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.

Report: Texas’ Jones to test NBA possibility

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Both of Texas’ McDonald’s All-Americans from its 2016 class will test the NBA waters.

Andrew Jones will declare for the draft, but will not hire an agent, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.

The 6-foot-4 guard joins Jarrett Allen, the Longhorns’ star center, in utilizing the rule change that became available to players last year in which they can declare, workout for teams, attend the NBA combine and still return to school.

Jones averaged 11.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game as a freshman. He shot 42.5 percent from the field overall and 32.8 percent from 3-point range.

Allen seems the likelier candidate to remain in the draft as a potential lottery pick, but Jones came to Austin with similar one-and-done possibilities given his status as one of the class’ top recruits.

Texas, of course, is hoping both return, not just because they’re both big talents, but because incoming and highly-touted recruit Matt Coleman fills the major hole in last year’s lineup – point guard. If the three of them can share the floor together, Year 3 of the Shaka Smart era will be much more interesting.

Morrow announces transfer from Nebraska

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Nebraska was once again hit with a surprising and damaging transfer.

Ed Morrow, Jr., who led the Huskers in rebounding last year, announced his intention to transfer, the school announced Wednesday.

“I support Ed in his decision to transfer schools and wish him well,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said in a statement. “We appreciate his hard work over the last two years. Although I am disappointed, we will continue to recruit young men who are committed to our mission of building Nebraska Basketball with a culture of success in all areas…life, school and winning basketball at its highest level.”

The 6-foot-7 sophomore’s departure is a major hit to the Huskers, who are coming off a 12-19 year in which Miles’ job security was called into question. It almost assuredly will be again this year as Nebraska hasn’t been able to build on its 2014 NCAA tournament appearance, instead putting together three-straight losing seasons.

Morrow’s decision is surprising not only given he’d been a productive member of the team – averaging 9.4 points and 7.5 rebounds per game – but because he was born in Nebraska before attending high school in Chicago and both his parents were Nebraska student-athletes his father winning a national title on the football team in 1994 and his mother an all-Big Eight performer on the basketball team.

“I want to say thank you to my teammates, coaches, the fans and the University of Nebraska athletics department for giving me the opportunity to play Division I basketball,” Morrow said in a statement. “It is hard to leave home, and Nebraska is my home. I was born and raised here, it is my parents’ alma mater, and I have a lot of friends here. But sometimes you have to venture out to pursue dreams and aspirations in a career. This is a sacrifice I have to make to better myself.”

Morrow’s transfer comes a year after Andrew White surprised Nebraska with his decision to graduate and transfer to Syracuse, which no doubt impacted the Huskers’ poor 2016-17 record.

Miles was on the hot seat at the end of last season and will assuredly begin this season there as well. A roster hit like Morrow won’t do much to help him improve the situation. Nebraska does, however, have three starters returning while Georgetown transfer Isaac Copeland is eligible, as is Miami (Fla.) transfer James Palmer, Jr.

Lonzo Ball says “I’m better than” Markelle Fultz

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Usually, it’s LaVar Ball that makes news for what he says.

His eldest son is now getting in on the business of generating headlines with something other than his play.

The UCLA star, who said he’ll enter the draft after just one season with the Bruins, claimed he’s the better prospect than Washington freshman Markelle Fultz, who many have pegged as the No. 1 pick in June’s draft.

“Markelle’s a great player,” Ball said, according to ESPN, “but I feel I’m better than him,” “I think I can lead a team better than him. Obviously he’s a great scorer — he’s a great player, so I’m not taking that away from him.”

Not exactly inflammatory stuff – like saying you could have beaten Michael Jordan, that you want a $1 billion apparel deal or a number of things his father has said – bu Ball is certainly projecting confidence. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. There’s quite a bit of money – and pride – at stake with the draft, and Ball put up a season worthy of comparison to Fultz, who had great numbers but played for an abysmal Washington team. Ball, on the other had, had strong numbers while leading UCLA to the Sweet 16.

Both are going to go at the top of a draft that’s stocked full of promising point guards. Which player goes before the other remains to be seen, but it’s likely public pronouncements aren’t going to affect the draft order.

 

UMass hires McCall away from Chattanooga

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UMass has found, once more, the man to take over its basketball program.

The Minutemen have reached an agreement with Chattanooga coach Matt McCall, the school announce Wednesday

“The tradition and resources that are in place not only make this one of the best basketball jobs in the Atlantic 10 Conference,” McCall said in a statement released by the school, “but one of the best jobs in the country. We couldn’t be more excited about becoming part of the UMass family and look forward to building upon the rich tradition that has been established here in the past.”

In McCall’s two years at Chattanooga, the Mocs to the NCAA tournament in 2016 and a 19-12 record this year that featured five-straight losses to end the season.

The move will take McCall out of the southeast for the first time in his career as he previously served as at Florida and Florida Atlantic before getting his first head coaching job at Chattanooga.

McCall wasn’t the Minutemen’s first choice to replace Derek Kellogg after three-straight lackluster seasons. Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey had agreed to take the job before a last-minute about-face that saw him return to the Eagles program just before his introductory press conference was scheduled to begin.

“Matt is a rising star in college basketball coaching who has been a key piece of three successful programs in his career,” UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford said in a statement. “He has earned a reputation as a relentless worker, a great teammate and colleague and a confident leader of young men.

“Matt has worked with some of the most respected coaches and administrators in the country, who loudly sing his praises. Coach McCall’s appointment begins an exciting new chapter for our tradition-rich men’s basketball program at UMass.”

Despite being the second choice, McCall’s reputation in the coaching industry makes him a strong hire, having worked under Mike Jarvis and Billy Donovan. He took over at Chattanooga for Will Wade, and brought the Mocs to a 29-6 record and a  12-seed in the NCAA tournament in 2016.

UMass went to just one NCAA tournament under Kellogg (in 2014) during his nine seasons leading the Minutemen.

VIDEO: Frank Martin’s sideline demeanor as a high school coach

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South Carolina coach Frank Martin has the reputation of being rather, shall we say, intense on the sidelines during games.

The coach has a stare that seemingly could bore a hole through his players when they do something that doesn’t reach his level of expectation. Martin’s demeanor, though, didn’t just come into form once he hit the college ranks.

He was plenty intense on high school sidelines as well.

Martin won three titles while at Miami Senior in the mid-1990s, coaching the likes of future pros Steve Blake and Udonis Haslem. Now having reached his first career Final Four, that sideline persona has put him on the precipice of winning yet another championship, this time at the collegiate level.