Late Night Snacks: UMass wins at the buzzer again

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Games of the Day

1. UMass 77, Providence 75: For the second time in three days, UMass came away with a solid win at the buzzer. On Tuesday, it was a three from Sampson Carter with one second left to beat Harvard. On Thursday, it was a last second tip-in from Terrell Vinson that locked things up for the Minutemen in the first round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. UMass head coach Derek Kellogg will take the wins, but I don’t think he would mind if UMass started collecting them in more dominating fashion. “I’m going to turn 80 before I turn 40 with these last second wins,” he told ESPN after the game.

2. Villanova 89, Purdue 81 OT: It was a back and forth affair in the semifinals of the 2KSports Classic at Madison Square Garden. Purdue put a 24-8 run on the Wildcats to erase a double digit deficit in the second half, but Villanova answered by outscoring Purdue 9-2 in the final minute of regulation to force the extra period. Purdue may have been hosed, however. A questionable Flagrant Foul called on DJ Byrd, which happened to be his fifth, game Nova two shots and the ball when they were down four with 43.8 seconds left.

3. Southern Miss 62, Georgia 60 OT: Georgia dug themselves a major hole early on, but managed to force overtime, where the Golden Eagles won the game on a breakaway layup from Dwayne Davis with 31 seconds left. It’s Georgia’s second loss this week to a team outside the BCS conferences; they lost to Youngstown State at home on Monday.

Important Outcomes

1. Illinois State 86, Drexel 84 OT: The Redbirds are looking more and more like a team that will be capable of sticking their nose in with Northern Iowa and Wichita State as a competitor to Creighton in the Missouri Valley, handing Drexel their second overtime loss in as many games. Jackie Carmichael followed up a 27 point performance in the opener with 21 on Thursday.

2. St. Mary’s 67, Utah State 58: Matthew Dellavedova and Stephen Holt combined to score 37 points as the Gaels went into the Spectrum and knocked off the Aggies. USU got just seven points from Preston Medlin on 3-11 shooting, but it was promising to see big man Jarrad Shaw go for 17 points and 15 boards.

3. No. 12 Arizona 72, UTEP 51: The Wildcats were impressive in knocking off a solid UTEP team at home. Mark Lyons went for 17, but the numbers to keep an eye on are Sean Miller’s three freshmen bigs — Grant Jerrett, Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski — who combined for 24 points and 18 boards, nine of which came on the offensive end.

Starred

1. Pierre Jackson, Baylor, and Ryan Anderson, Boston College: Jackson had another terrific outing for the Bears, posting 31 points on 10-15 shooting to go along with seven assists, but the name to know coming out of this game is BC’s Ryan Anderson. He had 25 points and six boards against Baylor’s talented front line and looked like an all-ACC caliber performer. He may be able to make the Eagles relevant in the ACC this season.

2. Ben McLemore, Kansas: The final score of the Jayhawk’s 69-55 win over Chattanooga is deceiving; they were down eight at the half and needed a 27-4 run in the second half to pull away. But the important note to take out of this game is that Ben McLemore had 25 points, just a game after Bill Self essentially said that No. 7 Kansas needs him to learn how to be a star. His two dunks sparked the run. Oh, and he dislocated his finger twice in the second half.

3. Jordan Adams and Norman Powell, UCLA: A game after struggling to hold off UC-Irvine in overtime, the Bruins looked the part of being the No. 13 team in the country. They beat James Madison 100-70 and were up 63-29 at the half, so there’s plenty of love to go around, but Adams and Powell were the names to note. They combined for 52 points on 17-24 shooting and 8-11 from three. It was the third straight game that Adams went for 20, the first Bruin to do that since 2007. If Shabazz Muhammad doesn’t get cleared, than maybe UCLA will still have some scoring pop on the wing.

Struggled

1. Auburn: They lost 79-59 to Murray State, and the score doesn’t quite indicate the whipping the Tigers took. They were down 36-11 at one point.

