Kenny Boynton, Solomon Hill, Mark Lyons

Late Night Snacks: Gators beat Gators in our Game of the Night

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Yeah, you read that right.

Game of the Night

No. 8 Arizona 65, No. 5 Florida 64 – Mark Lyons hit a crazy floater, and Florida kept a timeout in the pocket while going for the last-second shot in an epic comeback at the McKale Center. Arizona was down 64-58 at home when Scotty Welbekin hit a three-pointer with 2:44 left in the second half. The Gators would not score again, tossing up a barrage of missed treys and turning the ball over three times as the game slipped away. Solomon Hill dropped 18 for the victorious home team.

Meaningful Outcomes

No. 3 Michigan 81, West Virginia 66 – The John Beilein Invitational Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival was won by the school currently coached by John Beilein, at the expense of the school formerly coached by John Beilein. Following a big week seven days ago, Kevin Noreen reverted back to his bench-warmer ways, while Michigan’s Trey Burke played like Superman yet again, posting 27 points, five boards, eight assists and three steals. The Wolverines moved to 11-0 and should be the nation’s No. 2 team behind Duke come Monday.

No. 4 Syracuse 85, Canisius 61 – The Orange also look to move up by staying undefeated at 9-0. Jim Baron’s Golden Griffins actually led the game twice in the first half, but ‘Cuse turned on the gas in the second behind James Southerland’s 21-point explosion. Michael Carter-Williams continued his positively ridiculous passing exhibition, posting 14 assists in the win.

No. 9 Kansas 89, Belmont 60 – We know Belmont is a strong, well-coached team, but they weren’t likely to win in Allen. Still a worthy result, as Kansas saw more of the spot-shooting of Andrew White III, who put up 15 (3-5 from deep) in the big win. Jeff Withey, Ben McLemore and Elijah Johnson cracked double figures as well.

No. 14 Gonzaga 68, Kansas State 52 – Kelly Olynyk led the Zags with 20 in their bounce-back win after losing to Illinois at home last week. The big man fouled out with five minutes left in the game, but it made no difference. Only Angel Rodriguez came to play for the Wildcats, scoring 14 points in the Battle in Seattle loss.

Starred

Trey Burke – 27 points sounds like something a gunner would do, but Burke kept his teammates involved by dishing eight assists as well. He didn’t slack on defense, either, knocking away three steals from the West Virginia Mountaineers.

Alex Barlow – Barlow and Rotnei Clarke combined for 25 points on the night. Of course, Barlow was only responsible for six of those, but his gritty two at the end, when more talented teammates were blanketed by the Hoosiers, were the stuff that legends are made of.

Five Eagles – Georgia Southern waltzed into Blacksburg, VA and dealt a stinging loss to Virginia Tech. The Eagles of the SoCon got just two points from their bench, and every starter was in double figures, led by C.J. Reed’s 22.

Struggled

Kenny Boynton – Boynton was 1-7 from behind the arc at the McKale Center, but he refused to stop gunning. It was Boynton who missed consecutive three-pointers in the waning minutes of the game when the Gators needed high-percentage shots, and it was Boynton who missed his only free throw of the night during that same stretch. In late-game minutes, situational awareness >>>>> cojones.

D.J. Cooper – Ohio’s star player had a bad night against Winthrop, hitting just three of his twelve shots from the floor, and one of three from the stripe. His eight-point performance came at a lousy time, as the Eagles nipped the Bobcats by one point, 50-49.

Southern Methodist – The Mustangs got straight clowned by Rhode Island, who came into the game 2-7. 22 turnovers, with a full 15 coming from the starting guards, handed the Rams an easy 72-50 win over an SMU team that started the season riding high.

Tweet of the Night

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.