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The Morning Mix

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Well folks, 2013 has certainly started off on the bizarre foot. We witnessed something last night that I am certain I have never witnessed at the Division-I level. At the high school level and below, sure. But never at the collegiate level. Thank you Big East referees, for making sure we learn something new every day.

Lets hit the links.

Wednesday’s Top Games:
6:00 p.m. – Eastern Michigan @ Kentucky
6:00 p.m. – Providence @ No.4 Louisville
6:30 p.m. – Nebraska @ No. 8 Ohio State
7:00 p.m. – UPenn @ No. 17 Butler
7:00 p.m. – Rutgers @ No. 7 Syracuse
7:00 p.m. – No. 1 Duke vs. Davidson
8:00 p.m. – St. John’s @ Villanova
8:00 p.m. – Indiana State @ Northern Iowa
8:00 p.m. – No. 16 Creighton @ Illinois State
8:00 p.m. – Wyoming @ SMU
8:30 p.m. – No.11 Illinois @ Purdue
9:00 p.m. – LaSalle @ Miami (Fl.)
10:00 p.m. – San Francisco @ Santa Clara
10:00 p.m. – Cal State Bakersfield @ No. 19 San Diego State
 
 
Read of the Day:
Here’s the statement from the officials in charge of the Marquette vs. UConn game, which ended in controversial fashion. You just can’t have a good controversy without some Karl Hess. Read it. (Connecticut Post)

Jeremy Lunbladt of ESPN Stats & Info provides the information about the top ten likeliest coaches to join the 900 wins club. Read it. (ESPN)
 
 
Top Stories:
Referees allow UConn to go to the wrong basket in overtime:In a game that featured a furious rally in the final 10 seconds to force overtime, the only thing that anyone is going to be talking about after Marquette’s 82-76 win over UConn in the Big East opener for both teams is a mistake that cost UConn a bucket at the start of the extra period.

Late Night Snacks: Marquette outlasted UConn in overtime, but UConn got two points taken from them. Greg Gantt of Florida Atlantic had a big night oo.

Bruce Ellington back to hoops after beating Michigan in Outback Bowl: The Gamecock’s top point guard scored the winning touchdown for the football team on Tuesday afternoon against Michigan in the Outback bowl. Now that football season is over, he will join Frank Martin’s squad as they begin SEC play.

CBT Monthly Awards: Arizona earns accolades, everybody enjoyed Butler vs. Indiana: The College Basketball Talk writers get together to discuss which teams and players excelled in the month of December. Nobody is surprised to see Michigan at No. 2 and everybody is on the Kansas bandwagon.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping
– Louisville’s Chane Behanen is doubtful for tonight’s game against Providence because of the flu. (Courier-Journal)

– Seton Hall reserve guard Freddie Jones has decided to transfer, leaving Kevin Willard with just eight scholarship players heading in to Big East play. (New Jersey Hoops Haven)

– Former-Seton Hall forward Herb Pope arrested for allegedly pulling gun in bar. (CBS Local Pittsburgh)

– Former-Arizona guard Marcus Williams failed a drug test in China and in doing so is the first doping case in the 17 year history of the Chinese Basketball Association. Can’t make this type of stuff up. (AZ Desert Swarm)

– 6-foot-11 California-native Kameron Rooks announced via Twitter yesterday that he has committed to the Cal Bears and Mike Montgomery (Cal Golden Blogs)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– The Utah vs. Arizona State game features the “Battle of the Bachynskis” as ASU’s seven-foot senior Jordan Bachynski goes up against Utah’s seven-foot sophomore Dallin Bachynski. (Arizona Republic)

– Using a lot of stats that I can’t comprehend, Ken Pomeroy determines the conference winners for all 32 leagues (KenPom Blog)

– Parrish and Goodman compile their new Player of the Year top-ten list, no movement at the top. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Jeff Borzello updates us on his Freshman of the Year rankings. Bennett, Smart and McLemore are still at the top. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Duke sits atop the ACC power rankings with North Carolina State in at number two with Maryland rounding out the top-3. (Fox Sports Carolina)

– Matt Norlander has some solid suggestions for college hoops new years resolutions. The Rick Majerus Classic is a must. (Eye on College Basketball)

– An excellent-read from Glen Logan on what JohN Calipari needs to do to get Alex Poythress to reinvent himself. (A Sea of Blue)

– Arizona senior Kevin Parrom isn’t on the court when the game begins, but is almost always out there when it counts. (Arizona Daily Star)

– You probably didn’t notice, but Maryland has now won 12 straight games since losing to Kentucky by three in the season opener. The Terps will be ranked before the season’s end. (CSN Washington)

– I know some of you out there are itching for the Big Sky power rankings. (Big Sky Basketball)

– Ten predictions that may come true in 2013. (Scout.com)
 
 
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UNLV’s Menzies fills out staff with 3 hires

New UNLV men's basketball coach Marvin Menzies smiles during a news conference after the UNLV board of regents  approved his contract, Friday, April 22, 2016  in Las Vegas. The boards voted 12-1 on Friday to approve a five-year, $3.75 million deal for Menzies.  (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP) LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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LAS VEGAS (AP) New UNLV men’s basketball coach Marvin Menzies has filled out his staff with three assistant coaches.

The school announced on Thursday the hiring of Andre LaFleur, Rob Jeter and Eric Brown.

Jeter was the head coach at Milwaukee for 11 seasons, winning 20 or more games five times. His record of 185-170 leaves him one short of the school record for most victories.

La Fleur spent the past five seasons as associate head coach at Providence under Ed Cooley after 10 years working for Jim Calhoun at Connecticut.

Brown has been an assistant coach at Long Beach State the last nine years.

