Missouri Illinois Basketball

The Morning Mix

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The Morning Mix hopes you all have a great start to your holiday week. Hopefully all of you survived the Mayan Apocalypse. I had my doubts, but having successfully navigated Y2K, I felt good about our chances.

Saturday featured a bevy of great action on the hardwood and with no games on the docket today, take the time to get caught up on the action.

And of course, enjoy the holidays.

Lets hit the links.


Read(s) of the Day:
Jeff Eisenberg provides the best stock report in the business. Here’s his take following a busy day of Saturday hoops. Read it. (The Dagger)

Read(s) of the Day:
Rob Dauster’s recap of all the Saturday games is must-read stuff. Read it. (Sports Illustrated)
Top Stories:
Marquette puts together its version of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’: The GOlden Eagles love to create music videos for their fans, and Buzz and his squad didn’t disappoint in their latest rendition of this Christmas classic.

Temple upsets No. 3 Syracuse behind career day from senior Khalif Wyatt: Khalif Wyatt scored a career-high 33 points, including 20 in the first half, en route to a 83-79 win over the Orange at Madison Square Garden.

No. 9 Jayhawks share the ball, beat No. 7 Buckeyes in Columbus: Ben McLemore scored 22 points and look like the best player on a floor loaded with stars, but he was hardly the only Jayhawk to show up in the 74-66 KU victory over Ohio State.

Christmas Wish List for New Mexico: The Lobos will need increased marksmanship and improved played from Demetrius Walker.

Amidst realignment, Mountain West restructures television deal: The Mountain West Conference is solidifying itself amidst constant conference realignment by restructuring its television deal.

Buzzer-beater carries Mason over Richmond in Governor’s Classic: With the score knotted at 64-all, George Mason’s Sherrod Wright hit a three-point buzzer-beater to knock off Richmond in the Virginia Governor’s Classic.

Suspension of Texas guard Myck Kabongo revised down to 23 games by NCAA: The NCAA suspension of Texas guard Myck Kabongo has been revised to 23 games, days after the NCAA ruled that the sophomore would be suspended for the rest of the season for receiving impermissible benefits.
Hoops Housekeeping
Siena has announced that sophomore Lionel Gomis is no longer with the men’s basketball team and has left Siena for personal family reasons. (4 Guys in a Blazer)

– Miami center Reggie Johnson jammed his thumb preparing for the Diamondhead Classic and was not able to play in the Hurricanes’ first two games of the event. (College Basketball Talk)

– Former-Louisville forward Angel Nunez will visit Gonzaga over the holidays. the Sophomore left the Cardinals early this month after averaging just under fiver minutes per game. (SNY.tv)
Observations & Insight:
– Missouri’s Phil Pressey missed 16 shots on Saturday against Illinois yet was still the game MVP. Why? because he just so happens to be the best facilitator in the country. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Temple was able to force Michael Carter-Williams into a shooter instead of a distributor, and was one of the big reasons the Owls defeated the Orange. (Syracuse Post-Standard)

– South Dakota State took a 1,200-mile bus-trip from Nashville to Albuquerque and promptly handed New Mexico their first loss of the season. (Argus Leader)

– A great-read on Rice head coach Ben Braun and the uncertain future he faces due to the Owls’ struggles. (Rush The Court)

– Oklahoma State has been a pleasant surprise this season. If the Cowboys are to continue their impressive play, they will need to get the right presents for Christmas (The Oklahoman)
Odds & Ends
– A solid Q&A session with Pittsburgh’s Tray Woodhall. (USA Today)

– ESPN play-by-play announcer Mitch Holthus made a racially sensitive remark regarding Kansas State guard Angel Rodriguez. The sophomore guard was also the target of racially charged jeers from the Southern Mississippi student section last season. (Deadspin)

– Maryland players sing “Frosty The Snowman”. These guys need to stick with basketball. (Testudo Times)

– Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford had no clue who he was playing last week. (Pistols Firing)

 Picture of the Day:
Laurence Bowers and Sam McLaurin got tied up in the first half the the annual “Bragging Rights Game” between Missouri and Illinois. This tie-up led to a brief altercation between the two teams. Fortunately no punches were thrown and play resumed.

source: AP
Dunks(s) of the Day:
Iowa’s Eric May goes hard in the paint

UNC-Wilmington’s Keith Rendlemen goes hard in the paint as well

Oh, it’s nothing really, just a 360 ally-oop from Markel Brown

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)

Conference USA Preview: Look out for UAB this year

Georges Niang, William Lee
UAB's William Lee (AP Photo)
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Beginning in October and running up through November 13th, the first day of the regular season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2015-2016 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

Today, we are previewing the Conference USA.

This version of Conference USA is not as strong as the Conference USA of old, the one that featured the likes of Marquette, Memphis, Cincinnati and Louisville, but while much of the league falls under the ‘mid-major’ label these days, there’s still enough talent at the top of the conference to throw a scare into some of the big boys.

Take, for example, UAB. The Blazers last season finished just a game above .500, but after a dreadful start to non-conference play, Jerod Haase’s group turned it on in the league. They went 12-6 in CUSA, won the league’s tournament title and knocked off Iowa State in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. Oh, and they return everyone from last year’s group, including leading scorer Robert Brown and William Lee, who will be one of this season’s break out stars.

A major reason for UAB’s late-season surge was Lee, who did not truly get healthy until late-January. A 6-foot-9 combo-forward, Lee can block shots, score around the rim and make plays on the perimeter. He’s got a chance to be a star this season, and he makes UAB a really dangerous mid-major.

