The Morning Mix

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Where do we even begin today?

National News Story #1:

– Jim Calhoun is going to announce his retirement later today after 26 years as head coach of the UConn Huskies. Former-Husky and current assistant coach Kevin Ollie is reportedly set to take over the reigns from the legendary ball coach. The program isn’t exactly on stable ground, but at least they know what lies ahead.  Aside from the three national championships and decades of dominance, Calhoun was the finest example of a blue-collar head coach the game may have ever seen

– Here are all the best-reads from the heavy-hitters on Calhoun’s retirement and legacy: Garry Parrish, Jeff Goodman, Mike DeCourcy, and Dana O’Neil

– Some other very good-reads regarding the retirement: Rob Dauster, Mike Miller, Jeff Eisenberg, and Quinn Rochford

– Can Kevin Ollie actually succeed as head coach of UConn? Replacing a legend is not an easy thing to do

– Calhoun built up a near library of entertaining soundbites and quotes during his time in Storrs. Here are all the best ones

The Top-10 moments from the Calhoun Era

– Jim Cahloun and the UConn Huskies had three “One Shining Moment” montages. Which one is your favorite?

– Here is how the Twittershphere reacted to the news of Calhoun’s retirement decision

National News Story #2:

Notre Dame is leaving the Big East in order to join the ACC for all sports except hockey and football. I’ll give $100 to anybody who can convince me that South Bend is on the Atlantic Coast. Leave your best attempt in the comments section below. I’ll be waiting.

– Here’s what a bunch of the heavy-hitters had to say (Most of them share the same opinions): Gary Parrish, Jeff GoodmanDan Wetzel, Mike DeCourcy, and Kevin McNamara

– Jason McIntyre thinks the league is dead in the water

– The addition of Notre Dame brings the ACC to a grand total of 15 teams. Could the conference be looking to add a 16th team to make things even across the board?

The rest of the College Hoops World:

– USC guard Maurice Jones, the team’s leading scorer from a year ago, has decided to transfer. This decision comes just a week after it was determined that the Trojan’s guard had been ruled academically ineligible

Andy Glockner chimes in on the Billy Clyde Gilispie fiasco down in Lubbock, TX. The school has a difficult decision to make believe it or not

– Chrishawn Hopkins has been dismissed from the Butler Bulldogs program for violating team rules

– Robbie Hummel just cannot catch a break. The former-Boilermaker and fan favorite partially tore his meniscus and will miss 3-4 weeks of the Euro hoops schedule

– The top non-conference games of 2012-2013 featuring NEC teams

Larry Drew II has been named the starting guard at UCLA. Coach Howland calls the former Tar Heel “our most indispensable player”. They’re doomed

– Who are the top centers in the Missouri Valley Conference? Mid-Major Madness has the answers

– Remember the ticket scalping scandal that engulfed the Kansas athletic department a few years back? Of course you did. Well, we have ourselves an update. I bet you didn’t see that coming today

Remember, if you find an article that is worthy of being in The Morning Mix, be sure to use the #ReadoftheDay hashtag on Twitter. 

Troy Machir is the managing editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @TroyMachir.

Johnson, Paige help No. 9 Tar Heels roll past Panthers 85-64

North Carolina's Isaiah Hicks (4) dunks against Pittsburgh during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Chapel Hill, N.C., Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
AP Photo/Gerry Broome
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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) Brice Johnson scored 19 points to lead a dominating offensive performance that helped No. 9 North Carolina beat Pittsburgh 85-64 on Sunday.

Marcus Paige added 15 points for the Tar Heels (21-4, 10-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who shot 59 percent to stay atop the league ahead of the next renewal of their fierce rivalry with Duke.

UNC had plenty of balance, shared the ball and got out in transition in arguably their best performance in weeks, using a 13-0 second-half burst to blow the game open. UNC finished with 26 assists on 32 baskets, 24 points off turnovers and scored 16 fast-break points after managing a combined five in the past two games.

