The Morning Mix

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The finish to Colorado vs. Arizona is what everybody will be talking about at the water cooler today. Sabatino Chen banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat Arizona. One ref called it a make, the others didn’t know. So they went to the monitors, and all hell broke loose.

As you could imagine, we have a lot to get to.

Lets hit the links.

Friday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – George Washington @ Georgia
8:00 p.m. – Memphis @ Tennessee
9:00 p.m. – Fordham @ Ole Miss
 
 
Tweet of the Day:

@sabatinochen23 Ball Don’t Lie.

Read of the Day:
Jeff Calkins nails it regarding the pretty disastrous way the Memphis athletic department has handled the ending of the Tennessee series. Read it. (Memphis Commercial-Appeal)

Read of the Day:
An absolutely awesome piece from the New York Times on legendary coaching icon Jerry Tarkanian. This piece does a really good job of covering all the sides to the former-UNLV head coach. At 82 years old, Tark’s health is starting to deteriorate. Take 10-15min and read this. (New York Times)
 
 
Top Stories:
No. 3 Arizona survives Colorado on controversial call: Sabatino Chen hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer off the glass to beat Arizona. The only problem was that it didn’t count. Or at least that’s what the refs said. You be the judge.

Refs blew call that cost Colorado win at Arizona, but not how you think: The refs cost Colorado a signature win and saved Arizona’s undefeated record. But surprisingly enough, the screwed up on more than one call.

Arizona’s offensive execution must improve if they’re to be a national contender: If Arizona wants to keep its undefeated streak, they will need to shoot better than 7-of-27 from the field overall and 3-of-11 from beyond the arc in the first half.

It looks like the Memphis/Tennessee rivalry might not be cancelled after all: On Wednesday Josh Pastner was saying the rivalry was done after this season and that Tiger fans wanted Louisville instead. But with recruiting at stake, the in-state non-conference rivalry looks to be staying around.

Breaking down how Purdue stopped Illinois’ Brandon Paul: The Boilermakers provided the blueprint for how to shut down potent Illinois scorer Brandon Paul. Here is a X’s & O’s break down of how it went down.

There’s a bigger point to Kentucky monitoring the heart rate of its players than work ethic: John Calipari is having the kentucky Wildcats wear heart monitors during practice to measure just how hard they are working. Some people have an issue with this. Raphielle Johnson doesn’t, and he will tell you why.

Big-XII Conference Catchup: The Big-XII is Kansas’ to win, but the Oklahoma State Cowboys could contend if they get consistent production from Le’Bryan Nash, Marcus Smart and company..

10 tidbits to know: Louisville’s chemistry, McCollum can shoot and more: Vin Parise, the College Basketball Insider for NBC Sports Talk stops by to drop some knowledge. Did you know that Davidson’s Nick Cothran is shooting 98% from the foul line? Vin did.

Santa Clara head coach Kerry Keating offers students special deal for Saturday’s game against No. 10 Gonzaga: This is just awesome. Santa Clara has their biggest home game of the season this weekend. But since students won’t be back from break, the Broncos’ head coach is going to help make sure students can afford to get back for the game.

 
 
Hoops Housekeeping
– Arkansas-Litte Rock guard John Gillon injured his knee last night against Western Kentucky and is expected to miss the next two weeks. (Burn the Horse)

– Virginia point guard Jontel Evans could return to action this Sunday against UNC. (Washington Post)

– St. John’s senior forward Orlando Sanchez was declared ineligible by the NCAA in November and as of now it looks like he is unlikely to ever suit up for the Red Storm ever again. (SNY.tv)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– In the wake of last night’s controversy, Colorado head coach Tad Boyle wants replay gone. (ESPN)

– Hawaii moved to 2-0 in the Big West thanks to a buzzer-beater from Garrett Jefferson (Warrior Insider)

– The “Catholic-7” will be meeting in New York City today to discuss exit strategies from the Big East. (Hartford Courant)

– Is it possible that we are overlooking the Big-XII? Considering Oklahoma State is the second-best team, I’d say “Yes. Yes we are overlooking the Big-XII”. (Dallas Star-Telegram)

– The Robert Morris Colonials are the current favorites to win the NEC. Well, that was before they put up a lackluster performance against Bryant and lost a game they were expected to dominate. (Times-Online)

– Gary Parrish takes a look a head at what is on tap this weekend. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Jeff Goodman’s “Good N’ Plenty” weekly feature takes Jamie Dixon to task for loading up on cupcake-heavy non-conference schedule and wonders if Wyoming’s Leonard Washington is the frontrunner for Mountain West Player of the Year. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Is it possible that San Diego State stays in the Big East? (Mountain West Connection)

– Get this: Murray State won their 600th game as a member of the Ohio Valley Conference last night. There is a Jim Calhoun joke to be made somewhere in here. (OVC Ball)
 
 
Picture of the Day:
This is what the Pac-12 website showed following the controversial Arizona/Colorado ending. #StandingsFail (H/T @UtahRy)


 
 
video(s) of the Day:
Sabatino Chen’s release. You be the judge


 
 
Video(s) of the Day:
Cody Zeller got himself a rap anthem. (Assembly Call)


 
 
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Bluiett back to Xavier for senior season

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Xavier lost one significant piece to the professional ranks this spring, but will return another.

Trevon Bluiett, the team’s leading scorer last year, announced via social media that he will be back to play his senior season with the Musketeers.

