Grant Gibbs Gregory Echenique Jahenns Manigat Jackie Carmichael

Late Night Snacks: Creighton, Duke win Wednesday’s marquee games

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Game of the Day

No. 16 Creighton 79, Illinois State 72: Ethan Wragge had 18 points and hit six of Creighton’s 13 threes as the Bluejays won a shootout against the Redbirds. Illinois State hit 13 threes of their own, but it was a missed three from Jackie Carmichael with ISU down three and less than 20 seconds left on the clock that ended up being the back-breaker.

Grant Gibbs was once again a killer for Creighton against ISU. In the MVC tournament title game a year ago, he had 20 points as the Redbirds dared him to shoot. On Wednesday, he finished with 16 points and seven assists.

Important Outcomes

No. 1 Duke 67, Davidson 50: The Blue Devils shook off an off-night from Mason Plumlee to knock off a scrappy Davidson team that looked primed — for 20 minutes, at least — to remind the country why they were picked as one of the nation’s best mid-major. The Wildcats pounded the offensive glass in the first half, collecting 14 second-chance points en route to a 29-all tie at the break. But Duke used a 19-4 run to open the second half to put away the Wildcats.

Purdue 68, No. 11 Illinois 61: Illinois is not built for the road.

No. 7 Syracuse 78, Rutgers 53: Boeheim got his 903rd win.

Missouri Valley: In addition to Creighton’s win at Illinois State, Wichita State knocked off Drake on the road and Indiana State beat Northern Iowa at Northern Iowa. I think it’s safe to say that the Sycamores are the third-best team in the Valley, behind Creighton and Wichita State. But what has happened to the Panthers?

Wyoming 59, SMU 56: The Cowboys remained undefeated with a win at SMU despite playing without second-leading scorer Luke Martinez.

Starred

Tymell Murphy, Florida International: Murphy became the second player this season to post a 20-20 games, finishing with 24 points and 20 boards in a win over FAMU. Towson’s Jerelle Benimon had 20 points and 21 boards in a win over Oregon State on Saturday.

Troy Daniels, VCU: Daniels. He’s so hot right now. Daniels.

Ryan Harrow, Kentucky: It was a 52 point blow out, I know, but Harrow but together another impressive performance. He had 15 points and eight assists.

Kendall Anthony, Richmond: The 5-foot-8 Anthony was a spot start for the Spiders, but the move paid off; he had 31 points and hit seven threes in a 91-68 win over Air Force.

Stunk

Florida State: The Seminoles lost 78-72 to Auburn despite shooting 48.3% from the floor and getting 18 points and 12 boards from Michael Snaer.

Xavier: Travis Taylor had 18 points and was 9-10 from the floor. The rest of the Musketeers were 12-39 from the field and managed just 41 points in a 66-59 loss to Wake Forest.

Marshall: I know the Thundering Herd are playing without Deandre Kane, but Marshall was supposed to be the second-best team in Conference USA. They just lost at home to Delaware State.

The rest of the top 25

  • No. 8 Ohio State 70, Nebraska 44
  • No. 17 Butler 70, Penn 57
  • No. 19 San Diego State 72, Cal St. Bakersfield 57

Other notable scores

  • Colorado State 62, UTEP 58
  • Miami 76, La Salle 59
  • Loyola (IL) 63, Valpo 54

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

UT-Arlington dominates, upsets No. 12 St. Mary’s

Texas-Arlington's Kevin Hervey, left, reacts to a 73-68 NCAA college basketball game win as Ohio State's Jae'Sean Tate looks on  in Columbus, Ohio, Friday, Nov. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)
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UT-Arlington made a statement on Thursday night, completely dominating No. 12 Saint Mary’s in a 65-51 upset win in a true road game in Moraga.

Back in October, I ranked both the Gaels and the Mavericks in the top-5 of my Mid-Major Power Rankings. Saint Mary’s was the obvious top choice, one of the nation’s most efficient offenses that returned Emmett Naar and Jock Landale. UT-Arlington, ranked fifth, served as a dangerous opponent. The Mavs had defeated Ohio State and Memphis in 2015, but their season was derailed once Kevin Hervey, a player with serious pro potential, tore his ACL.

With five starters back, including Hervey, who is just now getting back to 100 percent, UT-Arlington looks every bit the part of a March Cinderella.

The Mavericks jumped out to an early lead and forced the Gaels to play out of character. Saint Mary’s had only committed a season-high 14 turnovers before the midway point of the second half. The Gaels, who entered shooting 40 percent from three as a team, was held to 8-of-27 (30 percent) from beyond the arc.

UT-Arlington did an incredible job of closing out on shooters. And it didn’t matter the matchup, at times we saw Hervey, a 6-foot-9 junior, come out and run a guard off the 3-point line. While those statistics mentioned above show up in the box score, the amount of deflections don’t. The Mavericks used its length and athleticism to get their hands everywhere on the defensive end of the floor, making it difficult to find good looks.

In the first half, UT-Arlington controlled the glass. Saint Mary’s found more success in that department after halftime, as Kevin Clark’s offensive putback capped an 11-2 run, which cut the deficit to 52-41. However, the Mavs were able to counter each time the Gaels threatened, never letting the lead get to single digits.

