No. 22 LSU hosted a tough Alabama team. Breaking with their trend of winning by 4 or fewer points, LSU dominated from start to finish, earning a 90-76 victory.
Freshman big man Trendon Watford continued his recent dominance, scoring 17 points and grabbing a whopping 15 rebounds. However, he also had 3 assists and 4 steals, and these 2 passes you can see below show just how well he sees the court:
— Grant Kauvar (@grant_kauvar) January 30, 2020
That’s elite court vision, and Emmitt Williams benefited from it. He recorded a game-high 23 points and snagged 11 boards. All 5 LSU starters finished with at least 12 points, even though the Tigers made only 3 three-point shots.
Coming into the game, I thought it would be a tough matchup for LSU, but the Tigers proved me wrong and continue to look like the team to beat in the SEC. Now, they host a struggling Ole Miss team on Saturday to try to go to 8-0 in SEC play.
Here’s what else happened in a crazy week of SEC basketball:
- Florida led Mississippi State by 10 points at halftime in Gainesville on Tuesday. However, that’s when Reggie Perry took over, scoring a career-high 27 points and grabbing 8 rebounds in the Bulldogs’ 78-71 comeback win. Perry did commit 7 turnovers, which is something he’ll need to work on, but when you can put together a highlight reel like this, coaches will tolerate a few mistakes:
Reggie Perry was also quite good in Mississippi State's win at Florida, hitting three 3PT, working hard inside. Added a nice flash-play of driving from the wing and a full-court rim run resulting in a dunk.
Averaging a double-double with over a steal/block per game. pic.twitter.com/pbMGvex5LQ
— Jonathan Wasserman (@NBADraftWass) January 29, 2020
- Meanwhile, Florida coach Mike White can’t be feeling too good about his job security. Fans are fed up after the Gators’ third-straight loss, and rightfully so.
- Auburn trailed Ole Miss 37-20 at halftime on Tuesday. It was the fewest points the Tigers had scored in a half all season, and it looked like they were going to lose a third SEC road game in 4 tries. However, Auburn didn’t give up, battling back to send the game to overtime, then double overtime, before winning 83-82. Meanwhile, Kentucky trailed Vanderbilt by 7 at halftime in Lexington on Wednesday before winning by 9 points. Neither team should be feeling particularly good about itself heading into Saturday’s game at Auburn (more on that matchup later).
- The South Carolina-Arkansas game on Wednesday night (which the Gamecocks won 79-77) saw the teams combine for 57 total fouls. Yes, that’s right — in a 40-minute game, the referees called 57 fouls. I don’t care if the players were hitting each other with stools on every possession — there’s no excuse for calling that many fouls. I hope the SEC investigates it and Arkansas should perhaps consider refunding the fans who had to watch that debacle.
- Finally, I present to you this video of Mizzou’s incredible comeback against Georgia on Tuesday. Down 20, the Tigers clawed all the way back to beat the Bulldogs:
🎥 Mini Movie 🎥
— Mizzou Hoops (@MizzouHoops) January 30, 2020
- I turned the game off out of frustration when the score was, you guessed it, 59-39. So, basically, I missed the entire comeback. I also missed the entirety of Mizzou’s 91-point outburst in a win over Florida. Those are the Tigers’ 2 victories in SEC play. Therefore, I hereby pledge to not watch another second of Mizzou basketball if that’s what it takes for them to keep winning. See y’all in the Final Four!
And now, let’s move on to what’s going on in the rest of the country.
3. Road Game
In Tuesday’s column, I talked about how Virginia needed a big win in the worst way. The reigning national champions were in actual danger of missing out on the NCAA Tournament if something didn’t change soon. Of course, that’s the sort of thing that happens when you lose players like De’Andre Hunter, Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy, among others.
Tuesday night’s home game against No. 5 Florida State provided a golden opportunity for Tony Bennett’s team to get that big win, and like last year, the Cavaliers came through in the clutch. Mamadi Diakite, a key member of last year’s title-winning team, played like a star against the Seminoles, scoring 19 points and grabbing 9 rebounds in the Cavs’ 63-58 victory:
At 14-6 with a top-5 victory in their back pocket, the Cavaliers are in better shape now than they were entering the week, but they still can’t take their foot of the gas pedal. Here’s a look at their next 7 games ahead of a huge matchup against Duke on Feb. 29:
- vs. Clemson
- at No. 6 Louisville
- vs. Notre Dame
- at North Carolina
- vs. Boston College
- at Pitt
- at Virginia Tech
Virginia needs to go at least 5-1 during that stretch. No one would fault the Cavaliers if they lose at Louisville, but those other games are must-wins for Bennett and his squad. There are still plenty of games left, but Virginia can’t afford any bad losses like the one it had at Boston College earlier this year.
