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Monday Look Back: Drama in Des Moines, progress in Pittsburgh


Pittsburgh got a nice win Friday night.

Saturday was an even better day.

I'll tell you about that and plenty else in the Monday Look Back.

Jamie Vanderbeken still has his hands on the ball as the backboard lights up. (AP)  
Jamie Vanderbeken still has his hands on the ball as the backboard lights up. (AP)  
Best game of the weekend: Not often does a man face his former team less than a year after switching jobs, but such was the case Sunday when Creighton's Greg McDermott coached against Iowa State in Des Moines. It was a game with a great storyline and unbelievable ending that featured Jamie Vanderbeken, ISU's 6-foot-11 center, burying a 30-footer at the buzzer to give the Cyclones a 91-88 win. Actually, the shot was buried after the buzzer (according to an AP photo) and thus should not have been allowed. But no replay was available because the game wasn't televised, so Iowa State improved to 4-0 under Fred Hoiberg (and Vanderbeken is now shooting 50 percent from 3-point range this season).

Worst game of the weekend: I watched Florida pound UNC-Wilmington, then watched Ohio State pound Florida. So I expected OSU to really pound UNC-Wilmington on Saturday, and that's exactly what happened. The Buckeyes led 48-16 at the half and cruised to an 81-41 win over the Seahawks.

Win(s) to brag about: I knew the Big Ten would be good but had no idea Minnesota would be this good. Granted, it's still early. But the Gophers spent Friday beating North Carolina and Sunday topping West Virginia, and the emerging frontline of Rodney Williams, Trevor Mbakwe and Ralph Sampson III suggests this team is built to last.

Loss to hide from: Malcolm Grant and Durand Scott combined for 38 points last Monday and Miami nearly won at Memphis because of it. Then on Sunday those two guards combined for eight points and Miami lost (by a 61-45 margin) at Rutgers. So if the question is how can a team can go from almost winning at Memphis to losing by double-digits at Rutgers, well, there's your answer.

Player who deserves improper benefits: Xavier's Tu Holloway used to be Terrell Holloway. But now he's Tu and he's awesome, proof being how he scored 28 points in Friday's win over Iowa and 31 points in Sunday's win over Seton Hall. So this whole name-change thing is working well, isn't it? It's working so well, in fact, that I'm considering changing my name to Tu. Or, at the very least, I'm considering asking Harrison Barnes to change his name to Tu. Which brings me to ...

Player who does not deserve improper benefits: I still think the world of Barnes, still trust he'll be fine. But this weekend was not a good weekend for the North Carolina freshman or the Tar Heels in general. Barnes was 0 for 12 from the field in Friday's loss to Minnesota, 4 for 12 from the field in Sunday's loss to Vanderbilt. Add it up, and that's a 4-for-24 weekend for the Preseason National Player of the Year. One more stinker, and Tu Barnes it is.

Why I'm smarter than you think: I wrote last week about the quality at the top of the Mountain West Conference, listing all the notable wins so far this season. The column was well received when filed (if my inbox is any indication), and it looked even better Saturday when UNLV held Jon Leuer to just 10 points in a 68-65 win over Wisconsin.

Why I'm dumber than I think: New Mexico was among the quality at the top of the Mountain West Conference I wrote about last week. The Lobos responded Saturday by losing 89-64 at California, a school picked to finish in the bottom half of the nation's worst BCS-affiliated league.

Three things you should know before you go

1. Morehead State's Kenneth Faried doesn't get a chance to play against top-tier talent too often, which is why Sunday was a big day for him. The 6-8 forward scored 20 points and grabbed 18 rebounds against Florida's frontline in a 61-55 loss, then garnered huge remarks from Gators coach Billy Donovan. "That's Dennis Rodman all over again," Donovan said. "If I was an NBA general manager I'd be taking him with my pick. That's what a next-level guy looks like. He just totally destroyed our frontcourt." Faried is now averaging 17.8 points and 13.0 rebounds. Next up is a showdown with Ohio State's Jared Sullinger.

2. Meantime, the nation's other heralded big man from a bad league -- i.e., Oakland's Keith Benson -- also posted nice numbers against a power-league school, but he was still outperformed Sunday by his counterpart, Purdue's JaJuan Johnson. Benson got 16 points and 14 rebounds. Johnson countered with 25 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, four steals and two blocks while leading the Boilermakers to an 82-67 victory, their 21st consecutive win against a nonleague opponent.

3. Pittsburgh used 24 points from Ashton Gibbs to beat Texas and win the 2K Sports Classic title Friday, and would you believe Saturday was actually a better day? It was because Class of 2012 star Khem Birch -- who committed to Pitt in September -- announced that he's going to enroll in college a year earlier than expected, meaning he's now a Class of 2011 star set to play for the Panthers next season. Birch, a 6-8 forward, is a consensus top five national prospect. Jamie Dixon sure has things heading the right direction in pretty much every way, doesn't he?

On tap: Gonzaga plays Kansas State on Monday night, and the winner will likely get top-ranked Duke on Tuesday night. UCLA and Villanova meet at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night, then Georgia and Notre Dame battle Thursday night in a first-round game of the Old Spice Classic.

Final thought: The idea that a kid can accept thousands of dollars of improper benefits, get caught and still play college basketball seems crazy to me, but I've filed that column already, and it's time to move forward and start focusing on what Josh Selby will mean to Kansas when he joins the Jayhawks next month.

So what will Selby mean to Kansas?

He'll mean everything and anything you can imagine. If you want to make the Jayhawks the favorite to win the Big 12, you'll get no real argument from me. What Selby lacks in rule-following he makes up for in athleticism and explosiveness. I saw him play countless times on the summer circuit throughout high school, and I'm on record stating he could end up being the nation's most exciting player because of his unique ability, at 6-2, to get into the lane and crunch dunks on the heads of post players. Beyond that, Selby just gives Bill Self one more weapon on a roster full of them, headlined by Marcus Morris. So while I have no idea where the Jayhawks' season will end (I never expected last season to end in the second round of the NCAA tournament), I now believe their season can -- not will, but can -- end in April rather than March.

If there's a ceiling on this team, I don't see it.

A team with a great coach (Self) with a great guard (Selby) and great big (Morris) always has a chance.

Gary Parrish is a senior college basketball columnist for and frequent contributor to the CBS Sports Network. The Mississippi native also hosts the highest-rated sports talk radio show -- The Gary Parrish Show -- in the history of Memphis. He lives in that area with his wife, two children and a dog.

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