BOZICH | Mitchell ACC's best player? UK streak stopper; Yogi tak - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Mitchell ACC's best player? UK streak stopper; Yogi takes Dallas

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Duke's Grayson Allen (right) was the pre-season frontrunner for ACC Player of the Year, but he's been overtaken by Louisville's Donovan Mitchell. (AP photo.) Duke's Grayson Allen (right) was the pre-season frontrunner for ACC Player of the Year, but he's been overtaken by Louisville's Donovan Mitchell. (AP photo.)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Is anybody in college basketball playing better than Donovan Mitchell?

A month ago, Mitchell was missing from the discussion of the top five players in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Halfway through league play, Ken Pomeroy's metrics rank Mitchell as the best player in the ACC as well as the ninth best player in the nation -- one spot ahead of Kentucky freshman De'Aaron Fox. He's a sophomore performing like a senior, an off guard being asked to play point guard for the University of Louisville.

Sounds like a perfect spot to launch Tuesday's three-point shot -- one item about the Cardinals, one about the Wildcats and one about the Indiana Hoosiers.

MIGHTY MITCHELL

How good has Mitchell been since he received that motivational text message from his sister prior to the Cardinals' thunderous victory over Indiana New Year's Eve?

You decide, but I'd argue the best Louisville player since Russ Smith good.

In Louisville's first 13 games Mitchell did not score more than 17 points. He failed to score double figures a half-dozen times. Nothing spectacular.

In Louisville's last nine games, Mitchell has scored 18 or more points a half dozen times. He has been limited to less than 10 points once, by Florida State. Plenty of spectacular.

In Louisville's first 13 games, Mitchell took 73 three-point field goal attempts -- and made 21. Stop shooting, young man. That's less than 29 percent.

In Louisville's last nine games, Mitchell has taken 65 shots from distance -- and made 30. Keep firing young man. That's a dazzling 46.2 percent. Mitchell has made at least four three-pointers four times.

Without Quentin Snider to run the team, Mitchell has become part Peyton Siva, part Taquan Dean. In conference only games, Mitchell ranks ninth in the ACC in scoring (17.6), third in steals (1.9), eighth in free-throw percentage and fourth in three-pointers made per game (3).

No wonder Mitchell has moved from off the grid to ninth in Pomeroy's national player of the year analysis, just behind Josh Jackson and Frank Mason of Kansas.

Josh Hart of Villanova leads the race, followed by Jock Landale of Saint Mary's and Ethan Happ of Wisconsin. Good players, all of them. But nobody has a lock on the Wooden Award yet. Play on, everybody.

NBA types have also noticed. Mitchell has climbed to the 24th pick in the first round on the latest mock selection at DraftExpress.com. He's one spot behind Indiana sophomore OG Anunoby, who has fallen 13 places after suffering a knee injury that was repaired with surgery Tuesday.

CAN GEORGIA THREATEN KENTUCKY?

No.

Better I answer that question quickly before diving into the data.

I can't envision the Bulldogs winning at Rupp. Yes, Mark Fox's team has won three times on the road, including a game at suddenly imposing Georgia Tech.

But …

John Calipari has never lost three straight in seven-plus seasons in Lexington. He's beaten Georgia six in a row by an average of more than 17 points. The Bulldogs are going to win at Rupp after losing at Oakland and Texas A&M?

No.

Common opponents?

Kansas beat Georgia by 11 and Kentucky by six.

The Bulldogs have lost to two teams that Kentucky beat -- South Carolina and Texas A&M.

They have beaten three teams that the Wildcats have handled -- Auburn, Vanderbilt and Ole Miss.

Pomeroy's numbers like Kentucky by 17, putting UK's win probability at 93 percent. Jeff Sagarin's formula says Wildcats win by 17. Las Vegas makes it unanimous. UK by 16 ½.

Losing back-to-back games should help Calipari get his team's attention. Job One is make the basic plays without chasing the spectacular plays that often lead to turnovers.

Georgia is the fifth- or sixth-best team in the Southeastern Conference. Kentucky. Easy.

MAVERICKS SEE WHAT INDIANA IS MISSING

The Brooklyn Nets discarded Yogi Ferrell.

The Philadelphia 76ers looked but did not purchase the contract of the Ferrell, who started 137 games at point guard for Indiana.

The Dallas Mavericks are currently on the clock -- and I'll surprised if the Mavericks fail to offer Ferrell at least a second 10-day contract.

All Ferrell has done during two games with Dallas is lead the Mavericks to victories over the Spurs and Cavaliers while averaging 14 points, five assists and three steals in 36 minutes against two of the league's top five teams.

Turnovers?

Credit Ferrell with two in more than 73 minutes.

Turnovers have been the talk around the Indiana basketball team most of this season, especially after Indiana turned it over an astounding seven straight times while giving back a 10-1 lead during a loss at Northwestern Sunday.

Was Mavericks' owner Mark Cuban, an Indiana alum, kidding when he said that he wanted more former Indiana players on his team after the Mavs defeated Cleveland Monday?

With Cuban, who knows?

But without Ferrell, Indiana's offense and defense have been a mess for stretches of this season. The Hoosiers return home to play Penn State Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m.

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