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The Morning Mix

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If you are reading this right now, it means we beat the Mayans last night. If you aren’t reading this right now, then it looks like I spent my last seconds on earth blogging about the daily rundown of college hoops. And you know what? I’m kinda OK with that.

The slate of game was rather light last night. Friday is going to be light as well. I guess today is kinda the prime “Ugly Sweater Party” day of the season, right?

You know what? Lets just hit the links.

Thursday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – Florida Atlantic @ No. 6 Indiana
7:00 p.m. – Niagara @ No. 22 Notre Dame
9:00 p.m. – Stanford @ Northwestern
9:00 p.m. – BYU @ Baylor
9:00 p.m. – Middle Tennessee @ Vanderbilt
9:00 p.m. – UC-Santa Barbara @ Wyoming
 
 
Read(s) of the Day:
A fantastic-read from Deadspin original Will Leitch, who believes that college hoops needs to stand up for itself. I couldn’t agree more. I love articles like this one. It’s exactly what I’m thinking, but written in a much better fashion. Read this. (Sports on Earth)

Read(s) of the Day:
High profile college announcements have always felt like movie premieres to me. It’s all flare without real substance. But all the good stuff lies in the inter workings of the production. This behind-the-scenes look at the build up to Jabari Parker’s decision is a must read. Read it. (Sports Illustrated)

Read(s) of the Day:
Seth Davis looks back at his favorite college hoops stories of 2012. Definitely worth your time. Read it. (Sports Illustrated)
 
 
Top Stories:
With Jabari Parker, will Duke be better next year than this year? The Blue Devils are the best team in the country and have the best resume in the country. What is the possibility that next year’s team, headlined by Jabari Parker, will be better than what we’ve seen froM Duke thus far in 2012.

According to report, NCAA fired lead investigator in Shabazz Muhammad’s case: Abigail Grantstein was the NCAA’s lead investigator on the Shabazz Muhammad case. She was also the women whose boyfriend allegedly was heard bragging about the investigation to a passenger on an airplane. She no longer has a job.

According to a report, Ben Howland’s job is in jeopardy at UCLA: According to Tracy Pierson of BruinsReportOnline.com, who is as dialed in to UCLA sports as they come, Ben Howland is not exactly guaranteed his job next year out in Westwood.

Suspension of Myck Kabongo means Texas needs Javan Felix to make it ‘his team’: If Texas is to entertain any thoughts of staying afloat when Big 12 play rolls around, they will need to rely heavily on the production of standout freshman guard Javan Felix, who has started all 11 games at the point and is averaging nearly 36 minutes per game.

Myck Kabongo’s suspension under expedited appeal: Texas could hear back by Friday, which, depending on the results, means the Longhorn’s top player could be reinstated just two days after being suspended for the entire season.

Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame releases 2013 Cousy Award watch list: The annual award is given to the nation’s best point guard, and the list will be narrowed down to 20 in January. The notable omission is LIU-Brooklyn’s Jason Brickman, who is averaging 11.0 points and 8.2 assists per game, a number that ranks fourth in the country.

MAAC to expand to 20 league games in 2013-2014: With the addition of Quinnipiac and Quinnipiac, the MAAC will now have 11 league members (Loyola is leaving for the Patriot League). This is why the MAAC announced on Thursday their intent to play 20 league games next season.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping
– Marquette reinstated Todd Mayo after missing the first semester due to academics. The Golden Eagles desperately need Mayo’s help, as they have struggled to score both inside and out. (Eye on College Basketball)

– With Jabari Parker making his college decision yesterday, CSN Chicago looks in to just how significant his foot injury could be (CSN Chicago)

– Over 55 scouts and NBA personnel were on hand to see North Texas and Tony Mitchell take on Lehigh and C.J. McCollum. Unfortunately for them, McCollum was ruled out before the game because of a nagging ankle injury. (Lehigh Valley Live)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– Seth Davis’ latest edition of “Hoop Thoughts” calls for a change in the way the NCAA operates. He also provides his weekend picks. It’s a weekly must-read. (Sports Illustrated)