Chris Mack will return the bulk of a roster that struggled February only to make a run to the Elite Eight, but getting Bluiett for a final season makes the Musketeers especially dangerous. The 6-foot-6 Bluiett scored a team-high 18.5 points per game last year while also putting up 5.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per night. He shot 37.1 percent from 3-point range, the second-best mark on the team. His return, even with point guard Edmond Sumner going pro amid his ACL tear recovery, makes Xavier one of the top teams in the Big East heading into the 2017-18 season.

Bluiett himself is enough to keep Xavier relevant in the league, but when he’s coupled with the likes of returners JP Macura, Sean O’Mara and Quentin Goodwin, plus a recruiting class featuring two four-star prospects, it’s not difficult to see a path for Mack’s group to a place where they can compete with the likes of Villanova and Seton Hall atop the league.

Welsh and Holiday returning to UCLA

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UCLA sustained some major, though expected, attrition from its roster this spring. On Tuesday, the Bruins announced a pair of significant contributors that will be back.

Thomas Welsh and Aaron Holiday will both return next season to the UCLA program, according to the school.

Welsh, a 7-foot center, averaged 10.8 points and 8.7 rebounds as a senior last year for the Bruins. He shot 58.5 percent from the floor and blocked 1.2 shots per game, and decided to declare for the NBA Draft without an agent before ultimately deciding to return to Westwood.

“Thomas has worked hard all spring,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said in a statement. “We supported him testing the NBA waters and are excited to have him returning for his senior year. He simply continues to develop each and every season.

“Thomas will be one of the top centers in college basketball next year and, undoubtedly, has a great chance to be a first-round pick in next season’s draft.”

The 6-foot-1 Holiday averaged 12.3 points and 4.4 assists last season while sharing a backcourt with Lonzo Ball, whose departure, along with those of TJ Leaf, Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton will leave UCLA with a very different look next season. The positive results, however, may not fluctuate too significantly with Welsh and Holiday coming back to play alongside two five-star recruits, Kris Wilkes and Jaylen Hands, as well as Lonzo’s younger brother LiAngelo.

West Virginia’s Macon forgoing final year

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West Virginia’s attempt to dethrone Kansas atop the Big 12 took a bit of a hit Tuesday.

Elijah Macon, a 6-foot-9 forward, announced his decision to forego a fifth year in Morgantown in order to pursue a professional career.

“First things first I would like to say thank you Bob Huggins and Erik Martin for believing in a young 15-year-old boy growing up from the Southside of Columbus, OH losing my mother and still having you guys push me to be the man I have become,” Macon said according to the school. “I can do nothing but thank you for all you and Mountaineer Nation (have) done for me. Unfortunately, I will not be returning for my senior season at WVU and instead sign with a(n) agent and play professional basketball. Thank you guys for all the love and support!”

Macon wasn’t a major contributor for the Mountaineers last season, averaging 6.3 points and 4.2 rebounds in 16 minutes per game, but he was an experienced and tough player who was well-versed in Huggins’ style and demands. Given the pace that the newly-fashioned Press Virginia plays at, depth is also paramount for them as a program.

Macon’s departure, though, may have been expected or at least partly anticipated by West Virginia. The Mountaineers signed five players in its most recent recruiting class, putting them one over their allotment of 13, so something had to give. West VIrginia will stay have interior depth, anchored by junior Esa Ahmad, so the loss of Macon is one they likely can weather, even if it may take some time to acclimate the newcomers.

“Elijah is in the process of completing classes during this summer school period that ends June 2 and will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in August,” Huggins said in a statement released by the school. “I respect his decision to become a professional basketball player and to go make money to support his family. He had a great four years with us, and we wish him nothing but the best.”

Key returning to Alabama for sophomore season

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Alabama’s top scorer is returning to school.

Braxton Key has withdrawn his name from the NBA draft and will be back with the Tide for his sophomore season, the school announced Tuesday.

“I spoke to coach Avery (Johnson) just over a week ago and informed him of my decision to withdraw my name from the NBA Draft and return to the University of Alabama for my sophomore season,” Key said in a statement. “I made that official when I sent my paperwork to the NBA league office Monday morning. I want to express my appreciation to my teammates, Coach Johnson and the entire coaching staff for giving me their full support while I went through this process.

“I am excited for the future of the Alabama basketball program and looking forward to getting to work as we prepare for next season. Roll Tide and Buckle Up!”

The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 12 points and 5.7 rebounds per game while shooting 43.3 percent from the field as a freshman. He gives Alabama four returning starts to pair with one of the country’s highest-regarded recruiting classes, headlined by five-star guard Collin Sexton. The Tide will also have an eligible Daniel Giddens, who previously transferred in from Ohio State.

Key didn’t seem likely to stay in the NBA draft, especially after he wasn’t invited to the combine, but his ultimate decision is a huge one for Avery Johnson as he looks to break through in his third season in Tuscaloosa with his first NCAA tournament appearance. 

Report: Justin Jackson to return to Maryland

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Maryland forward Justin Jackson is expected to return to school for his sophomore season, according to a report from FanRag Sports.

Jackson is an intriguing talent, a 6-foot-7 combo-forward with a 7-foot-3 wingspan that shoots 44 percent from three. But he’s also still developing his offensive game and consistency on the defensive end of the floor, which is why he was projected as a second round pick in this year’s draft.

With Jackson back in the fold, Maryland is a borderline top 25 team. They lost Melo Trimble to the professional ranks, but that’s something that Mark Turgeon has prepared for. With a sophomore class that also includes highly-regarded point guard Anthony Cowan and sharp-shooter Kevin Huerter, the Terps have a promising season ahead of them.