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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.

Villanova beats Duke, Kansas, Indiana for Jermaine Samuels

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Jermaine Samuels, Jr. #23 of Expressions Elite dunks. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
Jon Lopez/Nike
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Villanova landed a commitment from top 50 prospect Jermaine Samuels on Saturday.

Samuels is a tough and athletic 6-foot-5 wing that will remind many Wildcat fans of Josh Hart. He’s got the same kind of versatility and nose for the ball that will let him guard perimeter players as well as work in as a small-ball four. Players like this are a specialty of Jay Wright.

Samuels picked up an offer from Duke recently and also had Indiana, Kansas and Georgetown in his top five. Beating out blue-bloods for a prospect like this is quite the statement for Villanova, one that should tell you the reigning national champs are here to stay as a national power.

Syracuse lands critical piece in Andrew White

LINCOLN, NE - FEBRUARY 3: Andrew White #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers shoots the ball over Rasheed Sulaimon #0 of the Maryland Terrapins during their game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on February 3, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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Syracuse has found their replacement for Malachi Richardson.

On Sunday, Nebraska transfer Andrew White committed to the Orange, picking Syracuse, in the end, over VCU. White is a graduate transfer who spent last season with Nebraska, where he averaged 16.2 points while shooting 41.2 percent from three. A top 50 prospect out of Virginia back in the Class of 2012, White played a limited role for Kansas his first two seasons in college.

This is a significant pickup for the Orange, one that legitimately puts them into the conversation as a Final Four contender and a threat to finish at or near the top of the ACC. Jim Boeheim has put together a roster full of talented, long and athletic front court players, but after Richardson declared for the NBA Draft as a one-and-done freshman, he was left with just two back court players on his roster.

Earlier this offseason, Cuse landed Colorado State grad transfer John Gillon, a 6-foot-1 combo-guard, to reinforce their back court. The addition of White gives them a lights-out shooter and a big-time scorer on the wing, something that would have been a major void on their roster.

With Paschal Chukwu getting eligible at the center spot and Tyler Lydon likely landing on every breakout player list this preseason, the Orange should be a markedly better team than the one that made their way to the Final Four last season.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.