College basketball notebook
The college basketball notebook …
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Nerlens Noel isn’t getting many RSVP’s to his block parties.
In fact, opponents prefer to avoid the Kentucky freshman whenever making a trip to the basket.
Noel has been dominating defensively since Southeastern Conference play began, blocking 49 shots in seven league games. His 12 rejections in Tuesday night’s 87-74 victory over No. 16 Mississippi set a school record — he had half of the blocks while playing with four fouls.
Kentucky (14-6, 5-2) enters Saturday’s game at Texas A&M (13-7, 3-4) with the 6-foot-10 forward leading the nation in blocked shots at 4.8 per game. Noel has 95 swats, more than halfway to Anthony Davis’ record of 186 during Kentucky’s championship run last season.
Noel downplays ongoing comparisons to the former All-American, though he wants to break Davis’ mark.
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana should be getting used to all this.
Students lining up in chilly temperatures long before tip-off so they can see America’s No. 1 team play at Assembly Hall. A nationally televised game that will become the focal point of the college basketball universe for one day. And the Hoosiers vying again for the Big Ten lead.
On Saturday, it’s all about facing Michigan.
“It’s going to be a big game, and I really can’t wait for it,” freshman guard Kevin Ferrell said.
Nobody in Bloomington can.
After stumbling in December against Butler and again early in conference play against Wisconsin, the Hoosiers (18-2, 7-1) have been trying to play their way back to the No. 1 spot they held through the first month of the season. A win Saturday might finally get them back on top, and Indiana is playing its best basketball of the season.
Since losing at No. 15 Ohio State on Jan. 13, following their first perfect nonconference season since 1985-86, the Wolverines (20-1, 7-1) have won four straight — including their last three by at least 14 points. Sophomore guard Trey Burke is averaging 17.9 points and 7.1 assists and, like Zeller, is a national player of the year candidate and a preseason All-American.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Billy Donovan has coached plenty of good defensive teams in his 17 seasons at Florida.
None of them quite like this.
The fourth-ranked Gators have been ridiculously stingy this season, especially in Southeastern Conference play.
Florida (17-2, 7-0 SEC) ranks second in the nation in scoring defense, giving up a paltry 50.4 points a game. The Gators have held 15 teams under 60 points, 11 under 50 and three under 40.
The latest defensive masterpiece came Wednesday night against outmanned South Carolina. In winning its ninth consecutive game, Florida allowed the program’s fewest points (36) in conference play during the shot-clock era.
For an encore, the league’s top scoring team, Mississippi visits Gainesville on Saturday to test Florida’s defense.