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Midwest Hoops Report

   by ASA - 01/27/2006

Kansas: The Jayhawks snapped a two-game losing streak when they crushed Nebraska last Saturday, but the week didn’t end without Kansas taking a hit of a different nature. It was reported Tuesday that freshman guard Micah Downs II was leaving Kansas after only one semester because of personal reasons. Downs, who played in 13 games and averaged 4.3 points and 2.2 rebounds per game in just over 11 minutes of action a night, had been struggling mentally as of late, according to Kansas head coach Bill Self. The 6-foot-8 Downs was a McDonald's All-American in high school and a highly touted recruit out of Juanita High School in Kirkland, Wash. But after reaching double figures three times in Kansas' first eight games, his production -- and playing time -- dwindled.
Downs played in only two of the Jayhawks' first four Big 12 games, playing only a combined 12 minutes and not registering a point. Kansas, 11-6 SU, 7-7 ATS, is at Iowa State on Saturday and home to Texas Tech on Monday.

Purdue: The Boilermakers haven’t faired well in Big Ten play so far this season, as their 1-5 start would indicate. What’s an even more demoralizing and telling statistic is that they haven’t even been competitive in four of the games they have lost. In fact, their five losses to Big Ten opponents have come by an average of 13 points. Purdue has, however, played four of their first six Big Ten contests away from Mackey Arena. Senior forward Matt Kiefer (11.7 ppg, 7.1 rpg) continues to carry the load for this depleted Purdue team, one that continues to be riddled with injuries and various other penalties. To date Purdue has lost four projected starters to injuries or suspensions this season. And now most recently, it was freshman guard Korey Spates who was removed from the roster after conduct detrimental to the team. Spates, who was averaging 10.1 points and 2.5 rebounds per game in his 25 minutes a night for Purdue, had already been suspended once this season by head coach Matt Painter six days in November before the season started. Purdue, 7-10 SU, 6-9 ATS, continues its life on the road in the Big Ten when the visit No. 7 Illinois on Saturday.

Wisconsin: After suffering what is being called the biggest upset in all of college basketball this season and the worst upset in the history of Wisconsin basketball, the Badgers find themselves reeling and thin on the bench. Sophomore Greg Stiemsma left the team for personal medical reasons and missed the Ohio State game and the shocking upset at the hands of North Dakota State, and though Stiemsma has since returned to practice, he has been ruled academically ineligible for the rest of the season and has been battling depression. Freshman Marcus Landry, who was ruled academically ineligible for those same two games, has since been ruled ineligible for the remainder of the season. Stiemsma had appeared in all 16 games for the Badgers this season, averaging 2.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 11.7 minutes. Landry had also appeared in all 16 games for the Badgers, averaging 6.4 points and 3.1 rebounds in 15.4 minutes. While neither is a starter, both were key contributors off the bench. Wisconsin once was very deep with a solid 10 man rotation. They are now down to just a seven man rotation. The Badgers are at Michigan on Saturday.

Miami (OH): The RedHawks continue their bizarre pattern of winning and losing in bunches, and recently it has been a two-game slide that has also served as their first two losses in the Mid-American Conference. The RedHawks have also begun tampering with their rotation, moving senior guard Josh Hausfeld into the staring guard spot normally held by junior Doug Penno, who has been struggling mightily from the perimeter. The move occurred before Miami’s loss to Kent State, and didn’t produce much. Hausfeld played only 18 minutes and scored only 2 points, while Penno played only 11 minutes and didn’t score at all. Senior guard William Hatcher leads the RedHawks with 14.5 points per game, but the RedHawks have had trouble all season finding scoring from a second guard. In Miami’s last three games, Penno had gone 1-13 from the field and 0-10 from beyond the arc. Hausfeld, who sat out Miami’s first three games, has connected on 4 of his last 7 tries from three-point range. Miami, 9-7 SU, 8-7 ATS, faces two straight conference road games in four days, as they visit Akron Thursday and Ohio Sunday.

Loyola (Chicago): The Ramblers have won two-straight after losing four in row to start the month of January. They are, however, without freshman J.R. Blount, who is averaging 12.3 points per game this season. Blount is expected to miss at least two more games after being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his foot after Sunday's victory over Illinois-Chicago. Loyola, 11-6 SU, 8-5 ATS, prepares for four-straight conference home games, three of those in a span of five days. The Ramblers host Wisconsin-Green Bay Thursday, Detroit Saturday and Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Monday.

Wichita State: The Shockers have won 13 of their last 16 games, including five in a row. However, it has not been all smooth sailing for the Shockers, who have continued to have problems with certain players and their actions off the court. Those problems appear to be over, however, after Shockers head coach Mark Turgeon announced that junior reserve Jared Young and walk-on Gabe Barnes had been kicked off the team for violating team rules. Young and Barnes had been suspended before the Jan. 22 win over Missouri State. Turgeon said Monday the players had been suspended for different reasons. The suspension was the second for Young, who was pulled from two games earlier this season after a disagreement with Turgeon about playing time. Young, a transfer from Pratt Community College, has played in 16 games this season, starting one. He has averaged 4.3 points and 3.7 rebounds. Barnes has played in four games this season, averaging 1.0 points and 0.3 rebounds. The Shockers continue to get quality production from four starters, all of whom average in double figures. Senior center Paul Miller leads the group averaging 13 points per game and nearly 7 rebounds. Wichita State, 16-4 SU, 8-6-1 ATS, is at Creighton Saturday.

Memphis: Memphis has won 17 of their first 19 to start the season, including their last six in a row. They continue to clean up in the weak Conference USA, posting a quick 3-0 start. Senior Rodney Carney has continued to lead the charge for the Tigers scoring almost 18 points a game, and sophomore Darius Washington continues to get better, averaging 13 points per game and dishing out nearly five assists while shooting 44% from the field. Memphis will be shorthanded off the bench for a while after freshman center Kareem Cooper was arrested on misdemeanor drug charges after police found marijuana in his truck during a traffic stop. School officials had no immediate comment Tuesday on the arrest or on Cooper's status for the Tigers' game with UAB on Thursday night. It has been quite a difficult year for Cooper, who along with the arrest, has lost about 40 pounds since coming to Memphis last summer and missed a total of five games due to academic reasons and injury. The freshman has started one game and played in 14 for the Tigers, averaging 10.9 minutes and 4.6 points per game.

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