The Morning Mix

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There were a ton of great games last night. Thanks to a big night from the ACC, the 2012 ACC/Big Ten Challenge ended in a 6-6 draw. Up next is the Big East/SEC Challenge which begins tonight. But let’s not rush to the couch just yet, we have a lot to cover before 7:00 p.m.

Let’s hit the links.

 

Thursday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – New Hampshire @ Connecticut
7:30 p.m. – South Carolina @ St. John’s
8:00 p.m. – No. 8 Kentucky @ Notre Dame
8:00 p.m. – Tennessee-Martin @ Memphis
9:00 p.m. – Marquette @ No. 7 Florida
9:30 p.m. – Seton Hall @ LSU
10:00 p.m. – Long Beach State @ Loyola Marymount

 

Read of the Day:
Is it time to pull the plug on The Big East? Rumble In the Garden weighs the options in a read you need to make sure you get to. Read it. (Rumble In The Garden)

Read of the Day:
Eamonn Brennan looks back on the career of now “Former-UCLA Bruin” Josh Smith. Eamonn mixes in the expectations, comedy and sadness that made up the underwhelming career of the hefty big-man. Eamonn nailed this one, he really did. Read it. (ESPN)

Read of the Day:
Say hello to your newest D-I basketball program, Grand Canyon University. A Deadspin classic. Read it. (Deadspin)

 

Tweet of the Day:

@LMULions: Charlie Brown is a Lion. Go Lions! #LMULions pic.twitter.com/uxWgqYtr

 

Top Stories:
Duke’s comeback win adds to their resume, Plumlee becomes PoY candidate: The Blue Devils looks lethargic in the first half at Cameron Indoor Stadium against Ohio State last night. But a dominant performance by Mason Plumlee and a big second half from Quinn Cook carried to Blue Devils to yet another impressive victory.

Ohio State’s lack of balance will be their downfall: Coming in to the season, the question regarding Ohio State was “who would step up other than Craft and Thomas?”. It became clear last night that a month in to the season and we still don’t have an answer.

Creighton’s porous defense showed up again as Bluejays fall to Boise State: In order for Creighton to be considered truly elite this season, they had to get tougher on the defensive end. On Wednesday night, they were unable to get enough stops and couldn’t keep up with a surprisingly good Broncos team.

North Carolina State to honor Jimmy-V by wearing special uniforms: In arguably one of best tributes of the young season, the Wolfpack will honor their late coach and inspirational sports icon by wearing special “Don’t ever give up” jerseys for their game against UConn next Tuesday as part of The Jimmy-V Classic.

Miami got a marquee statement win over Michigan State: The Hurricanes looked like one of the ACC’s top teams last night as their veteran leadership and talent took over in a resounding 67-59 win over the Spartans. The fans stormed the floor as Jim Larranaga got his biggest win as head coach of the ‘canes.

Conference-USA is making moves following Tulane and East Carolina’s departure: Having lost several key members to the Big East, C-USA has reportedly added Middle Tennesee and Florida Atlantic from the Sun Belt Conference. I’m seeing a trend here. Sun Belt to C-USA, C-USA to Big East, and Big East to ACC.

Just how good is Indiana? Erik Kuselias and Vin Parise from the NBC Sports Network discuss the Hoosiers potential for success this season.

 

Hoops Housekeeping:
– Virginia’s Malcolm Brogdon will redshirt this season after to failing to recover in time from a foot injury. (Washington Post)

– South Carolina’s two-sport star Bruce Ellington will return to the basketball team until the football team resumes practices for their bowl game. (Garnet and Cocky)

– Stanford junior Anthony Brown will miss the rest of the season because of a hip injury. The guard has not played for the Cardinal since their game against Belmont on the 18th. (San Francisco Chronicle)

– Georgetown and Florida will not be making up their cancelled aircraft carrier game. (ESPN)

 

Observations & Insight:
– A lot of good quotes here from Kentucky point guard Ryan Harrow, who has missed the last four games because of illness and family issues. The Wildcats head to Notre Dame tonight to take on the Fighting Irish in the Big East/SEC Showdown. (Courier-Journal)

– A stock report from day two of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. (The Dagger)

– Could the ACC Tournament be headed to Brooklyn? Louisville legend Darrell Griffith thinks so. (SNY.tv)

– Is Louisville actually a better fit that Maryland? Andrew Jones thinks the Cardinals rate much, much higher than the Terrapins. (Fox Sports Carolinas)

– What does the Big-XII need to do in order not get lost in the realignment shuffle? (Burnt Orange Nation)

– Loyola doesn’t just want to rule the MAAC this year, they want to take over the city of Baltimore, and wins over Towson, UMBC and Coppin State have helped to give the Greyhounds the title as “Kings of the City”. (Baltimore Sun)

– Another excellent read on the demise of the WAC. (Mile High Mids)

– Raphielle Johnson provides everything you need to know about the west coast hoops scene for the rest of the week. (NBE Basketball Report)

 

Odds & Ends
– There are three teams out there that just might end up losing every single game they play. (Run The Floor)

– Kirk Herbstreit was in attendance for tOSU vs. Duke last night at Cameron Indoor. Unfortunately, it looks like he couldn’t get tickets for his two boys. (Busted Coverage)

– Worst.Timing.Ever. Josh Smith quits team, appears on game program. (@BaxterHolmes)

– Don’t worry UConn fans, just because you were left out of the ACC doesn’t mean the World is over. (The UConn Blog)

 

Dunk of the Day:
“Mason Plumlee has is tall and can jump very high.” – Eamonn Brennan (The Mock Session)

 

 

Video(s) of the Day:
Our very own @RobDauster got a shout out on Around The Horn yesterday. But just to be clear, it’s “Dawster” not “Dowster”. Trust me, I feel for him. The first day of school was always rough for me too.

