Late-night snacks: a recap of Friday’s action

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The first day of the college basketball season offered up a wide array of contests, from your standard “sacrificial lambs” visiting power conference teams to made for TV showdowns in unconventional environments.

Here’s a rundown of what happened on Friday for those of you who may have missed anything. And since it isn’t mentioned below congratulations to VCU guard Briante Weber, who racked up 13 points and ten steals in 18 minutes of action in the Rams’ 80-57 win over Florida Gulf Coast.

Games of the Night

1. No. 3 Kentucky 72, Maryland 69
The Wildcats jumped out to a big lead early, only to need to hold on against a Maryland team that played a lot better after relaxing and taking better shots. Kyle Wiltjer scored 19 points and grabbed six rebounds in 24 minutes of action and freshman guard Archie Goodwin added 16 points. The unsung hero: Jarrod Polson, who contributed ten points and three assists with starting point guard Ryan Harrow dealing with the flu.

2. Alabama 70, South Dakota State 67
Trevor Lacey’s three-pointer as time expired lifted the Crimson Tide past the Jackrabbits in Tuscaloosa. Nate Wolters led SDSU with 30 points and Jordan Dykstra added 16 and nine rebounds, but the other Jackrabbits combined to shoot just 8-of-23 from the field. Trevor Releford led Alabama with 18 points and Rodney Green added 17.

3. Northeastern 65, Boston University 64
Demetrius Pollard’s three-pointer, his lone field goal of the night, with just over a second remaining gave the Huskies the win over their city rival. Joel Smith led the Huskies with 20 points, while D.J. Irving finished with 18 to pace the Terriers.

Important Outcomes

1. South Alabama 76, No. 25 Florida State 71
The Seminoles shot 5-of-21 from beyond the arc and Michael Snaer made just two of his eleven shots from the field in a surprising home loss to the Jaguars. For a team some believe can contend in the ACC, this isn’t the best way to begin the season.

2. No. 16 Creighton 71, North Texas 51
The Bluejays’ ability on the offensive end of the floor can’t be questioned, but it’s what they did on the defensive end against the Mean Green that stood out. Tony Mitchell got his 18 points (8-of-15 FG) and seven rebounds, but his teammates shot 14-of-54 from the field. Doug McDermott finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds, but the story has to be Creighton’s work defensively.

3. Connecticut 66, No. 14 Michigan State 62
Will one game result in head coach Kevin Ollie getting a long-term deal? No, nor should it. But this is a step in the right direction for the Huskies, who came out of the gates firing then did enough down the stretch to hold off the Spartans. Shabazz Napier led the way with 25 points, and the postgame happenings displayed how much the players think of their coach. Definitely a win the program can build on.

Starred 

1. Cory Jefferson (Baylor)- 26 points and 13 rebounds in the Bears’ 99-77 win over Lehigh in Waco.

2. Dee Davis (Xavier)- 22 points and 15 assists in the Musketeers’ 117-75 thrashing of Fairleigh Dickinson.

3. C.J. McCollum (Lehigh)- Baylor may have exploited Lehigh’s lack of interior size but they weren’t as lucky with McCollum, who finished with 36 points and eight rebounds in the 99-77 loss.

Stunk

1. The idea of playing games outside at night. Both games played on aircraft carriers, Ohio State/Marquette and Georgetown/Florida, were canceled (the Hoyas and Gators played a half before stopping) due to condensation on the court. Playing outside during the summer? Cool. November? Not so much, even if last year’s game in San Diego worked out.

2. Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights out-rebounded Saint Peter’s 40-19 but still lost by the final score of 56-52. Why? They couldn’t shoot, hitting just 35.8% of their shots from the field and 2-of-13 from beyond the arc.

3. Fairleigh Dickinson’s defense. Yes the Knights were shorthanded with just seven players making the trip to Xavier, but so were the Musketeers. Xavier shot 70.5% from the field and 61.9% from deep, scoring 117 points (their highest total since dropping 118 on Loyola Marymount during the 1989-90 season).

Three Facts

1. No. 7 Kansas won it’s home opener for the 40th consecutive season on Friday night, beating Southeast Missouri State 74-55 at Allen Fieldhouse.

2. Per Creighton SID Rob Anderson the Bluejays haven’t lost a Friday home game since 1975, and they’ve won every Friday home game since December 2, 1989 by double digits.

3. Per the ESPN stats department, Duke tied a school record with its 95th consecutive non-conference home victory. The last time Duke lost a non-conference home game: February 26, 2000, as a Bootsy Thornton jumper gave St. John’s an 83-82 victory at Cameron.

Other Top 25 scores of note

1. No. 13 UCLA 86, Indiana State 59
The Bruins celebrated the reopening of Pauley Pavilion with a beating of the Sycamores. Kyle Anderson (ten points, nine rebounds and five assists) was all over the stat sheet, Jordan Adams went for 21 and eight rebounds off the bench and the Wear twins combined for 30 points and 16 rebounds.

2. No. 1 Indiana 97, Bryant 54
Hours after Tom Crean’s contract extension was made official the nation’s top-ranked team took care of business in their season opener. Cody Zeller led six Hoosiers in double figures with 18 points (and ten rebounds), and freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell finished with ten points, seven assists and five rebounds.

