Ben Howland

Late Night Snacks: Trouble’s Bruin

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First of all, check out our Late Afternoon Snacks to see what happened while the sun was up. Then read what happened since then:

Games of the Night

No. 23 San Diego State 78, UCLA 69: A sign in the stands said “We Run Cali” It was held by an Aztec fan in red and black. Jamaal Franklin had 28 points for the Aztecs, who held the once-mighty Bruins at bay on a neutral court in Anaheim. Larry Drew II had an 11-assist game for the Bruins, but only freshman Jordan Adams (23 points) made his unselfishness worthwhile. I wonder how Shaka Smart would look in blue and gold?

No. 25 New Mexico 77, Indiana State 68 (OT): Larry Bird ain’t walking through that door. But the Sycamores threw one heck of a scare into the Lobos, who were visiting Terre Haute and probably wished they hadn’t. ISU Guard Jake Odum scored 25 in the losing effort. The good news for UNM is that Tony Snell only scored seven points. Yes, that IS the good news, because Kendall Williams took over, scoring 24 to lead all other starters into double figures. Snell became a marked man as the Lobos crafted their undefeated record, and it’s good to know that the other guys can pitch in when he has an off night.

UCSB 83, Santa Clara 80 (OT): Bronco Kevin Foster carpet-bombed the rim, scoring 28 points on 9-23 shooting, but Gaucho center Alan Williams did him one better, scoring 29 in a much more efficient manner. Williams was 9-13 from the floor, 11-15 from the stripe, and had 17 boards to salt away the road win.

Important Outcomes

No. 3 Michigan 74, Bradley 66: Most of the time, this game would have been a guarantee game played in Crisler. But the Wolverines stepped into a thrashing, howling mid-major lion’s den in Peoria instead. Bradley made it tough, with five players scoring in double figures. The usual figures played well for Michigan, but 6’6″ freshman Nik Stauskas earned the game ball, knocking down 4-5 three-pointers on his way to 22 points. It was a stiff road test, and the Wolverines handled it with poise.

No. 11 Creighton 80, St. Joe’s 51: This is important because St. Joseph’s is a legit contender for the A-10 crown this season, and the Bluejays stomped a mudhole in them. Langston Galloway was the only Hawk in double figures — barely — with ten points. Greg McDermott and Gregory Echenique combined to score 39 points before taking much of the second half off, as the entire Bluejay bench got a chance to play.

Wyoming 76, No. 19 Colorado 69: Two undefeated teams entered the amusingly named Arena-Auditorium in Laramie, and only one came out umblemished. It was Larry Shyatt’s homestanding Cowboys who managed the feat, absorbing 24 points from Spencer Dinwiddie and 16 from Andre Roberson, but battling back with a balance scoring effort, led by Leonard Washington’s 22 and Larry Nance, Jr’s 14.

Starred

Kadeem Batts, Providence: The stat line says it all. 32 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 3 blocks. Batts was a machine in a 73-63 win over Mississippi State.

Will Clyburn, Iowa State: The Cyclones turned on the Hilton Magic for their guests from Provo, and Clyburn pulled 32 points out of his… hat in an 83-62 domination of Brigham Young.

Struggled

Nicholls State: The poor Colonels were doubled up in every meaningful category except turnovers by the Michigan State Spartans. There, the visitors were very generous, giving the ball up 18 times to just 8 for the Spartans.

Askia Booker: The sophomore who performed so brilliantly in leading Colorado to a national ranking fell flat on his northern trip, scoring just six points and amassing a .154 shooting percentage on the night.

College basketball fans: The news that beloved coach Rick Majerus passed away at age 64 was a harsh blow to those of us who love the game. Majerus was a brilliant, self-deprecating man who made the game fun, and he will be missed.

Kentucky-Kansas headlines the 2017 SEC/Big 12 Challenge

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The Big 12 and the SEC announced the matchups for the 2017 SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Tuesday, and the highlight is, of course, Kansas and Kentucky.

The two schools, who played an instant classic in Phog Allen Fieldhouse last season, will square off in Lexington this season. If that wasn’t enough, Kentucky and Kansas are currently sitting second and third, respectively, in the NBCSports.com Preseason Top 25.

So that should be fun.

The game will be played on January 28th along with the rest of the matchups in the series. Those matchups are:

Texas at Georgia
Texas A&M at West Virginia
Florida at Oklahoma
Baylor at Ole Miss
Iowa State at Vanderbilt
Kansas State at Tennessee
Arkansas at Oklahoma State
Auburn at TCU
LSU at Texas Tech

To be frank, the rest of that schedule is not all that enticing. West Virginia should be a top 25 team, and they host a Texas A&M team that is talented but young. Florida and Georgia are arguably the two best non-Kentucky teams in the league, but they face off with a rebuilding Oklahoma and a young Texas squad, neither of whom are guaranteed to make the tournament.

The problem here?

