North Carolina v Indiana

No. 1 Indiana steamrolls North Carolina

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North Carolina probably wishes they never turned the lights back on.

With 19 minutes left in the second half of the Tar Heels visit to Bloomington, the lights cut out at Assembly Hall. They immediately came back on, but the Tar Heels never showed back up. After using a 15-6 surge to close the half and break a 31-all tie, the Hoosiers proceeded to open up the second half with a 22-3 run, taking a 68-40 lead and turning one of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge’s marquee matchups into a laugher.

Are you still convinced Duke is the best team in the country?

If you are, that’s fine, but Indiana sure did provide a convincing argument to the contrary, as Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey combined for 58 points on 24-39 shooting in the 83-59 win.

Indiana was firing on all cylinders on Tuesday night. Zeller routinely beat every Tar Heel defender down the floor in transition — off of makes and misses — getting at least four layups simply off of hustle in the first 25 minutes of the game. Oladipo did what Oladipo does, coming up with easy buckets off of offensive rebounds and cuts to the rim while locking up Reggie Bullock on the defensive end of the floor. Sheehey proved to the nation why he’s the clubhouse favorite for sixth-man of the year while Yogi Ferrell and Jordy Hulls took turns carving up North Carolina’s defense to the tune of a combined 14 assists to just a single turnover.

Think about this: Indiana was this impressive, and they got nothing out of Christian Watford. Well, that’s not completely true; he did score once, a thunderous dunk with five minutes left to put the Hoosiers up 31. He was 1-9 from the floor.

Indiana still have some weak links. For as well as the Hoosiers were moving the ball, and for as many wide open shots as they were getting all night long, it was frustrating to see Watford force a couple of jumpers. And while Oladipo and Ferrell are both terrific defenders, when Hulls and Watford are on the floor together, the Hoosiers will be playing with two guys that are below-average defenders.

But after a performance like this, that almost feels like I’m picking nits.

The Hoosiers have so many weapons, so many talented players that understand and excel in their roles. Case in point: Oladipo has the physical tools to be a first round pick, and while he needs to prove that he can be dangerous as a scorer, I doubt you’ll see him do much more than play the role of Indiana’s glue-guy this season. He wants to win, and he knows that the best chance for the Hoosiers to win big are if he spends every second that he’s on the floor as the hardest-worker.

That’s a luxury.

And so is Assembly Hall. Even when the lights stayed on, that place was as loud and intense as any sporting venue you’ll ever see.

No wonder John Calipari didn’t want to play there.

Can you really blame him?

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Report: Virginia Tech forward Blackshear still recovering from offseason foot surgery

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 10: Kerry Blackshear Jr. #24 of the Virginia Tech Hokies and Kamari Murphy #21 of the Miami Hurricanes go for a rebound in the second half during the quarterfinals of the 2016 ACC Basketball Tournament Verizon Center on March 10, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Virginia Tech sophomore forward Kerry Blackshear will miss the start of training camp as he continues to recover from offseason foot surgery, according to a report from Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The 6-foot-10 Blackshear played in all 35 games for the Hokies last season as he battled through the foot injury to average 6.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. According to Barber’s report, Blackshear had surgery on his right foot five days after the 2015-16 season ended, but he’s still wearing a walking boot to help recover. There has been no timetable given for Blackshear’s return.

Blackshear will be a key piece for a Virginia Tech team that is a bit thin up front this season. Freshman Khadim Sy can provide some minutes up front, but he’s inexperienced and center Nick Fullard has to sit out this season due to NCAA transfer rules. Getting a healthy Blackshear will be a key storyline for a Virginia Tech team that many will have in the preseason top 25.

Indiana roster dealing with handful of injuries as practice begins

BLOOMINGTON, IN - NOVEMBER 20:  A general view of  the SMU Mustangs game against the Indiana Hoosiers at Assembly Hall on November 20, 2014 in Bloomington, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Indiana has been hit with the injury buy a bit during the start of practice and it doesn’t only involved the recent announcement of knee surgery for senior Collin Hartman.

