The Morning Mix

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Another full day of hoops is on tap. The preseason tournaments are in full swing, which means plenty of quality non-conference games taking place throughout the day. If you have saved up your “sick days”, today would be a good time to use one.
 
 
Friday’s Top Games:
10:30 a.m. – Oklahoma State vs. Tennessee
12:30 p.m. – Colorado vs. No. 16 Baylor
1:30 p.m. – Mercer vs. George Mason
2:30 p.m. – Dayton vs. Boston College
4:00 p.m. – Illinois-Chicago @ New Mexico
5:00 p.m. – Massachusetts vs. No. 6 North Carolina State
5:30 p.m. – St. John’s vs. Murray State
6:30 p.m. – Wake Forest vs. No.23 UConn
7:00 p.m. – BYU vs. Florida State
7:00 p.m. – LIU-Brooklyn @ Maryland
7:00 p.m. – UNC-Wilmington @ Ohio
7:30 p.m. – Manhattan @ Harvard
8:00 p.m. – California @ Denver
9:30 p.m. – No. 20 Notre Dame vs. St. Joseph’s
11:00 p.m. – No. 11 North Carolina @ Long Beach State
11:00 p.m. – Vanderbilt @ Oregon
12:30 a.m. – Illinois @ Hawaii
 
 
Read of the Day: Gary Parrish details why the six minutes Luke Cothron played while a member of New Orleans basketball program will haunt him forever. Read it. No seriously. This is one you have to read. (Eye on College Basketball)
 
 
Top Stories:
It’s time the NCAA addresses the rising number of transfer in college basketball: Brian A. Shactman, host of CNBC’s SportsBiz is among the many who believe the NCAA needs to step in an control the increasing number of college basketball players who transfer to different programs.

The Alabama Trevors (Lacy and Releford) led the Crimson Tide to semifinal win over Oregon State: Anthony Grant saw a significant amount of his team’s production walk out of the door at the end of last season. But if Trevor Lacy and Trevor Releford can do on a nightly basis what they did on Thursday, the Crimson Tide should be fine this season.

Oklahoma State wins despite losing J.P. Olukemi to knee injury: Not many teams have been plagued by the injury bug as bad as Oklahoma State the last few months. Senior forward J.P. Olukemi is the latest Cowboy to go down to an injury, which took place during their Thursday win over Akron. Olukemi had already been granted a fifth year of eligibility because of an injury he sustained last season.

Freshman guard Ryan Archidiacono comes up big in Villanova’s overtime win over Purdue: The freshman guard missed his entire senior season of high school because of a back injury and despite making several freshman mistakes, came up huge against Purdue on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden

Drexel now 0-2 following home loss to Illinois State: The Dragons were favored to win the CAA this season but have struggled early on, dropping the first two games of the season. The two losses however, have both come against strong opponents is both Kent State and Illinois State.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping:
– An arrest warrant has been issued for former Tennessee women’s basketball star Chamique Holdsclaw. The 3-time national champion is being cited for aggravated assault, criminal damage to property and reckless conduct (Atlanta Journal Constitution)

– Karl Towns, the top center in the class of 2013, may reclassify to 2014, but will still likely end up at Kentucky (Kentucky Kernel)

– Oregon received word from the NCAA that Rice-transfer Arsalan Kazemi is eligible to play for the Ducks this season (The Oregonian)

– Kentucky guard Ryan Harrow is still dealing with flu-like symptoms and he is unlikely to play against Lafayette today (The Sporting News)

– Clemson freshman Jaron Blossomgame will take a redshirt season due to a leg injury he suffered in the Spring (Greenfield Daily Reporter)

– Evansville’s Colt Ryan, the teams go-to player in all regards, suffered a hip injury during the Aces’ 56-50 loss against Buffalo last night. Ryan’s status for their Friday night game against Yale is up in the air (Mid-Major Madness)

– Dantiel Daniels will return to action for Southern Illinois tonight, after sitting out the last few days with a groin injury (Mid-Major Madness)

– Gus Leeper of Arkansas-Little Rock will miss the next four weeks because of a reoccurring knee injury (Burn The Horse)
 
 
Observations & Analysis:
– UMass has now won two games this season, and both have come via the buzzer-beater variety (ESPN)

– Eight months after engaging in one of the more memorable games of the NCAA tournament, Baylor and Colorado meet again in tournament-play (The Dagger)

– Kansas needed a strong second half effort in order to get past a tough Chattanooga team, and Billy Self’s halftime speech may have made the difference (KUsports.com)

– One of Kansas’ best weapons against Chattanooga was Ben McLemore, who put on a highlight reel performance featuring five huge dunks (KUsports.com)

