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.

Villanova beats Duke, Kansas, Indiana for Jermaine Samuels

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Jermaine Samuels, Jr. #23 of Expressions Elite dunks. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
Jon Lopez/Nike
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Villanova landed a commitment from top 50 prospect Jermaine Samuels on Saturday.

Samuels is a tough and athletic 6-foot-5 wing that will remind many Wildcat fans of Josh Hart. He’s got the same kind of versatility and nose for the ball that will let him guard perimeter players as well as work in as a small-ball four. Players like this are a specialty of Jay Wright.

Samuels picked up an offer from Duke recently and also had Indiana, Kansas and Georgetown in his top five. Beating out blue-bloods for a prospect like this is quite the statement for Villanova, one that should tell you the reigning national champs are here to stay as a national power.

Syracuse lands critical piece in Andrew White

LINCOLN, NE - FEBRUARY 3: Andrew White #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers shoots the ball over Rasheed Sulaimon #0 of the Maryland Terrapins during their game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on February 3, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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Syracuse has found their replacement for Malachi Richardson.

On Sunday, Nebraska transfer Andrew White committed to the Orange, picking Syracuse, in the end, over VCU. White is a graduate transfer who spent last season with Nebraska, where he averaged 16.2 points while shooting 41.2 percent from three. A top 50 prospect out of Virginia back in the Class of 2012, White played a limited role for Kansas his first two seasons in college.

This is a significant pickup for the Orange, one that legitimately puts them into the conversation as a Final Four contender and a threat to finish at or near the top of the ACC. Jim Boeheim has put together a roster full of talented, long and athletic front court players, but after Richardson declared for the NBA Draft as a one-and-done freshman, he was left with just two back court players on his roster.

Earlier this offseason, Cuse landed Colorado State grad transfer John Gillon, a 6-foot-1 combo-guard, to reinforce their back court. The addition of White gives them a lights-out shooter and a big-time scorer on the wing, something that would have been a major void on their roster.

With Paschal Chukwu getting eligible at the center spot and Tyler Lydon likely landing on every breakout player list this preseason, the Orange should be a markedly better team than the one that made their way to the Final Four last season.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.