Observations: Tough Pac-12 stretch coming up for Washington

Washington’s Andrew Andrews may have to carry the Huskies over the next few days.

The fifth-year senior is having the best season of his college career, but if it’s possible, he may have to augment his production level over the next couple of games.

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Andrews is currently averaging career-highs in points (21.6), rebounds (6.5), assists (4.3) and steals (1.6) for the Huskies, who are off to a surprising 3-0 start in Pac-12 play after winning their first three conference games by a combined nine points.

But six of Washington’s top seven scorers are in their first year in Lorenzo Romar’s program and none of have of those players have played in back-to-back Pac-12 road games like they’re about to starting Thursday against Arizona in Tucson.

After that the Huskies will face Arizona State on Saturday in Tempe, Arizona and that’s going to represent uncharted territory for the majority of this team’s nucleus aside from Andrews.

Washington has several promising young pieces like Dejounte Murray (15.2 points), Marquese Chriss (11.3), and David Crisp (10.5 points), but all of those players are freshmen and there’s no way to know how they’re going to respond against desperate teams on the road in a back-to-back situation.

Andrews has been outstanding so far this season, but he’s going to have to be even better than he’s been for the Huskies to stay atop the Pac-12 standings following this weekend.

SMU is developing into one of college basketball’s unique stories: The Ponies were in purgatory when they were ruled ineligible for this year’s postseason by the NCAA, but if they win 14 more games they’ll be in heaven.

SMU moved to 16-0 after Wednesday’s convincing win over East Carolina and are 14 victories away from a perfect regular season.

That’s a lot to ask for any team — especially in today’s college basketball where there’s minimal separation between most teams — but Larry Brown’s squad has the ability to beat anyone that’s remaining on its schedule.

The Ponies will still host Gonzaga, UConn, and Memphis while also traveling back to UConn and Memphis along with a regular-season ending game at Cincinnati.

Those are all very good teams, but they’re also very good teams that SMU is capable of beating.

This team has three fifth-year players — Nic Moore, Jordan Tolbert, and Markus Kennedy — that didn’t have the opportunity to transfer to a place where they could have played in the postseason because the NCAA’s ruling came down too late for them to leave the Mustangs’ program.

The only thing left that those three kids have to play for is the chance at a perfect regular season.

That’s one heck of a story to follow.

The new NBA Draft rules will hinder certain aspects of spring recruiting: The NCAA announced on Wednesday that college athletes will now be able to enter the NBA Draft multiple times and participate in the combine along with one NBA tryout per year before deciding whether or not they want to return to college.

This is great for players who are attempting to find out where or if they’ll be drafted — especially if they’re on right on the cusp of the first-round.

But for many college coaches this rule is going to be a major headache.

The spring recruiting period in college basketball has now become like free agency in the NBA and a lot of programs have completely changed their outlook for the next year because they’ve added a fifth-year transfer in April or May.

This rule will now force certain programs to wait on one of their current players to make a decision regarding his future while potentially holding a scholarship for that player’s return with another player who could replace him could being readily available.

It’s going to take more “juggling of the balls” from certain coaches to find out the right way to balance this rule moving forward which is great for the college athlete, but ultimately could be frustrating for several programs who wind up having to hold onto a scholarship.

This Just In

  • Cincinnati and Michigan will play a home-and-home series, sources told CBS Sports. The series will begin in Cincinnati on Dec. 17, 2016. The return game at Michigan will be on Dec. 9. 2017.

Andrew Andrews (USATSI)
Washington will be leaning on Andrew Andrews the next few games. (USATSI)

This and That

  • Cheick Diallo has a combined four points and five rebounds in a total of 18 minutes during Kansas’ first four Big 12 games. The 6-foot-9 freshman was the MVP of the McDonald’s All-American game, but has yet to have a major impact for the Jayhawks. It will be interesting to see if Diallo can be a factor for Kansas moving forward in Big 12 play.
  • UConn’s Daniel Hamilton is just 8-for-36 in the Huskies’ first three conference games and that’s a statistic that has to improve if the Huskies want to compete with SMU for the American regular season title. Kevin Ollie’s squad is 11-4 overall and is at Tulsa on Thursday.
  • Texas A&M is deceptively old. The Aggies start two fifth-year seniors — Anthony Collins and Jalen Jones — and two four-year seniors — Danuel House and Alex Caruso. That’s a combined 18 years of college experience sprinkled in with one of the best first-year classes in all of college basketball. The Aggies are 15-2 and 3-0 in SEC play.
  • Xavier has only lost one game since Edmond Sumner has been out of the lineup, but the Musketeers still need their starting point guard back as soon as possible. Xavier has a combined 64 assists and 61 turnovers in the four games since Sumner got hurt. Chris Mack told CBS Sports this week that there is no set time for his return, but Sumner is “getting close” to returning to action.
  • Mangok Mathiang’s injury has opened the door for Chinanu Onuaku to have a bigger role for Louisville and he’s responded with flying colors. The burly sophomore is averaging 12.7 points and 13.0 rebounds through his first three ACC games while shooting an impressive 73.0 percent from the field.
  • You know what was going through my mind when Mississippi State took Kentucky to the wire Tuesday night at Rupp Arena? It’s going to be real interesting to see what the landscape of the SEC looks like when Ben Howland has legitimate depth.
  • Cal needs more pop out of Jabari Bird. The 6-6 junior is 0-for-10 from 3-point range in four Pac-12 games this season and is averaging just 3.3 points during that span. That’s not going to cut it if the Bears are going to challenge for a conference title and a decent seed in the NCAA Tournament.
  • Looking for an under-the-radar transfer? Try Rice’s Egor Koulechov The former Arizona State wing is averaging 17.9 points and 7.0 rebounds while shooting 38.1 percent from 3-point range. This guy will be one of the better players in Conference USA for the next few seasons.
  • Former Cincinnati guard Ge’Lawn Guyn has found a home at East Tennessee State. The fifth-year point guard is averaging 16.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 2.1 assists while shooting 42.7 percent from 3-point range. Steve Forbes’ team is 10-6 overall and the top challenger to Chattanooga in the SoCon.
  • If you’re a college basketball fan in the New York area then Friday night’s game between Iona and Monmouth in New Rochelle, New York is a must attend. The Gaels have been the MAAC’s flagship program under Tim Cluess while King Rice has made the Hawks nationally relevant this season following wins over UCLA, Notre Dame, USC, and Georgetown. Tipoff is at 9 p.m. ET.

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