2. Lorenzo Brown, NC State: The Wolfpack beat Penn State 72-55, but Brown was just 1-10 from the floor.

3. DePaul: Losing to Gardner-Webb at home by 12 is not something a Big East school should be doing.

Three Facts

1. Jud Dillard is good: There is a lot of star power in the OVC — Isaiah Canaan, Robert Covington, Kerron Johnson — so no one would blame you if you’ve never heard of Tennessee Tech’s Jud Dillard. You might want to remember the name, however. He had 34 points and 12 boards in a win over Coastal Carolina and is averaging 29.5 points and 10.5 boards this season.

2. Trevor Mbakwe hasn’t done much: Mbakwe has come off the bench three times this year. He’s yet to play more than 15 minutes in a game this season and has three game totals of 15 points and 12 boards. Oh, and Minnesota is 3-0 with every win coming by at least 26 points.

3a. JP Olukemi might be done for the year: After going through a long process to be given an extra semester of eligibility, Oklahoma State’s Olukemi crumpled in a heap after his knee buckled in an overtime win against Akron. It looked really, really bad.

3b. Larry Drew is actually good?: It’s three games into the season and he has 25 assists and just five turnovers. That’s, dare I say it, Kendall Marshall-like.

Other notable finals

– Nebraska 50, Valpo 48

– Colorado 67, Dayton 57

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

No. 2 Michigan State overcomes 27-point deficit to stun Northwestern

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Michigan State overcame a 27-point deficit on Saturday afternoon to beat Northwestern, 65-60, for a memorable Big Ten road win.

Trailing by 22 points at halftime and by 18 points with 14 minutes left, the comeback for the Spartans was slow and methodical at first, as Michigan State’s defense slowly suffocated the Wildcat offense.

And when the jumpers started falling with a Josh Langford (eight points) three with a little over 13 minutes left, the Spartans made their big push.

Sophomore point guard Cassius Winston was a major catalyst in the comeback for Michigan State as he buried multiple top-of-the-key threes and pull-up jumpers to help give the Spartans a new-found confidence. Winston finished with 17 points, eight rebounds and seven assists as he came through in a major way in the second half. With star Miles Bridges (eight points) battling foul trouble in the second half, Winston and other Michigan State role players stepped up in a big way. Big man Nick Ward grinded to 15 points and a lot of key stops on the defensive end. Matt McQuaid knocked down some big shots while taking a charge and playing well on both ends. Jaren Jackson had the go-ahead three-point play to finally give the Spartans their first lead.

This was a team comeback in which Michigan State (26-3, 14-2) used the sum of its parts to slowly dismantle Northwestern. It was one of the more impressive comebacks in recent memory. Doing commentary for Fox, Steve Lavin said this was one of the biggest one-half swings in his 30 years of being around Division I basketball.

While beating Northwestern isn’t some sort of monumental achievement this season, Michigan State didn’t have a huge comeback win this season. The biggest deficit that the Spartans had overcome to win this season was only 13 points. Now we know that Michigan State is capable of making a comeback from a very large deficit as they showed they’re capable of coming through with the offensive firepower. And Bridges, the team’s leading scorer, only had two field goals.

This is the Michigan State we’ve wanted to consistently see this season. Michigan State getting stops is nothing new. The Spartans held Northwestern scoreless for over 11 minutes at one point in the second half as the Wildcats were brutal shooting the ball in the first half. But if Michigan State’s offense gets rolling like that because of balanced inside/outside contributions from role players? That’s the Spartans everyone keeps hoping will show up in March.

No. 23 Oklahoma loses fifth-straight, Trae Young at risk of missing NCAA tournament?

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Trae Young has hit the freshman wall, and there are few signs that he is ready to break through to the other side.

Let’s start with the good news, I guess: In today’s 77-66 home loss to a Texas team that entered the day tied for eighth in the Big 12 standings, Young finally snapped his streak of 20 missed three-pointers. After starting off Saturday 0-for-4 after missing all nine of his threes at Texas Texas and his last seven threes at Iowa State, Young hit three of his last six triples.

He also made all nine of his free throws, extending that streak to nearly 30 consecutive makes, while scoring 26 points and committing fewer than four turnovers in a game for the first time since December 8th.

Those are all good things!

