Barclays Center Classic - Kentucky v Maryland

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. 

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.