Kevin Pangos, Royce Woolridge

Late Night Snacks: Gonzaga and Washington State’s thrilling finish

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Games of the Night

No. 10 Gonzaga 71, Washington State 69: The Zags and Wazzu played one of the best early season basketball games you’re going to see. Gonzaga erased a four-point halftime deficit on the strength of Elias Harris and Kelly Olynyk, going up by 11 points late in the second half. But Brock Motum and Devante Lacy got hot from the perimeter, eventually taking advantage of a couple of missed free throws by the Bulldogs in order to tie the game with 7.8 seconds left. Lacy went coast-to-coast, breaking Gary Bell’s ankle with a crossover in the process. But Kevin Pangos didn’t hesitate, taking the in-bounds and answering with a coast-to-coast drive of his own.

Olynyk and Harris combined for 45 points on 20-31 shooting from the floor. Lacy and Motum also combined for 45 points, hitting nine threes in total.

Charlotte 73, Davidson 69: The 49ers looked like they may be for real. Thanks to Pierria Henry’s baseline jumper with 27.5 seconds left in the game, Charlotte took a 71-69 lead and hung on to win after De’Mon Brooks drove into three defenders and missed a layup. Chris Braswell led the way for Charlotte, finishing with 15 points. This is a group that was overlooked heading into the season, but if they keep winning, Atlantic 10 foes are going to have to start taking them seriously.

St. Louis 67, North Texas 63: Jordair Jett and Cody Ellis finished with 17 points apiece as the Billikens won their second straight game since the passing of former head coach Rick Majerus. It’s the first time this season that they have won back-to-back games. Jett broke a 61-all tie with 35 seconds left, and Ellis hit four free throws down the stretch to ice the game.

Chris Jones had 21 points, seven assists and seven boards to lead the way for the Mean Green, who dropped to 3-6 on the season. Tony Mitchell had 18 points and eight boards.

Important Outcomes

Colorado 70, Colorado State 61: Colorado jumped out to a 42-17 lead late in the first half, and while the Rams were able to cut the lead to three points with about five minutes left, the comeback proved to take too much out of them; Colorado responded with a run of their own and finished off the win. This was a performance that Tad Boyle’s team needed. They struggled to hold off Texas Southern and lost at Wyoming last week after breaking into the top 25, looking like they bought into their own hype.

The Rams will be just fine. They ran into a buzzsaw tonight in a rowdy environment. It happens. The concern, however, is that Colorado State’s issue last season, especially in league play, was their performance on the road.

No. 18 New Mexico 75, USC 67: New Mexico closed out the first half with a 22-4 run, taking control as Hugh Greenwood caught fire from beyond the arc. He hit five threes and finished with 17 points, while Alex Kirk went for 13 points and 13 boards and Kendell Williams chipped in with 13 points and nine assists.

Starred

Geron Johnson, Memphis: Johnson went for a team-high 21 points, shooting 8-11 from the floor, as the Tigers ran over a good Ohio team, 84-58. Johnson looked like the most talented perimeter scorer Josh Pastner has at his disposal.

Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado: 29 points on just 8-10 shooting. A big win over a big rival. Nights don’t get much better than that.

Kevin Willard, Dayton: The Flyers went into Tuscaloosa and beatdown Alabama, 81-76. Dillard was the star of the show, finishing with 25 points and six assists.

Tyreek Duren, La Salle: Duren went for 29 points as La Salle blew out Penn State at home.

Struggled

Florida State: The Seminoles lost their third straight game on Wednesday, losing by 25 at home to No. 6 Florida. FSU was down 50-19 at one point. They shot 34.6% from the floor. They turned the ball over 22 times.

Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee: For the second straight game, Tennessee failed to crack the 40 point mark. On Wednesday night, Stokes finished with five points on 2-5 shooting. That’s not going to cut it.

Villanova: The Wildcats lost by 15 at home to Big 5 rival Temple, their fourth loss in the last five games. They turned the ball over 20 times in the loss.

The Rest of the Top 25

  • No. 19 Michigan State 76, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 44
  • No. 23 Oklahoma State 61, South Florida 49

Notable Scores

  • West Virginia 69, Marshall 59
  • Niagara 62, Loyola 61
  • Northern Iowa 76, Northern Colorado 59
  • St. Mary’s 88, Drake 73
  • Utah 76, Boise State 55

Three Facts

– Loyola Marymount won his 300th game tonight, beating Northern Arizona in overtime. Anthony Ireland had 28 points in the win.

