The Morning Mix

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– UNC-Wilmington is not going to appear on anybody’s radar. They were tabbed to finish in last place in this season’s CAA preseason poll, and aren’t likely to be a factor in late March. But what UNC-Wilmington does have is Keith Rendlemen, one of the most productive yet unheralded players in the country. He’s got a great story too. This is #ReadoftheDay stuff

– Matt Kavanaugh was set to start at center for the Dayton Flyers this season. But as of Wednesday, the senior big-man has been suspended for the entire season for violating the university’s Standards of  Behavior and Code of Conduct. This is a huge loss for a talented Flyers team that will be vying for a top spot in the extremely deep Atlantic-10 Conference

– Shabazz Muhammad is still waiting to hear back from the NCAA about his eligibility. On Wednesday the freshman phenom injured his right shoulder in practice. The injury does not look to be too severe, but extra precaution will be taken

– BYU has now lost two players this off-season to career-ending injuries. In September, versatile wing Chris Collinsworth called it a career after re-aggravating a severe ankle injury. Now comes word that a recurring knee injury will end the career of senior forward Stephen Rogers

– UConn center Enosch Wolf will miss the next week of practice due to a concussion he sustained this week. The German center has been a reserve for the past two seasons, but should see an increase in playing time this season

– Indiana back-up forward Derek Elston suffered a torn meniscus in practice this week and it will require surgery. The senior is expected to miss the first few games of the season

– It’s official: Zay Jackson will not be playing for Murray State this season as he waits for his assault trial to finish

– Former-Butler guard Crishawn Hopkins is staying in the Horizon League, and will transfer to Wright State. The junior was dismissed from the team over the summer, and will join a Raiders squad looking for star power since the departure of  current-Kentucky forward Julius Mays. Are you wondering why Brad Stevens is throwing up Bo Ryan-esque inter-conference sanctions? The Bulldogs have left the Horizon League and will be playing in the Atlantic-10 this season

– If I was 6-foot-6 or taller, I would be terrified of getting trapped in an elevator. Members of the Virginia Cavaliers squad lived to tell their heroic tale about getting stuck in an elevator while on an exhibition trip in Paris

Emails detailing the last days of Billy Gilispie’s reign as Texas Tech head coach have been released. BCG once he a practice that lasted for over seven hours. That’s just cruel and unusual

– This is kinda funny: New assistant coach at Washington was asked as his first assignment to scout the school he had just come from

– Dana O’Neil fills us in on what she wants to see from Conference-USA. John Gasaway answers fiv burning questions regarding C-USA

– Yup, I agree. Roy Devyn Marble is going to have a breakout season, and the Iowa Hawkeyes are going to be much better than we expect

– Did any of you know this, because I certainly didn’t: Rick Pitino almost became the head coach at Michigan instead of Louisville

– Michael Litos of CAA Hoops provides his list of the top-10 seniors in the conference

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

Brunson scores 18 points, No. 8 Villanova beats Stanford

Jalen Brunson
Associated Press
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NEW YORK (AP) Villanova struggled to score and rebound on Thursday night.

The Wildcats’ defense was good enough to still get a win.

No. 8 Villanova compensated for offensive and rebounding struggles by forcing 23 turnovers in a 59-45 victory over Stanford in the semifinals of the NIT Season Tipoff.

“We played pretty good defense but couldn’t rebound with them,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “It was one of those nights we couldn’t make shots but hung in there defensively. Their rebounding was almost a difference maker but thank God it wasn’t.”

The Wildcats (5-0) advanced to face Georgia Tech in the championship game Friday.

Villanova won despite shooting 30.6 percent and getting outrebounded by a 55-35 margin against an opponent starting three players 6-foot-8 or taller. The Wildcats started one player taller than 6-6 but compensated for the size differential by holding Stanford to 26 percent from the floor.

“I didn’t think it would be this ugly on the boards but if we could have made a couple of shots it might not have been as ugly,” Wright said. “But I was proud the guys really grinded defensively.”

