The Morning Mix

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We’ve got a pretty good slate of games on tap tonight, including the much-anticipated Crosstown Classic between Xavier and Cincinnati. The college basketball world continues to show their support to those who were involved in the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting.

Lets hit the links.

Wednesday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – Cornell @ No. 1 Duke
7:00 p.m. – Florida International @ No. 5 Louisville
7:00 p.m. – Xavier vs. No. 11 Cincinnati
7:00 p.m. – Illinois State @ Dayton
7:30 p.m. – Ohio @ Massachusetts
8:05 p.m. – Tulsa @ No. 17 Creighton
8:00 p.m. – South Dakota State @ Belmont
8:00 p.m. – Oregon @ UTEP
9:00 p.m. – No. 23 North Carolina @ Texas
9:00 p.m. – Oakland @ West Virginia
10:00 p.m. – Pacific @ St. Mary’s
10:00 p.m. – Northern Iowa @ No. 21 UNLV
11:00 p.m. – Ole Miss @ Loyola Marymount

Read(s) of the Day:
This is one of the best articles I’ve read all month and potentially all year. Jason King does a masterful job detailing the priceless tutelage provided by John Lucas to troubled players and coaches. If you read only one article today, make sure it’s this. (ESPN)

Top Stories:
Providence honors Newtown victims with jersey, 26 empty seats: Providence played on Tuesday night and their way of honoring the memory of the victims was to wear the colors of Sandy Hook Elementary School. Many schools have done a marvelous job of honoring Sandy Hook and Newtown, but the good people at Providence should be applauded for their swift efforts.

VIDEO: How did Jim Boeheim make it to 900? Vin Parise joined NBC Sports’ SportsTalk to break down exactly how Jim Boeheim made it to this spectacular point in his illustrious coaching career.

Holiday Wish List for Ohio State: In order for the Buckeyes to make consecutive Final-Fours, they will need to ask for more minutes for Shannon Scott and increased consistency from Lenzelle Smith and LaQuinton Ross.

Can Miami really be the second best team in the ACC? The Hurricanes have a front line big enough to compete with anyone in the league and has a balanced attack that features five players averaging double figures. Miami picked the right season to peak. With the rest of the ACC down, Jim Larranaga has enough talent to make a push to be the second best team in the league.

Hoops Housekeeping
– We’re less than 48 hours away from finding out where Jabari Parker will attend college, and the father of the nation’s top recruit doesn’t know which school his son will choose. (ESPN Chicago)

– Wichita State’s Ron Baker becomes third Shocker starter to miss time due to injury (Wichita Eagle)

– Louisville center Gorgui Dieng likely to sit out with injury until after New Year’s Day (The Dagger)

– Duke redshirt freshman Marshall Plumlee is set to make his debut tonight when the Blue Devils take on Cornell. The youngest Plumlee brother had been sidelined with a stress fracture in his foot for the last two months (Rant Sports)

– Purdue reserve guard Jay Simpson will miss the rest of the 2012-2013 season due to a foot injury and will be eligible to seek a medical redshirt hardship waiver. (Lafayette Journal Courier)

Observations & Insight:
– A nice-read on Memphis’ dunk machine D.J. Stephens, who has evolved from athletic project to senior leader. (Memphis Commercial Appeal)

– Nicole Auerbach spent some time in the Queen City and profiled the anatomy of a rivalry. (USA Today)

– A miscommunication between Keith Appling and Tom Izzo resulted in Bowling Green players being a little upset with the way the Spartans finished off their ten point victory over the Falcons. (MLive.com)

– Winthrop head coach Pat Kelsey spoke out about the Newtown shootings during his teams press conference following their loss to Ohio State last night. (Cincinnati.com)

– Former-Seton Hall head coach Bobby Gonzalez has some words of wisdom for currently suspended Rutgers head coach Mike Rice (SNY.tv)

– Joe Lunardi has some bracket concerns with the new unnamed Catholic League (ESPN)

– Jeff Borzello updates us on his Freshman of the Year awards. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Four midseason transfers that can provide an instant impact for their new teams. (The Dagger)

Odds & Ends:
– A “where are they now” on a bunch of players who were recruited by Billy Gillispie at Kentucky. (Eye on College Basketball)

– State Fair JuCo star Kenny-Red Chery has committed to Baylor. Future #AllNameTeam member for sure. (Our Daily Bears)

– Ten reasons why Bearcat fans hate Xavier. Don’t hate on the Xavier popes. Those guys are the best. (Bearcats Blog)

– Aaron Craft’s mom explains her son’s trademark rosy red cheeks. (The Dagger)

– Kansas sophomore Naadir Tharpe did “The Robot” on the bench during the Jayhawks destruction of Richmond. (The Mock Session)

 Picture of the Day:
The Providence honored the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting during the Friars game against Colgate last night by memorializing 26 seats at The Dunkin’ Donuts Center. (College Basketball Talk)

source:

Dunks(s) of the Day:
Auburn’s Chris Denson shut it down against Tennessee Tech last night. # GameOver.