– Michigan State freshman Denzel Valentine has all the makings of a home-runner hitter, similar to former-Spartan Durrell Summers (Digital Sports)

– With so much size in the frontcourt, Louisville is going to have to get away from being a perimeter-oriented team (Rush The Court)

– Ryan Fagan put together an excellent weekend planner for all the preseason tournament games taking place (The Sporting News)

– American University forward Stephen Lumpkins is glad to be back on the court after spending last season on the diamond (College Chalk Talk)

– Indiana guard Jordy Hulls eclipsed the 1,000-carrer points mark in the Hoosier’s blowout victory over Sam Houston State, but needed some help from Tom Crean in order to get the ovation he deserved (Inside the Hall)

– The Bradley Braves are still a work in progress, but the team is much better than what the early home attendance numbers indicate (Peoria Journal-Star)
 
 
Video(s) of the Day:
The Drexel Dragons have now dropped their first two games of the season after being named the preseason favorites to win the CAA. Last night the Dragons lost to a underatted Illinois State Redbirds squad in overtime at home, 86-84(CSN Philly)

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
 
 
Dunk of the Day:
You should probably get familiar with High Point freshman John Brown. I have a feeling we will be seeing him again sometime soon (Ballin’ is a Habit)


 
 
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Bates-Diop, No. 22 Ohio State top Minnesota 67-49

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NEW YORK (AP) — Keita Bates-Diop had 17 points and 12 rebounds, leading No. 22 Ohio State over Minnesota 67-49 Saturday for its seventh straight win.

The game was part of a two-sport Big Ten doubleheader at Madison Square Garden. At night, Minnesota and Michigan State were set to meet in hockey.

The Buckeyes (17-4, 8-0 Big Ten) used a 24-2 burst to overcome a 10-point deficit midway through the first half. They stayed in control, and went on to match last season’s win total.

Kaleb Wesson added 15 points and eight rebounds for Ohio State.

Amir Coffey, who missed five games because of a shoulder injury, scored 11 points for the Golden Gophers (14-8, 3-6). Jordan Murphy had 13.

Maye, Pinson help No. 15 UNC beat Georgia Tech 80-66

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Luke Maye had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and No. 15 North Carolina beat Georgia Tech 80-66 on Saturday.

Theo Pinson added 11 points and 10 rebounds, and Joel Berry II and Cameron Johnson finished with 16 points apiece to help the Tar Heels (16-4, 5-2 Atlantic Coast Conference).

They shot 42 percent and dominated the glass, building a 46-25 rebounding advantage and scoring 26 second-chance points to Georgia Tech’s four.

Jose Alvarado scored 17 points and hit four 3-pointers, including one that pulled the Yellow Jackets to 70-62 with about 3½ minutes left. But he fouled Berry on the Tar Heels’ ensuing possession — and then stepped over him, earning a technical foul with 3:21 to play.

Berry hit three of the four free throws he was awarded to put North Carolina’s lead into double figures to stay. The Tar Heels were 19 of 24 from the line, while Georgia Tech was just 3 of 6.

Josh Okogie led Georgia Tech (10-9, 3-3) with 18 points, while Ben Lammers and Abdoulaye Gueye each had 12. The Yellow Jackets were just 5 of 18 from 3-point range.

BIG PICTURE

Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets had won four in a row before this two-game run against top-15 opponents. After suffocating against No. 2 Virginia’s ACC-best defense, Georgia Tech couldn’t keep up with North Carolina’s fast-paced offense, which averages nearly 83 points — especially after one stretch in which it had two field goals in 10-plus minutes.

North Carolina: The Tar Heels’ winning streak remains intact, but Berry had a rough day until his free-throw bonanza all but iced it. The most outstanding player at the Final Four finished just 3 of 17 from the field and was just 1 of 8 from long range.

VIDEO: Ted Valentine apologizes to Joel Berry for incident

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Two weeks ago, during a North Carolina loss at Florida State, official Ted Valentine missed an obvious foul committed on Joel Berry that resulted in a turnover.

When Berry went to ask TV Teddy about the no-call, the veteran referee turned his back on Berry.

Literally.

Today, prior to Georgia Tech’s game at North Carolina which Valentine officiated, he apologized to Berry for the previous incident:

“He was just telling me that he apologized for what he did,” Berry said after the game. “That’s all he said, just apologized and made sure that there was nothing wrong between us and I told him it was all good, it was in the heat of the moment.”

Xavier’s win over Seton Hall shows they’re still a team to be reckoned with

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J.P. Macura had arguably the best game of his career as the senior guard helped will No. 11 Xavier to a 73-64 road win over No. 19 Seton Hall in the Big East on Saturday.