– Maryland beat UMES 100-68, the first time that a Mark Turgeon team has reached triple digits since he lost to Baylor 116-110 in five overtimes at Texas A&M.

– Tennessee has lost three games this season. They have scored a total of 119 points in those three games. That’s a total of 39.7 points.

And one fight

That wasn’t even a real fight.

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

Update: Creighton’s Watson turns himself into police

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 31: Injured guard Maurice Watson Jr. of the Creighton Bluejays looks on during the game against the Butler Bulldogs at Hinkle Fieldhouse on January 31, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Creighton defeated Butler 76-67. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images
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Update: Later Sunday, Watson turned himself into the Douglas County Jail, a law enforcement official told the Omaha World-Herald. Watson’s attorney told the paper that Watson was driving back to Omaha from his native Philadelphia and was slowed by the snowstorm that hit parts of the country this week.

Law enforcement has been unable to arrest Creighton guard Maurice Watson since a warrant for his arrest on the charge first-degree sexual assault was issued last week, according to police.

“The U.S. Marshals Service and the Omaha Police Fugitive Unit continue to look for Mr. Watson,” Omaha Police said in a statement Sunday. “At this point in time, Mr. Watson is dodging law enforcement efforts to arrest him.

“Until he is located and arrested by law enforcement, or turns himself in, the entire Douglas County Court system is operating off of Mr. Watson’s time frame.

“Neither OPD nor the Douglas County Attorney’s Office is part of any specific arrangements for Mr. Watson to turn himself in.”

Watson was accused by a 19-year-old acquaintance, who reportedly is also a Creighton student, of sexual assault in the bathroom of an Omaha residence around 3 a.m. on Feb. 4. A report was filed later that day.

The point guard was in the midst of a banner season for the Bluejays before he tore his ACL in January, which ended his collegiate career. Creighton announced on Feb. 13 he was suspended from the team and not allowed to participate in senior night act due to  “alleged actions that are contrary to university policies and core values.”

The warrant for his arrest was issued Thursday.

 

Seventh-ranked Louisville dominates Syracuse

Rick Pitino
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The hint arrived early that Louisville might be no kind of matchup for Syracuse when the Cardinals jumped out to a quick 11-2 lead. The Orange, though, appeared to steady and seemed intent on delivering an interesting Sunday afternoon and a maybe another resume-changing win after beating Duke earlier in the week as the roared back to take a lead.

Everyone should have taken the early hint.

Louisville used a 21-4 first-half run to gain separation and never looked back as the Cardinals dominated Syracuse, 88-68, on Saturday afternoon at the KFC Yum! Center.

The win was the fourth in five games for Louisville, which shot 56.9 percent from the floor and held the Orange to 35.7 percent shooting.

Donovan Mitchell was sensational, going for 25 points on 9 of 16 shooting, including 6 of 10 from deep, while also grabbing five rebounds and dishing out four assists. It was his third-straight game with at least 20 points.  He also had an absolutely dynamic one-handed alley-oop late that was just fantastic.

The Cardinals showed no ill effects of a hangover stemming from the loss earlier this week at North Carolina, but instead it was as dominant a performance as they’ve had in weeks.

On the losing side of the ledger are the Orange, who looked to be building some momentum after a three-game losing streak by beating Duke on Wednesday. Then, the Blue Devils went and lost to Miami and Syracuse just got smashed by another ACC contender. That doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence.

For Syracuse, it looks destined to spend another Selection Sunday sweating, though there’s certainly enough time for it to go either way. The Orange can really only hurt themselves until the ACC tournament with Georgia Tech heading to the Carrier Dome this week. That’s a game Syracuse will need to win, lest they really want the pressure ratcheted up in Brooklyn.

A big part of the issue for Syracuse pinning its hopes on the ACC tournament is its total lack of depth. Tyler Lydon and Andrew White both went at least 40 minutes for the 11- and 10-straight games, respectively. Syracuse played seven and got 28 minutes total from its bench.

With a few days typically between days, that’s pretty sustainable for the regular season, but those minutes are sure to weigh on players going on back-to-back (and maybe longer) days.

