Khalif Wyatt

Temple upsets No. 3 Syracuse behind career day from senior Khalif Wyatt

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Coming off an upset loss to Canisius Wednesday, Temple had little rest before it walked into Madison Square Garden Saturday against No. 3 Syracuse.

And with an overwhelming majority of Syracuse fans in attendance, Temple used smart basketball to grind out a win over the Orange, 83-79, in Manhattan.

Khalif Wyatt scored a career-high 33 points, including 20 in the first half, then also worked to facilitate scoring for his teammates for much of the second half. The biggest beneficiary of that was Anthony Lee, who finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds.

Lee’s presence on the block against the No. 4 rebounding team in the country was key, pushing for position and fighting for six offensive rebounds, which afforded Temple important ball-control and second-chance opportunities.

Aside from Wyatt, the Owls struggled in the first half. While Wyatt scored 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting, the rest of the team scored just 18 on 5-of-17 from the floor.

Temple attacked the patented Syracuse zone by working the ball into the middle and on the baseline, then working it back to the outside for open shots on the perimeter.

When trailing by 10 with 9:34 remaining in the first half, two threes by transfer Jake O’Brien spurred a 10-2 run that put the Owls back into the game.

Temple then started the second half on a 12-2 run, growing its lead to as many as seven points in the first ten minutes of the second half.

At that point, though, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim implemented a full-court press that clearly made Temple uncomfortable, increasing the pace and allowing the Orange to tie the game at 59 with 10:18 remaining.

Sophomore Michael Carter-Williams scored his first field goal of the game during that stretch, a layup with 15:16 remaining. He struggled offensively and from the free throw line on the game with 13 points on 3-of-15 shooting and 7-of-15 from the free throw line.

He picked up his fourth foul with 5:48 remaining, which forced him to play cautiously in a key stretch of the second half.

C.J. Fair and Brandon Triche were the two engines behind the Syracuse offense Saturday with Carter-Williams’ lull. Fair finished with 25 points and Triche had 17.

Temple became more comfortable with the Syracuse pressure after the nine-minute mark, going on an 11-3 run to expand the lead to eight points.

Fair struck again late in the second half, hitting a three from the corner to pull Syracuse within one possession with 3:07 to play.

Although Syracuse pulled within one point, 74-73, late in the second half, Temple never relinquished the lead.

The loss snaps Syracuse’s 52-game regular season, non-conference winning streak.

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

Villanova beats Duke, Kansas, Indiana for Jermaine Samuels

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Jermaine Samuels, Jr. #23 of Expressions Elite dunks. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
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Villanova landed a commitment from top 50 prospect Jermaine Samuels on Saturday.

Samuels is a tough and athletic 6-foot-5 wing that will remind many Wildcat fans of Josh Hart. He’s got the same kind of versatility and nose for the ball that will let him guard perimeter players as well as work in as a small-ball four. Players like this are a specialty of Jay Wright.

Samuels picked up an offer from Duke recently and also had Indiana, Kansas and Georgetown in his top five. Beating out blue-bloods for a prospect like this is quite the statement for Villanova, one that should tell you the reigning national champs are here to stay as a national power.

Syracuse lands critical piece in Andrew White

LINCOLN, NE - FEBRUARY 3: Andrew White #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers shoots the ball over Rasheed Sulaimon #0 of the Maryland Terrapins during their game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on February 3, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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Syracuse has found their replacement for Malachi Richardson.

On Sunday, Nebraska transfer Andrew White committed to the Orange, picking Syracuse, in the end, over VCU. White is a graduate transfer who spent last season with Nebraska, where he averaged 16.2 points while shooting 41.2 percent from three. A top 50 prospect out of Virginia back in the Class of 2012, White played a limited role for Kansas his first two seasons in college.

This is a significant pickup for the Orange, one that legitimately puts them into the conversation as a Final Four contender and a threat to finish at or near the top of the ACC. Jim Boeheim has put together a roster full of talented, long and athletic front court players, but after Richardson declared for the NBA Draft as a one-and-done freshman, he was left with just two back court players on his roster.

Earlier this offseason, Cuse landed Colorado State grad transfer John Gillon, a 6-foot-1 combo-guard, to reinforce their back court. The addition of White gives them a lights-out shooter and a big-time scorer on the wing, something that would have been a major void on their roster.

With Paschal Chukwu getting eligible at the center spot and Tyler Lydon likely landing on every breakout player list this preseason, the Orange should be a markedly better team than the one that made their way to the Final Four last season.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.