But he may not even be the best player in the conference, as Old Dominion returns reigning CUSA Player of the Year Trey Freeman. Freeman was a major reason that the Monarchs were able to beat LSU, VCU, Richmond and Georgia State last year in addition to reaching the semifinals of the NIT. The Monarchs also return Aaron Bacote, and while they lose their starting front line, there will be some promising big bodies available. East Carolina transfer Brandon Stith could post double-double numbers while Denzell Taylor was sixth nationally in offensive rebounding percentage last season.

The consensus from those around the league is that UAB and ODU, in some order, will be the team to beat this season. But there are a number of teams that will have a shot at finishing in that No. 3 spot.

Middle Tennessee State returns the majority of their roster from a season ago. The team’s leading returning scorer is power forward Reggie Upshaw, but the name to watch out for is Perrin Buford. Buford, a JuCo transfer, scored in double-figures in 10 of his last 12 games and averaged 14.1 points over his final eight.

UTEP returns just one healthy player from their top six from last season — Earvin Morris — but it’s who they add that keeps Tim Floyd’s club in the mix for the top five. Oregon transfer Dominic Artis will likely take over point guard while top 100 freshman Brodericks Jones and JuCo addition Lee Moore will be counted on for big years.

If Aaron Cosby can return to being the player he was as a sophomore at Seton Hall, Western Kentucky should have a chance to finish in the top six. But that was three years and two teams ago. Louisiana Tech not only lost ‘Speedy’ Smith and Raheem Appleby, but head coach Mike White left for Florida as well. New head coach Eric Konkol will be relying heavily on Alex Hamilton this year.

The two x-factors will be Marshall and Rice. The Owls returns a veteran back court and adds a key transfer in Egor Koulechov as they will look to build on the momentum from a strong close to the season. Head coach Mike Rhoades is a Shaka Smart disciple.

The same can be said for the Thundering Herd, who started the year 2-15 against Division I opponents but, in league play, won seven out of ten at one point. Dan D’antoni, Mike’s brother, plays an uptempo, gun-slinging style, adds a number of shooters and brings back Ryan Taylor.

MORE: 2015-16 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule


  • Favorite: “Most will say UAB because they’re coming off of that tournament win, but I like Old Dominion, too. They have best guard group in the conference. Defensively, they’re really hard to score on and physically tough. Trey Freeman is the best point guard and leader in the league. It will come down to whether [Brandon Stith] can replace what they lost up front.”
  • Sleeper: “Rice. I think they have a chance to finish in the top couple spots. Marcus Jackson and Max Guercy are a veteran back court, and with the addition of Egor Koulechov from Arizona State, if he’s really good they’ve got a chance to be really good. Mike Rhoades has done a really good job, and last year they got better as the year went on. If they continue that momentum, look out.”
  • Star to watch: “UAB’s William Lee. He’s the best NBA prospect. The last month of the year, he was as good as anyone in the league. He’s a 6-foot-9 combo-forward that’s athletic and has three-point range. Given his versatility and his talent level, he could have a breakout year.”


Freeman was the best player in the conference last season, and after a full offseason of improvement, it’s hard to imagine he’ll be anything other than the same this year. Freeman is a scoring point guard that can breakdown a defense, but he’s also capable of making plays for his teammates. He’s the reason ODU has a real shot at unseating UAB at the top of the league.


  • William Lee, UAB: Lee, a 6-foot-9 combo-forward, averaged 11.9 points, 8.1 boards and 2.3 blocks while shooting 44.4 percent from three over the last 12 games. He wasn’t healthy until February, either.
  • Robert Brown, UAB: Brown was UAB’s star in March, averaging 18.2 points in five postseason games. The fifth-year senior is the engine that makes their offense run.
  • Alex Hamilton, Louisiana Tech: The lone returnee from last season’s dynamic back court, Hamilton should see an uptick in his total numbers this year.
  • Ryan Taylor, Marshall: Taylor averaged 14.1 points, 8.6 boards and 2.8 assists for the Thundering Herd last season playing the Draymond Green role in their uptempo offense.



1. UAB
2. Old Dominion
3. Middle Tennessee State
5. Western Kentucky
6. Louisiana Tech
7. Rice
8. Marshall
9. Florida Atlantic
10. Florida International
11. Charlotte
12. North Texas
13. UTSA
14. Southern Miss

Iowa State lands three-star SG Jakolby Long

Steve Prohm
Associated Press
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Iowa State received its fourth verbal commitment in the Class of 2016 Friday morning, as 6-foot-4 shooting guard Jakolby Long made his pledge to Steve Prohm’s program. A native of Mustang, Oklahoma, Long attends Mustang HS and played for the Athletes First grassroots program this summer.

In Nike EYBL play for Athletes First, Long averaged 16.2 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.

According to Cyclone Fanatic, Long was also considering Georgia, Texas and Utah before deciding that he’ll play his college basketball at Iowa State. Long will join junior Matt Thomas, sophomore Hallice Cooke and transfer Nick Babb in the competition for minutes off the ball when he arrives on campus next year. According to Travis Hines of the Ames Tribune, Long could be a in a position where he sees solid playing time immediately.

Long joins junior college products Donovan Jackson and Emmanuel Malou, and 2016 forward Solomon Young in Iowa State’s 2016 class to date. And the Cyclones, who won’t use all 13 scholarships this season, still have room for a couple more additions for next season.

Iowa State has four seniors (Naz Long, Abdel Nader, Georges Niang and Jameel McKay), and junior point guard Monte’ Morris is considered by some to be a candidate to enter the 2016 NBA Draft.