Late Night Snacks: Memphis Tigers win rivalry game for the last time

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Games of the Day

Memphis 85, Tennessee 80: Even if this game were a blowout it would still probably be the game of the day because as many of you know by now this could be the last time these two in-state rivals play their annual game in a while. The contract is up at the end of the year, but both ADs are discussing extending it. Either way, Memphis, lead by Joe Jackson used a strong offensive first half to jump out to a double-digit lead. Tennessee, led by Jordan McRae, chipped away at the lead, but the deficit was too much.

Important Outcomes

Memphis earns non-conference win: Sticking in the state of Tennessee, Memphis enters Conference-USA play with a much-needed quality out of conference win. The Tigers looked awful in November, losing back-to-back games against VCU and Minnesota as part of the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas and later lost to Louisville. The play of Jackson should give Josh Pastner and Memphis some optimism heading forward.

Rhode Island beats in-state opponent: Last week, the last-game 3-pointer from Tucker Halpern lifted Brown over Providence. Dan Hurley and his Rams avoided surrendering the tiny state of Rhode Island to the Bears with 59-47 win. Halpern was held to four points, while Xavier Munford had a game-high 18 for URI.

Valparaiso gets first conference win: Valpo started off conference play with a loss to Loyola (Ill.). The Crusaders bounced back with a 24-point win over Cleveland State. Valparaiso needed the win if they want to stick around with Detroit this season. Valparaiso visits Detriot Jan. 17.

Starred

Joe Jackson, Memphis: When he plays well, so do the Tigers. He ended the night with 20 points, seven assists, and four rebounds and got his teammates open looks by hitting the gaps and getting into the lane. Memphis won 85-80 over Tennessee.

Jordan McRae, Tennessee: In an offensive that struggled, McRae almost tripled his scoring average (10.3) with a game-high 26 points in a loss to Memphis.

O.D. Anosike, Siena: The Saints may be 2-12, but Anosike continued to make double-doubles part of his daily routine. Eleven of 14 games, the 6-foot-8 forward has recorded double figures in both points and rebounds. In a 66-62 loss to Iona, the senior forward ended with 19 points and 15 boards. He is averaging 13 and 12 on the season.

Struggled

Grambling State: No luck again Friday night, as the Tigers dropped the 11th straight game to open the season. The 69-56 loss to Alabama State (4-11) puts Grambling State at 0-2 to start SWAC play.

St. Peter’s execution: The Peacocks cut the deficit to 55-53 against Manhattan with two minutes to go. And that ended up the final score. Yvon Raymond missed a pair of free throws with a minute to go. Desi Washington had one shot blocked and missed a 3-pointer at the end of the game.

Marshall Henderson Shot-Tracker: A relatively quiet night for Mr. Henderson. The 3-point gunner only took eight shots from behind the arc, which is the second-lowest total he has had this season (six against San Francisco and Hawaii).

Henderson connected on a trio of them, ending with a game-high 21 points for Ole Miss in a 95-68 win over Fordham #ShootMoreMarshall

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.