Freshman Jalen Brunson was one of few Wildcats not to struggle offensively and scored a career-high 18 points. Josh Hart added 10 points but was 4-for-13 shooting and combined with Ryan Arcidiacono to shoot 6 of 24, including 1 of 15 from 3-point range.

“I was doing what I always do,” Brunson said. “I try to play aggressive all the time. I saw they were backing off me a little bit so there is time for me to shoot and time for me to make other plays.”

Leading scorer Marcus Allen had 12 points but was 3 for 12 for Stanford (2-3). Dorian Pickens added 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Stanford lost its third straight by double digits and will face Arkansas in the consolation game. The Cardinal missed their first 15 shots of the game and their first eight attempts of the second half while falling behind by 16.

Stanford was within seven on a basket by Reid Travis with 6:34 remaining, but Villanova scored the next six points and finished the game with a 13-6 run.

“They’re a very good defensive team, they’re active and they made a lot of plays,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. “The thing we did most was we turned the ball over 23 times, so that was disappointing.”


Villanova: Seven of Villanova’s school-record 33 wins came in New York last season. The Wildcats won twice in the Legends Classic at Barclays Center, beat St. John’s and Illinois during the regular season at Madison Square Garden and won three games there for the Big East Tournament championship. … Guards Arcidiacono and Hart combined to miss their first 11 3-point attempts. Arcidiacono came into the game shooting 44 percent from 3-point range while Hart entered at 45 percent. … Darryl Reynolds tied a career high with 19 minutes, getting most of those in the second half after Daniel Ochefu picked up his fourth foul.

Stanford: Thursday was Stanford’s 13th game in New York since 2011-12. Last year, the Cardinal appeared in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, beating UNLV and losing to eventual national champion Duke. … Stanford faced Villanova for the second time. The other meeting was a 96-70 Cardinal loss on Dec. 23, 1970. … Stanford missed 12 layups and tip-ins during the first half. … Allen hit his head on the court trying to deflect the ball on a layup by Hart. Dawkins said Allen was a little dizzy but didn’t think the junior would miss any time.


Villanova: Georgia Tech in the championship game on Friday.

Stanford: Arkansas in the consolation game on Friday.

Justin Robinson, Monmouth knock off No. 17 Notre Dame

King Rice
Associated Press
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Less than two weeks after they opened their season with an upset win at UCLA, Monmouth picked up its first-ever win over a team ranked in the AP Top 25.

Two Justin Robinson free throws with 3.6 seconds remaining proved to be the difference as King Rice’s Hawks upset No. 17 Notre Dame at the Advocare Invitational in Orlando, and the diminutive point guard was a problem for the Fighting Irish all night.

Robinson scored 22 points, with 14 of them coming from the foul line as Notre Dame’s guards struggled to keep the quick guard contained off the dribble. He was one of three Hawks to score in double figures, and their combination of depth and athleticism proved problematic for Mike Brey’s team. All five Notre Dame starters scored in double figures, with Demetrius Jackson’s 20 leading the way, but the lack of depth proved problematic as the game wore on.

Notre Dame didn’t get a single point from its bench, with Matt Farrell and Matt Ryan combining to play 28 minutes. That lack of depth not only cost Notre Dame Thursday night, but it’s something they’ll have to figure out if they’re to be a contender in the ACC. Jackson and Steve Vasturia ran into foul trouble against Monmouth, and the lack of a bench option capable of picking up the slack led to Monmouth building up a ten-point lead in the second half.

Notre Dame tried to account for that by slowing down the tempo, but in doing so they struggled to find quality looks against the Monmouth defense. And given the players at Rice’s disposal, it’s tough to slow the game down against a team that can get after you on both ends of the floor.

Monmouth entered this season with expectations of contending for a MAAC title alongside the likes of perennial favorites Iona and Manhattan, and their start to the season backs up that belief. With two players in Robinson and Deon Jones who have earned all-conference honors during their careers and a host of contributors that includes guards Je’lon Hornbeak and Micah Seaborn, this is a group to keep an eye on as the season wears on.

Because if they can earn a bid, Monmouth’s non-conference schedule will have them prepared for the NCAA tournament.