#POSTERIZED: Donovan Mitchell caps Cards win with an oop

LOUISVILLE, KY - JANUARY 19:  Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Louisville Cardinals reacts after making a three point shot to end the first half against the Clemson Tigers at KFC YUM! Center on January 19, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Louisville used a huge first-half run to pull away from Syracuse, and a Donovan Mitchell slam to put the icing on the cake.

The Cardinals sophomore caught a pass one-handed and seamlessly threw it home to deliver the signature moment of Louisville’s 88-68 win over the Orange on Saturday

LaVar Ball walks back statement on Lonzo’s Laker future

LEXINGTON, KY - DECEMBER 03: Lonzo Ball #2 of the UCLA Bruins reacts after making a three-point basket against the Kentucky Wildcats in the second half of the game at Rupp Arena on December 3, 2016 in Lexington, Kentucky. UCLA defeated Kentucky 97-92. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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The only person better at generating headlines than Lonzo Ball seems to be his father, LaVar. The elder Ball managed to do so again this weekend, once for saying something wild and then again for walking those comments back.

LaVar told KCUB Sports Radio 1290 in Arizona that UCLA star Lonzo would play for the Lakers and that he would discourage other teams from taking the stellar point guard at the top of the draft. Later, he said he was only posturing.

“I’m not trying to say he won’t play for a different team,” LaVar told ESPN. “But I’d like him to play for the Lakers because it’s home, and I’d love him to learn from Magic [Johnson]. He’s the best guard ever to me, and nobody better for Lonzo to learn from than Magic Johnson.”

Lonzo is averaging 14.8, 7.6 assists and 6.8 rebounds per game for the Bruins, who stand at 26-3 on the season. He’s in the mix to be the potential No. 1 pick in June’s NBA draft.

LaVar has already stated on multiple occasions that Lonzo is better than two-time MVP Steph Curry of Golden State. He’s clearly supremely confident – and outspoken – about his son’s talent. With two younger sons, LaMelo and LiAngelo, set to soon begin their own college careers, LaVar’s exuberant proclamations may just be getting started.

Duke and Krzyzewski have “a decision” to make as injuries linger

DURHAM, NC - NOVEMBER 26:  Amile Jefferson #21 talks with Grayson Allen #3 of the Duke Blue Devils during the game against the Appalachian State Mountaineers at Cameron Indoor Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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Duke missed the production of veterans Grayson Allen and Amile Jefferson on Saturday in its 55-50 loss to Miami, the Blue Devils’ second-straight loss after falling to Syracuse earlier in the week. It also missed their influence on the offensive end.

Allen missed the game with an ankle injury while the foot problem that sidelined Jefferson for a pair of games in January continues to be an issue and limited to minor second-half minutes Saturday. Without the pair, Duke shot 31.8 percent from the floor and had 13 turnovers against the Hurricanes.

We need those guys to calm people down on the offensive end,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the game. “The continuity on the offensive end is not up to par with the defense.”

Both players will be re-evaluated before Tuesday’s home contest against Florida State, but Jefferson’s injury would appear to be the most concerning given it has lingered for well over a month now.

“I’ve got to make a decision with Amile,” Krzyzewski said. “He’s not running. He is not running at all.”

Duke could likely make it work in the short term if it was short just one of the Allen-Jefferson duo, but without both it stresses the ballhandling, playmaking and inexperienced frontcourt all at the same time. Luke Kennard was the only Blue Devil to crack double figures scoring against the ‘Canes while freshmen Marques Bolden and Harry Giles, who both have had their injury issues, were relatively ineffective in player fewer than 20 minutes apiece. Both Kennard and Jayson Tatum played a full 40.

At the start of the season, Duke had the look of a juggernaut, but given the multitude of issues they’ve faced seemingly from the jump, it has a bit of a slog with only a seven-game winning streak to have eased their pain all year.

What made the Blue Devils look so formidable before the season was their sheer level of talent. With Allen and Jefferson ailing, the move for Krzyzewski might be to just bet on that talent in the NCAA tournament rather than jockey for seeding position. He could keep Jefferson and Allen on the shelf as they heal, give Giles and Bolden a ton of run and then just make a go of it in the Big Dance, betting on the talent overcoming the inconsistency of the season.

Like Krzyzewski said about Jefferson, he’s got a decision to make.