– The final verdict on North Carolina’s scandal: It’s academic, not athletic. (ESPN)

– The key to Kansas’ success on Saturday against Ohio State will be how well the are able to slow down Deshaun Thomas (KUSports.com)

– I know it’s not fair to compare Nerlens Noel to Anthony Davis. But well, his stats sorta do. (Courier Journal)

– Duke beat Elon last night, their second win in as many days. In doing so, they logged their non-conference home winning streak to 100 games. (The Dagger)

– Central Florida stud Isaiah Sykes logged himself a solid triple-double last night in the Golden Knights 88-63 win over Stetson. The junior guard scored 16 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out 10 assists. (Orlando Sentinel)

– Tony Mitchell is still going to get drafted very high this summer. But we can forget about North Texas winning the Sun Belt and getting an automatic tournament bid. (Mid-Major Madness)

– The Big East is looking to build up the conference’s western edge, wants to add UNLV, Fresno State, and possibly BYU. (New York Daily News)
 
 
Odds & Ends
– Smart move by Maryland assistants to get tournament incentives added into their contracts heading in to this season. As of right now, it looks like the Terps are a lock for the Big Dance. (Washington Post)

– Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim and CBS analyst Doug Gottlieb have one of the most entertaining on-going feuds. In the latest installment of the ongoing series, Gottlieb stated that despite the 900 wins, Boeheim is not a great coach. he’s a good coach, but he’s not great. (Syracuse Post-Standard)
 
 
 Picture of the Day:
Jabari Parker, one of the nation’s most sought-after recruits, reveals his college choice. (Chicago Tribune)

source:
 
 
Dunks(s) of the Day:
Dunno how I missed this one from Wednesday. But man, North Carolina….Woof. BTW, what is my man in the top left doing there post-dunk? Is that “The Zorro”? (H/T @CamHops)

 
 
Video of the Day:
Future-Oregon Duck Jordan Bell broke a rim at the City of Palms tournament. No joke. Dude’s windmill jam actually broke the rim.

Do you like the new Morning Mix? Hate it? Have a suggestion or want something featured? Troy Machir will take all your praise, insults and inquiries via Twitter (@TroyMachir)

No. 22 Xavier pulls away to 86-75 win over Georgetown

ST LOUIS, MO - MARCH 20:  Edmond Sumner #4 of the Xavier Musketeers reacts after a play in the first half against the Wisconsin Badgers during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Scottrade Center on March 20, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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CINCINNATI — Edmond Sumner overcame a painful left shoulder and led a second-half surge that swept No. 22 Xavier to an 86-75 victory over Georgetown on Sunday, ending the Musketeers’ longest losing streak in three years.

Xavier (14-5, 4-3) had dropped three straight — all against ranked Big East teams. The Musketeers allowed a 12-point lead to slip away in the second half on Sunday before their injured point guard frustrated the Hoyas (10-10, 1-6) again. Sumner had a career-high 28 points in an 81-76 win at Georgetown on Dec. 31.

Sumner wore a support on his injured left shoulder and sat on the bench grimacing late in the first half. He had a jumper, a three-point play and a pair of free throws during a 12-3 run that put Xavier in control 70-61. He finished with 14 points.

Trevon Bluiett led Xavier with 24 points. J.P. Macura added 20.

Rodney Pryor scored 23 for Georgetown, which lost for the sixth time in seven games.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Xavier dropped from 15th to 22nd last week after road losses to Villanova and Butler. A home loss to Creighton on Monday put Xavier in danger of dropping out of the Top 25.

BIG PICTURE

GEORGETOWN: Junior guard L.J. Peak scored 21 points and had six rebounds in the loss to Xavier on Dec. 31, keeping the Hoyas in the game with clutch shots down the stretch. The Musketeers clamped down in the rematch — he was only 3 of 12 for 12 points.

XAVIER: Free throws again were an issue early. Missed free throws were a major factor in the Musketeers’ 72-67 loss to Creighton on Monday, when they went only 16 of 29 from the line. They drove to the basket and drew fouls on Sunday but were only 12 of 19 from the line in the first half, which ended with Xavier up 34-33. The Musketeers finished 36 of 49 from the line overall.