3. No. 8 Duke 74, Georgia State 55
NC State and Kansas won their games by larger margins, but the Blue Devils’ victory stands out because of who didn’t play. Alex Murphy, a player some expected to be a starter this season, didn’t play a single second despite being healthy. Mike Krzyzewski said following the game that “we didn’t get to where Alex would play” according to the Associated Press. What does this mean for Tuesday’s game against Kentucky? Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Lastly, here’s Marquette freshman Steve Taylor displaying exactly why their game against Ohio State was canceled.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej. 

John Calipari reminds Kentucky fans to remain classy in defeat

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Before traveling to Phoenix for the Final Four festivities, Kentucky head coach John Calipari used his Twitter account in an effort to diffuse the anger members of Big Blue Nation have directed at a referee following a heartbreaking loss in the Elite Eight.

In the days following the season-ending loss to North Carolina, some fans — not all — have harassed official John Higgins. They’ve flooded the Facebook page of his roofing business, leaving negative reviews and lowering his company’s star rating. Some have gone even more extreme, going as far as sending death threats over the phone.

Based on the replies, some have received the message. Others haven’t. The latter, despite it being a small but vocal group, can, unfortunately, paint a fan base with a broad brush.

Mark Emmert: NCAA Board of Governors to meet ‘in the next few days’ to determine N.C.’s tournament standing

AP Photo/David J. Phillip
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GLENDALE, Ariz. — Late on Wednesday night, the state of North Carolina reached an agreement to repeal the controversial and discriminatory House Bill 2 law, which is commonly known as the bathroom bill.

The NCAA had given the state a deadline of Thursday morning to make a change in this law or they would miss out on hosting NCAA tournament game until the 2022 season, so it’s not hard to connect the dots here. The pressure the NCAA asserted on the state helped create a change.

The question is just how much of a change, as many believe that the repeal does not do enough to change what is discriminatory about the law.

“What distinguished North Carolina,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said, “there were four distinct problems that the board had with that bill, and they removed some of them but not all of them. If you removed two or three of them, is that enough?”

The NCAA Board of Governors have stretched out the process of determining future tournament sites as far as possible, Emmert said, meaning that a decision on this new bill will be made soon.

“Because this happened on such short notice, we have to find a time to get together with the board, and that will probably happen in the next few days,” Emmert said, and in those meetings, the board “will determine if this [new] bill is sufficient change.”

“I’m personally very pleased they have a bill to debate and discuss. Hopefully we can be in a place where we can announce the board’s decision early next week.”

Gonzaga’s Mark Few named AP Coach of the Year

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Gonzaga head coach Mark Few has added to his program’s banner season with an individual award, being named AP Coach of the Year on Thursday afternoon.

Few led the Bulldogs to their first Final Four. The Zags enter the national semifinal with a 36-1 record. Up until Feb. 25, they were flirting with a perfect season. A loss to BYU is currently the only blemish on their season.

Few also won his 500th career game during the course of the 2016-17 season. Since 2014, two coaches from outside the major conferences have earned his honor. Gregg Marshall was named AP Coach of the Year in 2014 after leading the Shockers to a perfect regular season.

This was a very competitive race this season. Sean Miller lost two players expected to be key pieces this season — and had Allonzo Trier miss 19 games — but guided Arizona to the Pac-12 Tournament championship. Jay Wright led Villanova to another Big East title despite two cornerstone pieces — Ryan Arcidiancono and Daniel Ochefu — gone from last season’s national championship team. For a while, Baylor’s Scott Drew seemed to be the favorite. The Bears didn’t receive a single vote in the preseason top-25 poll but went on to earn a No. 1 ranking.

Few’s season continues on Saturday against South Carolina.

Frank Mason is named AP Player of the Year

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Kansas point guard Frank Mason III was named the AP Player of the Year on Thursday afternoon.

The senior floor general for the Jayhawks headlined the AP All-American team, which included UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball, Villanova Swingman Josh Hart, Purdue big man Caleb Swanigan and North Carolina small forward Justin Jackson.

Mason averaged 20.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and shot 49 percent from behind the 3-point line during the 2016-17 season. He helped guide Kansas to its 13th consecutive Big 12 regular season title.

He becomes the fourth senior in a row to win the award, preceded by Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine, Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminksy and Creighton’s Doug McDermott.

He had previously been named player of the year by NBC Sports.

TJ Leaf declares for the 2017 NBA Draft

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UCLA freshman forward TJ Leaf announced he is declaring for the 2017 NBA Draft on Thursday afternoon.

The 6-foot-10 Leaf averaged 16.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.1 blocks per game. His shooting numbers were also impressive, connecting on 62 percent of his field goals, including 27-of-58 from beyond the 3-point arc.

This news comes six days after Lonzo Ball officially announced he had played his last game at UCLA. Neither move is shocking, with Ball in the running for the No. 1 overall pick and Leaf also pegged as a first round selection.

The Bruins will have quite a bit of turnover next season with guards Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton exhausting their eligibility. UCLA head coach Steve Alford has a six-man recruiting class set to come in to help replenish the roster. It’s led by versatile forward Kris Wilkes, point guard Jaylen Hands, and big men Cody Riley and Jalen Hill.