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The Morning Mix

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It’s the last day of 2012. Heckuva year it was too. Luckily for us, college hoops is going out on a high note, finishing 2012 with a full slate of games. Plus we still have to get to what happened this weekend. Before you start prepping for your New Years Eve parties, get caught up on things with The Morning Mix.

Lets hit the links.

Monday’s Top Games:
12:00 p.m. – No. 8 Cincinnati @ No. 24 Pittsburgh
2:00 p.m. – No. 19 Michigan State @ No. 11 Minnesota
2:00 p.m. – South Dakota @ No. 25 Kansas State
2:00 p.m. – Bowling Green @ Temple
3:00 p.m. – Central Connecticut State @ Indiana
3:00 p.m. – Saint Joseph’s @ Drexel
4:00 p.m. – No. 5 Indiana @ Iowa
5:00 p.m – UNC-Greensboro @ No. 23 North Carolina State
6:00 p.m. – No. 13 Gonzaga @ No. 22 Oklahoma State
7:00 p.m. – Nevada @ Oregon
7:30 p.m. – New Mexico @ Saint Louis
8:00 p.m. – North Texas @ Middle Tennessee
8:00 p.m. – Harvard @ Saint Mary’s
Top Stories:
No. 4 Louisville outlasts Kentucky in foul-plagued rivalry rematch: Kansas survived Ohio State in last week’s Final Four rematch, but the tables were turned in Louisville’s 80-77 triumph over their in-state rivals in the KFC Yum! Center.

BYU’s Tyler Haws put up Jimmer-like numbers against Virginia Tech: No BYU fan will ever forget about Jimmer Fredette, but sophomore guard Tyler Haws made fans momentarily forget, as he scored 42 points in the Cougars’ 97-71 shellacking of Virginia Tech.

Mixed results for college hoops in the Bay Area on Saturday: Santa Clara put up a good fight against Duke, but Cal lost a tough one to Harvard at home. Stanford had trouble putting away Lafayette and an underrated San Francisco squad defeated Dominican U. of California (D-II).

Utah State coach Stew Morrill breaks convention with comments about departing player: Longtime Utah State head coach Stew Morrill has never been one to shy away in front of the media. But it was interesting to see what the Aggies’ head coach had to say about a departing player who was quitting the sport all together.

Big-Ten Conference Catchup: Indiana and Michigan headline a loaded league with Minnesota and Illinois heading in to conference play with big winning streaks. The Big Ten should feature the best conference season out of all the power conferences.

Big East Conference Catchup: Despite realignment, the Big East should remain competitive thanks to a collection of elite teams like Louisville, Syracuse, Cincinnati, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and UConn.

Hoops Housekeeping
– South Florida point guard Anthony Collins was taken off the court on a stretcher during the Bulls 61-57 win over George Mason. Head Coach Stan Heath revealed during the post game press conference that Victor Rudd Junior suffered a concussion in the second half. (The Dagger)

– Former-Louisville forward Angel Nunez has decided to transfer to Gonzaga, making his intentions clear via Instagram on Friday afternoon. (College Basketball Talk)

– Sophomore backup guard Brandan Kearney has decided to transfer out of Michigan State (Fox Sports Detroit)

– Tennessee State’s top scorer Robert Covington will miss the next 4-6 weeks due to surgery he had on Friday to repair a torn meniscus. (OVC Ball)

– Miami had a terrible trip to Hawaii and the Diamonhead Classic. Much of their troubles were due to the absence of center Reggie Johnson, who broke his left thumb during practice leading up to the event. The big-man is the key to the ‘Canes success but will be forced to miss the next 6-8 weeks. (Miami Sun-Sentinel)

– Pittsburgh back-up center Malcolm Gilbert has decided to transfer to Fairfield, where he will join his brother Marcus. (Cardiac Hill)

– Indiana freshman Jeremy Hollowell has been reinstated and will be in uniform tonight against Iowa. He had been suspended since after the Butler game. (Inside the Hall)

– Baylor center J’mison Morgan has been suspended indefinitely by the university and has been dismissed from the program because of an unspecified violation of university policy. Morgan redshirted last season after transferring from UCLA. He played in just one game this season, against College of Charleston. (Waco Tribune-Herald)

– Connecticut head coach Kevin Ollie has been rewarded for his efforts with a new five-year, $7-million contract (ESPN)

– Following a three-game suspension in which his team went 3-0 under Associate head coach David Cox, Rutgers head coach Mike Rice returns to the sidelines and will coach his team when they take on Syracuse in their Big East opener on Wednesday. (New York Daily News)

Observations & Insight:
– BYU’s Tyler Haws scored 42 points against Virginia Tech on Saturday, joining his father Marty Haws as 40-point scorers for the Cougars. Marty starred at BYU from 1986-1990. (The Dagger)

