The Morning Mix

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Where to begin, where to begin?

You know what? forget the introduction this morning, there’s way too much to touch on today.

We might only be three weeks in, but we’re already in full spin-cycle mode. Today, Monday, November 19 could end up being one of the most news-packed days of college hoops all season. Major stories, breaking news, scandals, injuries, big non-conference games. Today has it all.

Whoops. Look liked I started to ramble again. My bad. But seriously, that’s how jam-packed today is.

Monday’s Top Games:
3:30 p.m. – Marquette vs. Butler
5:00 p.m. – Illinois-Chicago vs. Iona
5:30 p.m. – No. 1 Indiana vs. Georgia
6:00 p.m. – No. 11 North Carolina State vs. Mississippi State
7:30 p.m. – Texas A&M vs. Saint Louis
8:00 p.m. – No. 13 UCLA vs. Georgetown
8:30 p.m. – Fairfield @ Lehigh
9:00 p.m. – Long Beach State @ No. 12 Arizona
9:30 p.m. – Texas @ Chaminade
10:00 p.m. – No. 7 Kansas vs. Washington State
12:00 a.m. – USC vs. Illinois

Read of the Day:
All of them. Seriously. Thanksgiving it in a few days. You know (and I know) you ain’t taking this week seriously. Mail it in early and get caught up. This is going to be a BUSY (Yet wildly entertaining) week.

Top Stories:
What’s next for the Big East if they lose more members? With Rutgers reportedly in talks with the Big-10 conference, and rumors of more ACC defections, the future looks relatively uncertain, even with the addition of Temple, Memphis, SMU and Navy.

Oklahoma State provides first real stunner of the season, throttles No.6 North Carolina State by 20: We know how good Le’Bryan Nash is and we knew freshman Marcus Smart was the real deal, but this? Travis Ford’s thin roster now sits 4-0 with wins over Akron, Tennessee and NC-State.

Illinois is now 3-0, thanks to a late-night D.J. Richardson buzzer-beater: Illinois prepared for their upcoming appearance in the Maui Invitational by taking on Hawaii at the Stan Sheriff center over the weekend. D.J. Richardson won the game on a three-pointer with one one-hundredth of a second remaining. John Groce, who led Ohio to the Sweet-16 a season ago, is now 3-0 at Illinois.

Drexel earns first win of the season, losses key contributor Chris Fouchs to injury: The Dragons entered the season as the favorites to win the CAA, but dropped the first two games of the season. They were able to defeat Penn on Sunday, but saw senior guard Chris Fouchs, who missed part of last season with an injury, leave the Palestra on crutches.

Ohio State’s season will depend on the emergeance of a third main scorer: The Buckeyes feature DeShaun Thomas and Aaron Craft, but will not be able to carry the entire load by themselves. Thad Matta has a small yet talented squad filled with players ready to prove their worth. Now is the time for one of them to step up.

Adbul Gaddy is the key to Washington’s season: The Washington Huskies don’t have the star power they once had, but Adbul Gaddy, a former McDonald’s All-American, can reclaim his former status as “elite” by carrying the load this season. The Huskies struggled mightily against Sacramento State, but Gaddy was strong in the Huskies overtime win over Seton Hall in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off.

Shabazz Muhammad will play tonight, but what impact will his season-long impact be?: The UCLA freshman phenom will finally be able to suit up tonight when the Bruins face the Georgetown Hoyas now that his bizarre ordeal with the NCAA is over with. But are we certain that Muhammad’s court presence alone with propel the Bruins to greatness this season?

