Shockers overcome Havoc with toughness in 53-51 win at VCU

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RICHMOND — When it comes to sloganeering, VCU simply has it better. For the Rams, it starts before tip-off, with a huge, billowing banner held up by the entire student section, that reads “Havoc Lives Here”. It’s a credo embraced by the entire program. At Wichita State, they favor MTXE, which stands for Mental Toughness Extra Effort. Nice philosophy, but it’s hell on a bumper sticker.

“It certainly is Havoc,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said about VCU’s pressure defense after the game. “It’s not something we can replicate in practice. But you can get opportunities from the press.”

In the end, Marshall’s MTXE philosophy trumped Havoc, and the Shockers went home with a hard-fought 53-51 road win.

The lead changed hands several times throughout a game that turned into a back-and-forth rock fight rather than the track meet many expected. Richmond’s Juvonte Reddic took heroic measures to keep his team alive, scoring 22 points to go with 10 rebounds, 2 steals and a block. His points came anywhere from 5 to 15 feet away from the basket, and Wichita State had no answer for him on defense.

Shocker big men Carl Hall and Cleanthony Early consistently made the most of inside position, taking the ball inside to combine for 26 points and 17 boards for the winning team.

Wichita State had some horses in the backcourt in this meeting. Malcolm Armstead, the former Oregon Duck, drilled a cool-headed step-back jumper with 3.8 seconds left in the second half. Marshall described the simple play that provided the winning margin for WSU.

“It’s called the See play – give the ball to Malcom and everybody get out of the way and see what he can get you. He wanted it, and I was smart enough to listen.”

There was controversy at the end of the game, as Reddic drove toward the bucket and put up a layup that rimmed out. The ball was seemingly touched by Shocker Carl Hall while it was on the cylinder, but referees awarded two free throws to Reddic instead of calling goaltending. His miss sealed the loss for the home team – a surprising result, given that the Rams had met, and beaten the Shockers twice in recent years; the latest coming in the NCAA tournament’s second round earlier this year.

Smart hesitated to speak openly about the final play, considering his words carefully before concluding “They said it was not a reviewable play. A game like this doesn’t really come down to just one play.”

The Shockers have seen more of the Rams than any of the current A-10 teams, and they’ve provided a workable, if difficult to replicate, blueprint for dealing with Havoc.

“We had to not turn the ball over, keep them out of transition, set up our press every time,” said Marshall. “We wanted to play North/South, they want you to play East/West. We scored against their pressure in crucial times.”

Marshall left the door open for another rematch between the two squads, saying “I didn’t feel it could be a rivalry until we won one. Maybe now we can [talk about it].”

Virginia, Seton Hall, Rhode Island, Vandy in NIT Tip-Off

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NEW YORK (AP) — Virginia and Vanderbilt will meet in one semifinal of the NIT Preseason Tip-Off on Thanksgiving Day at Barclays Center.

Rhode Island and Seton Hall face off in the other semifinal with the winners meeting on Friday, Nov. 24.

This is the third straight year the Tip-Off has been held at Barclays Center. Eventual NCAA champion Villanova won the event in 2015. All games will be televised on ESPNU.

Non-bracketed teams in the NIT Season Tip-Off who will play games at campus sites are: Austin Peay, Fairleigh Dickinson, Monmouth, Oakland City and UNC Asheville.

Miles Bridges explain why he returned to Michigan State

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Miles Bridges changed the landscape of the 2017-18 college basketball season on April 13.

The Michigan State forward spurned the NBA for another year in East Lansing. The decision not only meant that Bridges was a frontrunner for national player of the year, but solidified the Spartans as a national title contender.

But Bridges’ choice to return was still puzzling to many. The 6-foot-7 forward was projected as a lottery pick. Bridges explained his decision to Mike Decourcy of Sporting News in a story published on Thursday.

“He says, ‘You know what, Coach? I want to get better. I don’t want to be in the D-League. I’ve got buddies that are, and I just want to make sure when I go, I’m ready,’ ” Izzo recalled to Sporting News. “I looked at him and I said, ‘Done deal.’ For me, that was a done deal. It was a reasonable, sensible argument.”

Agents, friends, reporters, scouts, acquaintances, fans, strangers and family members — oh and, as we said, coaches — all had one opinion about how Bridges should spend the next year of his life. Miles had another, opposing, viewpoint.

Bridges told Decourcy that support came from his teammates, many of whom were returning to the team as well. Assuming the backcourt of Cassius Winston and Josh Langford make a leap forward, as well as incoming freshman Jaren Jackson providing an immediate impact, the Spartans’ title hopes could become a reality.

Bridges averaged 16.9 points, 8.3 boards, 2.1 assists and 1.5 blocks as a freshman at Michigan State. He’s rated as the No. 5 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft by DraftExpress.

Four conferences sign on to basketball officiating alliance

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Four more Division I conferences will join a men’s basketball officiating alliance formed last year by the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big East, the Atlantic 10 and Colonial Athletic Association.

The Big South, the Ivy League, the Northeast and the Patriot League are joining ahead of the 2017-18 season, according to announcements from the leagues Thursday. The alliance launched last summer for conferences to work together on officiating matters and enhance training, development, recruitment, retention and feedback for officials.

John Cahill, the Big East’s supervisor of officials, and Bryan Kersey, the ACC’s coordinator of men’s basketball officiating, will continue to lead the alliance operations.

ACC commissioner John Swofford says the new additions to the alliance “provide an even greater opportunity to build chemistry and quality” across the officiating ranks.

North Carolina to unveil national championship banner in October

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The latest addition to the rafters of the Dean Dome will be unveiled this fall.

North Carolina will raise the banner for its 2017 national championship on Oct. 13, according to a report from Inside Carolina.

The event will coincide with the Tar Heels’ “Late Night With Roy” event that marks the public start to the season for the program and also serves, like many other top programs, as a recruiting tool.

North Carolina won its sixth NCAA national championship in April by defeating Gonzaga, 71-65, in Phoenix to avenge its last-second loss in the title game to Villanova the year prior. It was the Tar Heels’ first championship since 2009.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball highlights

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It was the most anticipated matchup of the summer.

Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball.

People were turned away at the door – and LeBron James reportedly came and went – as the gym reached capacity for SC Supreme’s 104-92 victory over the Big Ballers. That’s Williamson over Ball (LaMelo and LaVar).

The game was mostly spectacle, and you can see it’s top moments right here.