Video(s) of the Day:
This is the funniest faux Christmas infomercial you will ever see (The Basketball Jones)

Video(s) of the Day:
Highlights from VCU’s 32-point win over Western Kentucky, as seen on the NBC Sports Network

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Clemson rallies past No. 22 Florida 71-69

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SUNRISE, Fla. — Marcquise Reed threw a 75-foot pass to Elijah Thomas for a dunk that put Clemson ahead to stay with 37 seconds left, and the Tigers rallied from a 12-point deficit in the second half Saturday to beat No. 22 Florida 71-69 in the Orange Bowl Classic.

With Clemson trailing 68-67, Reed rebounded a missed 3-point attempt by KeVaughn Allen and threw a football-style pass from one free-throw lane to the other, hitting Thomas on the run for an easy score.

Clemson (9-1) beat a ranked team for only the eighth time in school history and continued its best start since 2008. Florida (6-4) lost for the fourth time in the past five games.

The Tigers won despite having a point taken off the scoreboard with 4 seconds left. Thomas’ free throw put Clemson ahead 70-68, but the point was wiped out when the officials realized it was Reed who had been fouled.

Reed then made two free throws to help seal the win. He finished with 22 points, six assists and five rebounds.

Gabe DeVoe added 19 points and six rebounds for the Tigers, who shot 51 percent. Clemson coach Brad Brownell earned his 300th victory.

Jalen Hudson scored the Gators’ first 12 points and finished with 23.

Egor Koulechov sank a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give the Gators a 40-33 halftime lead, and they were up 47-35 early in the second half. Clemson took its first lead since 4 minutes into the game when DeVoe sank a 3-pointer to make it 67-66.

The meeting was the first between the teams since 1957.

No. 19 Florida State lost to Oklahoma State 71-70 in the first game of the doubleheader.

BIG PICTURE

Florida coach Mike White has been unhappy with his team’s transition defense. The Gators allowed only seven fast-break points, but that included Thomas’ decisive dunk.

UP NEXT

The Gators play host to James Madison on Wednesday.

Clemson plays host to South Carolina on Tuesday.

Oklahoma State hands No. 19 Florida State 1st loss, 71-70

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SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — A grinning Mitchell Solomon collapsed on his back under the Florida State basket, looking up toward his celebrating Oklahoma State teammates and the scoreboard above them.

Cowboys 71, Seminoles 70.

Solomon scored on a tip-in with 6 seconds left and then happily fell to the floor at the other end of the court when he took a game-clinching charge, and Oklahoma State knocked No. 19 Florida State from the unbeaten ranks Saturday in the Orange Bowl Classic.

Florida State went ahead on Terance Mann’s follow with 10 seconds remaining, but Oklahoma State needed only four seconds to go the length of the court to score for the 14th and final lead change.

Following a timeout, the Seminoles’ CJ Walker drove into the lane but collided with Solomon and was called for the foul, sealing the Cowboys’ win.

“I just try to pride myself on playing that way all the time,” Solomon said.

Florida State (9-1) missed a chance to match the best start to a season in school history. Oklahoma State (8-2) ended a streak of seven consecutive losses against ranked teams since February.

“To come out and compete for 40 full minutes — we hadn’t done that yet this year,” Cowboys coach Mike Boynton said. “We beat a really good team today. Florida State is going to win a lot of games in the ACC.”

The Seminoles’ loss left only four unbeaten teams in Division I: Villanova, Arizona State, Miami and TCU.

“We’re in a conference where you can’t get caught up in streaks, because nobody in the ACC is going to go undefeated,” coach Leonard Hamilton said. “It doesn’t happen. Tonight we played against a team that played a little better than us.”

Florida State squandered a seven-point lead in the final 8 minutes but still had a chance to go ahead in the final seconds. Oklahoma State forward Jeffrey Carroll said the final sequence starring Solomon at both ends of the court had a cinematic tinge.

“It almost felt like slow motion,” Carroll said, “like a movie almost.”

Boynton said he expected the Seminoles to drive to the lane on their final possession.

“We were just fortunate that Mitch knew the right play,” Boynton said. “He came over and gave up his body, sacrificed for his teammates and got our team a win.”

Solomon had 12 points and 11 rebounds. Carroll, a senior, made his first start of the season and scored 23 points to surpass 1,000 for his career, and was voted the game’s outstanding player

Senior Phil Cofer scored a career-high 22 points for Florida State. Mann, a junior, had 20 points and a career-high 14 rebounds.

The Seminoles committed a season-high 22 turnovers against a variety of Oklahoma State defenses.

“They were extremely prepared,” Hamilton said. “They mixed the defenses up.”

