Jordan Mason, Spencer Dinwiddie

Spencer Dinwiddie spoke but then backed up his words in win over Colorado State

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One reason why rivalry games are so entertaining is the fact that players tend to make far more candid statements than usual. That was the case for Colorado point guard Spencer Dinwiddie the day before the Buffaloes took on Colorado State in Boulder.

“You just kind of see when the little brother beats the big brother once, then they are going to be happy, they are going to rush the court,” Dinwiddie remarked. “When we win tomorrow night, I don’t think our fans are going to do that.”

It’s one thing to talk the talk and another to back it up. Dinwiddie did just that in the Buffaloes’ 70-61 win over Colorado State on Wednesday night, scoring a game-high 29 points and dishing out three assists.

Colorado head coach Tad Boyle showed his players video of Colorado State fans rushing the court at the end of last year’s game, a 65-54 CSU win in Fort Collins, and the tactic paid off as the Buffs stampeded out of the gates and eventually led by as many as 25 points.

But the viewing of said video may have led to Dinwiddie’s comment, one that Boyle said that he plans to address.

“Well I have to talk to Spencer about that, but I purposefully didn’t say anything to him about it before the game, I wanted to see if he was going to back it up or not,” Boyle said following the win.

“And he backed it up now, but we have to be smarter of how we approach the media, because we don’t want to make a habit out of that. The thing I love about Spencer is he believes in himself, he believes in his teammates, and he played tonight like an All-Pac 12 player.”

Dinwiddie also got the job done on the defensive end of the floor, as he limited Wes Eikmeier to seven points and no assists on 3-of-15 shooting from the field. Colton Iverson (19 points, 14 rebounds) and Dorian Green (18 points) led the way for the Rams, who would fight back to within three (54-51) but could not get over the hump.

If there’s a pressing concern for Colorado to address in the aftermath of last night’s game it would have to be their second half foul shooting. Colorado made 12 of their 25 free throws in the second half, and for the season their percentage (68.1%) ranks ninth in the Pac-12. Last night wasn’t as bad as the 4-of-18 performance put forth in their win over Baylor, but Colorado’s proficiency at the charity stripe is something that they’ll want to clean up.

As for Dinwiddie, who was Colorado’s best foul shooter last night (8-of-10), it will feel much better to have a conversation about his statement following his performance.

“It was an analogy, but I think they took it as disrespectful. I didn’t mean it in a disrespectful manner; I have a lot of respect for their team. They have a lot of good players and senior leadership so I wasn’t trying to disrespect their team in any way.”

Luckily for Dinwiddie his “little brother” comment didn’t have a conclusion similar to that of former Michigan running back Mike Hart.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

No. 22 Cincinnati’s loss to No. 16 Butler shines light on AAC’s struggles

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 10: Head coach Mick Cronin of the Cincinnati Bearcats reacts against the Butler Bulldogs in the first half of the game at Hinkle Fieldhouse on December 10, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Kelan Martin scored 20 points and Andrew Chrabascz added 12 points, four boards and five assists as No. 16 Butler bounced back from a tough loss at Indiana State to beat No. 22 Cincinnati, 75-65.

The Bulldogs had been undefeated on the season prior to the loss to the Sycamores, but their ranking was built on the fact that they had beaten Arizona, who was No. 8 at the time, as well as a trio of high-major programs that look destined for the NIT.

Cincinnati probably isn’t destined for the NIT. Their top 25 ranking is justified, which is what makes this win valuable. Quality non-conference wins matter, and this is just one of a handful of good wins for what has proven to be one of the most top-heavy conferences in the country. Villanova, Creighton, Xavier and Butler all look capable of reaching the Sweet 16 this season.

The opposite is true for Cincinnati, who look like the flag-bearer in a conference that isn’t really all that good. They’re the best team in the AAC this season, but that’s a conference that has consistently disappointed this year. SMU, Temple and UConn have all struggled more than we expected them to. Tulsa and Memphis are in rebuilding mode. Houston was supposed to be good this season but they’ve yet to live up to the preseason hype.

Think about it like this: The only team in the AAC without multiple losses on the season is now UCF. That’s … not ideal, and it’s going to be interesting to see just how many bids the league is able to generate.