The problem, however, is that they came in Oklahoma’s fifth straight loss, their sixth loss in the last seven games and their eighth loss in their last ten games. The Sooners have been dreadful for more than a month, and it’s not going to get any easier; they play at Kansas on Monday.

The question “why?” is pretty simple, too. Young is struggling and the rest of the pieces on the roster just have not been good enough to be able to pick up the slack. Brady Manek is a spot-up shooter that has struggling shooting the ball. Kameron McGusty went from being a player that looked like a potential all-Big 12 guy last season to Just A Guy this season. Christian James hasn’t been bad, and Jamuni McNeace and Khadeem Lattin hold their own in the paint, but by and large Young’s supporting cast has not been providing enough support while Young has been in this slump.

The question of whether or not Oklahoma can turn this around is not quite so simple unless you know the reason for Young’s struggles. Has he simply found himself in a place where the grind of a full season of college basketball and two months of Big 12 play — a league where every team has a good-to-great player at the point — has worn him down physically and mentally, or has the blueprint for how to beat the Sooners become too prevalent?

Or is it all of the above?

If Young is gassed, that’s an issue that, in theory, can be solved.

If the Sooners, are a flawed roster that cannot function or win games when opponents sell out to stop their superstar freshman, that isn’t as easy to deal with. Rest can solve the former. You’re not solving the latter, you’re not bring more talent into the program, while Young is still on campus.

At 16-10 overall and 6-8 in the Big 12, Oklahoma still looks like a pretty safe bet to reach the NCAA tournament. For starters, they were listed as a No. 4 seed just six days ago when the Selection Committee unveiled their first iteration of the top 16 seeds. They also have six Quadrant 1 wins and no bad losses to their name. Their won-loss record is a casualty of the Big 12 meat-grinder.

But that doesn’t mean they are safe. If they finish up the Big 12 season going 1-3 — which is feasible given how they’ve played the last month and their remaining opponents: at Kansas, Kansas State, at Baylor, Oklahoma State — then they’ll be 7-11 in the league. No one in more than 25 years has reached the NCAA tournament with a league record four games under .500.

The Sooners aren’t doomed yet.

But it is time for them to figure their issues out.

PHOTOS: Miami, Syracuse wear shirts honoring Florida shooting victims

Photo via Mike Waters, Syracuse.com
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Syracuse is playing in Miami on Saturday, the first game that the Hurricanes have played at home since the shooting at Parkland, Florida’s, Stoneman Douglas High School.

Both teams wore warmup shirts honoring the victims of the shooting prior to the game:

Parkland and Coral Gables are about 50 miles apart, but both towns are suburbs with the same Miami-Fort Lauderdale metro area.

St. John’s guard Lovett to leave school, turn pro

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Marcus Lovett announced on Saturday morning that he will be leaving St. John’s to pursue a professional career.

This decision doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Lovett, who averaged 14.9 points through the first seven games of the season, was ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury despite reports that he was healthy enough to play.

According to the New York Post, Lovett was not even enrolled in school for the spring semester.

Lovett spent three seasons in New York with the Johnnies and played less than a year and a half.

Yale’s Makai Mason expected to play vs. Harvard

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For the first time since the 2016 NCAA tournament, Yale basketball fans are going to have a chance to see Makai Mason play for the Bulldogs.

A star point guard that is already committed to play for Baylor as a grad transfer in 2018-19, Mason missed all of the 2016-17 season and the 2017-18 season to date with a series of foot injuries.

As a sophomore, Mason averaged 16.0 points and 3.8 assists for the Bulldogs as they won the Ivy League and knocked off Baylor in the first round of the NCAA tournament as a No. 12 seed. He had 31 points in that win.

The Elis are currently 5-4 in the Ivy League after beating Dartmouth on Friday night. With Mason back in the fold, they seem like a safe bet to get to the Ivy League tournament and a contender to win it all.

The way that Ivy League rules are written, players are not allowed to redshirt, even if they are injured for the season. Since Mason was in classes as a junior, during the season that he missed, this year is the last year that he would be allowed to play for an Ivy League program.