BIG PICTURE

Eight players had two or more turnovers for Florida State. Oklahoma State has forced at least 19 turnovers in each of the past four games.

The Seminoles shot 41 percent and were held well below their scoring average of 87.1 points per game. They were outscored 37-32 in the second half — the first time they’ve been outscored in a half this season.

Florida State also missed three of six free throws in the final 3:20.

BIG HOLE

The Seminoles fell behind 9-4 for their biggest deficit of the season.

NEWCOMER

St. John’s transfer Yankuba Sima made his Cowboys debut and had five points in 16 minutes.

INJURY REPORT

Seminoles center Christ Koumadje (foot) dressed but missed his seventh game in a row.

STAYING LOOSE

Solomon stood at the end of the bench when he was not in the game.

“I just stand up so my knees don’t get tight and stiffen up,” the senior said.

Said Carroll to Solomon: “You’re getting old.”

UP NEXT

Oklahoma State hosts Tulsa on Tuesday.

Florida State hosts Charleston Southern on Monday.

No. 2 Michigan State holds off upset-minded Oakland 86-73

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DETROIT (AP) — Tom Izzo and Michigan State probably needed a game like this.

Little Caesars Arena definitely needed it.

Detroit’s new downtown sports venue — where empty seats at Red Wings and Pistons games have limited the buzz so far — was a pulsating home for a college basketball doubleheader Saturday, and No. 2 Michigan State capped the all-local event with an 86-73 victory over upset-minded Oakland.

Michigan beat Detroit Mercy 90-58 in the opener , but the atmosphere really picked up after Oakland took the lead in the second half against Izzo’s Spartans. Michigan State finally went on a 12-2 run late in the game to pull away.

“We took some punches,” Izzo said. “They hit some shots in a row, guys, and the place started getting into it. That’s where I thank our fans, because we had more of them, and they rose up and we hit a couple of those 3s. It changed.”

Kendrick Nunn scored 32 points for the Golden Grizzlies, who stayed right with the talented Spartans (10-1) until the final minutes. Michigan State improved to 16-0 against Oakland, but only after the type of test the Spartans can expect again from underdogs down the road.

Nick Ward had 15 points and 15 rebounds for Michigan State, which finished with a 45-30 edge on the boards and made enough outside shots to keep Oakland (6-5) at bay. It was tied at 66 before the decisive run by the Spartans, which included two 3-pointers by Winston.

Kenny Goins had eight rebounds and seven assists for Michigan State.

“Nick and Kenny were huge,” Winston said. “They cleaned it up.”

Michigan State led 38-33 at halftime, but it was clear early in the second half that this would be no easy win for the Spartans. Oakland’s Martez Walker had two four-point plays in the first few minutes of the half. The second one put Oakland up 52-49 with just under 15 minutes remaining.

Michigan State kept scoring, however. Winston finished with 19 points, Joshua Langford scored 17 and Miles Bridges had 11. Jaren Jackson Jr. added 10.

Oakland coach Greg Kampe didn’t want to hear about any moral victory for his team.

“I am not happy,” he said. “We should have won the game. Oakland should have won this game.”

BIG PICTURE

Oakland: The Golden Grizzlies did what they needed to do to make a game of it, shooting 7 of 15 from 3-point range in the second half. They struggled around the basket, though. Michigan State had a clear rebounding advantage, and Oakland had a hard time scoring inside.

Michigan State: The Spartans turned the ball over 17 times but were able to close off the perimeter at the very end, finally containing Nunn. It was a win that bodes well for Michigan State’s ability to stave off potential upsets in the future.

RETURN

Nunn’s status was in question leading up to the game because of an ankle issue. Kampe said there was concern that Nunn could be out for the season, but a second opinion indicated it was just tendinitis that can be managed.

“I was pretty relieved just to know that I couldn’t damage it anymore,” Nunn said.

PREVIEW?

Little Caesars Arena is hosting the first two rounds of this season’s NCAA Tournament, and if all goes well for the Spartans, they’ll be playing close to home in the venue.

“This is so cool for Detroit,” Izzo said. “It’s just starting to feel like a city that’s coming back to life, and if we can be a little part of it today and we can be a big part of it in March, no one will be more excited about it than me.”

UP NEXT

Oakland: The Golden Grizzlies host Towson on Wednesday night.

Michigan State: Winners of nine straight, the Spartans probably won’t be challenged too much Monday night when they host Houston Baptist.

Washington, No. 25 Cincinnati beat UCLA 77-63

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kyle Washington scored 19 points, Jacob Evans III had 16 and No. 25 Cincinnati beat UCLA 77-63 on Saturday.

Cincinnati (9-2) grabbed control with an 18-0 run in the first half. It was one sweet win for the Bearcats, who lost to Lonzo Ball and UCLA in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season.