According to a report from the Indiana Daily Student the Hoosiers are also dealing with a knee injury for junior college transfer forward Freddie McSwain and sophomore Juwan Morgan hasn’t been cleared for practice yet after offseason shoulder surgery.

The 6-foot-6 McSwain had a knee injury flare up when he came to Indiana and had surgery to clean it up. Crean told the Indiana Daily Student that McSwain was still a few weeks from returning.

That means Indiana has to find early practice minutes to replace Hartman, Morgan and McSwain up front which gives more reps to players like O.G. Anunoby and freshman big man De’Ron Davis.

Since Anunoby and Davis both dealt with some offseason injuries and guard Robert Johnson was recently cleared to return, Hoosiers head coach Tom Crean is remaining cautious during the early part of practice this season. Crean also has to monitor the return of starting guard James Blackmon Jr. after he missed most of last season with a torn ACL.

“We would have already practiced this morning and they would be ready to go tonight, if this were a year ago,” Crean said in the report. “We have to tailor make this thing. We can’t be in too much of a rush with these guys.”

Obviously, the frontcourt injuries are something to keep an eye on for Indiana during the early part of the season. None of the three injuries seem severe, but Hartman’s timetable to return hasn’t been listed and McSwain and Morgan are missing valuable early time in practice.

It’ll be interesting to see if this helps younger players like Anunoby and Davis get more acquainted with the first team early on since both could have an impact this season.

Texas lands four-star Class of 2017 guard Jase Febres

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Texas and head coach Shaka Smart continue to recruit at a high level, especially in the state of Texas, as the Longhorns landed a commitment from Class of 2017 four-star guard Jase Febres on Friday night.

The 6-foot-5 Febres is considered the No. 63 overall prospect in the Rivals national Class of 2017 rankings as he burst on the national radar this summer with some strong shooting performances. Febres shot over 40 percent from three-point range during the month of July after battling through injury during the spring. Besides owning good size for a wing shooter, Febres also takes pride in defending and he can rebound a bit from the wing as well.

Febres is going to have to improve his overall offensive package if a defense plays him off the three-point line, but he has upside as a three-and-D guy with the Longhorns.

The Class of 2017 is starting to round into shape for Texas as Febres joins four-star power forward Jericho Sims and four-star forward Royce Hamm. Since taking over the Texas job, Smart has done a great job of keeping local talent home as he now has five four- and five-star prospects from the state in the last two classes.

 

VIDEO: Kentucky fans get married in the ticket line for Big Blue Madness

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Kentucky fans have unique ways of making their annual Big Blue Madness event the most chaotic tip-off event of the season. While Big Blue Nation is waiting in line for tickets to this year’s festivities in Tent City, one couple decided to go the extra mile.

After securing the first spot in line for tickets, Ray Branham and Vicki Harvey opted to get married. According to a post from Drew Franklin of Kentucky Sports Radio, the couple had already been talking about tying the knot, but decided to make the move once they had the top spot in line. As you can see by the wedding video, it was a very Kentucky-themed ceremony as the duo got married in front of friends and other Kentucky fans.

I can’t say I’m surprised two Kentucky fans decided to get married in line for something like Big Blue Madness and this (unplanned) wedding gives this year’s event something unique that we will always remember.

Penn State loses freshman on day practice starts

Patrick Chambers
AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato
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On the day that college basketball practice is to start, Penn State head coach Pat Chambers announced that his roster would be changing.

Joe Hampton, a 6-foot-8, 290 pound power forward from Maryland, will be leaving the program.

“Joe has made the decision to leave the program based on personal reasons,” Chambers said. “We wish him the best of luck with his future endeavors.”

Hampton was a three-star prospect that missed his senior season at Oak Hill Academy with torn ACL, but he reportedly enrolled at Penn State in May, before the rest of the Nittany Lion recruit class.