Late Night Snacks: Christian Laettner rematch edition

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Game of Tomorrow

Duke vs. Louisville – Starting off the snack a little differently tonight. Saturday night’s Battle 4 Atlantis championship game will be between No. 5 Duke and No. 2 Louisville. If a top-5 game isn’t enough to make you feel better about all the food you ate, or the self-shame you imposed on yourself during Black Friday, then add this to the mix. This will be the first time Mike Krzyzewski and Rick Pitino will coach against each other since the 1992 East regional final when Christian Laettner made himself the most hated man in the state of Kentucky for eternity.

Game of the Night

1. N.C. State survives UNC-Asheville – The Wolfpack trailed the majority of the game, until Richard Howell, who had 23 points gave N.C. State the lead for good with just over three minutes to go. N.C. State is coming off a big loss to Oklahoma State and now have to regroup to play Michigan next week as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

2. Duke 67, VCU 58 – Although Duke didn’t surrender the lead at all in the second half and VCU did everything they could to not take advantage of opportunities  this game was very exciting. The energy the Rams bring every night is worth watching. Despite trailing by a  consistent six-eight points throughout the second half, VCU had a chance to string a run together at any moment, just couldn’t put it all together for one sequence

3. Fairleigh Dickinson 63, Delaware State 62 – Kinu Rotchford hit a layup with one second left to give Fairleigh Dickinson its first win of the season over Delaware State as part of the South Padre Island Invitational. Rotchford had 19 points an 14 rebounds.

Important Outcomes

1. Minnesota over Memphis – The Gophers got an early-season win over a ranked opponent. Solid way to regroup after a tough 89-71 loss to Duke the previous day.

2. Pacific beats St. Mary’s – Pacific took down the Gaels 76-66 and showed how to frustrate Matthew Dellavedova. The Tigers threw hedges and double-teams at him in pick-and-roll situations and kept him working for all of the 16 points he got, which is half of what he had the previous day against Drexel. Interesting to see how St. Mary’s handles the first loss and how Dellavedova will respond against Cal Poly Dec. 1

3. Oregon upsets UNLV – Oregon came out with a hard-fought victory, hanging on to a narrow lead late in the game.Oregon’s Damyean Dotson had 19 points and sank two free throws to ice the win. The Ducks survived a good performance from UNLV freshman Anthony Bennett with 22 points and 10 rebounds and four 3-pointers from fellow freshman, Katin Reinhardt.

Starred

1. Andre Hollins, Minnesota – Hollins made Memphis’ trip to the Bahamas go from bad to worse. After throwing the ball away 22 times against VCU on Thursday, Hollins dropped 41 points on the No. 19 Tigers. And he didn’t need 108 shots to get that point total. Hollins was an amazing, 12-of-16 from the field, including hitting all five 3-pointers. He also connected on 12-of-13 free throws.

2. Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan – Hardaway was named most outstanding player at the NIT Season Tip-Off, leading Michigan to a 71-57 win over Kansas State. Hardaway showed great confidence and growth in his game, not forcing anything offensively and being active in other areas such as rebounding.

3a. Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati – Kilpatrick had half of his 32 points come from the line, which he was perfect from. The Cincy junior put the Bearcats in the Global Sports Classic final after a 78-70 win over Iowa State.

3b. Doug McDermott, Creighton – McDermott is one of several mid-major stars this year. If he wants national player of the year consideration he needed a big performance against a good team, which he got Friday night in 84-74 win over Wisconsin. The Creighton start dropped 30 points and eight rebounds on the Badgers.

3c. Quinn Cook and Mason Plumlee, Duke – Plumlee had 17 points and 10 rebounds in a win over VCU to advance to the Battle 4 Atlantis final. Quinn Cook controlled the ball with only three turnovers to nine assists against the “havoc” Rams pressure defense.

Struggled

1. Memphis – Forgettable Thanksgiving week for the Tigers, following a pair of losses at the Battle 4 Atlantis. Over 20 turnovers in a loss to VCU, followed by Andre Hollins dropping 41 on them the following day.

2. VCU free throws – The Rams had a chance to climb into a tie with Duke during the second half, trailing 56-50. VCU went to the line and missed six straight, after converting on the first 10-of-11 shots they took from the charity stripe. The free throw woes and missed opportunities kept Shaka Smart’s club from a potential key early-season victory.

3. Vanderbilt – West Virginia took its frustration out on Marist Thursday, beating the Red Foxes 87-44. Marist returned the favor to Vanderbilt, taking down the SEC-opponent 50-33. Marist only shot 37 percent and that was still 14 percent better than Vanderbilt. Commodores are 1-3.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Florida State picks up late commit from McDonald’s All-American

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The losses sustained by Florida State have been numerous and significant. Three players declared early for the NBA Draft. Another two contributors were lost to graduation. All in all, the Seminoles haven’t had the greatest of springs.

