Memphis Tennessee

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

Johnson, Paige help No. 9 Tar Heels roll past Panthers 85-64

North Carolina's Isaiah Hicks (4) dunks against Pittsburgh during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Chapel Hill, N.C., Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
AP Photo/Gerry Broome
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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) Brice Johnson scored 19 points to lead a dominating offensive performance that helped No. 9 North Carolina beat Pittsburgh 85-64 on Sunday.

Marcus Paige added 15 points for the Tar Heels (21-4, 10-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who shot 59 percent to stay atop the league ahead of the next renewal of their fierce rivalry with Duke.

UNC had plenty of balance, shared the ball and got out in transition in arguably their best performance in weeks, using a 13-0 second-half burst to blow the game open. UNC finished with 26 assists on 32 baskets, 24 points off turnovers and scored 16 fast-break points after managing a combined five in the past two games.

Michael Young and James Robinson each scored 15 points to lead Pitt (17-7, 6-6). But the Panthers shot 37 percent and committed 19 turnovers, and a strong effort on the glass did little to offset their troubles.

The Tar Heels were playing their first home game in two weeks after a difficult three-game road trip that started with losses at Louisville and Notre Dame. Then came Tuesday’s game at Boston College, where the Tar Heels struggled against a winless league team then had a scare when Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams briefly collapsed in a second-half huddle after an attack of vertigo and had to leave the sideline for the rest of the game.

Williams was back in the office on Wednesday’s off day, returned to practice Thursday and told reporters Friday he was fine and even cracked jokes about a two-decade history with vertigo dating to his Kansas years.

Getting back home certainly helped everyone feel better. After wrestling with shooting struggles for much of the past month, UNC’s offense kicked back into an efficient and balanced gear, while Paige – the player the Tar Heels are practically begging to jolt free from a prolonged shooting slump – looked more like his old self against the Panthers.

That included one second-half play in which he caught a crosscourt pass from Theo Pinson in transition and made sure to step back behind the arc before burying a 3-pointer.

The Panthers had lost three of four since a 5-2 league start coming in, including 65-63 on a late tip-in at No. 12 Miami on Tuesday. And Pitt again had trouble getting their offense going, failing to crack 70 points for the third straight game.

TIP-INS

Pittsburgh: Second-leading scorer Jamel Artis scored five points on 2-for-8 shooting. … Pitt finished with a 41-29 rebounding advantage. … Pitt made 9 of 21 3-point attempts.

UNC: Justin Jackson scored 14 points. … UNC made 8 of 15 shots from 3-point range and 13 of 15 free throws. … Jackson and Pinson had six assists each. … UNC managed just one offensive rebound.

UP NEXT

Pittsburgh hosts Wake Forest on Tuesday.

UNC hosts Duke on Wednesday.

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap and the AP’s college basketball site at http://collegebasketball.ap.org

Denzel Valentine dominant as No. 8 Michigan State whips Indiana

Michigan State's Denzel Valentine (45) shoots over Indiana's Kevin Yogi Ferrell during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
AP Photo/Al Goldis
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Trailing by one point at the half, Indiana appeared to be in good shape at No. 8 Michigan State. However the fact that they were unable to slow down Denzel Valentine, who scored 15 first-half points, was a major concern for Tom Crean’s Hoosiers. Sure enough the national Player of the Year candidate continued on his tour de force in the second half, scoring another 15 points and dishing out seven assists as the Spartans rolled to an 88-69 victory.

For the game Valentine finished with 30 points, five rebounds, 13 assists and just one turnover. Of Michigan State’s 48 second half points, Valentine had a hand in 29 of them with all seven of his assists resulting in Michigan State layups. It was a dominant performance from one of the nation’s best players, a versatile guard whose four games missed due to injury may have led to some overlooking him when it comes to those national Player of the Year conversations.

When Valentine’s on everything else flows smoothly for Tom Izzo’s team, as his ability to both score and create results in quality looks for teammates who would struggle if they had to get that part of the job done themselves.

The biggest beneficiary Sunday afternoon was forward Matt Costello, who finished the game with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Of Costello’s ten made field goals (10-for-12 FG) five were assisted by Valentine, and he accounted for 13 points and seven rebounds in the second half. As a team Michigan State shot 63.3 percent from the field and assisted on 16 of their 19 made field goals in the second half, turning a tight contest into a blowout.

Tum Tum Nairn returned the court for the first time in seven games, but he played just two minutes and his time on the court will be managed carefully by Izzo moving forward. For many teams not having your point guard at full strength would represent a crippling blow, but that hasn’t been the case for Michigan State thanks in large part to Valentine. Michigan State went 4-3 in those seven games without Nairn, but the three losses were by a total of three points.

Valentine’s ability to make his teammates better will be a key factor down the stretch for Michigan State, and that skill was what led to the Spartans blowing out Indiana on Sunday.