With early season tournaments providing plenty of compelling matchups across the NCAA Basketball landscape, as they tend to do on an annual basis, one such showdown from this past Sunday (Nov. 23) at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut is where this week's College Campus Tour begins.
The Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic gave Notre Dame and especially Providence fans alike reason to cheer this past weekend, as the Friars, now 5-0 on the young campaign, defeated the Irish by a final score of 75-74 Sunday afternoon. The win was sealed when star forward LaDontae Henton sank the game-tying and winning free throws with just 14 seconds remaining in regulation. However, those two shots were just the finishing touches on what is likely the best performance on a Division 1 stage this season.
Henton not only scored nine of the final 11 points down the stretch for the Friars, but his 38 points marked a career-high for the four-year starter. Also worth noting is Henton's sensational shooting during the nail-biting victory, as he went 14-of-19 from the floor overall, including 4-of-8 from beyond the arc and 6-of-7 from the charity stripe. The 22-year-old senior from Lansing, Michigan is not flying under the radar any longer and has definitely placed his name on the early-season shortlist of Wooden Award contenders.
Moving on, we travel down into SEC country and take a look at the preseason Top-10 ranked Florida Gators. In Gainesville, you can find at least one Providence alumnus who has not necessarily enjoyed himself over the past couple of weeks, as Gators head coach Billy Donovan has watched his team compete at a less than impressive level over their first three games.
Though Florida's record stands at 2-1, they have struggled over the past couple of outings, blowing a 12-point halftime lead en route to a 69-67 loss at the hands of cross-state school Miami last Monday and then needing overtime to defeat UL Monroe 61-56 this past Friday. So far averaging a pedestrian 65.3 points per game on just 43.9 percent shooting as a team, the Gators certainly appear to be trudging through the swamp.
Staying in the Southeastern Conference, Auburn has apparently discovered the "Round Mound of Rebound" version 2.0. Junior college transfer Cinmeon Bowers, much like Hall of Famer Charles Barkley did in the early 1980s for the Tigers, seems intent on pulling down every single missed shot. Standing at 6'7" and weighing in close to 280lbs, Bowers has averaged 16.5 points and 14.3 boards while posting four consecutive double-doubles to begin the 2014-15 season.
Traveling up into Big 10 territory, it is time to bestow the title of "most unselfish player in the nation" upon Ohio State's Shannon Scott. The Buckeyes currently sport a 3-0 record and might just be the most efficient team in the country. With Scott orchestrating the show to the tune of a nation-leading 13.7 assists per game, Ohio State is one of only 13 schools averaging north of 90 points per contest and their team field-goal percentage of 60.8 ranks them first in that statistic by a substantial margin. Head Coach Thad Matta's squad is definitely a contender once again.