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Late Afternoon Snacks: Butler edges Indiana; Gators visit the desert

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There’s too much going on on any given Saturday for us to wait for Late Night Snacks. We’ll take stock of what’s happened up to this point, and look ahead to the good stuff that’s still to come in Late Afternoon Snacks.

Game of the Day

Butler 88, No. 1 Indiana 86 (OT) – Like it could be anything else. For a top-ranked Big Ten team to fall to an A-10 challenger is big news any day. When it’s blue-blood Indiana losing to in-state little brother Butler, in overtime… well, that’s about as close to March Madness as you can get in December. The Bulldogs outshot Indiana, but appeared to be on the ropes, with Roosevelt Jones, Andrew Smith and Erik Fromm fouled out before the game ended. But Rotnei Clarke and Chase Stigall hit long bombs in the extra period to keep the team in it. Even then, a most unlikely hero iced the game for Butler. Alex Barlow, who came to Butler on a baseball scholly, backed down Jordan Hulls and hit all sides of the rim before his game-winner dropped in.

Meaningful Results

No. 6 Louisville 87, Memphis 78 – The Tigers led this game by 16 points at one time and still lost. Too many turnovers (24) gave too many chances to the Cards’ big three of Chane Behanan (22 points), Peyton Siva (19) and Russ smith (also 19). Joe Jackson of Memphis led all scorers with 23 points, but he also contributed eight of the turnovers.

No. 21 North Carolina 93, Western Carolina 87 – It’s not so much the result as the score that’s meaningful here. The Tar Heels held the Pirates to just 26 first-half points before engaging sieve mode in the second stanza. Western dropped sixty-one points after halftime and had a chance to upset their hosts. Reggie Bullock fouled out of the game and only managed 26 minutes of floor time.

Georgia Southern 78, Virginia Tech 73 – Maybe the Hokies didn’t like the pressure of being our team of the week earlier? After a huge upset of Oklahoma State, Tech has dropped two in a row. Losing at West Virginia was understandable, but a home loss to lightly regarded Georgia Southern (0-2 in the SoCon) is a real head-scratcher. Forward Cadarian Raines played just 14 minutes and scored zero points in the loss, while Erick Green scored 28 and tried like heck to put the team on his back, to no avail.

Tonight’s Best

Belmont at No. 9 Kansas, 7 PM – One of the nation’s most consistently dangerous mid-majors visits Allen Fieldhouse. KU should have no trouble inside, but will their perimeter defense hold up to the Bruins’ outside attack?

West Virginia at No. 3 Michigan, 8 PM – Our reigning team of the week will undergo a stiff test. Can they avoid the Dauster curse and pull off the big upset while still wearing the CBT bullseye?

Mississippi State at Loyola, 8 PM – Will it be a great matchup? Who knows? But we’ve established that it’s a very meaningful one, because of the historical implications.

Kansas State at No. 14 Gonzaga, 9 PM – This game is actually being played in Seattle, so it’s a home game in name only for the Bulldogs. Still, a perfect opportunity to show if they’re going to bounce back and be a force this season. Kansas State is 7-1 under Bruce Weber, whose Illinois recruits just topped off the Zags last weekend. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

No. 5 Florida at No. 8 Arizona, 10 PM – Clearly the marquee matchup of the evening. Our own Raphielle Johnson will be at the game, so we’ll get the eyewitness report of this blazing top-ten matchup that will tell us a great deal about both teams. An ideal nightcap for a big day of college hoops.

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

DePaul adds 2018 commit

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Wisconsin guard John Diener has committed to DePaul, his grassroots program announced Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-4 Class of 2018 guard ends his recruitment rather early with offers also from instate schools Green Bay and Milwaukee. He’s known as a shooter and becomes the first commit for Dave Leitao in the 2018 class.

Diener, who plays with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors in the spring and summer, commits to the Blue Demons with them coming off a disappointing campaign, Leitao’s first in Chicago. DePaul went 9-22 overall and 3-15 in the Big East, finishing only ahead of St. John’s.

DePaul has been recruiting the Midwest hard with incoming 2016 recruits from La Lumiere School in Indiana, Sagninow, Mich. and locally in Chicago.