Wednesday, though, they got some good news.

McDonald’s All-American wing M.J. Walker committed Leonard Hamilton’s program to give Florida State a late, and important, addition to its 2017 recruiting class, beating the likes of Ohio State, Georgia Tech and UCLA.

Walker, a 6-foot-5 guard, gives the Seminoles yet another five-star prospect after landing Dwayne Bacon and Jonathan Isaac in the last two recruiting classes. Walker will help Hamilton and Co. reboot after both Bacon and Isaac, along with Xavier Rathan-Mayes, all left school to pursue professional careers after the Seminoles’ 26-9 season that saw them advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Walker becomes the sixth member of Hamilton’s 2017 recruiting class that was previously headlined by four-star 7-footer Ikechukwu Obiagu. That group will be tasked to retool a team losing not only major NBA-level talent, but also major production. The Seminoles won’t return a single player who averaged double-digit points per-game last year and just one who played at least 20 minutes per night.

Michigan returns Mo Wagner, loses D.J. Wilson

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The best-case scenario did not take place for Michigan this week.

The Wolverines waited for four weeks to hear back from their pair of mobile big men, and the news on Mo Wagner was positive. The 6-foot-10 junior from Germany announced on Wednesday that he will return to school after testing the NBA Draft waters.

The news was not as fortunate with D.J. Wilson, who announced less than ten hours before the deadline that he will be signing with an agent and turning pro. Wilson is projected as a late first round or early second round pick.

Without Wilson in the fold, Michigan lacks some front court depth, which will probably be enough to keep them out of the preseason top 25.

Gonzaga to return Johnathan Williams III

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Losing Nigel Williams-Goss and Zach Collins to the professional ranks probably torpedoed Gonzaga’s chance of making another run to the NCAA tournament national title game, but after Johnathan Williams III announced on Wednesday that he will be returning to school and withdrawing from the NBA Draft, Gonzaga does appear to be a favorite to win the WCC title again.

Williams is now Gonzaga’s leading returning scorer and rebounder, anchoring a front court that also loses Przemek Karnowski to graduation. He was expected to go undrafted.

With Williams back in the fold, the Zags should be right there with Saint Mary’s in the race for the WCC title. Josh Perkins, Silas Melson and Killian Tillie all return as well.

ESPN was the first to report the news.

Injured Gamecocks point guard Blanton gives up basketball

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina guard TeMarcus Blanton is giving up basketball after struggling with a serious hip injury he suffered before his freshman season.

Gamecocks coach Frank Martin says Blanton told him he could not get his body to respond to a level that would allow him to continue playing basketball. Blanton is a 6-foot-5 junior from Locust Grove, Georgia, who hurt his hip during preseason for the 2014-15 season. He needed surgery and could not return to the court until his sophomore year.

Blanton played in 29 games, averaging 1.4 points a game.

He said on social media he is grateful to his coaches, teammates and South Carolina fans, “but my journey of basketball has come to an end.”

Blanton received a medical exemption from the Southeastern Conference to remain part of the Gamecocks’ program moving forward.

North Carolina’s Tony Bradley to remain NBA Draft

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For the first time in a decade and just the third time in 14 seasons as UNC’s head coach, Roy Williams has a one-and-done player.

North Carolina’s Tony Bradley will sign with an agent and remain in the NBA Draft.

Bradley had an impressive freshman season, averaging 7.1 points and 5.1 boards in less than 15 minutes per game as the sixth-man for the national title-winning Tar Heels. He initially declared for the draft without signing with an agent, testing the waters, and the feedback was positive: He’ll likely be a late first round or early second round pick.

As the process dragged on, it became fairly evident that Bradley would keep his name in the draft, and that is a massive blow for a UNC team that is already losing Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks, not to mention Justin Jackson.

As it stands, Roy Williams will likely start the following lineup next season: Joel Berry II, Kenny Williams and Theo Pinson on the perimeter with Luke Maye and either Brandon Huffman or Garrison Brooks, both freshmen, alongside him. Williams is one of the few coaches left in the sport that still relies on playing two bigs and utilizing an overwhelming front court to win games, and that is not going to be an easy thing to do with that group of bigs.

UNC’s perimeter is strong. Berry will likely be a preseason all-american while Pinson and Williams are both above average role players on the wings.

But without that hoss in the paint — Bradley, like Berry, would have popped up on preseason all-american teams — the Tar Heels are going to have a tough time making a run at an ACC title, let alone a third straight trip to the national title game.

North Carolina is currently ranked 18th in the NBC Sports preseason top 25.