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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VIDEO: Presbyterian’s Toss for Tots night earns technical foul for charity

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Presbyterian College held an cool and unique fundraiser this week.

In a game against Toccoa Falls, the Blue Hose held what will now be an annual Toss for Tots event. It was simple: after the first basket of their game on Thursday night, fans in attendance were asked to throw a stuffed animal onto the court, with every stuffed animal earmarked for a local elementary school.

Presbyterian ate the technical foul for the cause:

In total, 108 stuffed animals were “donated”.

The program had partnered with Bailey Elementary School, where there are 103 students. On Friday, the team delivered every student at the school one of the stuffed animals for Christmas. Head coach Dustin Kerns told NBC Sports that the team spent some times with the kids today as well, reading to the team and putting a smile on their face.

“Proud of our team,” Kerns, who is in his first year with the program, said. The win against Toccoa Falls was the fifth in a row for the Blue Hose, the first time the program has accomplished that since going to the Division I level. They are not 6-5 on the season after winning five games a year ago. “It was fun seeing out program give back.”

Presbyterian Sports Information Dept
Presbyterian Sports Information Dept

Rape charges will not be filed after last year’s incident in Kansas basketball dorm

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The Douglas County District Attorney’s office will not file sexual assault charges stemming from a report that a 16-year old girl was raped nearly a year ago in the Kansas basketball dorm.

“After an exhaustive review of all available reports, evidence and testimony, our office has determined there is not sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a sexual assault occurred,” District Attorney Charles Branson told the Lawrence Journal-World. “Unless additional evidence or reports come to light there is insufficient evidence to prove a crime was committed.”

What’s more, a suspect in the investigation was never actually identified, the paper reported. All five witnesses in the rape report were members of the men’s basketball team. The incident allegedly occurred in McCarthy Hall, which is a dorm where 40 Kansas students live, including all members of the men’s basketball team.

No. 8 Kentucky maturing, more challenges ahead for freshmen

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky coach John Calipari hasn’t hidden his frustration about the learning curve of his latest group of talented freshmen.

And while the No. 8 Wildcats are starting play better, they’re bracing for more challenges ahead.

Kentucky has struggled to put away opponents such as Utah Valley, Vermont, Troy and Harvard, efforts that players and Calipari acknowledge have contributed to a perceived lack of national respect. On the other hand, their lone loss — a 65-61 setback to Kansas — showed their ability to compete with college basketball’s heavyweights.

“It was one of the big games they got to see,” sophomore forward Wenyen Gabriel said. “The feeling and high intensity of the game, people watching, the fight in a big game like that, it really started to hit. Some players really started to get rolling off of that.

“We’re starting to get better as a team, individuals are getting better and we’re trending upward and trying to stay on that path.”

Kentucky (8-1) has begun running away from opponents, a promising trend it hopes to continue against upcoming Power Five conference foes.

Saturday’s home game against Virginia Tech (9-1) opens a daunting year-ending stretch for the Wildcats that includes next weekend’s matchup against UCLA in New Orleans; their annual in-state rivalry showdown against Louisville on Dec. 29; and their Southeastern Conference opener against Georgia on New Year’s Eve.

Though Calipari still hopes February will reveal Kentucky’s true strengths, he’s eager to see how the Wildcats stack up against the Atlantic Coast Conference Hokies, who lead the nation in scoring at 96.2 points per game and rank second in 3-point shooting at 47 percent.

“They have three or four guys that can absolutely make 3s,” Calipari said Friday while listing other Tech strengths. “They’re looking for layups and kicking it out for 3s and they’re getting to the line because of it.

“They’re not afraid. They go on the road in big games. Their home games are craziness. This is plugged into our schedule at a time where we need to learn about us, and we will.”

After a busy November without much practice time, Kentucky has welcomed a lighter December schedule that has allowed the Wildcats more time for workouts and to build chemistry.

The Wildcats have a long way to go, but games such as last week’s 93-76 win over Monmouth are encouraging for Kentucky fans.

Besides continuing their solid shooting — the Wildcats rank 22nd at nearly 51 percent — redshirt freshman guard Hamidou Diallo (23 points) and forward PJ Washington (20) posted career scoring highs against Monmouth. Kentucky also succeeded with a smaller lineup and has been effective playing a zone defense, which Calipari disdains but has used because of his team’s length.

“They’re as long as anybody in the country,” Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams said of Kentucky. “We’ll have to work really hard to get the same shots we’ve been getting.”

Kentucky remains short-handed with freshman forward Jarred Vanderbilt (foot) and guard Jemarl Baker (knee) sidelined by injuries. But the Wildcats appear to be developing depth.

They faced Monmouth without sophomore forward Sacha Killeya-Jones (sprained ankle) before starting guard Quade Green left in the second half after being poked in the eye. Both will be available against the Hokies and return knowing that the bench can fill the void after it combined for a season-high 27 points.