– Providence head coach Ed Cooley was not pleased with his team’s effort and hustle in thir upset loss to Brown on Friday. He called his squad “soft” and said they play with “no chemistry”. Sophomore LeDontae Henton did finish with 37 points. (Providence Journal)

– Gorgui Dieng made his triumphant return to the court on Saturday and helped Louisville defeat Kentucky 80-77. The game carried extra weight for the Senegalese center because his parents were in attendance to see him play for the first time ever. (Louisville Courier-Journal)

– What exactly is clutch, and can it be defined? The Big Ten Geeks tackle a great issue posed by statistical experts Ken Pomeroy and Dan Hanner. (Big Ten Network)

– In order for UNLV to impose their will as the dominant team in the Mountain West Conference, they will need senior guard Anthony Marshall to be the catalyst. (College ChalkTalk)

– Phil Pressey distributed a record 19 assists on Friday night for Missouri, but it came in an entertaining yet losing effort at UCLA. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Kansas’ Ben McLemore is getting all the recognition for the Jayhawks right now, and deservedly so. But the improved play of Naadir Tharpe has really helped to push the Jayhawks into the elite tier of teams. (Need I Say Moore)

– As the title indicates, Boston College as bad as we thought they were going to be. (Run The Floor)

– Led by scrappy guard Jake Odom, the Indiana State Sycamores are a team to watch out for in the ever-difficult Missouri Valley Conference. (Mid-Major Madness)

– Jeff Eisenberg looks ahead to today’s slate of games, which really is nothing short of phenomenal. (The Dagger)

– Mike DeCourcy looks ahead at the top games of the upcoming week. (The Sporting News)

– With Gonzaga headed into Stillwater tonight against a ranked Oklahoma State team, the spotlight is once again shining on Gallagher-Iba Arena. (The Oklahoman)

– A cute little list of early season under-the-radar freshman All-American candidates. High Point’s John Brown is a player to watch, for sure. (Hoopville)

Odds & Ends
– Indiana head coach Tom Crean isn’t just a good coach, he’s also an excellent civilian, as evidence by this recent story of him helping out a motorist that found themselves stuck in a ditch. (WDRB-41)

– Some nice tidbits on Bill Walton’s return to the mic, include the demons he has dealt with in his past. (Sports Illustrated)

– A creative sign featuring John Calipari and dollar bills was confiscated at the Yum! Center prior to tip-off of the Louisville vs. Kentucky game on Saturday. (Kentucky Sports Radio)

– Of course a guy proposed to their girlfriend at the Louisville vs. Kentucky game. She said yes. (WHAS-11)
Picture of the Day:
The King and Queen of the Cardinals celebrate Louisville’s victory over their rivals Kentucky (University of Louisville Athletics)

Photo from University of Louisville Athletics

Video(s) of the Day:
John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats pulled the “ol’ switcheroo” before free throw attempt during their loss to Louisville. (College Basketball Talk)


Dunk(s) of the Day:
Some fascinating ball work leads to one of the best dunks of the weekend. Josh Sharp exhibits total destruction, which is exactly what BYU did to Virginia Tech.

Dunk(s) of the Day:
Friends, this is what we in the industry like to call “The Dagger”.

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)

WEEKLY AWARDS: Denzel Valentine’s big week, Kansas makes a statement

Denzel Valentine
(AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Denzel Valentine, Michigan State

In the title game of the Wooden Legacy, a game that was billed as a matchup between the two best players in college basketball — Valentine and Kris Dunn — Valentine was downright bad …

… by his standards. He finished with “just” 17 points, six assists and five boards. I say “just” because, in the previous two games of the tournament, the Spartan superstar averaged 30.5 points, 10.0 boards and 8.0 assists. He’s been, hands down, the best player in college basketball this season, and that didn’t change this week.


  • Ben Bentil, Providence: Kris Dunn is the guy that is going to get all the national praise, but it was Bentil’s emergence that was critical for the Friars. He averaged 21.7 points and 6.0 boards in three games in the Wooden Legacy, carrying PC when Dunn was battling foul issues.
  • Wayne Selden, Kansas: The highlight of Selden’s week was scoring 25 points on 8-for-11 shooting in the Maui title game win over No. 19 Vanderbilt. For the week, he averaged 19.3 points and shot 12-for-17 from three.
  • Justin Robinson, Monmouth: Robinson averaged 25.7 points in three games for Monmouth at the Advocare Invitational. The Hawks beat No. 17 Notre Dame and USC in the process, only losing to Dayton by three.
  • Justin Jackson, North Carolina: Remember when Justin Jackson was struggling? He averaged 21.5 points, 9.0 boards and 5.0 assists in wins over Northwestern and Kansas State. That came on the heels of a 25-point performance in the loss at Northern Iowa.
  • Henry Ellenson, Marquette: Ellenson notched three straight double-doubles for the Golden Eagles this week, which included 16 points and 11 boards in a win over Ben Simmons and LSU.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Kansas Jayhawks

Kansas headed out to Maui as a team that many weren’t really sure what to make of. They looked good against Michigan State for 30 minutes, then they blew that game as Denzel Valentine went bananas. They had as much depth as anyone in the country, but Brannen Greene was suspended, Cheick Diallo was ineligible and Wayne Selden was the most notable of a handful of talented players that had been somewhere between inconsistent and ineffective this year.

