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The Morning Mix

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Exam Week was pretty brutal, but we were rewarded with an excellent weekend of college hoops. We had two phenomenal games, a bevy of upsets, and a bunch of great plays, videos and quotes. In short, we have a lot to get to.

Lets hit the links.

Monday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – Detroit @ No. 4 Syracuse
7:00 p.m. – Maryland-Eastern Shore @ UConn
7:00 p.m. – IPFW @ No.22 Notre Dame
7:00 p.m. – Valparaiso @ Oakland
8:00 p.m. – USC-Upstate @ Baylor
8:00 p.m. – No. 20 UNLV @ UTEP
8:00 p.m. – South Carolina State @ No. 12 Missouri
9:00 p.m. – Cornell @ Vanderbilt
 
 
Read(s) of the Day:
Jay Bilas relates the NCAA to the Kardashians. Yup. Read it. (ESPN Insider)

Read(s) of the Day:
Pat Forde dishes on Butler walk-on Alex Barlow, who hit the biggest shot of his career to beat top-ranked Indiana on Saturday. Read it. (Yahoo Sports)
 
 
Top Stories:
Contributions both large and small set stage for Mark Lyons’ gamewinner: Mark Lyons might get all the fanfare and press following his game-winning basket against Florida, but the Wildcats got contributions for various players, which ultimately set them up for success.

Florida’s failure to close out halves is what cost them in Tuscon: The No. 5 Gators looked to be in position to vault themselves into the top-3 in the in country. But three turnovers in their final five possessions doomed the Gators, and the Arizona Wildcats capitalized.

From music scholarship to high-major basketball, Andrew Del Piero getting minutes at LSU: The 7-foot-3 walk-on is also a former tuba player in the LSU marching band. But the big-man has put in a lot of hard work and is now a contributing member of the Tigers’ basketball program.

Mick Cronin sounds off on Big East realignment and defection of Catholic 7, says players should get paid: Cincinnati is currently in conference limbo thanks to the implosion of the Big East. Mic Cronin used the post game press conference following his team’s win over Marshall as the perfect time to open up about realignment, along with paying players.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping
– Reigning NEC player of the Year Julian Boyd tore his ACL against Rice on Wednesday and will miss the rest of the year. The injury to the LIU-Brooklyn star forward is the worst case scenario for a Blackbird team already struggling to find it’s groove in the early season. (Blackbirds Hoops Journal)

– Former-UCLA big-man Josh Smith is interested in transferring to Georgetown or Kansas (Casual Hoya)

– Louisville sophomore forward Angel Nunez will be transferring out of school at the end of the semester (WDRB.com)

– Virginia Tech freshman forward Marshall Wood fractured a bone in his foot during the Hokies upset loss to Georgia Southern this weekend. The injury will not require surgery, but the team is now down to just seven scholarship players (The Washington Post)

– Rumors swirled last week about an arrest of Syracuse Sophomore Michael Carter-Williams for an incident at a local mall. Turns out he was busted for shoplifting (a robe and glove) by mall police, and the matter was handled internally. (College Basketball Talk)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– Indiana’s loss to Butler just reiterates that there just isn’t a true dominant no. 1 team in the country (Eye on College Basketball)

– Butler’s win over Indiana was as historic as it was well-timed. (Eye on College Basketball)

– the anatomy of Alex Barlow’s game-winning shot against Indiana (Indianapolis Star)
– Memphis blew a first half lead and lost to Louisville in a tightly contested non-conference match-up. But don’t blame the Tigers for falling flat or giving up. (Memphis Commercial Appeal)

– Rhode Island pulled off an upset win over SMU this weekend. But Larry Brown wasn’t all that shocked. (Hoopville)

– Oregon State junior forward Devon Collier continues to emerge as a viable frontcourt threat for the Beavers (NW Sports Beat)

– A big shout out to Rutgers associate head coach David Cox, who coached the Scarlet Knights to victory on Saturday. Cox is filling in for Mike Rice while the head coach serves a three game suspension. I bring up Cox because believe it or not, he was one of the coaches of my freshman basketball team at St. John’s College High School in 2000. He was also the school’s Dean of Students. (Asbury Park Press)