Granted, Monmouth is not a barometer for success against the likes of Tech, UCLA or Louisville. But considering Kentucky’s early struggles, any growth is welcome.

“We think highly of ourselves as a team,” Gabriel added. “I think we deserve more credit than we’re getting, so we’re going to go out there and try to earn it.”

Arizona State rising fast beyond the desert

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TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona State has taken college basketball by devilish hurricane, running and gunning its way into the national consciousness while igniting an often-blase local fan base.

Even the Sun Devils’ rivals down south have taken notice.

“Bobby Hurley, he’s en route right now to be one of the coaches talked about for national coach of the year because of what he’s done with their program,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said of the coach of his biggest rival. “He’s played a tough nonconference schedule. It shows some guts to play who they play. Their results speak really clearly. They might be underrated where they’re at right now.”

It wasn’t supposed to be like this, at least not yet.

The Sun Devils were expected to be better in Hurley’s third season in the desert. They returned three senior guards and finally got them some front-court help with the addition of Romello White and De’Quon Lake.

Kodi Justice, ASU’s 6-foot-5 guard, would no longer have to guard 7-footers. Arizona State would be better defensively and on the glass. The guards would not have to carry the entire load.

Even so, the Sun Devils were projected to be at the middle of the Pac-12, picked to finish sixth.

The big jump was supposed to be next season, when a trio of transfers will be eligible and could possibly lead the Sun Devils to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2014.

This breakneck band of Devils spun the narrative forward a year early.

Playing with a confidence bordering on cocky and with an offensive freedom afforded them by their coach, the Sun Devils have pushed their way into the national spotlight.

They made a blip by beating Xavier, No. 15 at the time but now No. 10 in the AP Top 25 . Blew the Musketeers away, actually, turning a 15-point first-half deficit into a 102-86 rout with an onslaught of fast breaks and 3-pointers.

Arizona State next moved into the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2008-09, coming in at No. 20 after the win over Xavier. The Sun Devils climbed four spots the next week.

The catapult launched last Sunday: Arizona State 95, No. 2 Kansas 85. At Allen Fieldhouse.

One of the biggest wins in program history led to another bit of history: A No. 5 ranking this week, ASU’s highest since reaching No. 3 in 1980-81. The Sun Devils even garnered the first No. 1 votes as a program. Five of ’em, actually.

Now Arizona State is 9-0 and being mentioned as a possible national-title contender. Yeah, really.

“I knew the success was going to be better, but you don’t expect necessarily when you look at a schedule to run the table up to this point, and beat the type of teams we’ve beaten,” Hurley said. “So you just appreciate it and then you kind of move on and get ready for the next battle.”

Arizona State’s success starts with its quartet of fearless guards, turning Arizona State into “Guard U.”

With carte blanche from Hurley to shoot from anywhere at almost any time, they’ve gone from carrying the load last season to ferrying the Sun Devils closer to college basketball’s upper echelon.

Tra Holder has transformed himself from steady freshman to unquestioned, sometimes nasty senior floor leader. He scored 40 points against Xavier and leads Arizona State with 21.2 points per game. He also grabs 5.6 rebounds, dishes out 5.2 assists and won consecutive Pac-12 player of the week honors, a first by a Sun Devil since James Harden in 2008.

Shannon Evans II followed Hurley from Buffalo, had to sit out a season as a transfer and was solid as a junior, averaging 15 points per game. The 6-1 guard had become go-to guy 1-A this season, second on the team with 19 points while matching Holder in assists. Big shots? He’s go those, too, including a clutch 3 to kill a Kansas rally in one of the loudest atmospheres in the game.

Justice plays with Pete Maravichian flair, has a range that seems to extend to the opposing team’s free-throw line.

Then there’s Remy Martin. The freshman guard is more spiced rum than cognac, playing with a confidence and intensity well beyond his years.

Martin treats irritation by the opposing team’s point guard as the highest honor, often nodding his bouncy hair in approval when he officially finds his way under their skin. He was the spark off the bench against Kansas, finishing with 21 points and five steals.

“They are now freed up to be who they are more,” Hurley said. “I think they would have shown that on a more regular basis last year if I had done my job a little better and sooner and gotten them some help.”

That help is here and the Sun Devils are running and gunning with it.

Follow John Marshall on Twitter @jmarshallap

Oklahoma State dismisses two players

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STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma State has dismissed junior Davon Dillard and freshman Zack Dawson from the team for failing to meet unspecified standards set by the program.

Coach Mike Boynton says he could not “make compromises in our core values when it comes to individual players.” Dillard and Dawson were suspended before the season for reasons the school has not disclosed. Dawson missed one game and Dillard missed the first five.

Oklahoma State (7-2) faces No. 19 Florida State (9-0) in Sunrise, Florida, on Saturday.