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Great early slate doesn’t disappoint

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No. 23 Louisville 79, No. 5 UConn 78, 2OT: Two weeks ago, Peyton Siva was being booed at home by Louisville fans. I think he’ll get a much nicer welcome when he gets back to Louisville today. Siva had 19 points, seven assists, four boards, three steals, and two blocks while helping to hold Kemba Walker to 20 points on 7-23 shooting as the Cardinals went into Gampel Pavilion and knocked off the Huskies in double overtime. As good as he was all game, Siva was at his best down the stretch. He made Shabazz Napier look silly, driving through the UConn defense for a dunk at the end of the first overtime to tie the game. Then in the second overtime, Siva had two big drives in the second overtime to help Louisville hold on to their lead.

UConn had their chances. Kemba missed a fall away over two defenders at the end of regulation, gave up the ball at the end of the first overtime to Jeremy Lamb who missed three at the buzzer of the first overtime, and had a 30 foot three go in and out at the end of the game. Louisville really focused their defense on Kemba the entire game, but particularly in the clutch. As good as Lamb (21 points, but none in the second half) and Napier (23 points) were, UConn is going to need them to become more confident in late game situations.

While this really is a great win for Louisville, who spent much of the second half down, it is far for a disastrous loss for UConn. More than anything, its just another example of how balanced the top six teams in the Big East are.

No. 21 Georgetown 69, No. 8 Villanova 66: Maybe Villanova’s win at Syracuse last Saturday was more a sign of the the Orange’s struggles than the Wildcat’s greatness. Georgetown went into the Wells-Fargo Center this afternoon and jumped out to a lead on Nova that eventually reached double digits. The Wildcats made a run down the stretch, getting to within a point, but Antonio Pena missed an NBA three that would have tied the game on the final possession.

Austin Freeman was terrific for the Hoyas. He had 30 points and hit a number of big shots down the stretch. Also of note was the performance of Henry Sims and Nate Lubick, who combined for 13 points, six boards, and three blocks, although they were bigger factor than their numbers indicate. Most important? Georgetown was able to go to Philly and win despite getting nothing — as in zero points — from Chris Wright.

For the Wildcats, the issue was shooting more than anything. It took them too long to finally start hitting their open shots.

Xavier 85, Richmond 62: Any list of the best coaching performances in America would be incomplete if it doesn’t include Chris Mack. With all of the injury and eligibility issues that the Musketeers have had this season, they went into the Robins Center and smacked the Spiders by 23 points. The win moved the Muskies to 7-0 in league play, thanks in large part to 33 points, seven boards, and five assists from Tu Holloway, who easily won the battle of the point guards. Kevin Anderson finished with just 10 points on 4-16 shooting.

As expected, Justin Harper was fantastic. He had 20 points, five boards, two steals, and two blocks. But his lack of strength inside was evident as Kenny Frease went for 19 points and Jamel McLean had seven points and 12 boards.

Clemson 62, No. 22 Florida State 44: Florida State is the most confusing team in the country. Most had chalked up their loss to Auburn as a bit of a fluke after they beat Duke. The Seminoles were making a solid case to be the second best team in the ACC … until today. The Seminoles were embarrassed by the Tigers, shooting just 32% from the field and finishing the game with 21 turnovers and just 16 field goals. No one on Florida State scored more than eight points. This team is way too inconsistent offensively.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.

DePaul adds 2018 commit

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Wisconsin guard John Diener has committed to DePaul, his grassroots program announced Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-4 Class of 2018 guard ends his recruitment rather early with offers also from instate schools Green Bay and Milwaukee. He’s known as a shooter and becomes the first commit for Dave Leitao in the 2018 class.

Diener, who plays with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors in the spring and summer, commits to the Blue Demons with them coming off a disappointing campaign, Leitao’s first in Chicago. DePaul went 9-22 overall and 3-15 in the Big East, finishing only ahead of St. John’s.

DePaul has been recruiting the Midwest hard with incoming 2016 recruits from La Lumiere School in Indiana, Sagninow, Mich. and locally in Chicago.

