SMU and Tulsa kicked off conference play in an ugly game with a wild finish.
The final was 48-47, but the Mustangs used a 25-6 run to turn a 17 point deficit into a 42-40 lead with just over five minutes left in the game. But Tulsa’s Pat Swilling Jr. buried a three with 3.8 seconds left on the clock for the Golden Hurricane.
The result itself wasn’t all that important, however, as Tulsa and SMU are both middle of the pack teams in a Conference USA that is as bad as it’s been in a long time.
What was significant was that the student managed to notch a win against the teacher. Danny Manning was the Most Outstanding Player of the 1988 Final Four when he won a title on Larry Brown’s Kansas team. It was just the second time that an MOP went up against his former coach; the last time was in 1950. The pupil, Howie Dallmar, also led Penn to a victory over former coach Everett Dean and his alma mater, Stanford.
“I was looking forward to it, to be honest with you,” Manning said after the game. “This has nothing to do with SMU and Tulsa right now – I knew how many guys that played for Coach Brown were coming back. I knew I’d get a chance to see a lot of familiar faces, which is nice.”
“I spoke with Coach Brown really briefly after shootaround, and saw a couple of guys on his staff. There were a lot of hugs and a lot of love before and after the game, but during the game, the competitive juices flow.”
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.