Late-Night Snacks: A recap of Sunday’s action

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While Sunday’s college basketball schedule wasn’t loaded with games there was one match-up of ranked teams and eight other contests involving Top 25 squads. So for those who may have spent the day hemming and hawing over their fantasy football team(s), here are some of the important happenings on the first Sunday of the college basketball season.

Games of the Day 

1. South Carolina 82, Milwaukee 75 (OT)
The first win of the Frank Martin era in Columbia was a tough one, as the Gamecocks needed two free throws from Mindaugas Kacinas to send the game into overtime. Brenton Williams scored 12 of his 14 points in the extra session and freshman Michael Carrera went for 17 points and 15 rebounds to lead South Carolina past the Panthers.

2. No. 12 Arizona 83, Charleston Southern 73
This one ended up being much closer than many expected, but the Wildcats were able to hold off Charleston Southern to win their season opener. Mark Lyons may not have shot his best (5-of-14 FG) but he finished with 17 points, six assists and no turnovers. Arlon Harper led the Buccaneers with 20 points, and the two teams combined to attempt 60 three-pointers (making 21).

3. Holy Cross 74, Morgan State 73
Two free throws apiece from Dave Dudzinski and Justin Burrell gave the Crusaders a four-point lead with 4.8 seconds remaining, and they needed all four as Morgan State’s DeWayne Jackson hit a three as time expired. Dudzinski led Holy Cross with 20 points and eight rebounds.

Important Outcomes

1. No. 9 Syracuse 62, No. 20 San Diego State 49
The Battle on the Midway wasn’t pretty from an offensive standpoint, as the Aztecs shot just 27% from the field and nearly as bad (14-of-33) from the foul line. C.J. Fair led the Orange with 17 points and ten rebounds while Michael Carter-Williams scored 17 in addition to five assists, four rebounds and four steals.

2. Villanova 80, Marshall 68
With the Thundering Herd having the talent to challenge in Conference USA this was a tough home game for Villanova, especially considering the fact that they opened up against the University of the District of Columbia. Freshman point guard Ryan Arcidiacono led the way with 25 points, six assists and four rebounds.

3. Washington 85, Loyola (MD) 63
The Huskies weren’t at their best in the first half, turning the ball over 11 times and leading the preseason MAAC favorites by just two (33-31) at the intermission. Abdul Gaddy and company took far better care of the ball in the second half, and as a result Washington put up 52 points and rolled to a comfortable victory.


1. G Ahmad Starks (Oregon State): 33 points, five assists, five rebounds and four steals in the Beavers’ 71-62 win over New Mexico State.

2. F Ryan Anderson (Boston College): 29 points and 17 rebounds in the Eagles’ 84-70 win over FIU.

3. G Michael Lyons (Air Force): 33 points (7-of-12 3PT) to lead the Falcons past The Citadel 77-70.


1. San Diego State: 17-of-63 (27%) from the field, 1-of-18 (5.6%) from three and 14-of-33 (42.4%) from the foul line.

2. Alabama State: Nine points in the first half of their 84-35 loss to No. 10 Florida. Sure they were overmatched, but nine points in 20 minutes of basketball?

3. Evan Hymes and Rob Poole (Siena): These two struggled mightily in the Saints’ 54-49 overtime win at Navy, combining to go 5-of-28 from the field (2-of-17 3PT).

Three Facts

1. The championship coach (Larry Brown) and Most Outstanding Player (Danny Manning) of the 1988 NCAA tournament both picked up wins in their debuts at new jobs. Brown’s SMU Mustangs beat Loyola Marymount 73-58, and Manning’s Tulsa squad blew out LSU-Shreveport 110-54.

2. The Pac-12 went perfect this weekend, with wins by Arizona, Washington and California moving the conference to 12-0. No real marquee wins, but when considering the three years prior that’s not a bad start.

3. Hofstra, who dropped an 83-54 decision at Purdue on Sunday, has lost back-to-back games by 29-point margins. The last time the Pride lost consecutive games by 29 or more was during the 1986-87 season, when they were the Flying Dutchmen.

Other Top 25 scores of note

1. No. 2 Louisville 79, Manhattan 51
Russ Smith led the way with 23 points and five steals, but there’s room for improvement in the shot selection department. The Cardinals struggled offensively in the first half, then dropped 51 points on the Jaspers in the final 20 minutes.

2. No. 23 Wisconsin 87, Southeastern Louisiana 47
The Badgers rolled as expected, and also of importance was the return of senior forward Mike Bruesewitz to the lineup after suffering a nasty cut in a weight room accident. Ben Brust posted a double-double (14 points, 11 rebounds) and Jared Berggren scored 19 points and grabbed eight boards for Wisconsin, who won their 11th straight season opener.

3. No. 4 Ohio State 82, Albany 60
All four teams involved in the two aircraft carrier game cancellations on Friday won their season openers on Sunday. Aaron Craft knocked down five of his seven shots from beyond the arc and led the Buckeyes with 20 points and seven assists, and Deshaun Thomas added 19.