Putting together a strong effort on both ends of the floor, Macura finished with 27 points, five rebounds and three assists as he punctuated a Musketeers comeback with a monster tip dunk in the game’s final minutes. This was arguably the biggest win of the year for Xavier — the first road win against a top-25 team and a comeback after losing for a sizable chunk of the contest.

Macura’s efforts on both ends as the star in this one proved how dangerous Xavier can be and why they’re still a force to be reckoned with for the rest of the season. Already hovering in the range of a No. 2-3 seed, the Musketeers should elevate into the top ten of the national rankings after another bloodbath week for the best teams in college basketball.

And Xavier is showing plenty of balance by having multiple players who can take over a game. Senior Trevon Bluiett (15 points) is the All-American candidate who has often been celebrated for much of his career but he doesn’t need to play to his best for the Musketeers to beat strong opponents.

Macura seems to feed off of certain situations and the Seton Hall home crowd chanting at him must have done something to help ignite a big performance. Diving for loose balls and knocking down big shots, Macura made plays all over the floor as he’s capable of taking over a game when Xavier needs him.

Others like Kerem Kanter on the interior, Kaiser Gates on the wing, or Naji Marshall running the wing also chip in plenty of points. This team can use balanced scoring with the heavy lifting being done by the hot hand as a dangerous concoction that’s tough for opponents to stop.

Just 10 days ago, Xavier was reeling following a loss to Providence and a blowout road loss to Villanova in Philadelphia. After a three-game winning streak that includes a blowout win over Creighton and a comeback win over Seton Hall on the road, the Musketeers are right back in the Big East title race.

The next month also proves to be fairly average from a scheduling standpoint for Xavier. There isn’t a ranked opponent on the schedule until a rematch with Seton Hall in Cincinnati on Feb. 14 and another big home game against No. 1 Villanova looms right after.

If Xavier continues to pile up wins — they do have tourney-caliber opponents in Butler, Creighton and Marquette — and sweep Seton Hall, then they’ll still get a home game against Villanova that could decide the conference. If both teams keep winning that could even be an important game for the No. 1 seed discussion.

Don’t look now, but Xavier is right back in the top ten and they could stick around for a bit.

Trae Young’s 48 points not enough as Oklahoma State upsets No. 4 Oklahoma

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Trae Young snapped out of his slump, tying a Big 12 record and setting a career-high by scoring 48 points, but No. 4 Oklahoma still fell in overtime on the road against in-state rival Oklahoma State.

The Cowboys jumped out to a 25-6 lead as Young continued to struggle early on in the first half. The Sooners trailed 42-30 at the break, but they were able to rally throughout the second half and only headed to overtime after Kendall Smith hit a three to tie the game at 73 with 6.2 seconds left. Young missed a three at the buzzer that would have won the game.

This win puts Oklahoma State squarely in the bubble conversation. The Cowboys are now 13-6 on the season. They’re only notable wins to date are Oklahoma and Florida State, but they’ll have plenty of chances to add to that résumé over the final two months of the season.

The loss is the second in a row and third in the last five games for the Sooners. All three of those games came on the road, where it has been nearly impossible to win in the Big 12.

Since Texas Tech won at Kansas and TCU won at Baylor on January 2nd, Big 12 road teams have gone 2-22. (At the time of this posting, TCU was trailing at Kansas State and Kansas was yet to tip off at home against Baylor.) Those two wins were Kansas at TCU and Kansas at West Virginia, meaning that for the last 18 days, the only team to win a road game in the Big 12 is the program that has won 13 straight Big 12 regular season title.

With that in mind, Young’s performance was … almost promising?

There is no shame in this loss. Yes, it puts the Sooners two games behind the Jayhawks in the conference title race, but winning the Big 12 regular season title isn’t their only goal this year, and for Oklahoma to come anywhere near reaching any of those goals, they’re going to need Trae Young to be better than he has been over the course of the last two weeks.

Young was in the second half on Saturday. Where the concern truly lies is with the supporting cast. Young shot 14-for-39 from the floor in this loss. The rest of the Oklahoma team shot 14-for-43. Young shot 8-for-20 from three. His teammates shot 2-for-15. Young made all 12 of his free throws. His teammates shot five and missed two. Young scored 48 points. Every other Sooner combined for 33.

As I wrote last week, part of the reason for Young’s struggles was because he was trying to do too much.

Maybe this is why.

It’s a catch-22.

Young needs to be able to trust that his teammates can make winning plays when defenses key on him and take him out of the game, but his supporting cast – Brady Manek, Christian James, Kameron McGusty – need to give him a reason to trust them.