Butler upsets No. 1 Indiana in overtime

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With Indiana’s defense taking away shooters Rotnei Clarke, Kellen Dunham and Chase Stigall, former walk-on Alex Barlow beat Jordy Hulls off the dribble and got a tough leaner to drop with 2.5 seconds left on the clock as Butler knocked off the nation’s No. 1 team 88-86 in overtime in the Crossroads Classic.

Clarke and Stigall hit back to back threes with about a minute remaining to give the Bulldogs an 86-84 lead, but Cody Zeller scored on a driving layup with 20 seconds left to set up the final possession.

Does it get anymore Butler than that?

Butler was lucky to keep the game as close as they did down the stretch. After a 12-0 run was capped by a Stigall three with just under five minutes left in regulation, the Bulldogs had a 66-59 lead. But over the next two minutes, Brad Stevens’ team would lose both Roosevelt Jones and Andrew Smith to fouls. Those were the two best players on the floor for Butler on Saturday afternoon. Jones finished with 16 points, 12 boards and seven assists, and Smith went for 12 points and nine boards while also outplaying the Preseason Player of the Year in the paint.

We knew Butler was going to be able to play with anyone in the country this season. That’s what happens when you have size and toughness up front and a slew of sharpshooters in the back court.

But what I didn’t expect to see were the facets of the game in which Indiana struggled.

The Hoosiers were absolutely brutalized by Butler on the offensive glass. The Bulldogs finished with 19 offensive rebounds (and a 48.7% offensive rebounding percentage), and I’d be willing to wager that Will Sheehey was the biggest scapegoat. Erick Fromm, who Sheehey was matched up with, finished with 10 points and five boards — all five offensive — while also knocking down a pair of big threes.

The other issue I had was with how much difficulty Indiana had getting the ball into Zeller late in the game. I’ll have to go back and rewatch the tape on this one to figure out exactly what they did wrong, but the bottom line is that when you have a player as good as Zeller, you need to get him touches. Some credit has to be given to the Butler defense for making it difficult for Zeller to get position and for providing defensive pressure on the perimeter, but in the final three minutes and overtime, when Smith wasn’t on the floor, Zeller was being guarded by someone that was 6-foot-6. He needs to get those touches.

But only so much criticism can be lobbed after a game like this.

We saw comebacks. We saw overtime. We saw big shot after big shot after big shot. I haven’t even had a chance to mention that Indiana was able to make their comeback because of a steal and a layup from Victor Oladipo and a game-tying three from Yogi Ferrell, or that Clarke hit a couple of ridiculous 26-footers in big moments.

Butler earned this win, and they did so in one of the most entertaining games of the season.

That season-opening loss to Xavier feels like a long time ago, doesn’t it?

Missouri lands No. 1 player in Class of 2017 as Michael Porter Jr. commits

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Missouri and new head coach Cuonzo Martin have landed the No. 1 player in the Class of 2017 a week after he took the job as forward Michael Porter Jr. committed to the Tigers on Friday.

Formerly a Washington commit under now-fired head coach Lorenzo Romar, the 6-foot-9 Porter was released from his Letter of Intent this week and many believed he’d end up back at Missouri.

The Porter family lived in Columbia for many years as two of Michael’s older sisters play for the Missouri women’s team while Michael Porter Sr. was an assistant coach for the women’s team.

When Porter Sr. was hired to Missouri to be an assistant coach on Martin’s staff this week — after losing his assistant coaching job at Washington when Romar was fired — it all but sealed the deal that the Porters would return to Missouri and Michael Jr. would play for the Tigers.

Missouri might not be an NCAA Tournament team next season after struggling to an 8-24 finish and 2-16 record in the SEC. But Porter might be the most productive freshman entering college basketball next season as he has a chance to be dominant in the SEC.

Oklahoma State promotes assistant coach Mike Boynton to head coach

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Oklahoma State has decided to promote assistant coach Mike Boynton to head coach, the school announced on Friday.

Boynton was an assistant with the Cowboys under former head coach Brad Underwood, who left Oklahoma State to take the Illinois job last weekend. Also an assistant coach at Stephen F. Austin, South Carolina, Wofford and Coastal Carolina, Boynton is a native of New York City who played his college ball for the Gamecocks.

The hire of Boynton is surprising since he doesn’t have any head-coaching experience as it follows in the footsteps of Cal promoting assistant coach Wyking Jones earlier in the day. Boynton also notably won the job over broadcaster and former Oklahoma State guard Doug Gottlieb as Gottlieb interviewed for the job but wasn’t selected.

 

Rhode Island junior E.C. Matthews will return to school

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Rhode Island junior guard E.C. Matthews will return to school for his redshirt senior season, the school announced on Friday.

The 6-foot-5 Matthews led the Rams in scoring at 14.9 points per game this past season as he returned from a torn ACL and helped Rhode Island reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1999.

Besides for being a talented scorer, Matthews is a good overall playmaker for the Rams as he also put up 4.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.

With Matthews returning, it gives head coach Dan Hurley a huge weapon for next season as Rhode Island returns everyone besides the senior front court of Hassan Martin and Kuran Iverson.

Cal promotes assistant Wyking Jones to head coach

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Cal will promote interim head coach and former assistant coach Wyking Jones to head coach, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. The story was first reported by Jon Rothstein of FanRagSports.com

A native of Inglewood, California, Jones has been an assistant coach for the Golden Bears for the past two seasons as he replaces former head coach Cuonzo Martin, who departed to take the Missouri job. This promotion comes as a bit of a surprise for some since Jones has never been a head coach at the Division I level.

Jones has spent 15 years as an assistant coach at the Division I level at places like Cal, Louisville, New Mexico, Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount — where Jones spent his playing career.

Helping Louisville to the Final Four in 2013, Jones is a respected coach and recruiter who gets a great opportunity for his first head coaching job at the Division I level with Cal.

The Golden Bears made the NCAA tournament last year but finished 21-13 this season as they missed making the field of 68. Sophomore big man Ivan Rabb has already declared for the NBA Draft and it will be interesting to see what kind of roster Jones gets to work with right away.

One of the reasons Jones might have been retained is to help Cal keep its solid five-man recruiting class from bolting. While the Golden Bears don’t have any five-star talents coming in, it is a solid foundation for the program’s future led by a four-star guard in Jemarl Baker.

Florida State freshman forward Jonathan Isaac declares for 2017 NBA Draft

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Florida State freshman forward Jonathan Isaac has declared for the 2017 NBA Draft.

The 6-foot-10 Isaac was a five-star prospect out of high school as he averaged 12.0 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. One of the most versatile defenders in the country, Isaac could protect the rim (1.5 blocks per game) and also switch out to the perimeter and cover smaller wings as well (1.2 steals per game). Also showing a solid skill level, Isaac shot 50 percent from the field, 34 percent from three-point range and 78 percent from the free-throw line.

That kind of versatility is what Isaac is banking on in the NBA Draft as he’s expected to be a top-15 pick. If Isaac can prove that he’s a reliable perimeter shooter then teams could be intrigued by him as a matchup nightmare in the front court.