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.

Two workouts this week could alter Caleb Swanigan’s NBA Draft decision

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Purdue big man Caleb Swanigan has the most important decision among any college basketball player who could return next season from the 2017 NBA Draft process. If Swanigan comes back for his junior season, he’s the frontrunner for National Player of the Year. More importantly, Purdue would have a serious chance to repeat as Big Ten regular season champions, especially if Vince Edwards also returns from the same draft process.

Wednesday night is the decision deadline for players to return to college basketball for next season and Swanigan will use two more workouts scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday to help decide his future. According to multiple reports, Swanigan will workout for the Orlando Magic on Tuesday and the New York Knicks on Wednesday.

Tuesday’s workout with the Magic will also reportedly involve Cal big man Ivan Rabb — an important workout for Swanigan since Rabb is listed ahead of Swanigan on a lot of popular mock drafts. The Magic own three picks between No. 25 and No. 35 — which is listed slightly above the No. 40 slot that Draft Express has Swanigan listed. So if Swanigan has a good workout against Rabb for the Magic, then he could get himself some sort of guarantee from a Magic team that desperately needs talent and has a lot of picks in that range.

The Knicks also have Swanigan scheduled for a Wednesday workout as they own the No. 44 overall pick in the second round. Again, the Knicks are a team in win-now mode with current stars like Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis openly feuding with the team’s front-office, so it wouldn’t be out of the question for Swanigan to land some sort of guarantee from New York in the second round.

Of course, guarantees for draft night are nice to have, but things can change quickly on draft night. Swanigan has to consider all of the information he is receiving before he makes his decision on Wednesday. But if Swanigan has two strong workouts and gets the information that he’s looking for this week, then he could easily bolt for a potential guaranteed contract.

Angel Delgado’s return to Seton Hall makes Pirates Big East contender

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Seton Hall got huge news on Monday when Angel Delgado announced that he would be returning to school for his senior season.

“I am coming back to school for my senior year,” Delgado said in a statement on Monday. “It’s very important to my family and me that I finish what I started. This was a difficult decision that took time and patience. Coming back feels just right.”

Delgado, a 6-foot-10 forward from the Dominican Republic, averaged 15.1 points and 13.2 boards last season for the Pirates. He was one of the best big men in the country over the last six weeks of the season.

And his return should bring about one of the best years that Seton Hall basketball has had in a long time.

The Pirates are loaded with talent, tough and, most importantly, old players, from Delgado to Khadeen Carrington to Ishmael Sanogo to Desi Rodriguez. They are going to be a nightmare to run offense against, and they may just be the best team in the Big East not named Villanova. Delgado should end up being a preseason all-american.

Seton Hall is currently ranked No. 17 in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25.

Texas to return Andrew Jones for sophomore season

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Texas got another boost on Monday as former five-star recruit Andrew Jones announced that he will be returning to school for his sophomore season.

“I’ve matured and learned a lot through this process,” Jones said in a statement released on twitter. “I enjoyed the experience and opportunity that I had to be able to participate in the combine and team workouts.

“Time to go work out with my teammates. Hungry and Humble.”

This comes on the heels of Texas landing a commitment from a top five prospect in Mo Bamba. With all those pieces in the fold, including a recruiting class that features four more top 100 prospects, the Longhorns look like they are on track to be a borderline preseason top 25 team and heading back to the NCAA tournament.

This could end up being a narrative-changing year for Texas.

West Virginia returns potential Big 12 Player of the Year in Jevon Carter

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West Virginia got some great news on Monday as Jevon Carter announced that he will be returning to the Mountaineers for his senior year.

“I’m excited about coming back to West Virginia and playing with my teammates for my senior season,” he said. “The entire NBA process was a great experience for me and to gain valuable feedback that I can use to prepare for the future.”

This is massive for the Mountaineers. Not only is Carter the team’s leading scorer at 13.5 points, but he is a three-time all-Big 12 Defensive Team member and led West Virginia in minutes played last season. He’ll be a favorite to win Big 12 Player of the Year, with Devonte’ Graham of Kansas.

Arizona adds five-star Emmanuel Akot to Class of 2017

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Emmanuel Akot, a five-star wing that has been committed to Arizona for months, announced on Monday that he will be reclassifying to the Class of 2017 and enrolling at Arizona this offseason.

“My family and I have decided to join the 2017 class and become a member of the Arizona Basketball family,” Akot said.

Akot was considered a top 15 prospect in the Class of 2018, a class that many believe to be significantly weaker than the Class of 2017. At 6-foot-7, he’s a versatile defender with quite a bit of potential that can step out and knock down threes, but he’s also far from a finish product and will likely need time to acclimate to the college level.

That said, he should be able to fill a role on the wing nicely, providing a nice bit of defensive reliance alongside more offensive-minded weapons like Allonzo Trier and Rawle Alkins.

Akot joins a five-man recruiting class headlined by top four prospect Deandre Ayton and four-star recruits Brandon Randolph and Ira Lee.