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

Bill Self’s least impressive Kansas team is 40 minutes away from the Final Four

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OMAHA, Neb. — Kansas is vulnerable, exploitable and limited. The Jayhawks have no depth, are without a superstar and possess a middling defense.

They are Bill Self’s worst team.

And they have won the Big 12 regular season and tournament titles, secured a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and are a win away from the Final Four.

The Jayhawks shrugged off some late sluggishness to dispatch No. 5 Clemson 80-76 on Friday night in the Midwest Regional semifinal at CenturyLink Center to put themselves in the Elite Eight for the third-consecutive year with a date with Duke on Sunday.

This year has often been about what this Kansas team couldn’t do after the losses of Frank Mason and Josh Jackson and then the ineligibility of Billy Preston. Early-season losses to Washington and Arizona State, the latter at the usually impregnable Allen Fieldhouse, were the proof this Kansas team might finally be the one not to win a Big 12 title. Then Texas Tech beat the hell out of them in Lawrence and it looked like the streak was on its way to over.

Devonte Graham was a poor imitation of Mason.  Svi Mykhailiuk was too timid and inconsistent. Udoka Azubuike was foul-prone and unproven. The supporting cast was a rung or two lower than a team with national-championship aspirations could carry.

Those problems are real. Those issues are troublesome. Those deficiencies are critical.

In spite of it all, Kansas won the Big 12 by two games, ripped through the conference tournament and are on the doorstep of playing for a national championship.

Bill Self’s worst team has a chance to be the country’s best.

“I’m so proud of our team because I think of all the teams that we’ve had here, this would be the team that everyone would have thought would not be in this game,” Self said Friday. “And so, hey, we’re in this game. We’ve got a legitimate shot to go to San Antonio.

“You prepare the whole year to play in this game. So I think we’ll play with no what-ifs. I think we’ll let it go. I think we’ll be as loose as we can be and still you’ve got to make shots.

“I’d like nothing more than to take my team this year to San Antonio and let them experience what the best of the best is in college basketball.”

The key to Kansas’ season has been embracing its shortcomings. Azubuike is the only big they’ve got that can give them both scoring and defense consistently. It’s a 180 for a program that’s featured Thomas Robinson, Cole Aldrich, the Morris Twins and Jeff Withey. Kansas almost always plays through its bigs. This year, they’re playing around one.

“I never played like this,” Self said. “It just goes against the grain from the teams that we’ve had in the past, but these guys have figured it out. They’ve learned how to play through it, and we’ve had unbelievable guard play and unbelievable leadership from our vets, and had some guys have some outstanding seasons.

“There’s less margin for error but these guys have certainly rallied around that.”

Kansas’ shooting is why they’re in the Elite Eight. The Jayhawks are 10th nationally with a 40.5 3-point shooting percentage. It’s Azubuiike, though, that makes so many of those good looks possible. The man makes 77.5 percent of his shots from the floor. That demands defensive attention. And that means defenders aren’t shadowing shooters.

“He’s a guy we can throw the ball into and he can go get a basket,” Malik Newman, who had a team-high 17 points Friday, said. “I think his passing is underrated. That’s another big key for him. When we’re able to throw it in and the defense collapses on him, he is able to kick it out and find an open shooter.

“It just opens up the whole game for us.”

It’s opened up a whole world of possibility for Kansas and a world of hurt for their opponents.

“Most teams have somebody that you can kind of scratch off,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell mused. “So one of the reasons they’re so hard to guard is they’ve got a center that scores if he catches it deep, and he’s bigger than everybody on the floor so he does get position. And then you’ve got guards that can all make shots and drive by you and they play with great spacing.”

Now, Kansas isn’t full of slouches. Graham was the Big 12 player of the year, Azubuike’s talent was apparent even if it was raw before injury robbed him of a freshman year. Mykhailiuk is all-Big 12 while Malik Newman and LaGerald Vick were heralded prospects. Still, there’s not a lottery pick among them. No Andrew Wiggins or Ben McLemore or Josh Jackson. The fit is strange and the depth is zilch.

All that has eroded Kansas’ wiggle room for mistakes, but when they operate within their comfort zone, it can make for great offense. The first two minutes of the second half when the Jayhawks hit back-to-back 3s was a thing of beauty, ball movement and shot making. It was the blueprint for a buzzsaw.

Maybe Self’s worst team is pretty damn good.

Keenan Evans closes strong (again) as Texas Tech advances past Purdue to Elite Eight

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BOSTON — Second Half Keenan struck again on Friday night.

Keenan Evans scored 12 of his 16 points and handed out three of his four assists in the final 10 minutes of the game as No. 3-seed Texas Tech held off No. 2-seed Purdue, 78-65. Zach Smith and Justin Gray paced Tech early, combining for 26 points that helped the Red Raiders build a lead that reached as high as nine before Evans went into takeover mode. Zhaire Smith added 13 points of his own, while the Red Raiders forced 17 Purdue turnovers.