Now, for a look at some other stories around the country:
- Remember when I said on Tuesday that San Diego State’s game on Wednesday at New Mexico might be the toughest game left for the Aztecs in the regular season? Oops. SDSU remained unbeaten by absolutely thrashing the Lobos 85-57. Yeah, that wasn’t exactly as close as I thought it might be.
- Ho-hum, Dayton won again. That’s what they do. I have nothing to say about the Flyers’ win over Duquesne, so just watch this insane putback slam by Obi Toppin a few times:
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) January 30, 2020
- Think Marquette is just Markus Howard and no one else? Think again. When Howard went out of the game against Xavier with an injury, Sacar Anim stepped up. He scored 28 points, including this huge three-pointer in double overtime:
— #BIGEASThoops (@BIGEASTMBB) January 30, 2020
- Yes, other players get more of a chance to shine when Howard isn’t in the game, but they still have to make shots, and Anim had the game of his life in a 2OT win at Xavier.
I’ll talk about the Illinois-Iowa game on Sunday a bit more in a second, but we need to discuss freshman Illini big man Kofi Cockburn. He may only be a freshman, but he’s already a man among boys, as evidenced by this impressive rebound and putback in Illinois’ 59-51 win over Minnesota on Thursday night:
- He and Luka Garza are going to be going at it all game long on Sunday and I, for one, can’t wait to watch it.
Now, let’s look ahead to a busy weekend of college basketball.
4. Outlet Pass
As we flip the calendar to February, the games this weekend are getting even more important. What games are the best this weekend has to offer? Here’s a look at my personal top 5:
- No. 19 Illinois at No. 18 Iowa (Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern on FS1) — This is going to be a great Super Bowl warmup. Illinois has Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn leading the way, but Iowa big man Luka Garza is a legitimate Player of the Year candidate. This should be quite the battle.
- No. 13 Kentucky at No. 17 Auburn (Saturday at 6 p.m. Eastern on ESPN) — This is the game ESPN’s College GameDay will be at on Saturday, and for good reason. The winner will stay within striking distance of LSU in the race for the SEC regular-season title, while the loser will take a big step back.
- Indiana at Ohio State (Saturday at noon Eastern on ESPN) — After an upset of Michigan State, Indiana has lost 2 in a row against Maryland and Penn State. Meanwhile, Ohio State has already lost to Indiana once this season and can’t afford another setback.
- Texas Tech at No. 3 Kansas (Saturday at 4 p.m. Eastern on ESPN) — Texas Tech has been struggling lately, but Kansas is probably a bit overrated as the No. 3 team in the country. Even if Kansas wins this game, it won’t be easy.
- No. 11 Oregon at Stanford (Saturday at 6 p.m. Eastern on Pac-12 Network) — Oregon enters the game at 17-4, while Stanford is 15-4. The Cardinal have been good, but aren’t getting much respect, due to their weak schedule. Their best win is either against Oklahoma or Washington. However, they’ve been dangerous at home. Can they pull off the upset against the highly ranked Ducks?
All of these games should be a lot of fun to watch, especially that Illinois-Iowa game before the Super Bowl. Enjoy!
5. Buzzer Beaters
Now, let’s get to a couple of random questions for today’s column. The first one comes from my friend Robert:
With news of Shaq’s son (Shareef O’Neal) transferring from UCLA, who are some other NBA offspring we can expect to make a big impact in the NCAA Tournament (a la Steph Curry in 2007 and half of the 2013 Michigan squad)?
What’s funny about this question is that perhaps the 2 most notable sons of NBA players (Cole Anthony at North Carolina and Scotty Pippen Jr. at Vanderbilt) aren’t going to get anywhere near March Madness this season because their teams stink. However, I do have a couple of names to watch for you — Ron Harper Jr. at Rutgers (yes, Rutgers is actually on track to make the tourney!) and Nico Mannion at Arizona. Mannion’s dad, Pace, played for 6 NBA teams between 1983 and 1989.
Who will win the Super Bowl?
Since I haven’t made a prediction anywhere else, I’ll make it here. I think the Kansas City Chiefs will beat the San Francisco 49ers 30-24.
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.