Aaron Holiday scored 17 points for UCLA (7-3), and Kris Wilkes finished with 12.

The Bruins grabbed a 21-18 lead on Prince Ali’s 3-pointer with 6:59 left in the first half, but they didn’t score again until Alex Olesinski made two free throws with 17.7 seconds to go. Cincinnati turned 15 UCLA turnovers into 19 points on its way to a 36-23 lead at the break.

Cincinnati kept up the pressure in the second half, and Gary Clark’s dunk ran its lead out to 17 at 45-28. Clark finished with 10 points.

UCLA is expected to hear soon about suspended players LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, who were punished for shoplifting in China. Ball left school and turned professional. Riley and Hill missed their 10th straight game on Saturday.

BIG PICTURE

Cincinnati: The Bearcats made quick work of UCLA, beating the Bruins at their transition game by forcing mistakes.

UCLA: The Bruins’ lack of depth and short bench really showed in the second half.

UP NEXT

Cincinnati: Hosts Arkansas Pine-Bluff on Tuesday.

UCLA: Hosts South Dakota on Tuesday.

Trae Young, Oklahoma upset No. 3 Wichita State on the road

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Sooner or later, Oklahoma was going to make you take them seriously.

It happened on Saturday, as the Sooners went into Intrust Bank Arena and landed an upset over No. 3 Wichita State, 91-83, in one of the toughest arenas to get a win in college basketball.

Trae Young led the way with 28 points and ten assists for Oklahoma, who improved to 8-1 on the season with the win. Brady Manek added 21 points while Christian James and Kameron McGusty both chipped in with 13 points.

Here are three things to take away from this dominating performance:

1. Trae Young is the best player in college basketball

There is no other way to look at it right now.

With all due respect to the likes of Marvin Bagley III, and Deandre Ayton, and Jordan Murphy, and Trevon Bluiett, and whoever else you want to put into that conversation, it’s Young. We had him ranked as the favorite to win the National Player of the Year award in this week’s rankings, and that was before he went into Wichita and put up 29 points and 10 assists – including 21 points and seven assists in the first half as the Sooners jumped out to a 54-39 lead – on the No. 3 team in college basketball.

Prior to today, there was reason for someone – not me, but someone – to question whether or not that was true, and it mostly had to do with the difficulty of the schedule that Oklahoma had played. Oklahoma lost to Arkansas. Beating Oregon doesn’t appear to be all that impressive. Even going to Los Angeles and knocking off USC in the Staples Center might not be all that great of a win.

But after this?

After eviscerating Wichita State for 20 minutes on their own floor?

There is nothing you can say otherwise. He’s not physically imposing, but the way that Young can impact every single thing the Sooners do on the offensive end of the floor cannot be overlooked. He’s done to Oklahoma’s offense what Lonzo Ball did to UCLA’s last season. They are different players – Young dominates possession much more than Lonzo did – but the effect they have on their team is the same.

That’s how good Young has been this season.

2. We have to start talking about Oklahoma as a factor in the Big 12 race

A lot of that has to do with Young and how good he has been, but it shouldn’t be overlooked just how effective some of Oklahoma’s other pieces are.

Let’s start with Brady Manek, who has been terrific in Oklahoma’s last two wins. He had 21 points and hit five threes against Wichita State. Jamuni McNeace had 10 boards and four blocks on Saturday – including a pair of blocks where he flat-out snatched the ball out of midair – and he’s the second-best big man on the Sooners behind Khadeen Lattin, who started on Oklahoma’s Final Four team. Christian James and Kameron McGusty have been effective on the wings as well.

That’s essentially what this Oklahoma team is. Trae Young and a bunch of role players that Young makes better.

Kansas is going to be the favorite to win the Big 12 regular season title as long as they are a member of the Big 12. That much is simple. But in a year where there is no clear-cut No. 2 team in the conference – and in a season where Kansas has no depth and no size – the Sooners are in the mix as much as anyone.

 

3. Wichita State’s defensive woes are a major, major concern

Wichita State game up 54 first-half points to Oklahoma on Saturday, which would be surprising if the Shockers hadn’t just given up 50 first half points to South Dakota State two weeks ago.

The default for Wichita State is to assume that Gregg Marshall has one of college basketball’s stingiest defenses. That simple fact is a major reason why I wrote a column earlier this season asking if the Shockers were the best team in the country this season. They would be able to work through some of their issues offensively and some of the growing pains heading into a larger conference because of the floor their defense allowed them.

And rest assured, the Shockers are still pretty good on that end of the floor.

But they’ve not been among the elite this season. Currently, they rank 19th in KenPom’s defensive efficiency metric. The last time they ranked that low was in 2013 … when they reached the Final Four.

So all hope is not lost, but the safest bet in college basketball is that practice for the Shockers is not going to be enjoyable until Marshall sees a marked improvement.