Aside from the struggles the typically-efficient Saint Mary’s offense had, the Gaels struggled to keep UT-Arlington guards Erick Neal and Kaelon Wilson out of the lane, whether it be on a high ball screen or a handoff. Saint Mary’s never seemed to have a help-side defender there to protect the rim. Neal had 13 points and eight assists (five turnovers), while Wilson had 10 points off the bench. Hervey had a game-high 15 points and seven rebounds.

UT-Arlington is winners of eight straight after losing three straight. One of those wins includes a double-digit win over Texas in Austin. The Mavericks are the clear-cut favorite to win the Sun Belt. Come Selection Sunday, I’d say plenty of at-large teams would not like to be paired up with Scott Cross’ team.

Iowa cruises past No. 25 Iowa State

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20:  Head coach Fran McCaffery of the Iowa Hawkeyes reacts in the first half against the Villanova Wildcats during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Barclays Center on March 20, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Iowa picked up a major win on Thursday night, defeating in-state rival No. 25 Iowa State, 78-64, in a contest the Hawkeyes thoroughly dominated.

Let’s put it this way: the Hawkeyes have played four top-100 teams, according to kenpom. In those games, all losses by the way, their defense has surrendered 91 points to Seton Hall, 74 points to a Virginia team that plays at the slowest tempo in the country, 100 points to Memphis and 92 points to Notre Dame.

On Saturday, on the same floor Iowa demolished the Cyclones, its defense allowed 98 points in a loss to Nebraska Omaha.

This is exactly the sort of win Fran McCaffery and Co. needed to right the ship as we inch closer and closer to conference play.

When the Cyclones went to their bench in the first half, Nick Baer sparked a 10-0 run which helped set the tone for the remainder of the half. Iowa State went without a field goal for more than six minutes during that span.

Iowa kept Iowa State from getting out and running, holding the Cyclones to zero fast break points through the first 20 minutes and limiting them to only 36 percent from the floor as a team. Iowa, on the other hand, shot 47 percent, including 59 percent in the first half, which led to a 15-point halftime lead.

Peter Jok torched Iowa State to the tune of 23 points (4-of-7 from distance).

Monte Morris was held in check with 10 points, while Naz Mitrou-Long and Matt Thomas shot a combined 4-of-13 from three (they each hit a three with less than three minutes to play and the outcome all but decided).

Iowa State’s offense is becoming a bigger concern. Just like against Gonzaga, the Cyclones dug a first-half hole they could shoot out their way of. And like last week’s overtime loss to Cincinnati, they struggled from beyond the arc.

Iowa landed a marquee win it needed, while its rival headed home with questions to answer after losing three of four.

 

Alabama wing sidelined due to weight loss

ORLANDO, FL - NOVEMBER 29: Head coach Avery Johnson of the Alabama Crimson Tide during the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at HP Field House on November 29, 2015 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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Alabama junior wing Nick King will not be with the team for Sunday evening’s matchup against No. 24 Oregon in Eugene.

According to Rainer Sabin of the AL.com, Alabama head coach Avery Johnson said King undergoing a series of tests after losing more than 10 pounds in less than a week and a half.

Johnson told reporters that he is “very concerned” and estimates that as of now King will be sidelined for “a week or two.”

King, who played his first two seasons at Memphis, has appeared in all seven games for the Crimson Tide, averaging 3.3 points and 2.9 rebounds in 12.7 minutes per game.

Damonte Dodd out with MCL sprain

COLLEGE PARK, MD - FEBRUARY 13: Melo Trimble #2 and Damonte Dodd #35 of the Maryland Terrapins react to a call as Alex Illikainen #25 of the Wisconsin Badgers looks on in the second half at Xfinity Center on February 13, 2016 in College Park, Maryland. Wisconsin won 70-57.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Maryland could be without the services of starting center Damonte Dodd for the remainder of the non-conference slate, the team announced on Wednesday.

Dodd suffered a MCL sprain in his left knee during practice earlier this week. The injury caused him to miss Wednesday’s 76-56 win over Howard. He will not be available for matchups with St. Peter’s and Jacksonville State. The Terrapins then close out the non-conference slate at Charlotte on Dec. 20 before opening up Big Ten play a week later.

Dodd has started in six of seven games he’s appeared in this season. He’s averaging 5.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. Michael Cekovsky started in place of Dodd on Wednesday night. Ivan Bender, who returned to the lineup against Howard after missing the previous contest, should also see an increase in minutes with Dodd sidelined.

Federico Mussini goes coast-to-coast, beats buzzer with and-1

CINCINNATI, OH - FEBRUARY 03:  Chris Mullin the head coach of the St. John's Red Storm gives instructions to Federico Mussini #4 during the game against the  Xavier Musketeersat Cintas Center on February 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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St. John’s capped the first half with a 6-0 run.

Sophomore guard Federico Mussini went coast-to-coast to beat the buzzer, and draw the foul, as the Johnnies went into the break up 42-33 on city rival Fordham.

The 6-foot-4 guard had gone cold during a five-game stretch, but since Thanksgiving he’s scored in double figures in four consecutive games, including on Thursday night.