College Hoops Today: Jordan King Providing Bite for Spiders
Jordan King has stepped up in his first season as a Spider. (University of Richmond Athletics)
Northwestern Coach Chris Collins wasn’t shy about pointing out the 38 free throw attempt discrepancy between his team and Purdue; the Tar Heels suffered a shocking defeat to Georgia Tech; and Zach Edey — the key to Purdue’s team — headlined the late season top 20 for the Wooden Award.
Richmond Keeps Rolling
The Richmond Spiders continued to plough over the rest of the Atlantic 10, earning a 14-point road victory against Fordham Wednesday to extend their win streak to 11 — the second longest current run in the country.
In bouncing back from last year’s debacle (15-18), the Spiders are seeking their second NCAA tourney appearance in three years in what’s shaping up as the school’s best effort since winning 24 games in 2019-20. Richmond is even starting to garner top 25 votes, so it’s not inconceivable they could sneak into the rankings before season’s end.
Senior guard and leading scorer Jordan King did his thing on Wednesday, pouring in 29 points and a couple of steals while putting on a shooting clinic (8-for-10 from the floor including 4-for-4 from downtown, and 9-of-10 at the charity stripe). He’s now scored 24 or more in three of the last four games (earning A-10 Player of the Week honours twice in the last three weeks) and in his first season at Richmond he’s continued to get better in a career that began with two seasons at Siena before shifting to East Tennessee State for another two campaigns.
This kid can take over a game and according to his coach, is extremely committed to winning (see video below).
King’s getting more touches with the Spiders and although his FT shooting has regressed, he’s more than made up for it with by far the best floor accuracy of his career. He’s a fringe NBA draft prospect, but could certainly wind up getting a Summer League invite.
Roberts Trying to Recover
Talk about a turnaround. After losing two of its first three in Big 12 play, the Houston Cougars have now rhymed off five straight wins to take over the lead in a stacked conference that includes eight ranked schools.
Thanks to this run, Houston is now +200 to reach the Final Four as per odds at FanDuel.
Leading rebounder J’Wan Roberts played the hero in an overtime nailerbiter on Monday, putting in the go-ahead layup with just 37 seconds left in the extra frame to help Houston avoid an upset by Texas. The senior forward has really picked up his offense lately with back-to-back 14-point efforts, adding eight boards and two blocks on Monday.
Roberts has been pretty much a full-time starter the last two seasons, but his numbers have regressed in 2023-24, so it’s good to see him picking up his contributions recently.
He’s probably not going to be drafted, but his ability as a decent low post threat combined with his athleticism and hustle makes him an NBA roster candidate.
Great Race in the AAC
Wow, are things ever tight in the American Athletic Conference. Currently, the Charlotte 49ers — winners of seven straight — are tied with 20th ranked Florida Atlantic and South Florida (who have both won six in a row) for the conference lead at 7-1.
Charlotte and FAU are probably both getting at-large March Madness bids, but South Florida will likely have to win the conference tourney to get in.
For the 49ers, this success has been a slow burn with some real lean seasons in 2017-18 and 2018-19, and even as recently as 2020-21 Charlotte went just 9-16, but has improved steadily since. The last time this school made the tourney was in 2004-05, but that will likely change barring a collapse down the stretch, or possibly an early exit in the AAC tournament.
The guy to watch here is junior guard Lu’Cye Patterson, who leads the team in scoring and steals. He actually had a pretty quiet game in Saturday’s win, but managed to nail all four of his free throw attempts in the final 23 seconds to seal the deal for the 49ers.
Patterson had been red hot coming in, scoring 20 or more in three straight before being mostly held in check last game. He’s become a full-time starter in his second season in Charlotte after spending his first two seasons at Missouri, and while his shooting touch has slipped and he’s not doing as well from the line, the volume is way up now that he’s starting every game.
Patterson would be best served by returning for his senior season and hoping for a better effort to put himself in consideration as an NBA draft prospect.
RotoRob Tune of the Day
Born John Dawson Winter III, the world knows him better as Johnny Winter>, the blues rock guitarist who got his start at age 15 in 1959 and remained active until his death in 2014. Among his signature tunes is a 1969 cover of the Sonny Boy Williamson classic “Good Morning Little School Girl.” Here’s Winter playing the tune live just a couple of years before his death; the track also appears on the superb compilation Somethin’ Else Again!