– Dick Weiss does not think that the Rutgers program is headed in the right direction under Mike Rice. (New York Daily News)
 
 
Expansionocalypse:
– Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard had some strong thoughts as well about the Big East break up (My Central New Jersey)

– Now here’s something that doesn’t get discussed too much: Where does South Florida end up in all this mess? (Voodoo Five)

– Cincinnati and UConn want to create their own conference that covers the entire continental United States (Deadspin)

– Creighton is being looked at as a potential member to the new basketball-only Big East Catholic-7 conference. But are the Bluejays the only team from the MVC that could be on the move? (Peoria Journal-Star)

– Jim Boeheim gives the best post-game press conference bar none. Following Syracuse’s win over Canisius on Saturday the head coach gave another gem of a presser. Read the entire transcript which includes his thoughts on the implosion of the Big East and the Michael Carter-Williams shoplifting incident (The Citizen)
 
 
 Picture of the Day:
Butler’s Big Blue II flashing a big smile after his team’s huge win over Indiana at the Crossroads Classic.

source:
 
 
Dunks(s) of the Day:
Cincinnati stayed undefeated thanks to their 72-56 win over Marshall. But Elijah Pittman made sure the Bearcats didn’t leave completely unscathed.
 


 
 
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UT-Arlington dominates, upsets No. 12 St. Mary’s

Texas-Arlington's Kevin Hervey, left, reacts to a 73-68 NCAA college basketball game win as Ohio State's Jae'Sean Tate looks on  in Columbus, Ohio, Friday, Nov. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)
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UT-Arlington made a statement on Thursday night, completely dominating No. 12 Saint Mary’s in a 65-51 upset win in a true road game in Moraga.

Back in October, I ranked both the Gaels and the Mavericks in the top-5 of my Mid-Major Power Rankings. Saint Mary’s was the obvious top choice, one of the nation’s most efficient offenses that returned Emmett Naar and Jock Landale. UT-Arlington, ranked fifth, served as a dangerous opponent. The Mavs had defeated Ohio State and Memphis in 2015, but their season was derailed once Kevin Hervey, a player with serious pro potential, tore his ACL.

With five starters back, including Hervey, who is just now getting back to 100 percent, UT-Arlington looks every bit the part of a March Cinderella.

The Mavericks jumped out to an early lead and forced the Gaels to play out of character. Saint Mary’s had only committed a season-high 14 turnovers before the midway point of the second half. The Gaels, who entered shooting 40 percent from three as a team, was held to 8-of-27 (30 percent) from beyond the arc.

UT-Arlington did an incredible job of closing out on shooters. And it didn’t matter the matchup, at times we saw Hervey, a 6-foot-9 junior, come out and run a guard off the 3-point line. While those statistics mentioned above show up in the box score, the amount of deflections don’t. The Mavericks used its length and athleticism to get their hands everywhere on the defensive end of the floor, making it difficult to find good looks.

In the first half, UT-Arlington controlled the glass. Saint Mary’s found more success in that department after halftime, as Kevin Clark’s offensive putback capped an 11-2 run, which cut the deficit to 52-41. However, the Mavs were able to counter each time the Gaels threatened, never letting the lead get to single digits.

Aside from the struggles the typically-efficient Saint Mary’s offense had, the Gaels struggled to keep UT-Arlington guards Erick Neal and Kaelon Wilson out of the lane, whether it be on a high ball screen or a handoff. Saint Mary’s never seemed to have a help-side defender there to protect the rim. Neal had 13 points and eight assists (five turnovers), while Wilson had 10 points off the bench. Hervey had a game-high 15 points and seven rebounds.

UT-Arlington is winners of eight straight after losing three straight. One of those wins includes a double-digit win over Texas in Austin. The Mavericks are the clear-cut favorite to win the Sun Belt. Come Selection Sunday, I’d say plenty of at-large teams would not like to be paired up with Scott Cross’ team.

Iowa cruises past No. 25 Iowa State

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20:  Head coach Fran McCaffery of the Iowa Hawkeyes reacts in the first half against the Villanova Wildcats during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Barclays Center on March 20, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Iowa picked up a major win on Thursday night, defeating in-state rival No. 25 Iowa State, 78-64, in a contest the Hawkeyes thoroughly dominated.