UP NEXT

The Hoyas host No. 7 Creighton on Wednesday. They split their series last season, with each winning at home.

The Musketeers play at crosstown rival Cincinnati, which is ranked No. 20. Xavier has won three in a row and seven of the last nine in the annual game.

VIDEO: Watch Marcus Keene score all 50 of his points

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Marcus Keene, the nation’s leading scorer at 29.8 points, went for 50 yesterday, the first time in four years a college player has done that.

WATCH LIVE: Atlantic 10 basketball Sunday on NBCSN

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 13: A detailed view of a Spalding basketball during a quarterfinal game between the Davidson Wildcats and La Salle Explorers in the 2015 Men's Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament at the Barclays Center on March 13, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
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The Atlantic 10 invades NBCSN and the NBC Sports app on Sunday.

It begins at 2:00 p.m. with La Salle at VCU. Both of these teams are fighting for first place in the Atlantic 10 standings as the Explorers sit at 5-1 in league play and the Rams are at 4-2.

CLICK HERE to watch the Atlantic 10 on NBCSN

No. 6 Baylor uses late spurt for 62-53 victory at TCU

Baylor forward Johnathan Motley (5) reacts to a play against Texas in first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, in Waco, Texas. Baylor won 74-64. (Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune Herald via AP)
Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune Herald via AP
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FORT WORTH, Texas — Sixth-ranked Baylor and TCU kept trading the lead in the second half, with a 9 1/2-minute gap when neither team could muster consecutive scores.

Then the Bears finally closed out their 10th straight Big 12 victory over TCU since their instate rival joined the league four years ago.

Ishmail Wainright swished a go-ahead 3-pointer with 4:16 left, and there was then a TCU miss and more than a minute before Johnathan Motley’s layup for the Bears. Manu Lecomte added a layup to cap the 7-0 spurt that finally put Baylor (18-1, 6-1 Big 12) ahead to stay.

“This was typical of the Big 12. Hard-fought game, both teams playing extremely hard. The day after the game, it’s amazing how drained everybody is,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “I hope fans enjoy it, because we’re worn out.”

There were five ties and 13 lead changes after halftime.

The partisan sellout crowd of 7,276 might not have enjoyed it as much, but the Horned Frogs (14-5, 3-4) have shown great progress in their first season under coach Jamie Dixon, the former TCU point guard.

While the Frogs have already won two more games than all of last season, Dixon feels like they have let their last two game slip away late.

“Obviously got some disappointed guys in that locker room, me included,” Dixon said. “Really thought we were here to win this game. … My feeling we were ready to win them, and we were prepared, and we did things right, did things necessary.”

Lecomte scored 17 points while Motley had 15 points and eight rebounds, along with a punctuating dunk in the final minute. That came soon after Lecomte’s alley-oop pass for a dunk by Jo Lual-Acuil, who finished with 11 points.

Vlad Brodziansky had 19 points and 10 rebounds for TCU, while Kenrich Williams had 16 points and 12 rebounds.

BIG PICTURE

Baylor: This is the first time the Bears have ever been 18-1 overall or 6-1 in the Big 12. They have won their last three games since losing in their first game after reaching No. 1 for the first time in school history.

TCU: Brodziansky and Williams didn’t get much help from the rest of their teammates. TCU shot 29 percent from the field (17 of 58) — Brodziansky and Williams were a combined 12-of-26 shooting; the rest of the team was 5-of-32. “We outrebounded them (38-37), we had lower turnovers (8-10), things we want to do,” Dixon said. “But simply put, the shooting percentages always stand out.”

COMING FROM BEHIND

Baylor is 6-1 this season when trailing at halftime, and has outscored its opponents by more than 10 points in those second halves. “Blessed to have great leadership from the upperclassmen. They don’t panic, they don’t rattle, they stay together,” Drew said. “And they believe in each other.”

