Cashmere Wright

Pregame Shootaround 12.19.12: Twelve Top 25 teams in action Wednesday night

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Each day, CollegeBasketballTalk brings you the “Pregame Shootaround,” which will lay out a preview for the slate of games that night. We’ll take a look at some key match-ups and important games, as well as make some predictions and point out what you need to watch for. Take a look below at today’s edition:

Note: The weekend editions of Pregame Shootaround will be published half an hour prior to tip-off of the day’s first game.

Game of the Day: No. 11 Cincinnati  vs. Xavier

The Crosstown Classic is back this year after last year’s match-up was scarred by an ugly brawl that erupted in the game’s final seconds. NBCSports.com took a look at that earlier today, but both teams are looking to turn the page from last season’s blemish. The tables have turned in the poll since last season, too, with No. 11 Cincinnati facing the unranked Musketeers. Sean Kilpatrick and Cashmere Wright will be important for the Bearcats. Keep an eye on freshman Semaj Christon for XU.

Despite not having one singular, dominant rebounder, the Bearcats rank No. 1 in the country in rebounding. That helps them toward averaging the sixth-most points per game in the country.

Who’s Getting Upset?: Temple against Canisius

With Billy Baron putting up a lot of points, the Golden Griffins have been an upstart in the MAAC this season. They score a lot of points as a team, too, and their weakness, rebounding, isn’t exactly Temple’s strength. I don’t know who I’d take in an actual fight between an Owl and a Golden Griffin, but I’m taking Canisius in this one.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: South Dakota State vs. Belmont

This isn’t the first time Belmont has been a part of the Mid-Major Matchup of the Day, and it likely won’t be the last. But the Kerron Johnson-Nate Wolters pairing Wednesday night is too good to pass up. Wolters has become something of a folk hero since the later part of last season, while Johnson still remains under the radar to many.

Both teams rank in the Top 75 in scoring nationally, so look for a lot of points Wednesday night.

Five Things to Watch

1. The Cincinnati-Xavier rivalry features contrasting backcourts. One, Cincinnati’s Cashmere Wright and Sean Kilpatrick, is older and experienced, where Xavier’s in young, Semaj Christon and Dee Davis.

2. It’s a Pitino-Pitino match-up when No. 5 Louisville and Rick Pitino take on Florida International and first-year head coach Richard Pitino. The younger Pitino came to FIU after serving on his father’s staff at Louisville.

3. The No. 1 Duke Blue Devils return to the floor for the first time in over a week, 11 days after defeating Temple. They take on Ivy League foe Cornell at Cameron Indoor.

4. There is still no word from the  NCAA on Texas point guard Myck Kabongo, meaning that he likely won’t play when the Longhorns meet No. 23 North Carolina Wednesday night. Texas is 6-4, but ranks 270th in the country in points per game.

5. Very few people are talking about Iowa State. All I’m saying is, you ought to keep an eye on them. The Cyclones rank in the Top 10 nationally in scoring and rebounding, Top 30 in assists, and Top 85 in FG percentage. They take on UMKC Wednesday.

Rest of the Top 25

No. 1 Duke vs. Cornell (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

No. 5 Louisville vs. Florida International (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

No. 6 Indiana vs. Mount St. Mary’s (7:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

No. 8 Florida vs. Southeastern Louisiana (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

No. 11 Cincinnati vs. Xavier (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2) (See Above)

No. 14 Gonzaga vs. Campbell (9:00 p.m. ET, ROOT)

No. 16 New Mexico vs. New Mexico State (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

No. 17 Creighton vs. Tulsa (8:05 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

No. 21 UNLV vs. Northern Iowa (10:00 p.m. ET)

No. 22 Notre Dame vs. Kennesaw State (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

No. 23 North Carolina vs. Texas (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

No. 24 Oklahoma State vs. Texas-Arlington (8:00 p.m. ET)

Other Notable Games

Virginia vs. Morgan State (7:00 p.m. ET)

Clemson vs. Coastal Carolina (7:00 p.m. ET)

Illinois State vs. Dayton (7:00 p.m. ET)

Oregon vs. UTEP (8:00 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)

Murray State vs. Arkansas State (8:35 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

West Virginia vs. Oakland (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Pittsburgh vs. Delaware State (7:00 p.m. ET)

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Villanova’s Jenkins to return for senior season

Villanova forward Kris Jenkins (2) reacts to play against North Carolina during the second half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game Monday, April 4, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
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After briefly taking part in the NBA Draft evaluation process, Villanova forward Kris Jenkins announced Monday night that he’s decided to withdraw and return to school for his senior year. Jenkins, whose three-pointer as time expired gave the Wildcats the win over North Carolina in the national title game, announced the news via Twitter.

2015-16 was a breakout season for Jenkins, who moved into the starting lineup and averaged 13.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. The 6-foot-6 forward shot 45.9 percent from the field and 38.6 percent from beyond the arc, and with starters Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu graduating he’ll have even more opportunities to produce next season.

Jenkins’ decision to return leaves wing Josh Hart as the lone Wildcats going through the early entry process at this time. Hart was a first team All-Big East selection as a junior, and his return would be the final piece to the puzzle for a team that many expect to be a national title contender in 2016-17.