Let’s put it this way: the Hawkeyes have played four top-100 teams, according to kenpom. In those games, all losses by the way, their defense has surrendered 91 points to Seton Hall, 74 points to a Virginia team that plays at the slowest tempo in the country, 100 points to Memphis and 92 points to Notre Dame.

On Saturday, on the same floor Iowa demolished the Cyclones, its defense allowed 98 points in a loss to Nebraska Omaha.

This is exactly the sort of win Fran McCaffery and Co. needed to right the ship as we inch closer and closer to conference play.

When the Cyclones went to their bench in the first half, Nick Baer sparked a 10-0 run which helped set the tone for the remainder of the half. Iowa State went without a field goal for more than six minutes during that span.

Iowa kept Iowa State from getting out and running, holding the Cyclones to zero fast break points through the first 20 minutes and limiting them to only 36 percent from the floor as a team. Iowa, on the other hand, shot 47 percent, including 59 percent in the first half, which led to a 15-point halftime lead.

Peter Jok torched Iowa State to the tune of 23 points (4-of-7 from distance).

Monte Morris was held in check with 10 points, while Naz Mitrou-Long and Matt Thomas shot a combined 4-of-13 from three (they each hit a three with less than three minutes to play and the outcome all but decided).

Iowa State’s offense is becoming a bigger concern. Just like against Gonzaga, the Cyclones dug a first-half hole they could shoot out their way of. And like last week’s overtime loss to Cincinnati, they struggled from beyond the arc.

Iowa landed a marquee win it needed, while its rival headed home with questions to answer after losing three of four.

 

Alabama wing sidelined due to weight loss

ORLANDO, FL - NOVEMBER 29: Head coach Avery Johnson of the Alabama Crimson Tide during the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at HP Field House on November 29, 2015 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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Alabama junior wing Nick King will not be with the team for Sunday evening’s matchup against No. 24 Oregon in Eugene.

According to Rainer Sabin of the AL.com, Alabama head coach Avery Johnson said King undergoing a series of tests after losing more than 10 pounds in less than a week and a half.

Johnson told reporters that he is “very concerned” and estimates that as of now King will be sidelined for “a week or two.”

King, who played his first two seasons at Memphis, has appeared in all seven games for the Crimson Tide, averaging 3.3 points and 2.9 rebounds in 12.7 minutes per game.

Damonte Dodd out with MCL sprain

COLLEGE PARK, MD - FEBRUARY 13: Melo Trimble #2 and Damonte Dodd #35 of the Maryland Terrapins react to a call as Alex Illikainen #25 of the Wisconsin Badgers looks on in the second half at Xfinity Center on February 13, 2016 in College Park, Maryland. Wisconsin won 70-57.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Maryland could be without the services of starting center Damonte Dodd for the remainder of the non-conference slate, the team announced on Wednesday.

Dodd suffered a MCL sprain in his left knee during practice earlier this week. The injury caused him to miss Wednesday’s 76-56 win over Howard. He will not be available for matchups with St. Peter’s and Jacksonville State. The Terrapins then close out the non-conference slate at Charlotte on Dec. 20 before opening up Big Ten play a week later.

Dodd has started in six of seven games he’s appeared in this season. He’s averaging 5.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. Michael Cekovsky started in place of Dodd on Wednesday night. Ivan Bender, who returned to the lineup against Howard after missing the previous contest, should also see an increase in minutes with Dodd sidelined.

Federico Mussini goes coast-to-coast, beats buzzer with and-1

CINCINNATI, OH - FEBRUARY 03:  Chris Mullin the head coach of the St. John's Red Storm gives instructions to Federico Mussini #4 during the game against the  Xavier Musketeersat Cintas Center on February 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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St. John’s capped the first half with a 6-0 run.

Sophomore guard Federico Mussini went coast-to-coast to beat the buzzer, and draw the foul, as the Johnnies went into the break up 42-33 on city rival Fordham.

The 6-foot-4 guard had gone cold during a five-game stretch, but since Thanksgiving he’s scored in double figures in four consecutive games, including on Thursday night.