Both the SEC and the Big 12 are likely going to be down this season, which puts a damper on just how excited we can get about this challenge.

Purdue forward to return to school, withdraw from NBA Draft

Purdue center A.J. Hammons (20) celebrates with forward Vince Edwards (12) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Michigan State in West Lafayette, Ind., Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. Purdue defeated Michigan State 82-81 in overtime. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
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Purdue announced on Tuesday that forward Vince Edwards will be returning to school for his junior season.

Edwards declared for the NBA Draft without signing with an agent and went through the process to gauge his value at the next level.

“After getting the NBA experience and going through the evaluation process, I have talked with my family and Coach Painter and decided it is best for me to return for my junior year,” Edwards said in a statement. “Although the NBA is still a dream for me one day, I am coming back to Purdue to make next year a special one. Thank you to all the organizations who gave me the chance to not only showcase my talents, but also the chance to know me as a young man and not just an athlete.”

Edwards averaged 11.3 points and 5.4 boards last season.

Purdue now has to wait to hear from Caleb Swanigan, a rising sophomore that was a top 20 recruit in the Class of 2015. The deadline to withdraw from the draft is Wednesday.

Five-star 2017 forward Porter Jr. releases top five schools

Father Tolton Catholic's Michael Porter, Jr. (1) celebrates after sinking a basket and drawing a foul during the first half of the Missouri Class 3 boys high school championship basketball game against the Barstow Saturday, March 12, 2016, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
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As one of the top players in the Class of 2017, 6-foot-8 small forward Michael Porter Jr. has been on the receiving end of attention from many high-major programs. Monday night Porter, a native of Columbia, Missouri who’s ranked second in the class by Rivals.com, revealed his top five schools at this point in time.

The five schools that made the cut (in alphabetical order): Indiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Virginia and Washington.

"Top 5 Top 5 Top 5" 🙏🏽 #Blessed

A photo posted by Michael Porter Jr. (@m1chael_porter) on

Of the five schools on Porter’s list Missouri and Washington may be the most interesting given the family connections. Not only is Missouri the hometown school, but Porter’s older sisters Bri and Cierra are members of the women’s basketball team.

And one of the assistants on that coaching staff was Porter’s father, who earlier this spring joined Lorenzo Romar’s staff at Washington. The elder Porter isn’t the only Washington connection either, with Michael’s younger brother Jontay being a commit in the Class of 2018.

Texas A&M lands Spanish forward Eric Vila

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With the loss of all-conference forward Jalen Jones, Texas A&M was in a position where they could afford to add another front court body alongside the likes of Tyler Davis and Tonny Trocha-Morelos. Thursday afternoon head coach Billy Kennedy and his staff managed to do just that, as 6-foot-9 forward Eric Martinez Vila made his pledge to the SEC program.

News of Vila’s commitment was first reported by TexAgs.com, and the FC Barcelona Lassa (that’s the club’s basketball program) product took visits to Texas A&M, Missouri and Wake Forest earlier this spring. Vila’s viewed as more of a combo forward, with the ability to step away from the basket and hit perimeter shots, giving the Aggies some added versatility in the front court.

Vila has plenty of experience playing for both FC Barcelona’s B team (however he did appear with the A-team during the 2014-15 season), and he represented Spain in the 2014 FIBA U16 EuroBasket and 2015 FIBA U18 EuroBasket events. Vila is the fifth member of Texas A&M’s 2016 class, joining guards J.J. Caldwell and J.C. Hampton, wing DeShawn Corprew and forward Robert Williams.

Nevada forward Cameron Oliver to return for sophomore season

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 11: Angelo Chol #3 of the San Diego State Aztecs drives to the hoop against Cameron Oliver #0 of the Nevada Wolf Pack during a semifinal game of the Mountain West Conference basketball tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center on March 11, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)
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With the deadline for early entrants to withdraw from the NBA Draft set for Wednesday, some college basketball teams will receive important news as it pertains to the 2016-17 campaign. One of those teams was Nevada, which surprised many last season by winning 24 games in Eric Musselman’s first season at the helm. And with one of the key contributors from that team deciding to withdraw from the NBA Draft, the Wolf Pack will be well positioned to be even better in 2016-17.

Forward Cameron Oliver, who was one of the Mountain West’s best freshmen this past season, will return to Reno for his sophomore season with Musselman making the news official Monday afternoon.

The 6-foot-8 Oliver averaged 13.4 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game for Nevada, shooting 50.8 percent from the field in his debut season. Oliver was named third team All-Mountain West while also earning conference All-Defensive team honors.

Oliver and wing D.J. Fenner (13.7 ppg) are the team’s top two returning scorers, with guard Marqueze Coleman (15.1 ppg) out of eligibility, and they’ll lead the way for a team that can contend in the Mountain West next season.

In addition to Oliver and Fenner, Nevada adds two talented transfers in Leland King and Marcus Marshall, with the latter averaging 19.5 points per game at Missouri State in 2014-15.