TCU led only 24 seconds in the first half, but grabbed a 28-26 halftime lead on Williams’ 3-pointer with 7 seconds left. Baylor opened the second half with four straight layups.

CATCHING AIR

When asked about Wainright’s go-ahead 3, Motley called it a “big shot. I air-balled one, Al (Freeman) too. The fans made sure they let us know. It didn’t matter, we just stayed aggressive, and my teammates trusted me to shoot again.”

UP NEXT

Baylor is home against Texas Tech on Wednesday before consecutive road games, including the SEC-Big 12 Challenge next Saturday at Ole Miss.

TCU plays its next two Big 12 games on the road, starting Monday at Oklahoma State. The Frogs then host Auburn before going to Kansas State.

No. 18 Duke’s insane second half propels them to win

DURHAM, NC - JANUARY 21:  Matt Jones #13 of the Duke Blue Devils reacts after making a three-point basket against the Miami Hurricanes during the game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on January 21, 2017 in Durham, North Carolina. Duke won 70-58.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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Matt Jones scored all 13 of his points in the second half as No. 18 Duke used a 31-4 run to start the second half, turning a 36-25 deficit into a 56-40 lead as they beat Miami on Saturday night, 70-58.

The Blue Devils were listless defensively and, frankly, bad on the offensive end of the floor throughout the first half, but Jones sparked the second half run with a pair of early threes.

Jayson Tatum added 14 points for the Blue Devils while Marques Bolden played by far his best game as a collegian, finishing with eight points and four boards in 23 minutes, numbers that don’t necessarily reflect his impact.

Miami was led by 19 points from Davon Reed, but looked like a totally different team after halftime.

Here are three things we learned from Duke’s win:

1. The benchings worked: Duke was awful in the first half on Saturday. All of those issues that have popped up this season? They were, once again, at the forefront, and the Blue Devils went into the break down 11 while everyone in my profession tried to figure out what witty lede they were going to use to put an end to Duke’s season.

Saturday also happened to be just the third time in 19 games this season that Duke started their ideal starting lineup – Grayson Allen, Luke Kennard, Harry Giles III, Amile Jefferson and Tatum. But interim head coach Jeff Capel benched three of those starters in the second half, sending Allen, Kennard and Giles to the bench to watch. And it worked. Frank Jackson, Bolden and Jones provided a spark that made the Blue Devils looked like they were Mario Bros and had received star power.

Giles managed just eight minutes on the night. Kennard and Allen combined for 18 points on 5-for-17 shooting.

And it didn’t matter. Duke played their best defensive half of the season – I’d argue it was the best defense they’ve played since the 2015 NCAA tournament – and ended up cruising to a double-digit win.

2. A Matt Jones three may have changed Duke’s season: I’m well aware that the statement that I’m about to make is hyperbolic and as full of #narrative as possible, but I’m going to say it anyway: The first of Jones’ three second half threes – the one that came after he stole an outlet pass, the one that rattled in-and-out before bouncing off the backboard and back in again – may just be the turning point for Duke’s tumultuous season.

Duke has had more issues this season than I care to recount here for the umpteenth time, but one of the biggest issues they’ve faced this season has had to do with the effort level they have played with and the confidence level of the players on the floor. But when that three went in, the Cameron Indoor Stadium crowd went nuts. Even before Miami called a timeout, Capel was nearly to half court, as fired up as anyone on the floor. There was a very distinct, very noticeable change in energy, both in the building and coming off of the bench, and the results can be seen in the way Miami struggled to score.

I know this idea is a reach. I know. I swear I do.

But I just can’t ignore the fact that, after that Jones three, the Duke players looked like they were having fun, like they truly enjoyed playing on this basketball team, for the first time in more than a month.

3. Amile Jefferson returned: Jefferson is the leader of this team on the floor, the captain and the guy that holds their defense together. Part of the reason Duke looked atrocious defending ball-screens against Florida State and Louisville is that they were playing without their best defensive big man.

He was back on the floor on Saturday, recovered from a bone bruise in the same foot he broke last year. This is big because of the fact that Duke hasn’t been the most forthcoming broken when it comes to the injury status of their players.