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Tuesday’s Shootaround: Baylor wins, Virginia survives

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No. 5 Baylor 61, Texas A&M 52: Given the way that the Aggies started this game — by digging themselves a 28-11 hole late in the first half — the way the game ended up wasn’t terrible. A nine point loss of the road to a top five team in the country is hardly a loss to be embarrassed by.

The issues that A&M has have nothing to do with the effort they give or the defense they play or the size they have on the interior. The Aggies are going to be nothing more than mediocre until they find a way to be able to consistently score points. Against Baylor, A&M shot a whopping 28.6% from the floor. They were 7-25 from three. They had all of nine assists to go along with their 13 turnovers. Khris Middleton, who is supposed to be Billy Kennedy’s best offensive weapon, was 4-17 from the floor.

Baylor wasn’t great by any stretch of the imagination. Pierre Jackson had seven turnovers, Brady Heslip went scoreless and the Bears finished with more turnovers than assists, but when you hold a team to 28.6% shooting, you can play just about as poorly as you want and still win.

No. 23 UVA 57, LSU 52: It sounds weird saying this, but this is actually a solid win for the Cavs, their 11th in a row. LSU is probably not going to make the NCAA Tournament, but what they lack in talent they make up for in grit. Just ask Marquette, who lost a dogfight to the Tigers despite being up 13-0 in the first half. LSU had won seven in a row. Virginia got 17 points from Sammy Zeglinski and 12 points and nine boards out of Mike Scott as they used a late surge to take a lead and held LSU on a number of possessions down the stretch.

Robert Morris 70, Ohio 67: Bobby Mo put together one of the weirdest wins of the young season. Ohio had been on fire coming into this game, gaining some national recognition as one of the most impressive mid-majors early in the season. But what makes this win all the more impressive is the fact that they turned the ball over 31 times! And still won! Robert Morris shot the ball 53.2% from the field and held DJ Cooper and Walter Offutt to a combined 6-32 from the floor.

Rhode Island 78, Boston College 72 2OT: Jamal Wilson, who was averaging 16.4 ppg at the time, was kicked off the URI team two days ago. Rhody was 1-12 at the time. Since then, the Rams have won two in a row. Billy Baron had 25 to lead the way in this one.

Georgia State 58, Drexel 44: The Panthers have now won 10 straight games and are sitting at 2-0 in first place in the CAA.

Wofford 56, Wake Forest 52: Wake Forest was playing without CJ Harris, but that’s still no excuse for a team from the ACC to lose to a team from the SoCon, particularly when the SoCon is coming off of a season where they lost four starters and already have dropped games to High Point and UMKC. Travis McKie had 25 points and six boards for Wake in the loss.

Campbell 70, Coastal Carolina 65 OT: Campbell moved to 3-0 in the Big South, knocking off previously unbeaten (in the league) CCU. The Chanticleers didn’t make a field goal in overtime.

Other notable games:

– George Mason 70, William & Mary 56
– VCU 80, Hofstra 63
– Tennessee 76, Chattanooga 63
– Belmont 83, North Florida 53
– Vanderbilt 69, Miami OH 62
– Miami 99, UNC Greensboro 89
– LBSU 74, UC Irvine 60

Top performers:

Kenny Gabriel, Auburn: Gabriel had easily the most impressive performance of the night, going for 24 points, 13 boards, 10 blocks, four steals and three assists while shooting 11-13 from the floor in a 67-41 win over Bethune-Cookman.

Stan Okoye, VMI: Okoye probably had the second best game of the night, as he went for 25 points, seven boards, seven assists, four steals and three blocks in a 76-72 win over Gardner-Webb.

Keith Rendleman, UNC Wilmington: Rendleman had 24 points and 18 boards in an 80-75 win over Delaware.

Shay Shine, High Point: Its our first Shay Shine sighting of the season! The high-flying guard has 22 points in a win over Charleston Southern.

Chris Stephenson, UNC Asheville: Stephenson scored 33 points and grabbed 10 boards in a 66-56 win over Radford.

Kenny Kadji, Miami: Trevis Simpson had 36 points for UNC Greensboro, but Kadji and the Canes were too much. The big man finished with 30 points and 12 boards in a 99-89 win.

Trae Golden, Tennessee: Golden had 29 points in a 76-63 win over Chattanooga just three days after have facial surgery.

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

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
Bart Young/USA Basketball
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.