Four-star 2017 shooting guard commits to Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams celebrates a play in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Virginia, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, in Blacksburg, Va. (Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP) LOCAL STATIONS OUT; LOCAL INTERNET OUT; LOCAL PRINT OUT (SALEM TIMES REGISTER; FINCASTLE HERALD; CHRISTIANSBURG NEWS MESSENGER; RADFORD NEWS JOURNAL; ROANOKE STAR SENTINEL; MANDATORY CREDIT
Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP
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Recruiting, and on-court results, have picked up at Virginia Tech since Buzz Williams took over as head coach. In his second year at the helm the Hokies won ten conference games, and in reaching the Postseason NIT made their first postseason appearance since 2011.

Thursday night Virginia Tech landed its first verbal commitment in the Class of 2017, as four-star shooting guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker made his pledge.

The 6-foot-5 Alexander-Walker, who’s ranked 91st in his class by Rivals.com, also took official visits to Maryland and USC before making his pledge to the ACC program. Alexander-Walker attends Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but as a native of Canada plays his grassroots basketball for the Canada Elite program on the Under Armour Association circuit.

Good with either hand, Alexander-Walker can play either on or off the basketball. And that versatility should serve him well in a system that places a high value on “switch-ables,” or players who can fill multiple roles.

The Canada connection paid off for Virginia Tech in the recruitment of Alexander-Walker, with assistant coach Jamie McNeilly being a native of the country himself and having a connection to the Walker family. The Hokies will lose two perimeter players at the end of the 2016-17 season in Devin Wilson and Seth Allen, which will give Alexander-Walker the opportunity to earn minutes as a freshman.

Oakland lands former Oklahoma State guard Clark

AP
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File
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When point guard Stevie Clark began his career at Oklahoma State in 2013, the Top 100 prospect was expected by many to be an impact player for the Cowboys. Things didn’t go as planned however, as off-court issues ultimately led to Clark’s dismissal from the program before his sophomore season. Add in a lawsuit filed by Clark in which he alleged that he was forced by the school to take psychotropic drugs, and it’s safe to say that his time in Stillwater was anything but smooth.

Clark ultimately landed at Arkansas Baptist College, and on Thursday it was reported by the Detroit Free Press that he’s committed to Oakland University to play for head coach Greg Kampe. Clark joins a program with an immediate need at the point, with All-American Kahlil Felder having entered the NBA Draft and hired an agent as well.

The obvious question regarding Clark is whether or not he’s managed to take care of business off the court, and in an interview with Mark Snyder of the Free Press the Oklahoma native made note of the benefits of getting away from home for college.

Playing in Rochester, far from his home, will serve him well, he said.

“Anywhere away from home is the best thing,” Clark said. “It’s just hard balancing everything being close to home.”

Clark will be one of the options Kampe has to choose from at the point, with incoming freshmen Brailen Neely and Billy Thomas also among the new arrivals, and sophomore Jaevin Cumberland looking to earn more playing time than the 5.6 minutes per contest he averaged as a freshman.

Creighton point guard Watson Jr. to return for senior season

Creighton's Maurice Watson Jr. (10) reacts after scoring during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Xavier in Omaha, Neb., Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. Creighton won 70-56. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
AP Photo/Nati Harnik
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Creighton’s chances of moving up the Big East standings and returning to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2014 improved a great deal Thursday, as starting point guard Maurice Watson Jr. announced that he will be returning for his senior season. Watson, who began his college career at Boston University, entered his name into the NBA Draft pool without hiring an agent but decided that another year in Omaha would be best for him.

Watson was one of the most impactful transfers in the country last season, as his play at the point was a major factor in the Bluejays winning 20 games and going 9-9 in conference play after being picked to finish eighth in the Big East preseason poll. Watson averaged 14.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game last season, earning second team All-Big East honors.

With Watson’s return the Bluejays will welcome back three of their top four scorers from last season, with center Geoffrey Groselle being the lone departure. Head coach Greg McDermott adds a talented shooting guard in Marcus Foster, who sat out last season after transferring in from Kansas State. With Watson and Foster working together, Creighton will have a formidable perimeter tandem leading the way in 2016-17 with the likes of forward Cole Huff and guard Isaiah Zierden also being key contributors.

In addition to what Watson can provide in games he’ll also serve as a good mentor for Kaleb Joseph, who will have to sit out next season after transferring in from Syracuse. Joseph, who will have two seasons of eligibility remaining, fell out of the rotation as a sophomore so the year in residency should benefit him as he works towards grabbing the reins in 2017-18.

h/t ESPN.com

UConn, four-star 2017 big man Brown part ways

Brown, Zach
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Back in mid-January UConn made waves on the recruiting trail by securing a verbal commitment from 7-foot-1 center Zach Brown, a player seen by many as one of the top prospects in the Class of 2017. That partnership came to an end Thursday, as the two parties decided to part ways. News of the mutual decision was first reported by Scout.com.

The Miami native is currently ranked 28th in the Class of 2017 by Rivals.com, and Thursday’s news opens up a spot in the front court that UConn head coach Kevin Ollie and his staff will now have to fill. Amida Brimah, who’s currently going through the NBA pre-Draft process, will be a senior next season should he return to Storrs as will Kentan Facey.

Among the interior options who will have eligibility remaining beyond next season for the Huskies are sophomore Steven Enoch and incoming freshmen Mamadou Diarra and Juwan Durham.

UConn was in the running for 2016 power forward Taurean Thompson, but multiple outlets have the Brewster Academy product considering Michigan State (which added UNLV grad transfer Ben Carter Wednesday), Seton Hall and Syracuse at this point in his recruitment.