Missour-UCLA

Late Night Snacks: UCLA: another exciting L.A. basketball team?

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Make room Clippers, make room Lakers. Following a win on Friday against No. 7 Missouri, UCLA is mix of exciting basketball teams in Los Angeles. This is the team we all expected headlined by Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson. Took a month to get going – and get Muhammad to get in shape – but Friday night was the first glimpse of what the Bruins could be this season.

Game of the Night

UCLA 97, No. 13 Missouri 94 OT: Following a difficult season and the start to another difficult season the Bruins took down a ranked opponent giving a lift to a program that needed it. UCLA showed how good they can be when Shabazz Muhammad is in shape. Also Larry Drew and the Wear brothers have been impressive this season following their transfers from North Carolina.

Brown 69, Providence 68: Tucker Halpern hit his eighth 3-pointer with seven seconds to play to give Brown a 69-68 lead. Ed Cooley drew up a good play and got Vincent Council inside the 3-point line but he bobbled the ball and his 3-point try was off the mark and a tip-in attempt came up short. Council went 1-for-2 from the line with 20 seconds to play to keep it a two-point game at 68-66. Halpern ran off a high screen and faded to the corner to get off the late-game shot. LaDonte Henton had a game-high 37 points for Providence.

Important Outcomes

Gonzaga beats Baylor: Gonzaga has now beaten four Big 12 teams. Following another good win, the Zags goes into what could be their toughest game of the year on the road against Oklahoma State. Baylor got off to a good start, but turned the ball over 14 times and couldn’t get Brady Heslip an open look. The Bears start conference play against Texas on Jan. 2

Brown upsets Providence: Providence started out 8-2, but have not lost two games to both Boston College and Brown. Providence’s loss headlined a bad day for the Catholic 7 with both Villanova and Seton Hall getting scares from NJIT and Stony Brook.

Starred

Phil Pressey, Missouri: Despite the loss and a bad shot selection with under 30 seconds left that set up UCLA’s tying score in regulation, Pressey was impressive with 19 points and 19 assists.

Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA: The freshman finally had a breakout performance in a big game with 27 points, including seven points in overtime. While Muhammad led the team in scoring, Travis Wear put the game away with a bucket with 12 seconds left. Larry Drew 10 assists and Jordan Adams had a lefty layup that forced the game into overtime.

LaDontae Henton, Providence: Henton picked up the scoring load with Bryce Cotton out. Henton had 37 points, including 6-of-10 from three in a loss to Brown.

Shooters: Kevin Pangos had seven three’s to lead Gonzaga past Baylor. Jordan Hulls shot 6-of-9 from deep to lead Indiana with 20 points in a 93-59 win over Jacksonville.

Struggled

St. Francis (PA): In a 79-67 loss to Cornell, St. Francis falls to 0-11 on the season. The Red Flash will try and get in the win column on Jan. 3 against Central Connecticut State.

Catholic 7: Providence lost to city rival Brown. Villanova only beat NJIT by 10 and Seton Hall survived a one-point scare from Stony Brook.

Looking ahead to Saturday

No. 4 Louisville vs. Kentucky, 4 p.m.

No. 1 Duke vs. Santa Clara, noon

No. 2 Michigan vs. Central Michigan, 7 p.m.

No. 6 Kansas vs. American, 8 p.m.

No. 9 Syracuse vs. Alcorn State, 7 p.m.

No. 10 Ohio State vs. Chicago State, 4:30 p.m.

No. 12 Illinois vs. Auburn, 2:15 p.m.

No. 14 Florida vs. Air Fore, 4:30 p.m.

No. 16 Creighton vs. Evansville, 8:05 p.m.

No. 18 Butler @ Vanderbilt, 8 p.m.

No. 20 UNLV @ North Carolina, 2 p.m.

No. 23 NC State vs. Western Michigan, noon

No. 25 Kansas State vs. UMKC, 7 p.m.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(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)
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.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
Bart Young/USA Basketball
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.