And with that, Texas Tech will to advance past the Sweet 16 for the first time since … ever.

This is uncharted territory for for the Red Raider program that has never been to an Elite Eight and will be playing for their first-ever trip to the Final Four.

“To build a program there has to be a lot of firsts so myself and Keenan have only been together for two years, so we’ve never been to the Elite Eight in two years,” Beard said. “That’s more accurate.”

It’s also fitting, really.

Because it more or less sums up what makes this Texas Tech program so interesting.

On a night where their three-leading scorers never really got going, the Red Raiders advanced on the stretch of two things: Their defense, and the fact that they can stay in a game on the nights when their best players don’t play their best.

With just over 10 minutes left in the game, when Purdue was getting ready to make one final run at advancing to the Elite Eight, is when Evans took over. And there’s no question about it: He closed out this game. Everything that the Red Raiders got on the offensive end of the floor came through Evans down the stretch, even the stuff that doesn’t show up in the score book; for example, the Red Raiders executed a pick-and-roll to perfection with three minutes left, but the lob that Evans threw to Zach Smith ended up as a missed dunk that Zhaire Smith was able to put right back in. Evans doesn’t get the assist, but he made that bucket possible.

I saw all that to say this: With 10 minutes left, the three leading scorers in the Tech program — Evans, Zhaire Smith and Jarrett Culver — were a combined 4-for-16 from the floor with just 11 points.

And Texas Tech held a 50-41 lead. If Evans is Texas Tech’s closer, this was a save that he earned with a three-run lead.

“It’s our identity,” Beard said. “We have a lot of faith in our whole roster, we use a lot of different guys and tonight was fitting. That is the way we have played all year.”

If that doesn’t sum up Chris Beard’s program, I don’t know what does.

No. 2 Duke goes inside to defeat No. 11 Syracuse

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OMAHA, Neb. — Second-seeded Duke made just 5 of its 26 3-point attempts against No. 11 Syracuse on Friday in the two ACC programs’ Sweet 16 matchup.

So the Blue Devils just went inside.

Marvin Bagley III and Wendel Carter, Jr. both had big games to help the Blue Devils outlast the Orange, 69-65, to put themselves in the Elite Eight on Sunday against top-seeded Kansas.

“This was a heck of a game,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “I thought both teams played their hearts out. A great game to win, a really difficult game to lose, because Syracuse played such winning basketball.”

While Duke couldn’t beat the zone that took Syracuse from the First Four to the second weekend with its outside shooting, its two big underclassmen provided plenty of production. Bagley had 22 points and eight rebounds while Carter added 14 points and 12 boards.

“It was a hard fought game. We knew they were going to compete every second of the game,” Bagley said, “and we just tried to compete as well. We had a little point in the game where we started turning it over, and things weren’t going our way, but we stayed tough mentally and we finished it out.”

Bagley was on the receiving end of a number of lobs behind the Syracuse zone that helped the Duke offense stay out in front.

“We practiced it all week,” Bagley said. “We try to look for different things and different ways to score against that zone, and we did a great job at that and got the win.”

Tyus Battle had 19 points to lead the Orange. Oshae Brissett added 15 points and seven boards while Marek Dolezaj had 13 points.

Syracuse shot 53.8 percent from the floor in the second half while Duke shot 36.4 percent (and 11.1 percent from distance), but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Orange’s 16 turnovers or Duke’s 17 second-chance points.

Grayson Allen had 15 points and eight assists for Duke. The Blue Devils had 32 points in the paint.

Duke will now turn its attention to the Jayhawks, who defeated Clemson earlier Friday to make it to their third-straight Elite Eight. The game will tipoff Sunday at 5:05 p.m. (ET).

“We just got to come out ready to play from the beginning,” Bagley said. “We were kind of slacking in this game. I think we’ll be ready for that game. Everybody’s going to be up. We should be coming out strong.”

VIDEO: Allen-to-Bagley oop beats the Syracuse zone

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Usually, you’ve got to shoot a team out of a zone.

Duke might be able to dunk Syracuse out of it.

Grayson Allen and Marvin Bagley connected for a beautiful alley-oop Friday in the second half of the Blue Devils’ Sweet 16 contest against the Orange.

That will work as a zone-buster.

VIDEO: Duke slaps the floor on defense…while playing zone

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Slapping the floor on defense has its advocates and its detractors.

Some applaud the old-school, hard-nosed nature of putting hand to floor. For others, its a bit corny.

What everyone agrees on is that you don’t drop a floor slap if you’re playing zone.

Unless you’re Duke, apparently.

Presumably, the whole point of slapping the floor is to psyche yourself and intimidate your opponent with aggressive man-to-man defense. Not sit-back-and-guard-this-spot-whether-there’s-a-guy-there-or-not defense.

C’mon, Duke. You’re making it too easy for your haters.