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.

Wake’s Collins declares for NBA draft without hiring agent

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) Wake Forest’s John Collins is entering the NBA draft but will not hire an agent and is keeping open the option of returning to school for his junior season.

In a statement Wednesday announcing the decision, Collins said he wants “to make an informed decision about what is best for my future.”

Collins is a 6-foot-10 forward who as a sophomore blossomed into one of the best big men in the Atlantic Coast Conference and was voted to the Associated Press all-ACC team.

He averaged 19.2 points and 9.8 rebounds, putting together a string of 12 consecutive 20-point games late in the season.

His progression was a big reason why the Demon Deacons earned their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2010. Kansas State beat Wake Forest in the First Four.

More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org

Porter, Jr. will ask for Washington release

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There may be an overwhelming assumption on where Michael Porter, Jr. – and his father – will ultimately end up, but the five-star recruit is said publicly that he see his re-recruitment process through.

Porter, Jr. said in a teleconference Wednesday that he will ask for his release from Washington, and his father, a former Huskies assistant, has been offered a job at Missouri by new Tigers coach Cuonzo Martin.

“Right now I’m just trying to take it slow with my family and weigh my options,” Porter Jr. said, according to the Kansas City Star. “I plan to get my (national letter of intent) from Washington back and just go from there, not saying that I’m not going to Washington anymore, but I just want to get it back and weigh my options.”

The prevailing thought has been that the Porters will ultimately land in Columbia, where they have significant history.

Still, it would appear at least publicly that Porter, Jr., a potential No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA draft, will weigh his options in at least the short-term.

Calipari signs two-year extension with Kentucky

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Kentucky continues to take care of John Calipari.

The Wildcats coach has received a two-year extension, keeping him under contract in Lexington through the 2024 season, the school announced Wednesday.

The contract will pay Calipari $7.75 million next season and increase to $8 million per season thereafter.

“John has achieved consistent championship-level performance at Kentucky,” Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart said in a statement. “No one in America is better suited for everything that comes with being the coach here. Not only has he attained incredible success on the court, he is also a leader in our community and in college basketball.

“We have been blessed to have him and Ellen here for the last eight years and we are blessed they will continue to call Kentucky home.”

Not only does the deal extend Calipari, but it continues to keep Kentucky competitive with the NBA, which would seem to be the only outlet that would even potentially tempt Calipari away from Kentucky. An NBA franchise would have to make him among the highest-paid coaches in the league to even match Kentucky financially.

Of course, given that Calipari has spurned interest from the league since returning to college in 2000, it seems unlikely that financial considerations would be the lone or heaviest variable in making a decision to move on.

Certainly, Calipari has an excellent thing going at Kentucky as the premier recruiting program in the country that has enjoyed serious success on the court, culminating in a 2012 national title and a 38-0 start to the 2015 season before a loss in the Final Four.

“The last eight years at the University of Kentucky have been a terrific ride,” Calipari said in a statement. “This extension shows our full commitment to each other. I believe this school is the gold standard and I’m so thankful and blessed that this university has given me this opportunity at this point in my career.”

The Wildcats face UCLA in the Sweet 16 on Friday.

Louisville’s Mitchell declaring for draft, won’t hire an agent

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Louisville’s Donovan Mitchell is the latest to decide to see what the NBA might offer.

“I have decided to test the waters and not hire an agent!” Mitchell wrote in an Instagram post Wednesday. “I am excited to work out this summer for teams and hopefully participate in the NBA combine! I want it to be clear I have not decided to leave Louisville!”

Mitchell, who is expected to be joined by dozens of players, is taking advantage of new NCAA rules that allow him to work out for teams and attend the NBA draft combine before making a decision on whether to remain in the draft and return to school.

Players have until May 24 to withdraw from the draft and return to school.

Mitchell averaged 15.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists as a sophomore, shooting 40.8 percent overall and 35.4 percent on 3-point attempts.

The 6-foot-3 guard is projected as a potential first-round pick, but should he return, the Cardinals would project as one of the top teams in the country with nearly the entire core returning from this year’s 25-9 squad.

Moe-mentum: Wagner stands tall for Sweet 16-bound Michigan

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) Ask Moe Wagner who he looked up to when he was younger, and suddenly the Michigan big man’s fiery demeanor makes a little more sense.

“Kevin Garnett was always my biggest idol, even though our play isn’t really similar. Just the way he brings intensity and energy to his team,” Wagner said. “That always was something that really impressed me.”

Now Wagner is providing his own emotional leadership to a Michigan team that has become one of college basketball’s most remarkable stories this March.

The Wolverines have won six in a row since they were involved in a plane accident on the eve of their Big Ten Tournament opener.

After winning that conference tourney, they opened the NCAAs with victories against Oklahoma State and Louisville – with Wagner scoring 26 points in the win over Louisville that sent Michigan to the Sweet 16.

The 19-year-old Wagner is in his second season with the Wolverines. He showed some promise in 2015-16, but averaged only 8.6 minutes a game as a freshman. He’s been a starter the whole way this season, teaming up with D.J. Wilson to give Michigan some unexpected production in the frontcourt.

The Wolverines entered the season with high hopes thanks to the presence of seniors Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin.

The 6-foot-11 Wagner has made them even tougher to defend. The sophomore from Berlin is averaging 12.2 points a game, and unlike Mitch McGary and Jordan Morgan – two of Michigan’s top big men of the recent past – Wagner is a threat from beyond the arc. He’s made 41 percent of his 3-point attempts in 2016-17, putting even more pressure on opposing teams.

An expressive player on the court, Wagner admits he’s still learning how to keep his emotions under control.

Coach John Beilein says Wagner can be hard on himself, but he has an upbeat attitude the Wolverines can appreciate.

“I don’t want to rob him of his energy and his passion,” Beilein said. “If you heard him in timeouts – I mean, he is really into it. And it’s encouraging things he’s saying.”

The key for Wagner is to stay on the court. He’s been whistled for 100 fouls this season – no other Michigan player has more than 80 – and he picked up two in the first 3:11 when the Wolverines faced Oklahoma State in their NCAA Tournament opener Friday. Wagner played only 14 minutes in that frenetic game, which Michigan won 92-91 .

Against Louisville in the round of 32 , Wagner went 11 of 14 from the field and kept his poise after being called for his second foul late in the first half.

“He’s always just been an excited guy – play hard and play with a lot of passion,” Walton said. “I don’t think anything has changed. I think he’s just channeling it a little better.”

The seventh-seeded Wolverines face third-seeded Oregon on Thursday night in a regional semifinal. Michigan has won seven in a row, a streak that began with the team’s last game of the regular season.

What happened next is well documented. The day before its opening game in the conference tournament, Michigan’s plane slid off the runway .

There were no serious injuries, and the Wolverines arrived in time to play. Then they won four games in four days to take the title.

Now, Michigan is two victories away from an improbable Final Four appearance. If the Wolverines actually make it that far, Wagner will be a big reason why – and he’ll probably be as excited as anyone.

“One of my youth coaches actually used to say that I was somebody who, like, sees the basketball court as a stage and really enjoys it,” Wagner said. “Last year, I started to understand what that actually means, and kind of embraced that this year. That’s just me. I really love it. I really enjoy it.”