Think about it. Temple has beaten West Virginia and Florida State while losing to New Hampshire and UMass. SMU’s best win is either Pitt or TCU, both of whom are borderline tournament teams. UConn beat Syracuse but has some atrocious losses on their resume. Houston beat Rhode Island but lost to Arkansas and LSU. Memphis beat Iowa, but Iowa’s not all that good. UCF’s best win is … Mississippi State?

Cincinnati’s lone quality win is at Iowa State, who is about to drop out of the top 25.

POSTERIZED: Wichita State’s Daishon Smith dunks on Oklahoma big man

WICHITA, KS - NOVEMBER 13:  Guard Daishon Smith of the Wichita State Shockers drives up court past forward Roschon Prince #23 of the Long Beach State 49ers during the first half on November 13, 2016 at Charles Koch Arena in Wichita, Kansas.  (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
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Daishon Smith is 6-foot-1.

Kristian Doolittle is 6-foot-7.

The lil guy won this battle:

Here’s another angle of the dunk, which sent Wichita State’s bench into hysterics:

POSTERIZED: Duke’s Grayson Allen with a Dunk of the Year candidate (VIDEO)

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It looks like Grayson Allen’s toe is healthy. I’d say his explosivness is back:

Whoa.

Yeah.

POSTERIZED: Five-star Class of 2017 guard Trevon Duval dunks on 6’8″ defender

CHARLOTTE, NC - JULY 9: Trevon Duval during the 2015  Under Armour All-America Basketball Camp on July 9, 2015 at Queens College in Charlotte, NC. (Photo by Ned Dishman/Under Armour)
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Class of 2017 point guard Trevon Duval put down a huge poster dunk on a 6’8″ defender on Saturday as the five-star prospect showed why many consider him the top lead guard in high school basketball.

The 6-foot-2 Duval is considered the No. 3 overall prospect in the Class of 2017 by Rivals.

Nigel Hayes shines against as No. 17 Wisconsin beats Marquette

MILWAUKEE, WI - DECEMBER 10:  Nigel Hayes #10 of the Wisconsin Badgers is fouled by Luke Fischer #40 of the Marquette Golden Eagles during the first half of a game at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on December 10, 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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What a difference a year makes.

Last season at this time, Wisconsin dropped a home game to a Marquette team that was headed to the NIT.

This year?

The Badgers put six players in double-figures as they went into Milwaukee and knocked off Marquette, 93-84.

Bronson Koenig continued his hot shooting, finishing with 18 points and six assists while shooting 4-for-6 from beyond the arc. Vitto Brown chipped in with 15 points, Khalil Iverson had 16 and Ethan Happ chipped in with 11 despite battling foul trouble all afternoon.

But the really story here – hell, the story of Wisconsin’s season to date – has been the change in the way that Nigel Hayes plays.

Hayes was terrific again on Saturday. He had 17 points, nine boards, four assists and three steals. He shot 6-for-10 from the floor and attempted just a pair of threes, making one of them. He had the ball in his hands when Wisconsin was trying to kill off the game, and, more importantly, head coach Greg Gard has seem to start to take advantage of just how good Hayes can be as a facilitator.

There are a couple of points that need to be made here:

  1. When Hayes plays like this, he deserves to be in the all-american discussion. He’s averaging 18.0 points, 7.3 boards and 6.7 assists in the three games Wisconsin has played against high-major competition since the change, and the Badgers have won five straight games while playing easily their best basketball of the season.
  2. And it’s not just because of the numbers he puts up. When Hayes operates as Wisconsin’s de-facto point guard, it makes everyone else on the roster better. For starters, it allows Koenig to play off the ball, where he seems to be more effective. He’s at his best when he’s hunting shots and trying to create off the bounce, but his aggressiveness can be detrimental when he’s the only one touching the ball. It also means offense runs through Happ more often since Koenig isn’t dominating possession, and it lets guys like Brown space the floor because they’re actually able to get rhythm threes.

As of today, Wisconsin is the favorite to win the Big Ten, even if Indiana is far more likely to end up being a No. 1 seed in March.