North Carolina v Texas

Suspension of Myck Kabongo means Texas needs Javan Felix to make it ‘his team’

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The big news surrounding Texas’ 85-67 win over No. 23 North Carolina on Wednesday night had little to do with the performances of Sheldon McClellan and Julien Lewis, but rather the fact that according to a report form Yahoo! Sports sophomore point guard Myck Kabongo would be suspended for the remainder of the season.

McClellan scored ten of his team-high 18 points from the foul line, Lewis added 16 and Jonathan Holmes 15 and eight rebounds in the Longhorns’ most impressive win of the season.

But even with the production of those three against the Tar Heels, Kabongo’s absence (pending appeal) means that Rick Barnes will need freshman point guard Javan Felix to make the Longhorns “his team.”

Felix, who has started all 11 games at the point and is averaging nearly 36 minutes per game, finished with eight points (3-of-12 shooting), eight assists and three turnovers on Wednesday night. For the season the New Orleans native is averaging six assists and just under four turnovers per contest, with an assist-to-turnover ratio (1.5) that sits just outside of the Top 20 among Big 12 players.

But the biggest issue for Felix has been his shooting, as he’s making just 31.3% of his shots from the field and 9.5% (2-of-21) of his attempts from beyond the arc. Given Texas’ overall youth (only freshmen and sophomores played last night) and the inconsistency of scorers like Lewis the Longhorns will need more than just distributing the basketball from Felix as the season wears on.

To this point in the season Felix’s best scoring nights have come with a caveat of sorts: turnovers. In Texas’ loss to Chaminade in the first game of the Maui Invitational Felix scored 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting but he also turned the ball over three times (five assists).

And in a career-best 20 point night in a win over Texas State on Saturday, Felix dished out seven assists but turned the ball over five times.

Can the freshman achieve the proper balance of increasing his scoring output while also taking better care of the basketball? If Texas is to entertain any thoughts of staying afloat when Big 12 play rolls around, that will have to be the case.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

As good as they’ve been, No. 3 Michigan State has yet to play their best

Bryn Forbes, Ryan Fazekas
Associated Press
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Sunday night’s Wooden Legacy title game matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence was billed as a matchup of the nation’s two best players, and rightfully so. Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine (17 points, six rebounds, five assists), who already has two triple-doubles to his credit this season, and Providence redshirt junior Kris Dunn (21 points, five rebounds, seven assists) have more than lived up to the preseason expectations and more of the same was expected in Anaheim.

And while both had their moments, it was Michigan State’s supporting cast that made the difference in their 77-64 victory. The scary thing for future opponents on Michigan State’s schedule is that Tom Izzo’s team is nowhere near being a finished product.

With Valentine dealing with first-half foul trouble Bryn Forbes stepped up, scoring 13 of his 18 points to help the Spartans take a two-point lead into the half. As for the 11-0 run that Michigan State produced to take control of the game late, a host of players stepped forward in regards to scoring, rebounding and defending.

Freshmen Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid combined to score nine points over the final 5:32, with transfer guard Eron Harris adding six of his 12 points during that stretch. The Spartans outscored the Friars, who aren’t as deep, 22-7 during that stretch to close out the game, hunting for quality shots and hitting the offensive glass while making things difficult for Providence on the other end of the floor.

The end result was a final margin that does not indicate just how close the game was. While Providence seemed to run out of steam Michigan State received contributions from multiple players, which is undoubtedly a good sign for this group moving forward.

The Spartans will return the currently injured Gavin Schilling later this season, giving them another big man alongside Davis, Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman. He was a player they missed Sunday night, as he can defend opposing big men both in the post and on the perimeter. His absence was a main reason Michigan State didn’t have an answer for Providence’s Ben Bentil (20 points, seven rebounds) defensively.

The key for this group is going to end up being role definition, which is especially true in the case of Harris. A transfer from West Virginia, Harris came to East Lansing with the reputation of being a big time scorer. He’s struggled through the first two weeks of the season, but he got on a roll on Sunday night, finishing with 12 points, three boards and three assists. He showed he’s capable of doing a variety of things on the perimeter, and fitting into a “Swiss army knife” kind of role would make Michigan State that much more dangerous.

There’s no denying that Michigan State has been one of the nation’s best teams thus far.

But there’s also no denying that the Spartans have yet to hit their ceiling, which is definitely a positive moving forward.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady returns home with team

AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.
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Wichita State forward Anton Grady was released from a hospital in Orlando on Sunday afternoon in time to return home with his Shocker teammates.

Grady suffered a spinal corn concussion on Friday when he collided head-first with an Alabama defender, snapping his head sharply to the side. He lay on the court motionless for 10 minutes after the injury and was taken off the floor on a stretcher.

[RELATED: Can WSU still make tourney?]

“I want to send out a big thank you to Shocker Nation and all of my friends and family for of the love and encouragement that I have received the past few days,” Grady said in a statement on Sunday morning. “I’ve been reading your tweets and posts and appreciate every last one of them. I have a lot of work to do to get back on the court, but with the help of such a great support system, I’m ready for the challenge.”

By Friday night, Grady had feeling in all of his extremities, but he has a long road of rehab ahead of him.