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CBSSports.com Senior Writer

Monday Look Back: Sullinger, Fredette do their thing

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Jimmer Fredette went Jimmer on Colorado State, and Jared Sullinger went Jared on Illinois. Kris Joseph returned to Syracuse's lineup and lost. Rick Pitino returned to Providence and lost. And if Bob Huggins is looking for Danny Jennings, he might want to check the local lost-and-found. Let's do the Monday Look Back.

Best game of the weekend: Illinois took a 50-42 lead over Ohio State with less than 12 minutes left Saturday, at which point I advised folks to switch to CBS if they wanted to see the nation's top-ranked team go down. Silly me. Behind the spectacular play of Jared Sullinger, Ohio State turned that eight-point deficit into a seven-point lead in a span of 10 minutes, then held on for a 73-68 victory. Sullinger finished with 27 points and 16 rebounds. If he's not getting discounted tattoos, something's not right in Columbus.

Worst game of the weekend: The Pittsburgh-DePaul game was just as lopsided as I anticipated. Jamie Dixon's Panthers won 80-50 and dealt the Blue Demons their 20th straight Big East loss Saturday. So it was a good weekend for Pittsburgh (Panthers and Steelers won) and bad weekend for Chicago (Blue Demons and Bears lost).

The Longhorns hatch a plan to end a significant streak at Allen Fieldhouse. (Getty Images)  
The Longhorns hatch a plan to end a significant streak at Allen Fieldhouse. (Getty Images)  
Win to brag about: It's difficult to beat Kansas anywhere. Particularly at Allen Fieldhouse. Especially when you dig a 15-point hole. So Texas overcoming an 18-3 deficit Saturday to simultaneously deal the Jayhawks their first loss of the season and snap their 69-game home winning streak was about as likely a scenario as Keith Olbermann signing his next contract with Fox News. But it happened. Texas really did come back and beat Texas 74-63. So perhaps The Olbermann Factor is on deck at Fox.

Loss to hide from: I know Louisville's Rick Pitino has a special place in his heart for Providence, but Saturday's trip there must've made him sick to his stomach because his Cardinals were 4 of 23 from 3-point range in a 72-67 loss to the Friars. It was Pitino's first loss in seven games at Providence since leaving the school after an appearance in the 1987 Final Four. It was Providence's first Big East win since last Jan. 27, meaning Providence is 1-17 against Big East schools since last Jan. 27.

Player who deserves improper benefits: BYU's Jimmer Fredette continued his incredible senior season by dropping 42 points in Saturday's 94-85 win at Colorado State, and here's how you know he's getting big: CBS ran a promo during the AFC Championship Game for Wednesday night's San Diego State-BYU game on CBS College Sports. That showdown is scheduled to tip at 10 p.m. ET. So be prepared to stay up late Wednesday for Jimmer vs. the undefeated Aztecs, then stick around for Inside College Basketball with Adam Zucker or switch to the Late Show with David Letterman as Dave welcomes Vince Vaughn to the Ed Sullivan Studio. That'll be on CBS -- America's most watched network.

Player who does not deserve improper benefits: West Virginia beat South Florida on Sunday, but not without something bizarre happening. reserve forward Danny Jennings actually left the bench during the second half of the 56-46 win in a move that Bob Huggins called "unexcused, inexcusable. Never to be seen again, I guess." Either Jennings was mad about a lack of playing time (Note: He did not play) or still upset about West Virginia misspelling his name on his jersey earlier this season. It's probably a combination of both. Either that, or he's just crazy.

Why I'm smarter than you think: I watched Wisconsin play its opening game at the Old Spice Classic, saw Josh Gasser, talked to a few people and decided to write a column about the unheralded freshman the day after Thanksgiving even though almost nobody outside of Wisconsin knew his name. Among the things I predicted was that, barring injury, he could finish with more career starts than any Badger in history. I bring this up now because Gasser started for the 15th time Sunday. He also recorded the program's first ever triple-double (10 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists) in a 78-46 blowout of Northwestern.

Why I'm dumber than I think: Another November column I wrote was one in which I explained that Butler's loss at Louisville wasn't a big deal, and that the Bulldogs would be fine going forward. Clearly, that's not the case. The Bulldogs took an 86-80 overtime loss at home Sunday to a Wisconsin-Milwaukee team that entered with an 9-11 record. Butler is now 14-7, 6-3 in the Horizon with losses to Evansville, Wright State and Milwaukee (twice). If the Bulldogs don't win the Horizon tournament, they won't play in the NCAA tournament.

Three things you should know before you go

1. Syracuse's Kris Joseph returned from his one-game absence because of a concussion and scored 23 points in Saturday's 83-72 loss to Villanova at the Carrier Dome. It was the Wildcats' eighth win in the past 11 meetings between the schools.

2. Will Barton and Antonio Barton combined for 33 points in Memphis' 76-73 overtime win at UAB on Saturday that came despite the absence of Wesley Witherspoon. Or perhaps it came because of his absence. Witherspoon is the Tigers' second-leading scorer (11.5 points per game) and top rebounder (4.9 per game). But there is no denying that Memphis is 10-4 with Witherspoon and 5-0 without him, and the Tigers' top two wins (at Southern Miss and at UAB) both came without him. In a possibly related note, Josh Pastner announced Sunday that Witherspoon won't play this week because of a sore knee.

3. It's almost that time of the year when you're going to start hearing about the RPI on a daily basis. With that in mind, I thought it was worth pointing out that BYU, Kansas, San Diego State, Connecticut and Pittsburgh currently comprise (in that order) the top five in the CBSSports.com RPI. Ohio State is sixth.

On tap: Notre Dame visits Pittsburgh on Monday night. On Tuesday, the top two teams in the Big Ten standings meet when Ohio State hosts Purdue. On Wednesday, San Diego State's perfect record will be at risk at BYU. UCLA plays Arizona at the McKale Center on Thursday night.

Final thought: I have to submit my updated National Player of the Year ballot to Michael Rothstein for his straw poll on Tuesday.

Here's what I plan to send:

 1. Kemba Walker (Connecticut)

 2. Jimmer Fredette (BYU)

 3. Jared Sullinger (Ohio State)

I could put those names in any order and feel good about it, and as long as you've got one of those three at the top you should feel good about it, too. Honestly, I still think Sullinger is the best and most dominant player in the country, and he'll probably win this award come March. But Walker and Fredette have taken average rosters and turned them into legitimate top 10 teams, and that's a hard thing to do. Thus, the two dynamic guards are in the top two slots of my ballot. For now, at least.


Gary Parrish is a senior college basketball columnist for CBSSports.com 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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