The Weekly Roundup: December 7
A new week, a new No. 1 team
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It didn’t take long for the No. 1 team to lose its first game this season. Last Thursday, NC State snapped the Gamecocks’ 29-game win streak that spanned more than a year. Many people likely bet that this would be a close game led by two of the most powerful posts in the country—Aliyah Boston and Elissa Cunane—but I don’t think many foresaw both teams struggling to reach 50 points.
While the loss was unsettling for South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley and her squad—she called the team’s performance selfish and uncoachable—it also served as a fierce reality check. The Gamecocks looked more like themselves on Sunday against Iowa State, which was ranked No. 23 in last week’s AP poll. The Gamecocks’ shooting improved from 27.0 percent on Thursday to 47.6 percent against the Cyclones, and every South Carolina starter contributed double-digits in points except Victaria Saxton, who scored nine and grabbed nine boards.
The Best Upsets
NC State upsets No. 1 South Carolina (54-46): Thursday’s tale of two stagnant, ugly offenses ended in South Carolina’s first loss since November 28, 2019. The Gamecocks shot 27.0% (20-of-74) from the field and only sunk two three-pointers out of 12 attempts. NC State’s offense wasn’t much better, shooting only 29.4%, but managed to put the game away with a three-pointer from Kayla Jones with 27 seconds left.
South Florida upsets Mississippi State (67-63 OT): After a close game against Baylor earlier in the week, USF stunned the Bulldogs in overtime, handing Nikki McCray-Penson her first loss at Mississippi State. The Bulls' tough defense in the last minute of extra time secured the team’s first victory over a ranked opponent this season. McCray-Penson, though, attributed her team’s loss to USF’s 23 offensive rebounds. Combine that with 21 Mississippi State turnovers, and the Bulls got 50 of their 67 total points from second chance opportunities or turnovers.
Arkansas upsets Baylor (83-78): Arkansas’ lethal offense was in full force against the defending national champions. Amber Ramirez had 10 points in the third quarter and sealed the game with clutch free throw shooting in the fourth. She had 23 total points and six rebounds, while Chelsea Dungee scored 22 and Destiny Slocum contributed 14 points and seven boards. Free throw shooting and turnovers were also a huge factor behind Arkansas’ upset. Baylor was in foul trouble early and the Razorbacks ended the game with 30 points from the charity stripe out of 39 attempts, while Baylor turned the ball over 22 times.
HHS Top 25
South Carolina (4-1)
NC State (4-0)
Mississippi State (2-1)
Texas A&M (4-0)
Oregon State (3-0)
Ohio State (3-0)
Missouri State (2-1)
South Dakota State (3-0)
South Florida (2-1)
This season gets its first major shakeup in the rankings by way of three top 10 upsets. I went back and forth on Louisville or Stanford being the top team at this point, so I turned to Lobo’s Look. It’s incredible how similar Louisville and Stanford’s numbers are so early in the season, both on the offensive and defensive ends, but I kept going back to Louisville’s dominant performance against DePaul. Even after the Cardinals beat the Blue Demons by 41 and held them to 75 points, DePaul is still second in the nation in points per game (something they also achieved last year). Louisville should get the top spot for a very impressive ranked win against a really strong offensive team.
By The Numbers
This week, I looked at players who had some of the most well-rounded games. All data is from the Her Hoop Stats reSEARCH tool.
Elizabeth Kitley (Virginia Tech): 30 points (14 of 20 shooting), 11 rebounds, 5 blocks against Appalachian State (Box Score)
Kionna Jeter (Towson): 32 points (13 of 31), 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals against Longwood (Box Score)
Dyaisha Fair (Buffalo): 29 points (11 of 27), 7 rebounds, 9 assists, 4 steals against James Madison (Box Score)
Areanna Combs (Eastern Michigan): 26 points (11 of 24), 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 6 steals against Ball State (Box Score)
Haley Jones (Stanford): 25 points (12 of 17) 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks against UNLV (Box Score)
Games To Watch
The basketball world will be on Tara VanDerveer watch this week as the Stanford head coach needs just one more win to pass Pat Summitt for the most career wins in women’s basketball. The Cardinal will have a chance to help VanDerveer make history this Friday, when they’re expected to take on UC Davis before beginning Pac-12 play against Cal on Sunday. Here are three other great matchups that are currently on the calendar. All game times are eastern standard time.
Louisville at Duke: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 9 (Lobo’s Look)
Tennessee at Texas: 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13 on ESPN (Lobo’s Look)
Oregon at Oregon State: 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13 (Lobo’s Look)
What We’re Working On
Christy Winters-Scott and Gabe Ibrahim chatted about early-season results, South Carolina, Maryland, DiDi Richards’ return for Baylor, and more in episode 16 of Courtside (recorded before NC State’s upset over South Carolina).
Calvin Wetzel broke down some early film to explore the early-season dip for national player of the year candidate Aliyah Boston (published ahead of the NC State upset).
Gabe Ibrahim recapped what we learned about Maryland, Arkansas, Missouri State, FGCU, and Davidson from November’s Gulf Coast Showcase.
HHS Founder Aaron Barzilai joined Megan Gauer after the NC State-South Carolina game to digest the upset as well as the first full week of NCAA action for Unplugged.
Other Recommended Reading
In a season that will be defined in part by constant change and adaptation, ESPN’s Charlie Creme offers another look at Bracketology, this time with scenarios for a 64-, 48-, and 16-team field.
Across The Timeline published a new interactive tool in anticipation of the WNBA naming its All-Time Top 25 Players for its 25th anniversary. The tool allows users to look at every eligible player for the Top 25 list.
ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel has a really great (and emotional) story about DiDi Richards’ miraculous return to the court for Baylor after she was temporarily paralyzed in an on-court collision in October.
Before You Go
Carolyn Peck and Courtney Lyle, who broadcasted the South Carolina-NC State game, kicked off the Jimmy V Classic by pledging $50 for each three made, which resulted in a $1,000 total donation to the V Foundation. ESPN’s Rebecca Lobo and Ryan Ruocco joined them and pledged $50 for each trey made during the Louisville-DePaul game.
DePaul head coach Doug Bruno and Louisville head coach Jeff Walz also jumped on board and engaged in a friendly competition via Twitter before their Friday game.
Bruno and Walz matched the ESPN crew and also chipped in $50 each for every assist that game. The game ended in 10 total threes, 36 assists, and $5,100 raised for cancer research.
Thanks for reading the Her Hoop Stats Newsletter. If you like our work, be sure to check out our stats site, our podcast, and our social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.