Four-star guard Fisher commits to TCU

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Jamie Dixon’s presence is already being felt in the Big 12 and on the recruiting trail.

TCU received its first commitment of the Dixon era when four-star 2016 point guard Jaylen Fisher announced his decision to join the Horned Frogs on Wednesday.

“Due to how comfortable my family and I are with the coaching staff,” Fisher posted from his Twitter account, “and the emphasis the university has put on making basketball a priority, I’m committing to be a student-athlete at TCU.”

Getting a consensus top-75 prospect, who was once committed to UNLV, is a heck of a coup for being just a couple months on the job. It instantly shows the Frogs are going to be a player for some of the country’s top players, which is a necessity if you have designs on making a move up the ladder of arguably the country’s best league in the Big 12.

Maybe the most gratifying thing for TCU, though, is the reason Fisher publicly stated for making his decision, the school’s “making basketball a priority.” The hoops program has suffered immensely in the Big 12 (while the football program has flourished), winning a total of eight games in their four seasons (including a winless 2014), but the school sank $72 million into renovating its arena, made an aggressive move in firing Trent Johnson and then went out and got its dream candidate, Dixon, an alum. Fisher’s commitment is the first time those moves have shown that commitment to basketball paying off.

 

Report: Izundu’s San Diego State transfer ban rescinded

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Washington State transfer Valentine Izundu will be visiting San Diego State after all.

Coach Ernie Kent has rescinded his restriction on the 6-foot-10 graduate transfer from visiting the Aztecs, according to a report from the Spokesman-Review, citing an anonymous source. Izundu will also be reportedly visiting Fresno State and UNLV.

Izundu had previously been barred from considering the Aztecs by Kent because of suspcisions of tampering. Izundu vigorously denied that was the case as at the center of the dispute was a trip he made to San Diego for spring break. He publicly said he did not have any contact with the SDSU coaching staff , though he attended an Aztecs NIT game.

Kent, though, appears to have relented, as many coaches who have similarly faces public pressure in such situations before him have. In this era where so much attention is being paid to player rights and welfare, there only seems to be growing public sentiment against programs restricting transfers beyond the absolute bare minimum is rarely going to go over well. It may make things more difficult for coaches and programs, but it’s the deck is largely already stacked in their favor in most every other instance.

Ex-Michigan State player Keith Appling faces weapons charges

Keith Appling
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DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) Authorities say former Michigan State basketball player Keith Appling faces charges including carrying a concealed weapon after he was found in possession of guns and marijuana in suburban Detroit.

The Wayne County prosecutor’s office says 24-year-old Appling was arrested outside a Dearborn club on Sunday night. Club security called police after seeing a man pull a gun from the trunk of a car.

Prosecutors say Appling was in the driver’s seat of the car when police arrived. Officers found a handgun under the driver’s seat, a loaded weapon in the trunk and a small amount of suspected marijuana.

Weapons and marijuana possession charges were announced Wednesday.

The court says he doesn’t have a lawyer on record.

Appling played for the Spartans from 2010-2014 and plays for the NBA’s development league.

UNLV transfer to finish career at Michigan State

UNLV forward Ben Carter, right, celebrates after his team defeated Oregon in an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, in Las Vegas. UNLV won 80-69. (AP Photo/John Locher)
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Former UNLV center Ben Carter announced on Wednesday that he will be transferring to Michigan State to finish his collegiate career.

Carter, who began his career at Oregon, averaged 8.6 points and 6.0 boards in his one season with UNLV before tearing his ACL in late January. He spent two seasons with the Ducks before transferring to Vegas, which is why he’s eligible immediately for the Spartans.

And that’s the biggest reason that Tom Izzo and company targeted him.

The Spartans lost Deyonta Davis to the NBA Draft after one season, a fact that became an inevitability midway through the year but one that the Spartans didn’t necessarily plan for heading into last season. Carter isn’t going to be an instant impact kind of player, particularly not when he’s coming off of an ACL injury, but he is a big body and a veteran presence on a front line that wasn’t going have much of either.