Christian Laettner

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

Four-star 2017 shooting guard commits to Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams celebrates a play in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Virginia, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, in Blacksburg, Va. (Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP) LOCAL STATIONS OUT; LOCAL INTERNET OUT; LOCAL PRINT OUT (SALEM TIMES REGISTER; FINCASTLE HERALD; CHRISTIANSBURG NEWS MESSENGER; RADFORD NEWS JOURNAL; ROANOKE STAR SENTINEL; MANDATORY CREDIT
Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP
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Recruiting, and on-court results, have picked up at Virginia Tech since Buzz Williams took over as head coach. In his second year at the helm the Hokies won ten conference games, and in reaching the Postseason NIT made their first postseason appearance since 2011.

Thursday night Virginia Tech landed its first verbal commitment in the Class of 2017, as four-star shooting guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker made his pledge.

The 6-foot-5 Alexander-Walker, who’s ranked 91st in his class by Rivals.com, also took official visits to Maryland and USC before making his pledge to the ACC program. Alexander-Walker attends Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but as a native of Canada plays his grassroots basketball for the Canada Elite program on the Under Armour Association circuit.

Good with either hand, Alexander-Walker can play either on or off the basketball. And that versatility should serve him well in a system that places a high value on “switch-ables,” or players who can fill multiple roles.

The Canada connection paid off for Virginia Tech in the recruitment of Alexander-Walker, with assistant coach Jamie McNeilly being a native of the country himself and having a connection to the Walker family. The Hokies will lose two perimeter players at the end of the 2016-17 season in Devin Wilson and Seth Allen, which will give Alexander-Walker the opportunity to earn minutes as a freshman.

Oakland lands former Oklahoma State guard Clark

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AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File
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When point guard Stevie Clark began his career at Oklahoma State in 2013, the Top 100 prospect was expected by many to be an impact player for the Cowboys. Things didn’t go as planned however, as off-court issues ultimately led to Clark’s dismissal from the program before his sophomore season. Add in a lawsuit filed by Clark in which he alleged that he was forced by the school to take psychotropic drugs, and it’s safe to say that his time in Stillwater was anything but smooth.

Clark ultimately landed at Arkansas Baptist College, and on Thursday it was reported by the Detroit Free Press that he’s committed to Oakland University to play for head coach Greg Kampe. Clark joins a program with an immediate need at the point, with All-American Kahlil Felder having entered the NBA Draft and hired an agent as well.

The obvious question regarding Clark is whether or not he’s managed to take care of business off the court, and in an interview with Mark Snyder of the Free Press the Oklahoma native made note of the benefits of getting away from home for college.

Playing in Rochester, far from his home, will serve him well, he said.

“Anywhere away from home is the best thing,” Clark said. “It’s just hard balancing everything being close to home.”

Clark will be one of the options Kampe has to choose from at the point, with incoming freshmen Brailen Neely and Billy Thomas also among the new arrivals, and sophomore Jaevin Cumberland looking to earn more playing time than the 5.6 minutes per contest he averaged as a freshman.

Creighton point guard Watson Jr. to return for senior season

Creighton's Maurice Watson Jr. (10) reacts after scoring during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Xavier in Omaha, Neb., Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. Creighton won 70-56. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
AP Photo/Nati Harnik
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Creighton’s chances of moving up the Big East standings and returning to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2014 improved a great deal Thursday, as starting point guard Maurice Watson Jr. announced that he will be returning for his senior season. Watson, who began his college career at Boston University, entered his name into the NBA Draft pool without hiring an agent but decided that another year in Omaha would be best for him.

Watson was one of the most impactful transfers in the country last season, as his play at the point was a major factor in the Bluejays winning 20 games and going 9-9 in conference play after being picked to finish eighth in the Big East preseason poll. Watson averaged 14.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game last season, earning second team All-Big East honors.

With Watson’s return the Bluejays will welcome back three of their top four scorers from last season, with center Geoffrey Groselle being the lone departure. Head coach Greg McDermott adds a talented shooting guard in Marcus Foster, who sat out last season after transferring in from Kansas State. With Watson and Foster working together, Creighton will have a formidable perimeter tandem leading the way in 2016-17 with the likes of forward Cole Huff and guard Isaiah Zierden also being key contributors.

In addition to what Watson can provide in games he’ll also serve as a good mentor for Kaleb Joseph, who will have to sit out next season after transferring in from Syracuse. Joseph, who will have two seasons of eligibility remaining, fell out of the rotation as a sophomore so the year in residency should benefit him as he works towards grabbing the reins in 2017-18.

h/t ESPN.com

UConn, four-star 2017 big man Brown part ways

Brown, Zach
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Back in mid-January UConn made waves on the recruiting trail by securing a verbal commitment from 7-foot-1 center Zach Brown, a player seen by many as one of the top prospects in the Class of 2017. That partnership came to an end Thursday, as the two parties decided to part ways. News of the mutual decision was first reported by Scout.com.

The Miami native is currently ranked 28th in the Class of 2017 by Rivals.com, and Thursday’s news opens up a spot in the front court that UConn head coach Kevin Ollie and his staff will now have to fill. Amida Brimah, who’s currently going through the NBA pre-Draft process, will be a senior next season should he return to Storrs as will Kentan Facey.

Among the interior options who will have eligibility remaining beyond next season for the Huskies are sophomore Steven Enoch and incoming freshmen Mamadou Diarra and Juwan Durham.

UConn was in the running for 2016 power forward Taurean Thompson, but multiple outlets have the Brewster Academy product considering Michigan State (which added UNLV grad transfer Ben Carter Wednesday), Seton Hall and Syracuse at this point in his recruitment.

UCF lands commitment from transfer Terrell Allen

New UCF men's NCAA college basketball coach Johnny Dawkins speaks at his introductory press conference Thursday, March 24, 2016 in Orlando, Fla. (Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel via AP) MAGS OUT; NO SALES; MANDATORY CREDIT
Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel via AP
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Having already landed one transfer in former Michigan guard Aubrey Dawkins (the new head coach’s son), UCF landed a second Thursday afternoon as former Drexel guard Terrell Allen announced that he’ll finish out his college career playing for Johnny Dawkins.

Allen, a CAA All-Rookie Team selection in his lone season at Drexel, announced the news by way of his Twitter account. After sitting out the 2016-17 season per NCAA transfer rules, Allen will have three seasons of eligibility remaining.

On a team that struggled throughout the 2015-16 season, winning just six games, Allen averaged 9.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 32.5 minutes of action per game. The 6-foot-2 point guard finished the season ranked in the top ten in the CAA in both assists and assist-to-turnover ratio, with his assist tally ranking eighth and his A/T ratio of 1.9 placing him seventh.

With B.J. Taylor entering his junior season and Jeremy Carter-Sheppard joining the ranks this summer, the addition of Allen gives UCF another option at the point for the 2017-18 campaign.