 

 

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No. 19 Wichita State upends No. 5 Cincinnati 76-72

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HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. (AP) — Dave Stallworth was running the show the last time Wichita State beat a Top 5 team on the road. Landry Shamet took the lead as the Shockers did it again 54 years later.

This one, too, will be a reference point, given all that was at stake.

Shamet scored 19 points, and No. 19 Wichita State ended the nation’s longest home-court winning streak, beating No. 5 Cincinnati 76-72 on Sunday to leave the American Athletic Conference race wide open.

The Shockers (21-5, 11-3) beat a Top 5 team on the road for the first time since 1964. They led most of the way, building an 11-point lead midway through the second half and holding on. Shaquille Morris’ dunk with 5 seconds left finished it off.

The Shockers ran onto the floor for congratulatory chest bumps. Coach Gregg Marshall got a celebratory dunking in the locker room, leaving his light-colored shirt clinging to him.

“It’s tremendous,” Marshall said. “Look at my shirt. College basketball has such tremendous parity. The games are decided by great players making great plays. Landry is a tremendous player.”

The Bearcats (23-4, 12-2) had won their last 39 home games. In their first real home challenge of the season, they wound up playing catch-up and coming up short. Cincinnati hasn’t beaten a ranked team all season, falling to 0-3 with losses to Xavier and Florida.

Cincinnati and Wichita State were expected to contend for the title in the Shockers’ first season in the AAC. Wichita State gave itself a chance with a solid all-around game led by its point guard. Shamet had 16 points in the first half, when the Shockers shredded the nation’s second-ranked defense to take control.

Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin was bothered by his team’s “gross, mind-boggling defensive breakdowns,” including allowing the Shockers to get open for those two late layups. Wichita State shot 53 percent from the field, getting open 3-pointers in the first half and layups in the second half.

“We’re just not in a good place right now,” Cronin said. “I hadn’t slept much. We’re not in a good place for a lot of reasons.”

Wichita State closes the regular season by hosting Cincinnati on March 4. Houston (21-5, 11-3) also is in the running for the league title after beating Temple on Sunday.

The Shockers hit seven of eight shots during a 17-3 run that gave them a 34-23 lead. Cincinnati responded by turning up its full-court defense, forcing three quick turnovers, and going on a run that cut the deficit to 42-40 at halftime.

The Shockers showed a little defense of their own, forcing five turnovers while rebuilding their lead to 59-48 with 11 minutes left, matching its biggest of the game. Cincinnati closed to 72-70 on Trevon Scott’s dunk with 13 seconds left, but the Shockers scored on a pair of inbound passes by Landry, the last a full-court heave to Morris for a dunk that provided the final margin.

“This is what we do,” said Austin Reaves, who made the first of the two decisive layups. “We stick together on the road.”

BIG PICTURE

Wichita State: The Shockers needed a win to maintain their chances of a regular season title, and they got it with another good showing on the road. The Shockers are the most successful road team in the nation over the past five years at 47-8, including 7-2 this season.

“This is like our 50th red-out or white-out or black-out,” Marshall said. “We feel comfortable when that happens.”

Cincinnati: The Bearcats moved into the Top 5 even though they hadn’t beaten a ranked team all season. Losses at Houston and at home to Wichita State left them prepared for a plummet.

“As it gets later in the season, every team is better,” said Jacob Evans III, who had 16 points. “It’s not the beginning of conference or the season. Every team knows us well. We’ve got to be able to go to second options when they take away the first ones.”

NO LONGER A SWEET HOME

The Bearcats hadn’t lost at home since a 77-70 defeat against Temple on Dec. 29, 2015. They went 18-0 at Fifth Third Arena last season and were 13-0 at Northern Kentucky’s BB&T Arena, where they’re playing this season while their on-campus arena is renovated.

LONG TIME NO SEE

The Shockers and Bearcats played regularly as members of the Missouri Valley Conference from 1958-70, but it was their first game since 1981.

TOP 5 HISTORY

It was only the fourth time the Shockers have beaten a Top 5 team on the road. They beat No. 5 Oklahoma A&M in 1954 and topped No. 3 Loyola in 1963 and again in 1964 behind Stallworth.

TOUGH WEEKEND IN CINCY

Cincinnati had two teams in the Top 5, and both of them lost at home over the weekend. No. 4 Xavier lost to No. 3 Villanova 95-79 on Saturday at Cintas Center.cincinnati

Andy Kennedy resigns from Ole Miss effective immediately

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Andy Kennedy announced that, effective immediately, he will be stepping down as the head coach at Ole Miss. Tony Madlock will serve as the interim head coach for the remainder of the season.

