BROOKLYN, N.Y. – The Legends Classic was designed to get UCLA and their top ranked recruiting class to taken on the No. 1 team in the country in Indiana in the title game.
Georgetown ruined those plans, knocking off the Bruins on Monday night, but that wound up being for the better, as the Hoyas and the Hoosiers put on one of the best November hoops showcases you’ll see.
Georgetown used an 8-1 run in the final 45 seconds of regulation to force overtime when Otto Porter scored on a tough, driving layup with 4.6 seconds left. Cody Zeller nearly won the game at the buzzer, as the Hoosiers executed a beautifully designed in-bounds play to get their all-american a free run at the rim. But Zeller’s finger-roll lipped out (and it may have come after the buzzer had sounded, anyway), and the capacity crowd at the Barclays Center was treated to five more minutes of hoops.
IU pulled away in the overtime, using a 9-2 surge at the start of the extra period to open up a 73-66 lead. Freshman Yogi Ferrell hit the dagger, a fadeaway three at the shot-clock buzzer to put the Hoosiers up 78-68 with less than a minute left. They would cruise to a 82-72 win.
Zeller led five players in double figures for the Hoosiers, finishing with 17 points and eight boards, while Jordy Hulls chipped in with 15 points.
Markel Starks once again led the way for the Hoyas, finishing with 20 points, while Porter added 15 points, five boards, four assists, three steals and two blocks.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.