Michael Young and James Robinson each scored 15 points to lead Pitt (17-7, 6-6). But the Panthers shot 37 percent and committed 19 turnovers, and a strong effort on the glass did little to offset their troubles.

The Tar Heels were playing their first home game in two weeks after a difficult three-game road trip that started with losses at Louisville and Notre Dame. Then came Tuesday’s game at Boston College, where the Tar Heels struggled against a winless league team then had a scare when Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams briefly collapsed in a second-half huddle after an attack of vertigo and had to leave the sideline for the rest of the game.

Williams was back in the office on Wednesday’s off day, returned to practice Thursday and told reporters Friday he was fine and even cracked jokes about a two-decade history with vertigo dating to his Kansas years.

Getting back home certainly helped everyone feel better. After wrestling with shooting struggles for much of the past month, UNC’s offense kicked back into an efficient and balanced gear, while Paige – the player the Tar Heels are practically begging to jolt free from a prolonged shooting slump – looked more like his old self against the Panthers.

That included one second-half play in which he caught a crosscourt pass from Theo Pinson in transition and made sure to step back behind the arc before burying a 3-pointer.

The Panthers had lost three of four since a 5-2 league start coming in, including 65-63 on a late tip-in at No. 12 Miami on Tuesday. And Pitt again had trouble getting their offense going, failing to crack 70 points for the third straight game.

TIP-INS

Pittsburgh: Second-leading scorer Jamel Artis scored five points on 2-for-8 shooting. … Pitt finished with a 41-29 rebounding advantage. … Pitt made 9 of 21 3-point attempts.

UNC: Justin Jackson scored 14 points. … UNC made 8 of 15 shots from 3-point range and 13 of 15 free throws. … Jackson and Pinson had six assists each. … UNC managed just one offensive rebound.

UP NEXT

Pittsburgh hosts Wake Forest on Tuesday.

UNC hosts Duke on Wednesday.

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap and the AP’s college basketball site at http://collegebasketball.ap.org

Denzel Valentine dominant as No. 8 Michigan State whips Indiana

Michigan State's Denzel Valentine (45) shoots over Indiana's Kevin Yogi Ferrell during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
AP Photo/Al Goldis
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Trailing by one point at the half, Indiana appeared to be in good shape at No. 8 Michigan State. However the fact that they were unable to slow down Denzel Valentine, who scored 15 first-half points, was a major concern for Tom Crean’s Hoosiers. Sure enough the national Player of the Year candidate continued on his tour de force in the second half, scoring another 15 points and dishing out seven assists as the Spartans rolled to an 88-69 victory.

For the game Valentine finished with 30 points, five rebounds, 13 assists and just one turnover. Of Michigan State’s 48 second half points, Valentine had a hand in 29 of them with all seven of his assists resulting in Michigan State layups. It was a dominant performance from one of the nation’s best players, a versatile guard whose four games missed due to injury may have led to some overlooking him when it comes to those national Player of the Year conversations.

When Valentine’s on everything else flows smoothly for Tom Izzo’s team, as his ability to both score and create results in quality looks for teammates who would struggle if they had to get that part of the job done themselves.

The biggest beneficiary Sunday afternoon was forward Matt Costello, who finished the game with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Of Costello’s ten made field goals (10-for-12 FG) five were assisted by Valentine, and he accounted for 13 points and seven rebounds in the second half. As a team Michigan State shot 63.3 percent from the field and assisted on 16 of their 19 made field goals in the second half, turning a tight contest into a blowout.

Tum Tum Nairn returned the court for the first time in seven games, but he played just two minutes and his time on the court will be managed carefully by Izzo moving forward. For many teams not having your point guard at full strength would represent a crippling blow, but that hasn’t been the case for Michigan State thanks in large part to Valentine. Michigan State went 4-3 in those seven games without Nairn, but the three losses were by a total of three points.

Valentine’s ability to make his teammates better will be a key factor down the stretch for Michigan State, and that skill was what led to the Spartans blowing out Indiana on Sunday.