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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

Indiana lands four-star Class of 2017 wing Justin Smith

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Indiana landed an athletic wing commitment on Monday night as four-star small forward Justin Smith pledged to the Hoosiers on Twitter.

The 6-foot-6 Smith is a native of Lincolnshire, Illinois and comes from Stevenson High School as he’s regarded as the No. 105 overall prospect in the Rivals national Class of 2017 rankings.

A high-flying wing who is great in the open floor, Smith should fit the Hoosiers’ uptempo system perfectly and if he’s able to get a more consistent perimeter jumper then he has a chance to be a really nice piece for Indiana.

Smith joins three-star guard Al Durham in Indiana’s recruiting Class of 2017.

Michigan State addingTom Izzo Hall of History wing in remodeled Breslin Center

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 22:  Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans reacts against the Virginia Cavaliers during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 22, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has already been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this fall and the longtime Spartans head coach is receiving another unique honor in the remodeled Breslin Center.

The school announced over the weekend that the Tom Izzo Hall of History will be added to the Breslin Center renovations as the building is supposed to be completed by the fall of 2017.

“The Tom Izzo Hall of History will become a great gathering place on our campus where together we can celebrate the excellence of Spartan Basketball and MSU Athletics,” athletic director Mark Hollis said in a release. “When this facility project is complete it will be the finest college basketball facility in the country, so it’s only fitting that Tom’s name will be a permanent part of it.”

Overall, this is a nice addition to the Breslin Center, especially since Izzo and Michigan State basketball will forever be associated with one another. It should be cool for fans to go through it and re-live great moments in Michigan State history and the wing is another nice recruiting tool that can help point out all of Izzo’s biggest accomplishments.

 

Puerto Rico Tip-Off Tournament moving to Orlando amid Zika concerns

Lon Kruger
(AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
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Amid concerns over the Zika virus, the annual Puerto Rico Tip-Off announced a change in venue on Monday. Rather than staying on the island, the tournament will move to Orlando and all games will be played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney.

The dates and teams will remain the same for the event as it will be played Thursday, Nov. 17, Friday, Nov. 18 and Sunday, Nov. 20. The field for the event includes Arizona State, Clemson, Davidson, Missouri, Northern Iowa, Oklahoma, Tulane and Xavier.

“We enjoy the beauty and accommodations that are afforded in Puerto Rico and wanted to make every effort in playing the event in San Juan, but the concern for student-athlete and spectator welfare became the primary driver in the decision,” Pete Derzis, senior vice president of ESPN Events said in the official release.  “We intend to return to Puerto Rico in the future.”

Puerto Rico is currently under a Level 2 alert for Zika according to the CDC. Since there have been cases of Zika on the island with native mosquitoes, it’s probably a smart move to eliminate all concerns over the virus if they can easily move the tournament elsewhere. It probably isn’t ideal for fans who purchased travel packages to Puerto Rico to watch the event, but it’s a small price to pay for the safety of everyone involved.

The Puerto Rico Tourism Company is also upset with the decision as Executive Director Ingrid Rivera Rocafort released a statement on Monday night.

“We are disappointed about this decision that we believe has been based on fear not the facts about Puerto Rico,” the statement read.

“There is no public health reason to cancel the Puerto Rico Tip Off or any sporting event in Puerto Rico. There is no doubt that our strong fan base and local spectators would have turned out to support their teams. Less than one percent of Puerto Rico’s 3.5 million population has contracted Zika, a far cry from projections. The hype and misinformation is fostering irrational decisions.”

PHOTO: Purdue unveils statue of John Wooden outside Mackey Arena

John Wooden (Purdue Athletics)
Purdue Athletics
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John Wooden will forever be associated with the UCLA program for what he did while coaching there.

10 national titles in 12 years, including seven in a row. Not bad, right?

What some people may forget is that before he got into coaching, Wooden was one of the best basketball players in the world. He played his collegiate ball at Purdue, where he was a three-time all-american and the 1932 National Player of the Year.

To honor Wooden’s legacy as one of the greatest Boilermakers ever, Purdue built a statue of Wooden and unveiled it in front of Mackey Arena this weekend:

“Not many people think of Johnny Wooden as a Boilermaker, but when I got here in 1957, some of the old-timers still remembered him as a player,” Jim Hicks, the alumnus that donated the statue, said. “I’m so delighted that people will see this statue and read his Pyramid of Success because I think the pyramid was his most important contribution.”

One of the neat touches of the statue: Wooden’s Pyramid of Success is right there for all to see.

North Carolina lands third commitment in 2017 class

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 23: Head coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels looks on during the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament against the Iowa State Cyclones at the AT&T Center on March 23, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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North Carolina picked up their third commitment in the Class of 2017 on Monday in big man Brandon Huffman.

A four-star prospect who will play his final season of high school ball at Word of God Academy in North Carolina, Huffman’s strength at this point in his development is as a defensive presence around the basket. He stands 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-5 wingspan and should be able to help replace Kennedy Meeks, who graduates this spring.

Huffman’s development on the offensive end of the floor isn’t quite there yet. A native of Anchorage, Alaska, Huffman is still learning how to be more influential on that end.

Huffman joins Jalek Felton and Andrew Platek in UNC’s 2017 class.