Dr. Santa J. Ono

The Morning Mix

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College hoops took a back seat last night.

Alabama destroyed Notre Dame en route to their third BCS National Championship in four years, The hapless Washington Wizards beat the Oklahoma City Thunder on a Bradley Beal game-winner and Carmelo Anthony waited outside the Celtics’s team bus in order to start a ruckus with Kevin Garnett.

Before we hit the links I wanted to make you all aware that the CBT Podcast is now available for iTunes subscription and download.

Speaking of the CBT Podcast, it will be back tomorrow afternoon. We are looking for some excellent podcast/mailbag questions, so drop us a line at @CBTonNBC.

But we do have some college hoops-related things to sort out, so lets hit the links.

Tuesday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – Clemson @ No. 1 Duke
7:00 p.m. – Alabama @ No. 7 Missouri
7:00 p.m. – DePaul @ UConn
7:00 p.m. – Baylor @ Texas Tech
8:05 p.m. – Drake @ No. 13 Creighton
9:00 p.m. – Pittsburgh @ No. 19 Georgetown
9:00 p.m. – No. 15 Ohio State @ Purdue
 
 
Read of the Day:
The foot injury suffered by Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum has raised this issue of the value of returning to school. McCollum’s draft stock was at an all-time high following the Mountain Hawks’ NCAA tournament upset victory over Duke. He could have left school and nobody would have blamed him. David Steele puts it best. Read it. (The Sporting News)

Read of the Day:
I don’t really know how to sum this story up, but trust me, it’s great. It has to do with Georgia State coach Ron Hunter, who is one of the most genuine people in college hoops. Read it. (Defiantly Dutch)
 
 
Top Stories:
Trey Burke: National Player of the Year? More likely than you think: Mason Plumlee and Doug McDermott may get all the PoY hype, but Michigan’s Burke is deserving of some love as well. in fact, if you look at the numbers, Burke should be the favorite if the season ended today.

One-on-one with Marcus Paige: how little things hurt the Heels: Our very own Eric Angevine put together a great Q&A session with North Carolina freshman guard Marcus Paige following the Tar Heels tough road loss at Virginia.

Maurice Creek could return soon for Indiana, what could he bring? Prior to Indiana’s road win at Penn State yesterday, the Hoosiers found out that redshirt junior Maurice Creek could return from a right foot injury in just one week. Creek has battled injuries his entire career, and has been on the shelf ever since the 19th of December.

Mountain West Conference catch-up: It’s entirely possible that the MWC is the best conference out west. It’s also entirely possible that the MWC gets four NCAA tournament bids thanks to the hot starts from New Mexico and Wyoming. The battle at the top between San Diego State and UNLV.

Southeastern Conference Catch-up: Outside of Florida, Kentucky and Missouri, the rest of the SEC doesn’t look too hot. Tennessee doesn’t have any firepower, Arkansas is still way too young, Alabama too banged up and Vanderbilt, the reigning SEC Tournament Champions, is just 6-6.

VIDEO: Grinnell gets POSTERIZED!!!: Grinnell College, the home of viral scoring legend Jack Taylor, is back in the news. Unfortunately, it not because somebody scored 138 points. Nope, the Fox Squirrels are back in the news because they were on the wrong end of a nasty posterization. Don’t try to
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping
– Because of the Saturday primetime playoff game between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco Giants, UW-Milwaukee has moved up the start time of their game against Illinois-Chicago from 7:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. That’s smart work up in Green Bay. (UICflames.com)

– Marshall guard kelvin Amayo is leaving the program. Apparently the freshman was under the impression that he would be receiving a scholarship although he’s not currently receiving one. (SNY.tv)

– Akron’s Chauncey Gilliam will miss the next two weeks due to a meniscus tear (Hustle Belt)

– Florida forward Eric Murphy fractured a rib during practice last week and may be unable to play in the Gators’ SEC opener against Georgia on Wednesday (USA Today)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– John Gasaway thinks Minnesota, Gonzaga and are darkhorse candidates to win the national championship. (ESPN Insider)

– Remember how good Anthony Davis was at blocking shots? Well according to the numbers, Jeff Withey is doing a better job than Davis through 13 games. (ESPN)

– Tom Izzo would be shocked if this season’s Big-Ten Champion emerges with only “one or two losses”. (Mlive.com)

– Danny Spewak of Rush The Court does a great job getting to the bottom of why Oklahoma senior Sam Grooms isn’t getting more playing time. (Rush The Court)

– It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time for Gary Parrish’s “Poll Attacks”. (Eye on College Basketball)

– I really did enjoy this piece on assists and the types of shots that are most frequently assisted. (Run The Floor)

– Some how some way, Sacramento State managed to missed 26 free throws and still defeat Southern Utah. (Big Sky BBall)
 
 
Photo of the Day:
This is a photo of Cincinnati President Santa J. Ono, who got his head shaved after the Bearcats’ home loss to Notre Dame last night. Ono promised to shave his head if the Bearcats won 10 in a row, and they completed this task by defeating Marshall on December 15th. (Fox-19 Cincinnati)

source: AP
 
 

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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.