Players of the week
Overall: Creighton forward Doug McDermott. The junior from Ames, Iowa, scored 55 points, including 39 in the win over Missouri State. McDermott made 21 of 27 shots from the field and grabbed 17 rebounds in the two wins.
Newcomer: Wichita State forward Cleanthony Early. The junior from Middleton, N.Y., had 39 points in a win over Southern Illinois and 16 in a loss to Evansville. He made 17 of 26 shots, including 7 of 13 from 3-point range.
Aces' Taylor plays big
Usually one of the smallest players on the court, Evansville point guard Troy Taylor is a giant when it comes to rebounding.
The 6-foot senior is averaging 9.8 rebounds in the Purple Aces' five conference games to rank only behind 6-9 Illinois State forward Jackie Carmichael. Overall, Taylor's 7.4 average ties him for fourth with Creighton's McDermott.
“He's truly incredible,” Evansville coach Marty Simmons said.
Taylor led the Purple Aces in rebounding and assists last season, and he's on track to do it again this season. His 4.3 assists per game rank fifth in the league.
“He played on a high school team that had a lot of guys about his size,” Simmons said. “He developed an instinct to rebound the basketball. In a lot of ways, he's been a life saver for us.”
Evansville has lacked productive inside players in Simmons' tenure. He believes he has a good young post player in 6-10 Egidijus Mockevicius, but it's going to take time for the Lithuanian freshman to develop.
Taylor owns the best rebounding game by a Valley player this season, grabbing 19 in a win over Missouri State. He's also the only Valley player to record a triple-double, getting 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in the league opener against Creighton.
“His ability to rebound has changed games for us,” Simmons said. “His desire to go outside his area and pursue the basketball is as good as any player I've ever seen play. He just has a knack to go after the basketball.”
Quote of the week
Bradley coach Geno Ford, on the importance of junior forward Tyshon Pickett to stay out of foul trouble: “We're not nearly as good when he's sitting close to me.”
Bits and pieces
» Northern Iowa's 31-point win over Bradley on Saturday was the Panthers' largest margin of victory in a conference game since joining the Valley in 1991-92.
» Anthony Beane originally committed to Illinois State, where his father was an assistant coach, but moved to Southern Illinois when his dad took a job on Barry Hinson's staff. The younger Beane has emerged as a contender for freshman of the year honors by scoring 10.2 points a game, best among league freshmen.
» The 39 points Early scored against Southern Illinois was the most by a Wichita State player since Xavier McDaniel had 43 against Bradley on Jan. 11, 1985.
» Illinois State's Carmichael is the league's active leader in career double-doubles with 28. The league record? Oscar Robertson finished his Cincinnati career in 1962 with 79.
» Bradley center Will Egolf has been cleared to return from a four-game suspension following his Dec. 31 arrest for possession of a controlled substance.
» Evansville's Colt Ryan (1,840) and Creighton's McDermott (1,783) are on pace to surpass the 2,000-point mark this season. Only twice in the league's previous 105 seasons have two players bettered the 2,000-point mark in the same season.
— Steven Pivovar