Late Night Snacks: No. 10 Illinois moves to 12-0 with win over Eastern Kentucky

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Games of the Day

1. Murray State 75, Western Kentucky 70 
Isaiah Canaan led four Racers in double figures with 21 points as Murray State held off the Hilltoppers in Murray. The difference was a 14-2 second half run, turning a two-point deficit into a ten-point lead with just under four minutes remaining. Brandon Harris, who entered the game averaging 4.2 points per game, scored a career-high 23 to lead the way for WKU. Next up for Murray State, who has now won five straight, is a trip to VCU on Tuesday night.

2. McNeese State 80, Texas Tech 75
Despite turning the ball over 20 times and having Texas Tech score 22 points off of those miscues, McNeese State was able to pull off the upset in Lubbock. Craig McFerrin led four Cowboys in double figures with 18 points, and as a team McNeese State shot 55.9% from the field. Jaye Crockett led the Red Raiders with 17 points and ten rebounds.

3. Boston University 69, Quinnipiac 62 (OT) 
A John Papale three-pointer with 5.4 seconds remaining tied things up for the Terriers at “The Roof,” and Joe Jones’ team would go on to win in overtime. Papale led BU with a career-high 16 points off the bench, while Ike Azotam (19 points, ten rebounds) and Zaid Hearst (18 points) led the way for the visiting Bobcats.

Important Outcomes

1. No. 10 Illinois 66, Eastern Kentucky 53 
In a matchup of undefeated teams in Champaign the Fighting Illini held off the Colonels, with Brandon Paul leading the way with 17 points and nine rebounds. Illinois won despite shooting 6-of-23 from three and turning the ball over 20 times, due in large part to their 19-of-27 shooting inside of the arc and a 39-20 advantage on the glass. Next up for Illinois: rival Missouri in the Braggin’ Rights Game on Saturday. EKU’s Corey Walden led all scorers with 21 points.

2. Boston College 61, New Hampshire 59 (OT) 
With losses to Bryant and Harvard (the Crimson have won five straight in the series) already on their “resume,” Boston College could ill afford to lose to UNH. Despite going 0-of-19 from beyond the arc in regulation the Eagles found a way to get the game into overtime, with sophomore Ryan Anderson leading the way with 23 points and 19 rebounds. Ferg Myrick led the Wildcats with 21 points, eight rebounds and five steals, but Bill Herrion’s team will look at this as a game they let slip away from their grasp (led by as many as 13 points in the second half.

3. Rutgers 88, UAB 79 
In the first game of head coach Mike Rice’s three-game suspension the Scarlet Knights took care of UAB in Piscataway, with Myles Mack’s 23 points leading the way. Mack also accounted for five assists, five steals and four rebounds in the first head coaching win for David Cox, who fired up the players by giving his pregame speech in full uniform. As a team Rutgers shot 60% from the field and led by as many as 25 in the first half. Jordan Swing led the Blazers 23 points and Preston Purifoy added 20.

Starred

1. F Ryan Anderson (Boston College) 
Due to the Eagles’ lack of success it can be argued that the sophomore from Long Beach, California is one of college basketball’s hidden gems. Anderson led Boston College past New Hampshire, finishing with 23 points and a career-high 19 rebounds in the 61-59 overtime victory.

2. G Roberton Nelson and F Devon Collier (Oregon State)
Nelson scored a career-high 34 points and Collier added 25 in the Beavers’ 87-77 win over Chicago State. The two combined to shoot 20-of-29 from the field, leading the way as their teammates shot 9-of-32 (28.1%).

3. G/F Fuquan Edwin (Seton Hall) 
26 points (8-of-12 FG; 5-of-7 3PT), five assists, four rebounds and three steals in the Pirates’ 77-66 win over North Carolina A&T. Edwin has scored 22 points or more in four of Seton Hall’s last five games, averaging 20.8 points per game during that stretch.

Struggled

1. Boston College from three-point range 
The Eagles shot 0-of-19 from beyond the arc in regulation. Luckily for Steve Donahue’s team they were able to push New Hampshire to overtime, where Lonnie Jackson and Olivier Hanlan knocked down three-pointers to help push BC past the Wildcats.

2. F Tony Mitchell (North Texas)
To be fair the Mean Green struggled as a team in their 45-40 win over Southeast Louisiana, shooting 29.5% from the field (0-of-11 from three). But Mitchell, a player many thought to be a possible lottery pick before the season began, shot 1-of-9 and finished with eight points and ten rebounds.

3. Manhattan 
The Jaspers had a rough go of it in Brooklyn, as they shot 30.2% from the field and 4-of-21 from three in a 75-48 loss at LIU Brooklyn. LIU played their first game without the services of forward Julian Boyd, who tore his ACL in Wednesday’s win over Rice.

Three Facts

1. With their 69-64 win over Northern Illinois, DePaul moved its win streak to six. The last time the Blue Demons could claim a streak of at least five wins in a row: the 2006-07 season.

2. Fairfield guard Derek Needham became the school’s all-time leader in made three pointers in the Stags’ 69-58 win over Drexel. Needham, who has now made 231 three pointers in his career, surpassed Greg Francis atop the list.

3. Just two games on Sunday’s schedule were decided by fewer than five points: Boston College’s 61-59 overtime win over New Hampshire and Central Michigan’s 80-77 win at Pepperdine.

Other Notable Scores 

– No. 24 Oklahoma State 91, Central Arkansas 63

– Villanova 75, Delaware 65

– Fairfield 69, Drexel 58

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.