Jenkins and Hart wouldn’t be the only returnees who had a part in the national title run, with guards Jalen Brunson and Phil Booth, wing Mikal Bridges and forward Darryl Reynolds back as well. To that group Villanova adds Fordham transfer Eric Paschall and a recruiting class anchored by Omari Spellman and Dylan Painter with Donte DiVincenzo and Tim Delaney available after being hampered by injuries last season.

Delaney missed all of last year after undergoing surgical procedures on his hips, and DiVincenzo played a total of 74 minutes over the first nine games before having to sit due to a broken foot.

Florida State guard Rathan-Mayes to return for junior season

Florida State guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes (22) drives past Notre Dame guard Rex Pflueger, left, for a score in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Tallahassee, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)
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With their top three scorers from last season all deciding to declare for the NBA Draft, Florida State was facing the possibility of having to rebuild their backcourt ahead of the 2016-17 season. However two of those three have decided to return to Tallahassee, with rising junior Xavier Rathan-Mayes announcing on Monday that he will be back in school.

Rathan-Mayes joins rising sophomore Dwayne Bacon in returning to play another season for head coach Leonard Hamilton, with Malik Beasley hiring representation and remaining in the draft.

Rathan-Mayes had more scoring help last season and as a result was able to concentrate more on the distribution aspects of the point guard position, as he averaged 11.8 points and 4.4 assists per contest. With the return of Rathan-Mayes and Bacon, Florida State will have two of its top three scorers from last season back on campus.

The Seminoles did lose some veteran players, most notably guard Devon Bookert and center Boris Bojanovsky, but the returnees and a recruiting class led by McDonald’s All-American forward Jonathan Isaac means that they won’t lack for options next season.

Auburn lands third transfer within the last week

Auburn guard T.J. Dunans (4) and coach Bruce Pearl celebrate a 75-74 win over UAB in an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, at Auburn Arena in Auburn, Ala.  (Julie Bennett/AL.com via AP)
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After receiving commitments from former Purdue/Houston guard Ronnie Johnson and former Presbyterian forward DeSean Murray, Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl continued to load up on the transfer market Monday. Forward LaRon Smith, who was named MEAC Defensive Player of the Year at Bethune-Cookman last season, announced that he will use his final season of eligibility at the SEC program.

Like Smith, Johnson will also be eligible to compete immediately for the Tigers while Murray will have to sit out next season before having two years of eligibility remaining.

The 6-foot-8 Smith played two seasons at Georgia State before transferring to Bethune-Cookman, where he averaged 7.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per contest in 2015-16. Smith played just over 25 minutes per game for the Wildcats, shooting 58.5 percent from the field.

Smith reached double figures in scoring in four of the Wildcats’ final seven games, including a 20-point, 11-rebound, three-block outing in an overtime win over North Carolina A&T. He joins a front court in need of depth following the departures of the likes of Cinmeon Bowers and Tyler Harris, with Horace Spencer, Trayvon Reed and incoming freshman Anfernee McLemore also competing for minutes in 2016-17.

SMU lands former Arkansas guard Jimmy Whitt

Arkansas guard Jimmy Whitt (24) leaps for a layup past Tennessee guard Shembari Phillips (25) during an NCAA college basketball game in Knoxville, Tenn., Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Arkansas won 75-65. (Adam Lau/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP)
Adam Lau/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP
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With a five-member recruiting class set to arrive on campus this summer, SMU added a talented transfer Monday afternoon. Jimmy Whitt, who played his freshman season at Arkansas, committed to join Larry Brown’s program. Whitt, a 6-foot-4 guard from Columbia, Missouri, will have three seasons of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2016-17 campaign.

As a freshman at Arkansas, Whitt averaged 6.1 points and 1.7 rebounds in just over 17 minutes of action per game. He reached double figures in scoring nine time, with the high being a 15-point outing in a blowout win over Missouri in mid-January. Whitt produced a stretch of four consecutive games in double figures during non-conference play, but he struggled to maintain that consistency against SEC competition.

At SMU he’ll join a perimeter rotation that will lose rising senior Sterling Brown following the 2016-17 season. Among those who will have eligibility remaining when Whitt becomes eligible are Ben Emelogu, Shake Milton, Jarrey Foster and incoming freshmen Tom Wilson and Dashawn McDowell.

 

Boise State assistant named head coach at Northern Colorado

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Courtesy UNCBears.com
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GREELEY, Colo. (AP) Jeff Linder is the new basketball coach at Northern Colorado. He spent the last six seasons at Boise State, where he was associate head coach for the Broncos since 2013-14.

Linder replaces B.J. Hill, who was fired last month amid an NCAA investigation into allegations of violations in the program.

University President Kay Norton and Athletic Director Darren Dunn announced Linder’s hiring Sunday.

Linder played high school ball in Lafayette, Colorado, and college ball at Mesa State and Western Colorado State. He began his coaching career under Colorado head coach Ricardo Patton.

In a statement, Linder said, “I look forward to returning home to the state of Colorado and continuing to build this program into something everyone can be proud of.”

Hill was 86-98 in six seasons at UNC.