Before we get to the games from Sunday and any thoughts on the weekend, congratulations to Ahmad Starks of Oregon State, who was named the Pac-12 player of the week.
The sophomore led the Beavers to a 3-0 record last week, bringing the program to 9-2 overall for its best start in 14 years. The Chicago, Ill., native led the team in scoring in two of the three games, including a 22-point performance versus Howard on Thursday. Starks drained 75 percent (12-for-16) of his three-point attempts over the three games, including a career-high five three-point field goals made in back-to-back games.
In last Tuesday’s win over Illinois-Chicago, Starks scored 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting to go with four assists and three rebounds. In Thursday’s victory over Howard, he scored a career-high 22 points as he hit 5-of-6 from three-point range, and added four assists, three rebounds and three steals. Starks capped off the week with 17 points, hitting 5-of-8 from three-point range in the win over Portland State.
In the three victories, Starks averaged 17.0 points, while shooting 16-of-30 (.533) from the field, including 12-of-16 from three-point range. He averaged 2.7 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals over the three-game span. He also went 7-for-7 in free throws for the week.
This is Starks’ first career Pac-12 Player of the Week honor and the 41st all-time selection for Oregon State. Starks is OSU’s second Player of the Week honoree this season, as Jared Cunningham took the award on November 21.
Also Nominated: Nick Johnson, ARIZ; Devoe Joseph, ORE; Josh Owens, STAN; Lazeric Jones, UCLA; Tony Wroten, WASH.
Starks and Oregon State rolled to an easy 101-68 win over Portland State.
Over in Pullman, the Cougars welcomed back Faisal Aden, Abe Lodwick and Mychal Ladd to the floor in a decisive 66-42 win over Western Oregon.
When the teams headed to the locker room at half, WSU (7-4) led just 28-25 and had more turnovers against WOU’s matchup zone (10) than baskets (nine). Even though finals ended Friday, the Cougars knew that math wouldn’t earn a passing grade.
“We didn’t play with the energy we needed to,” Bone said, “but the turnovers were very disappointing. I forget exactly how many we had at halftime, but it was too many.”
The Cougars came in averaging 15 a game and that carelessness was intensified early by the introduction of three players who hadn’t played much during their recent win streak.
With the return of Abe Lodwick, out all season with a broken foot, Mike Ladd, out five games with a sprained thumb, and Faisal Aden, out three with a concussion, the Cougars’ rotations changed, with the trio combining for 26 first-half minutes.
“It’s always a new challenge when you’re bringing a guy back into the mix, but when you’re bringing in three guys back in, it can disrupt the continuity of what’s been going on,” Bone said.
Faisal Aden made a return to the lineup for the first time since the game against Grambling State, and it seems that nothing has changed. Ken Bone said earlier in the week that the injured players would have to buy into “team-first” principles if they were going to get their playing time back. Aden took 32% of the shots while he was on the floor and used 32% of the possessions. He scored just 7 points on 11 possessions used. He was the first guy off the bench and played the second-most minutes. Leaves Cougar fans to wonder if Bone actually meant what he said.
Former WSU head coach Tony Bennett is back in the Northwest. His Cavaliers team defeated Oregon, 67-54, on Sunday and will play Seattle U at Key Arena on Wednesday.
It appears that one-time Oregon prized recruit Jabari Brown, who left a few weeks into the season, will end up at Missouri.
Arizona State isn’t exactly playing well heading into conference play as evidenced by Saturday’s loss to NAU.