Four-star guard Fisher commits to TCU

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Jamie Dixon’s presence is already being felt in the Big 12 and on the recruiting trail.

TCU received its first commitment of the Dixon era when four-star 2016 point guard Jaylen Fisher announced his decision to join the Horned Frogs on Wednesday.

“Due to how comfortable my family and I are with the coaching staff,” Fisher posted from his Twitter account, “and the emphasis the university has put on making basketball a priority, I’m committing to be a student-athlete at TCU.”

Getting a consensus top-75 prospect, who was once committed to UNLV, is a heck of a coup for being just a couple months on the job. It instantly shows the Frogs are going to be a player for some of the country’s top players, which is a necessity if you have designs on making a move up the ladder of arguably the country’s best league in the Big 12.

Maybe the most gratifying thing for TCU, though, is the reason Fisher publicly stated for making his decision, the school’s “making basketball a priority.” The hoops program has suffered immensely in the Big 12 (while the football program has flourished), winning a total of eight games in their four seasons (including a winless 2014), but the school sank $72 million into renovating its arena, made an aggressive move in firing Trent Johnson and then went out and got its dream candidate, Dixon, an alum. Fisher’s commitment is the first time those moves have shown that commitment to basketball paying off.

 

Report: Izundu’s San Diego State transfer ban rescinded

Ernie Kent
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Washington State transfer Valentine Izundu will be visiting San Diego State after all.

Coach Ernie Kent has rescinded his restriction on the 6-foot-10 graduate transfer from visiting the Aztecs, according to a report from the Spokesman-Review, citing an anonymous source. Izundu will also be reportedly visiting Fresno State and UNLV.

Izundu had previously been barred from considering the Aztecs by Kent because of suspcisions of tampering. Izundu vigorously denied that was the case as at the center of the dispute was a trip he made to San Diego for spring break. He publicly said he did not have any contact with the SDSU coaching staff , though he attended an Aztecs NIT game.

Kent, though, appears to have relented, as many coaches who have similarly faces public pressure in such situations before him have. In this era where so much attention is being paid to player rights and welfare, there only seems to be growing public sentiment against programs restricting transfers beyond the absolute bare minimum is rarely going to go over well. It may make things more difficult for coaches and programs, but it’s the deck is largely already stacked in their favor in most every other instance.

Ex-Michigan State player Keith Appling faces weapons charges

Keith Appling
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DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) Authorities say former Michigan State basketball player Keith Appling faces charges including carrying a concealed weapon after he was found in possession of guns and marijuana in suburban Detroit.

The Wayne County prosecutor’s office says 24-year-old Appling was arrested outside a Dearborn club on Sunday night. Club security called police after seeing a man pull a gun from the trunk of a car.

Prosecutors say Appling was in the driver’s seat of the car when police arrived. Officers found a handgun under the driver’s seat, a loaded weapon in the trunk and a small amount of suspected marijuana.

Weapons and marijuana possession charges were announced Wednesday.

The court says he doesn’t have a lawyer on record.

Appling played for the Spartans from 2010-2014 and plays for the NBA’s development league.

UNLV transfer to finish career at Michigan State

UNLV forward Ben Carter, right, celebrates after his team defeated Oregon in an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, in Las Vegas. UNLV won 80-69. (AP Photo/John Locher)
(AP Photo/John Locher)
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Former UNLV center Ben Carter announced on Wednesday that he will be transferring to Michigan State to finish his collegiate career.

Carter, who began his career at Oregon, averaged 8.6 points and 6.0 boards in his one season with UNLV before tearing his ACL in late January. He spent two seasons with the Ducks before transferring to Vegas, which is why he’s eligible immediately for the Spartans.

And that’s the biggest reason that Tom Izzo and company targeted him.

The Spartans lost Deyonta Davis to the NBA Draft after one season, a fact that became an inevitability midway through the year but one that the Spartans didn’t necessarily plan for heading into last season. Carter isn’t going to be an instant impact kind of player, particularly not when he’s coming off of an ACL injury, but he is a big body and a veteran presence on a front line that wasn’t going have much of either.