That all changed in Maui — well, other than Greene’s suspension — as Kansas rolled over Chaminade, UCLA and Vanderbilt to bring home the tournament title. Blowing out Chaminade was to be expected. But beating down a talented UCLA team? Dominating a very good Vanderbilt squad? That’s the Kansas we’ve been hoping to see show up for a few years now. The question is whether or not it’s sustainable, and at least on paper, it appears to be. Selden’s shooting percentages will come back to earth, but his raw numbers are less important than his confidence and aggressiveness. Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham are going to continue to take pressure off of each other in the back court. Perry Ellis isn’t going anywhere.

I questioned whether or not Kansas was truly one of the nation’s elite when the season started. I think they answered that question for me.


  • Xavier: The Musketeers not only won the Advocare Invitational in Orlando, they blew out in-state — and former Atlantic 10 — rival Dayton in the finals.
  • Syracuse: The Orange are going to be a factor in the ACC this season. How much? I don’t know. But after winning the Battle 4 Atlantis by knocking off No. 18 UConn and No. 25 Texas A&M, it’s clear they’re going to be involved all season.
  • Northeastern: The Huskies picked up a road win against No. 15 Miami on this buzzer-beating jumper.
  • Arkansas-Little Rock: The Trojans picked up their second huge road win of the year, going into Tulsa and knocking off the Golden Hurricane. They’re now 5-0 on the season, having also won at SDSU.
  • Tournament winners: West Virginia knocked off Richmond and San Diego State to bring home the Las Vegas Invitational title, No. 24 Cincinnati beat Nebraska and George Washington in the Barclays Center Classic and Marquette knocked off LSU and Arizona State to win the Legends Classic.


Tuesday: No. 2 Maryland at No. 9 North Carolina, 9:30 p.m.
Wednesday: Butler at No. 24 Cincinnati, 7:00 p.m.
Wednesday: Louisville at No. 3 Michigan State, 7:15 p.m.
Wednesday: No. 13 Indiana at No. 6 Duke, 9:15 p.m.
Saturday: No. 11 Arizona at No. 10 Gonzaga, 3:15 p.m.

As good as they’ve been, No. 3 Michigan State has yet to play their best

Bryn Forbes, Ryan Fazekas
Associated Press
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Sunday night’s Wooden Legacy title game matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence was billed as a matchup of the nation’s two best players, and rightfully so. Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine (17 points, six rebounds, five assists), who already has two triple-doubles to his credit this season, and Providence redshirt junior Kris Dunn (21 points, five rebounds, seven assists) have more than lived up to the preseason expectations and more of the same was expected in Anaheim.

And while both had their moments, it was Michigan State’s supporting cast that made the difference in their 77-64 victory. The scary thing for future opponents on Michigan State’s schedule is that Tom Izzo’s team is nowhere near being a finished product.

With Valentine dealing with first-half foul trouble Bryn Forbes stepped up, scoring 13 of his 18 points to help the Spartans take a two-point lead into the half. As for the 11-0 run that Michigan State produced to take control of the game late, a host of players stepped forward in regards to scoring, rebounding and defending.

Freshmen Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid combined to score nine points over the final 5:32, with transfer guard Eron Harris adding six of his 12 points during that stretch. The Spartans outscored the Friars, who aren’t as deep, 22-7 during that stretch to close out the game, hunting for quality shots and hitting the offensive glass while making things difficult for Providence on the other end of the floor.

The end result was a final margin that does not indicate just how close the game was. While Providence seemed to run out of steam Michigan State received contributions from multiple players, which is undoubtedly a good sign for this group moving forward.

The Spartans will return the currently injured Gavin Schilling later this season, giving them another big man alongside Davis, Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman. He was a player they missed Sunday night, as he can defend opposing big men both in the post and on the perimeter. His absence was a main reason Michigan State didn’t have an answer for Providence’s Ben Bentil (20 points, seven rebounds) defensively.

The key for this group is going to end up being role definition, which is especially true in the case of Harris. A transfer from West Virginia, Harris came to East Lansing with the reputation of being a big time scorer. He’s struggled through the first two weeks of the season, but he got on a roll on Sunday night, finishing with 12 points, three boards and three assists. He showed he’s capable of doing a variety of things on the perimeter, and fitting into a “Swiss army knife” kind of role would make Michigan State that much more dangerous.

There’s no denying that Michigan State has been one of the nation’s best teams thus far.

But there’s also no denying that the Spartans have yet to hit their ceiling, which is definitely a positive moving forward.