The reason is simple: Kennedy wanted to “relieve any external pressure being felt by our current players” and he did not believe that last week’s announcement that this would be his final season in Oxford accomplished that.

“It has become readily apparent to me that my continued presence as the head coach is proving detrimental to these players finishing the season in a fashion that is representative of The Standard for this program that has been clearly established and maintained for over a decade,” Kennedy said in a statement. “Yherefore, I believe that it is in everyone’s best interest that I exit my role as head coach effective immediately. We all know that “clean breaks” are always best, and I should have realized this last Monday. My apologies.”

On Saturday, Ole Miss lost by 17 points at Mississippi State. That came two days after Kennedy went viral for a brutally honest criticism of what his team was going through.

“I can’t get to them,” he said. “I can’t reach them.”

It’s sad that this is the way that it had to end for the best basketball coach that Ole Miss has ever had. But it had to be done.

No. 12 Duke beats No. 11 Clemson as defensive resurgence continues

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Grayson Allen finished with 19 points, four assists and four steals, scoring 17 of his points in the first half, and Wendell Carter added 15 points, 10 boards and three blocks as No. 12 Duke won their fourth straight game without Marvin Bagley III, 66-57.

No. 11 Clemson was short-handed as well, and that’s something that needs to be noted. Not only are they playing without Donte Grantham, who tore his ACL earlier this year, but Shelton Mitchell was not in the lineup after suffering a nasty concussion at Florida State on Wednesday.

The Tigers were a No. 3 seed when the bracket reveal occurred last Sunday, but like Ohio State and Oklahoma, they have now lost back-to-back games; 11 of the top 16 teams have lost a game in the last week.

But the story here more than anything is Duke.

Yes, Allen finished with 19 points and continues to play well without Bagley on the floor. Getting him into a rhythm is critically important for this team. He was averaging 14.7 points in 24 games with Bagley. He is averaging 22.3 points in the last three games that Bagley has missed, and that does not include the 37-point outburst he had when Bagley went down with an injury against Michigan State.

Coach K also has had a chance to develop some confidence in his bench. Javin DeLaurier had 10 boards on Sunday. Marques Bolden didn’t play a done of minutes, but he still finished with five points, three boards and a pair of blocks. He was, generally speaking, a positive influence on the game.

But here is the most important and perplexing nugget: Duke, for the third straight game, was excellent defensively. They’ve now allowed fewer than 1.0 points-per-possession in each of the last three games. They are clearly not the same time offensively without Bagley’s presence on the floor, but it is impossible to ignore what they have been defensively in the last 10 days without him.

To put it into context: For all the talk about how much of a problem Duke’s defense has been, the Blue Devils are now ranked 43rd in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom. They were 79th after they lost to North Carolina, the last game that Bagley played. Villanova, who many believe is the best team in the country when healthy, is 42nd.

The question we need to ask is whether or not that will continue once Bagley makes his return.

Because the only thing standing between Duke and a Final Four is their inability to defend.

No. 8 Ohio State falls at No. 22 Michigan, Michigan State moves into first in Big Ten

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After all of the drama and the speculation about whether or not Ohio State or Purdue was the best team in the Big Ten, water has seemingly found its level.

On Sunday afternoon in Ann Arbor, No. 8 Ohio State lost their second straight game, falling 74-62 at No. 22 Michigan and allowing No. 2 Michigan State — who had one of college basketball’s greatest comebacks on Saturday at Northwestern — to slide into sole possession of first place in the Big Ten with just one week left of the regular season.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman led the way with 17 points while Jordan Poole added 15 off the bench in the win.

The Wolverines did a good job of slowing down Ohio State’s all-american forward, Keita Bates-Diop. KBD finished with 17 points and seven boards, but he shot just 5-for-17 from the floor. Jae-Sean Tate led the way with 20 points and 15 boards for the Buckeyes.

There was a special moment before this game even started as Austin Hatch, a two-time survivor of plane crashes that killed his entire immediate family, took part in the team’s Senior Day.

VIDEO: Michigan celebrates plane crash survivor Austin Hatch’s Senior Day

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If you don’t know the story of Michigan senior Austin Hatch, you should.

He’s survived two plane crashes in his life. The first, in 2003, robbed him of his mother, 11-year old sister and five-year old brother. In 2011, to celebrate his commitment to the Wolverines, Hatch’s father flew them up to the family’s vacation home, but the plane crashed into a garage killing Hatch’s dad and his stepmom and leaving Austin critically injured.

He had a severe brain trauma, a punctured lung, broken ribs and a broken collarbone, and in order to manage the swelling in his brain, he was put into a medically-induced coma for eight months.

He managed to return and even played for the Wolverines during the 2014-15 season, but he eventually made the decision to retire from basketball at the end of the year. He did, however, remain a part of the program and on Sunday, during Michigan’s Senior Day, he warmed up with the team and was introduced to the crowd as a starter and no, I’m not crying, YOU’RE crying: