This article is part of our College Hoops Barometer series.
By now plenty of video has circulated of the brawl between Kansas and Kansas State from Tuesday night. There's no need to take a "Holier than thou" approach here; we all know it shouldn't happen, and that it's really wrong to use or even threaten to use a "weapon" (whether that be a chair as in the case of Silvio De Sousa, or a helmet in the case of Myles Garrett of the Cleveland Browns). I'm also not excusing the actions of the players. It shouldn't have escalated.
But let's be realists; in competition, things get heated. Competitive juices are flowing. There's trash talk. There's always some extra-curricular activity. A push here, an elbow there. These things DO happen. As a 10-year-old, I saw my Dad get tossed from a Police Athletic League basketball game for screaming at the referee. As a 12-year-old, I was barely 5-feet tall, yet played in a league with kids who could dunk. Needless to say, my team was overmatched. When we fell behind on the road by a whopping score of 25-1, my father, who was the coach at the time, started screaming at us (sorry, Dad. As an aside, he was always my coach, in every sport, and is the best person I know). "You can't keep letting them score! At the very least you have to foul and make them earn it! Do not let them score another uncontested layup!" After the timeout, as the point guard, I started dribbling up the ball. Naturally, as a short, unathletic point guard, I got my pocket picked. I raced the other way to try to prevent the breakaway layup…and tackled the guy. I wasn't trying to hurt him; I was just petrified of allowing another layup right after being told explicitly to allow no such result. He got up and wanted to fight. Luckily, I had already turned and walked away. I got a flagrant that night, we lost by about 60 points, and it's a miracle I didn't end up with a black eye, or worse. Nobody got hurt, though, and cooler heads prevailed.
I'm sure we all have stories like these. Thankfully, no one got hurt Tuesday night either, including any fans. Now, make no mistake about it. I am not advocating violence, or condoning fighting, in any sense of the word. And I think the takeaway here is that there was no reason for this Kansas-Kansas State fracas to escalate, at the end of the game, in a blowout. But there is just no way to completely guarantee that you can rid a physical game (any major team sport, really) of the possibility of a fight breaking out (in hockey you actually can fight, of course) when competition is involved. Sometimes, everything goes haywire. You just can't let the result be the Malice at the Palace. Or Tuesday night in Kansas.
Let's take a look at some players who were not involved in fights this past week.
Luka Garza, C, Iowa – Garza has taken his game to newfound heights as a junior. Garza has increased his points per game by nearly 10 from a season ago, and increased his rebounds per game by nearly six. He leads the Big Ten in scoring, and is second in rebounding. He's also tied for ninth in blocks. Garza has collected 10 double-doubles in 18 games for the Hawkeyes. Perhaps most notably, Garza's star seems to shine the brightest in big games. He had 44 points in an early season loss to Michigan, then followed that up with 33 points in the revenge win over the Wolverines last weekend. He also amassed huge double-doubles in matchups with ranked opponents in the form of Texas Tech, Penn State and Maryland. He also tallied 21 points and 11 rebounds against in-state rival Iowa State in an impressive road victory in December. The Hawkeyes are currently riding a three-game win streak led by Garza, which places them back in the hunt in the ultra-competitive Big Ten.
Armel Potter, G, George Washington – The Colonials started off conference play in the A-10 with a record of 0-3, but have bounced back with two-straight victories. Potter has been the catalyst for those triumphs, averaging 24 points, five rebounds and six assists over that span. The senior from Long Island paces the Colonials in several categories, including points, assists and field goal percentage. While teammate Jameer Nelson Jr. may have the more famous name, it's Potter, in his second season with George Washington after transferring from Charleston Southern, who has led the charge. Potter has increased his points per game by nine from a season ago, while also improving dramatically in assists, and even seeing a bump in rebounds. The Colonials will have difficulty even being .500 in the rough and tumble Atlantic-10 this season, but Potter should continue to thrive individually.
Brandon Rachal, F, Tulsa – The Golden Hurricane has surprised early on in conference play, surging to a 4-1 record in the American, including an upset victory over Houston about 10 days ago. Rachal leads Tulsa in scoring (15.0) and rebounding (6.7), while also dishing out 1.7 dimes per contest. His greatest impact may be on the defensive end of the floor, though, as he averages two steals per contest. He is fourth in the conference in thefts. Tulsa was picked to finish 10th in the conference, so we will see if this hot start is a mirage, or if the Golden Hurricane is really a force to be reckoned with. A transfer from LSU, Rachal is finally receiving playing time, and excelling.
Tevin Brown, G, Murray State – Brown has been doing his best Ja Morant impression of late for the Racers. While his overall figures could never touch Ja's (after all, Morant became the first player in NCAA history to average over 20 points and over 10 assists per game last year), Brown has still been on a tear recently. He has scored at least 20 points in three of his last four games for Murray State. Brown has accumulated six assists apiece in each of the last two tilts. Currently a sophomore, like Morant a season ago, Brown is averaging 17.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists per contest. Murray State has raced to a 6-0 start to begin Ohio Valley Conference play, largely due to Brown's stellar outputs, and could be the frontrunners along with Austin Peay and Belmont.
CJ Elleby, F, Washington State – Not only may Elleby have the best hair in college basketball, but his game isn't too shabby either. The 6-foot-6 sophomore is averaging 18.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per contest. That places him fifth in the Pac-12 in scoring, and ninth in rebounding. He's been even better of late, averaging 23.5 points, 11.5 rebounds four assists over his last two games, as the Cougars swept the state of Oregon. That included a dynamic double-double of 25 points and 14 rebounds in last week's win over a top-10 squad in the form of the Oregon Ducks. It was just the second double-double of the season for Elleby, though he has been largely consistent throughout the 2019-2020 campaign. If the Cougars are to make their first NCAA Tournament since 2008, Elleby will likely have to continue playing at a high level.
Filip Petrusev, F, Gonzaga – Petrusev was forced to exit Gonzaga's last game early with what has been termed a right lower leg injury. Though the injury is not thought to be serious, the 'Zags could choose to proceed cautiously with Petrusev, who was recently added to the Wooden Award Watch List. The injury stopped a streak of 11-straight games with double-figures in points. He is getting to the foul line nearly seven times per game. The 6-foot-11 forward has registered five double-doubles as a sophomore, including a massive 22-point, 15-rebounds outing in the thrilling overtime win against Oregon back in late November. Gonzaga should cruise to the WCC title even without Petrusev, so keep an eye on his status in the short term.
Darrell Brown, G, Bradley – After making the big dance for the first time in 13 years in 2019, the Braves have fallen on some hard times just one season later. Already missing leading scorer and rebounder Elijah Childs following hand surgery, Brown was forced to miss Bradley's most recent contest due to a thigh ailment. Though Brown's injury is not considered serious, the Braves will be missing yet another veteran leader on the floor. Brown led the Braves in minutes and assists, while scoring 14.2 points per tilt to tie the aforementioned Childs. Junior Danya Kingsby, a former LSU Tiger who has battled injury as well as off-court issues, scored a career-high 28 points in Bradley's last game, and could get all the shots he can handle if Brown misses more time.
Chase Jeter, C, Arizona – How appropriate to include a Jeter during the week The Captain is immortalized in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Arizona's version, of no relation, has not quite achieved the same level of superstardom as his namesake. Chase is averaging 8.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game for the Wildcats. Jeter's numbers are actually down from a season ago, when he managed 10.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per contest. That can be directly attributed to the presence of standout freshman Zeke Nnaji, who is clogging the paint with 16.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per contest. As a result, Jeter's impact has been curtailed. Add in the fact that he has been battling a balky back and has missed the last two games, and it is safe to say this Jeter's stock is on a downturn.
Jahaad Proctor, G, Purdue – Proctor's production has fallen off a cliff recently. In the first 11 games of the season, Proctor averaged 13.2 points per game. By contrast, in his last eight contests, he has failed to score in double-figures, averaging just 3.6 points per contest. He even lost his starting spot, and has come off the bench in the last four tilts. He failed to even score a single point in his last two outings. The transfer from High Point averaged 19.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists per contest last season, but clearly playing in the Big Ten is a whole different ballgame. The Boilermakers as a whole are struggling, and it appears Proctor has worked himself nearly out of the rotation.
Jaelen House, G, Arizona State – The freshman House has been exhibiting concussion-like symptoms, and already missed Saturday's win over Utah. House has been a valuable contributor off the bench for the Sun Devils, averaging 6.2 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.6 steals per contest. His pestering defense has been particularly noteworthy; House is tied for seventh in the Pac-12 in assists per game. He and junior guard Remy Martin, who is second in the conference in assists, form one of the most stifling defensive backcourts when on the floor together. It remains to be seen how much time House will miss, though the Sun Devils will likely err on the side of caution with a head injury.
Trevelin Queen, G, New Mexico State – The Aggies are going to be forced to weather the meat of conference play in the WAC without their best player. That's because Queen, the leader in virtually every major statistical category, will miss the next 4-6 weeks after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. The injury could not come at a worse time for New Mexico State, as the Aggies have surged to a 5-0 start in the conference. Queen was averaging 14.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.9 steals per contest prior to the injury. He was sixth in both scoring and rebounding in the conference, while placing second in thefts. The Aggies are in search of their fourth-straight NCAA Tournament bid, but will likely have to make a push without Queens as well as A.J. Harris, who was sidelined earlier this season for the remainder of the year with an ankle issue. Jabari Rice and Johnny McCants should see upticks in usage with Queen on the shelf.