Jordan Bachynski, Jason Washburn

Late Night Snacks: Bachynski triples; Paul answers the call

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Game of the Night

No. 13 Illinois 85, No. 10 Gonzaga 74 – If you had any questions about Illinois, consider them answered. Gonzaga had the clear advantage inside, and the Bulldogs were playing in front of a rabid crowd of faithful fans at the Kennel. Even when Tyler Griffey and Nnanna Egwu fouled out, the Illini had the game in hand, because Brandon Paul was unstoppable. His line of 35 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocked shots in a hostile environment put Illinois in line for a top-ten ranking come Monday.

Important Outcomes

West Virginia 68, Virginia Tech 67 – It was nip/tuck all the way as the Hokies took their perfect record into Morgantown and came away with a very narrow first loss. Kevin Noreen came off the bench to post career highs in points and rebounds in an early must-win game for the slumping Mountaineers.

No. 8 Arizona 66, Clemson 54 – The Tigers threw a block party, rejecting 12 shots in a hotly contested game at Littlejohn. Mark Lyons and Nick Johnson combined to score 33 of the Wildcats’ 66 points to salt away a tough road game, good practice for a Dec. 15 date with No. 6 Florida.

Middle Tennessee 65, Mississippi 62 – Bad news comes in bunches for Ole Miss. First Andy Kennedy had to dismiss a young big man before he’d set foot on the court, then comes a non-conference road loss to a lightly regarded foe that dropped his previously unbeaten team to 6-1. Contrary to standard operating procedure in such games, MTSU played everyone they could, getting 26 points from bench players, compared to a paltry 6 reserve points from the Rebs.

Tulsa 50, TCU 49 – Pat Swilling, Jr. scored the winning point for Danny Manning’s Golden Hurricane, hitting a free throw with three seconds left, but it was senior guard Scottie Haralson who sealed the deal by securing the rebound when Swilling missed the second. The close win over a Big 12 opponent will give Tulsa a dash of confidence as a Dec. 15th date with No. 16 Creighton looms.

Starred

Jordan Bachynski – Move over, Jeff Withey. The Northridge Matadors waved a red cape in Bachynski’s face, and he took it personally. His 13 points, 12 rebounds and 12 blocks will go down as the first-ever triple-double in Arizona State’s basketball history. The 87-76 win moved the Sun Devils to 8-1 on the season. Pitchfork Posts, in a post written before Bachynski’s history-making effort was consummated, tells us which other Sun Devils came close to performing the feat.

Syracuse backcourt – You know you whupped somebody when the guy with eight assists is nowhere near your leading passer. In a 108-56 hiding of Monmouth, Brandon Triche had a pretty good game, dishing the aforementioned eight-pack to go along with 18 points. Which would be awesome if Michael Carter-Williams hadn’t gone for 15 points, 5 steals, 4 blocks and an amazing sixteen assists.

Matt Hunter – No. 1 Indiana curb-stomped poor Central Connecticut State (Motto: We’re the Other Blue Devils) 100-69 on Saturday. And yet I found something to laud about the performance turned in by 6’5″ junior Matt Hunter, who scored 40 quixotic points, which is pretty freakin’ indomitable if you ask me. That’s 58% of his team’s points on the night. He’s no Jack Taylor of Grinell, but not bad for a DI player.

Struggled

The Texas end game – In the Battle of Who Could Care Less, it was the success of the Free Shabazz Muhammad movement that gave UCLA the win. Muhammad scored 16, and while Myck Kabongo sits, the Texas offense continues to stall at crucial moments. When UCLA’s Jordan Adams missed a free throw with five seconds left, 6’7″ forward Jonathan Holmes snagged the rebound and brought the ball up the court himself, heaving a poorly-aimed desperation three when a two would have sent the game to OT.

Delvon Roe – The former Michigan State forward fought off sleep just long enough to poke fun at an old rival via Twitter:

Not one Badger hit double figures in a 60-50 loss to in-state rival Marquette.

The CAA – Drexel beat Princeton and William & Mary defeated Radford, but the rest of the night was a shambles for the once-proud mid-major league. Lame duck Georgia State’s win over something called Southern Polytechnic State did little to salve the pain of OT losses by George Mason, James Madison and Delaware. Garden variety two-set losses by Towson, Wilmington, Hofstra and Northeastern were the kettle drums in the league’s ongoing symphony of pain.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

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.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
Bart Young/USA Basketball
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.