Expanisionocalypse:
– In case you haven’t already heard the news, Maryland and Rutgers are in serious talks with the Big-10, Maryland seems close to making the move. (ESPN)

– All good points made here from John Feinstein about why Maryland will more than likely make the move. (Washington Post)

– Former-Terrapin and current ESPN broadcaster Len Elmore spoke out against the change, calling it “sad” and a “bad move”. (Washington Post)

– Former Terrapin head coach Gary Williams spoke out as well, but believes the move make sense for the university. (Sporting News)

– Pete Thamel chimes in on the situation, if you’re in to that sorta thing. (Sports Illustrated)

– The Maryland Board of Regents (will vote later today on the direction the school will head in regarding conference affiliation. (ESPN)

– Back in September, the ACC exit fee was raised to $50-million, and is going into effect immediately. (Washington Post)

– If Maryland does in fact go to the Big-10, Syracuse will probably benefit from it. (Troy Nunes)

– Speaking of the Big East, it appears that there are reports surfacing that indicate St. John’s and Georgetown may be interested in joining the ACC depending on the results of the Maryland/Rutgers shake-up. (New York Daily News)

– UConn is going to be one of the last Big East members standing (For now), and regardless of the outcome it’s probably going to get ugly. (The UConn Blog)

Hoops Housekeeping:
– Ohio State picked up a solid commitment from class of 2014 swingman Keita Bates-Diop. (Columbus Dispatch)

– Penn State’s “Mr. Everything” Tim Fazier injured his ankle just six minutes into the Nittany Lion’s Sunday win over Akron. The long-term diagnosis does indicate a quick recovery. (State College News)

Observations and Insight:
– a North Carolina insider (See: Whistleblower) is claiming that the university tolerated cheating from its student-athletes. Yeah, this little “scandal” thing isn’t over at all. (News-Observer)

– The people sure do love Nate Wolters. They must. Luke Winn doesn’t just pen 1,000-plus words about anybody. (Sports Illustrated)

– Minnesota and Duke will square-off on Thanksgiving, and the showdown could be pivotal towards recruiting success. (Pioneer Press)

– North Carolina State’s 20-loss to Oklahoma should provide a wake-up call for the talented Wolfpack. (State Fans Nation)

– Oklahoma State freshman Marcus Smart was highly touted coming out of high school, and he has proven exactly why, as he was the difference maker in the Cowboys dominant win. (The Dagger)

– Most of us pundits really liked the hiring of King Rice as the head coach of Monmouth before last season (and still to today). The Former-Tar Heel is starting to get this program back on track, and will do so through hard work and not accepting moral victories. (Big Apple Buckets)

– Notre Dame’s Scott Martin has been through six years of hard work and his current level of play shows just how much he has been able to endure. (Fox Sports)

– It’s one thing to have great shooters. It’s a completely difference thing to be able to get them in a position to be most successful. (Indianapolis Star)

News & Notes:
– Dan Monson once again built a loaded non-conference schedule for the Long Beach State 49ers, and face their third striaght ranked opponent tonight. (Arizona Daily Star)

– Syracuse drubbed Wagner on Sunday 88-57 en route to their 23rd consecutive home win. (Inside The Loud House)

– Florida guard Kenny Boynton surpassed the eccentric Dwayne Schintzius on Florida’s all-time leading scorers list thanks to his 20-point performance on Sunday against Middle Tennessee. (Gainesville Sun)

Odd & Ends:
– Did UW-Milwaukee have to practice in the dark at Arkansas-Little Rock while preparing for the Trojans? (Burn The Horse)

– Baylor’s Brittany Griner broke the all-time records for dunks by a women. (Fox Sports)

– Super-conferences are great for Goliath, not so good for Davis. (Upon Further Review)

– Will somebody please help Ryan Boatright pick up his broken ankles please? Quinnipiac’s Dave Johnson left them for him just behind the 3-point line. Ouch. (The Mock Session)

Dunk of the Day: Archie Goodwin nearly through down a “Dunk of the Year”. Well, he did, except it didn’t count. (Ballin’ is a Habit)

Do you like the new Morning Mix? Hate it? Have a suggestion or wanted something featured? Troy Machir will take all your praise, insults and inquiries via Twitter (@TroyMachir)

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.