Putting up numbersAyton, Coleby performing well during conference play
Both Deandre Ayton and Dwight Coleby have increased their numbers across the board respectively since National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I basketball conference play began two weeks ago.
The conference schedule is usually more difficult than the non-conference schedule for the fact that there is a lack of history between the schools and that teams aren’t as efficient early in the season. Also, the end-of-season standings are based on conference records.
However, despite facing tougher opponents in recent weeks, both Ayton and Coleby have found a way to improve their stats.
On Thursday night, both players led their respective teams to wins in impressive fashion. In Pac-12 action, Ayton powered the University of Arizona Wildcats to a, 62-53, win over the Oregon State Beavers. The 7’1” center had 14 points and 10 rebounds in the win, which marked his 12th double-double of the season.
Oregon State led the entire first half and was up 22-21 at the break, the lowest-scoring half for Arizona this season, and the lowest-scoring for a Beavers opponent. Luckily for Arizona, its tough defense ignited enough offense to get the bounce-back victory over the Beavers. Once again, Ayton’s presence in the paint was the deciding factor down the stretch. Although he only finished with one block, the Wooden Award contender altered several shots around the rim and served as an enforcer for the Wildcats defense.
“He almost has a supernatural strength,” Wildcats head coach Sean Miller said about Ayton. “His mobility is incredible. His love for the game and his intelligence are shocking to me. A lot of times when you’re that big, you just have to play basketball. I can’t say enough about how smart he is. And I think that’s going to serve him well. He’s a talent like I haven’t seen before.”
Arizona faces another tough test today at home in the Oregon Ducks. Action is set to begin at 2 p.m.
As for Coleby and the Western Kentucky University (WKU) Hilltoppers, they are in the midst of a five-game win-streak. Coleby poured in eight points and nine rebounds on Thursday in a, 75-68, win over Old Dominion University in Conference USA action. The 6’9”, 245-pound forward is averaging 12 points and 8.4 rebounds per game after averaging 1.7 points last year at Kansas.
WKU trailed by two at the break but opened the second half on a 20-9 tear to lead 50-41 with 12:22 left to play and held on to beat the Monarchs for the first time since 1991.
The Hilltoppers are currently 12-5 on the season and are favorited to win today’s game against the Charlotte University 49ers. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.