There's a deep slate of great games scheduled for Wednesday night.
The highlight is North Carolina at Duke.
It should be terrific.
|UCF's Jermaine Taylor averages 24 points per game, good for seventh in the nation. (US Presswire)|
"That would surprise people," UCF's Jermaine Taylor said. "Everybody focuses so much on Memphis that they forget about the other guys in Conference USA."
Case you haven't figured it out, Taylor is one of C-USA's other guys.
UTEP's Stefon Jackson is another.
For the past four seasons they've been developing in relative obscurity. On Wednesday in El Paso they'll battle for what could be the final time, and it should be a treat for basketball fans into high-volume scoring, not to mention for Taylor (24.0 points per game) and Jackson (22.6 ppg) themselves.
"It's always great to play against Jermaine," Jackson, C-USA's all-time leading scorer, said Monday night by phone. "It's like when Kobe and LeBron play."
Well, not exactly, though in fairness Jackson was talking about the mutual respect he and Taylor share similar to that of Kobe and LeBron, not actually comparing he and Taylor to Kobe and LeBron. Just thought I should clarify. But if Jackson wants to talk things up like that, well, good for him, and who am I to stop him? Because it must be frustrating scoring bucket after bucket without much recognition, which is precisely what Jackson and Taylor have done the past four seasons, and it's easy to identify the reason.
It's because they play in the league with Memphis.
But not for Memphis.
And that's a fatal combination for anybody aspiring attention, because the Tigers spend every year breezing through C-USA -- both the regular season and tournament -- while hogging the spotlight just like Davidson has done in the Southern Conference the past two-plus seasons with Stephen Curry.
Can you name one Southern Conference player who doesn't play for Davidson?
Can you name four other Southern Conference schools?
Unless you really follow college basketball (and specifically the Southern Conference), I can't imagine you answered either of those questions correctly, and I only asked them to prove a point, the point being that when a team dominates a league so convincingly everybody else is pushed to the side. More or less, that's what's happened in C-USA, which is a shame because there are some impressive individual talents in the league.
UAB's Robert Vaden is really good, but if you know him it's probably because he once played at Indiana. Tulsa's Jerome Jordan is really good, but if you know him it's probably because you study NBA mock drafts in your spare time. Houston's Aubrey Coleman is really good, but if you know him it's probably because he stepped on Chase Budinger's face. And then there's Taylor and Jackson, two of the top 11 scorers in the nation. They're both really good, but if you know them it's probably because you've just read the first 500 words of this column.
"The talent has matured a little bit," UCF coach Kirk Speraw said. "And now there are some very good players in the league."
"But," added UTEP coach Tony Barbee, "nobody talks about them."
Of course they don't.
It's because everybody is always too busy talking about Shawne Williams and Rodney Carney and Darius Washington and Chris Douglas-Roberts and Derrick Rose and Joey Dorsey and Tyreke Evans and Antonio Anderson and every other player who has worn a Memphis jersey the past four seasons. Which isn't Memphis' fault, by the way. Trust me, John Calipari would love nothing more than for some C-USA program to emerge as a challenger, even at the expense of a league loss or two. Perhaps that'll happen someday. But by then Taylor and Jackson will be long gone, off trying to live the NBA dream, the results of Wednesday night's matchup a distant memory from a pair of careers that have been memorable, if unrecognizable to most of America.
"Two top (11) scorers in the nation going at each other," Taylor said. "It's going to be entertaining."