Late Night Snacks: Kevin Ollie keeps Connecticut moving with first Big East win

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Game of the Day

Brown 75, Niagara 74 (OT)

Brown’s Matt Sullivan scored five of his 20 points in the final 1:30 of regulation to help erase a six-point Niagara lead, tie the game at 62, and force overtime. In the extra period, Brown worked from behind to take the lead and seal the game with free throws.

Sean McGonagill led the way for Brown with 23 points, along with seven assists and three steals. Brown improves to 5-8 on the year with the victory.

Important Outcomes 

1. Connecticut 99, DePaul 78

Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie won his first Big East game as a head coach with the Huskies’ blowout victory over DePaul. The backcourt combo of Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright did what they’ve been doing all year, but the emergence of DeAndre Daniels could be a difference-maker. (See Below)

2. No. 10 Missouri 84, Alabama 68

Alabama missed out on a chance to secure a signature win in the SEC and the opportunities to do so are in short supply. For Missouri, though, the focus won’t be on the win, but the health of senior Laurence Bowers, who went down with an injury in the second half. Coach Frank Haith reportedly announced after the game that Bowers would undergo an MRI Wednesday to assess damage to his left knee.

3. No. 15 Ohio State 74, Purdue 64

Ohio State needed to bounce back after a loss over the weekend to Illinois. They got that Tuesday, with a solid road win over Purdue. The Big Ten conference schedule is unforgiving, though, and the Buckeyes meet No. 2 Michigan next.

Starred

1. Quinn Cook (Duke) 27 points, 12-of-16 shooting, 5 assists, 4 steals

When Ryan Kelly went down with a foot injury in the first half Tuesday against Clemson, Cook stepped up in a big way. His 27 points were a career high and propelled Duke to a blowout victory. If Kelly is to miss a significant amount of time, Cook’s added production will be welcome.

2. Brandon Young (DePaul) 35 points, 13-of-22 shooting, 5 assists

Though the Blue Demons fell to Connecticut, Young had an impressive individual game. Young has been the second scoring option for Oliver Purnell’s team behind Cleveland Melvin, and those two together give DePaul at least a couple assets as they move into Big East play.

3. DeAndre Daniels (Connecticut) 26 points, 9-of-12 shooting, 8 rebounds

The Connecticut backcourt of Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright has been the focus all season, but DeAndre Daniels will be important for the Huskies as Big East play moves on. There will no postseason this year, but it is about building for the future. Daniels is part of that bright future.

Also of Note: Jabari Brown (Missouri) Career-high 22 points, including 5-of-7 from three-point range

Struggled

1. Georgetown’s Offense (Again)

The Hoyas have had a few ugly offensive outings this season, including a 37-36 win over Tennessee earlier in the year. Tuesday night at the Verizon Center was no exception. The Hoyas shot 36 percent from the floor, turned the ball over 16 times, and mustered just 45 points.

2. Tyler Brown (Illinois State)

Brown, the second-leading scorer for Illinois State, got just two shots (0-of-2) in a loss to Missouri State. He also missed two shots from the free throw line and finished with 0 points.

3. James Kinney (San Jose State)

Kinney has been San Jose State’s leading scorer all season, but he struggled with a 3-of-18 shooting night against New Orleans. His team was able to compensate, pulling together to get the victory.

Three Facts 

1. Duke will need Ryan Kelly back to maintain this level of play in the ACC. His ability to stretch the floor changes the dynamic of the Blue Devil offense and having him back as soon as possible will be key.

2. The same goes for Missouri and Laurence Bowers. He has been a great story this year, having come back from major knee surgery to be so integral to Missouri’s early season success, but if problems begin in his other knee, it could be a blow to the Tigers’ hopes in the SEC.

3. Georgetown needs to fix whatever is wrong with its offense or it will risk not reaching the NCAA tournament. Against a tough Big East conference schedule, having scoring droughts like the one seen Tuesday night will not suffice.

Top 25 Scores

No. 1 Duke 68, Clemson 40

No. 10 Missouri 84, Alabama 68

No. 13 Creighton 91, Drake 61

No. 15 Ohio State 74, Purdue 64

Pittsburgh 73, No. 19 Georgetown 45

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Lonzo Ball says “I’m better than” Markelle Fultz

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Usually, it’s LaVar Ball that makes news for what he says.

His eldest son is now getting in on the business of generating headlines with something other than his play.

The UCLA star, who said he’ll enter the draft after just one season with the Bruins, claimed he’s the better prospect than Washington freshman Markelle Fultz, who many have pegged as the No. 1 pick in June’s draft.

“Markelle’s a great player,” Ball said, according to ESPN, “but I feel I’m better than him,” “I think I can lead a team better than him. Obviously he’s a great scorer — he’s a great player, so I’m not taking that away from him.”

Not exactly inflammatory stuff – like saying you could have beaten Michael Jordan, that you want a $1 billion apparel deal or a number of things his father has said – bu Ball is certainly projecting confidence. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. There’s quite a bit of money – and pride – at stake with the draft, and Ball put up a season worthy of comparison to Fultz, who had great numbers but played for an abysmal Washington team. Ball, on the other had, had strong numbers while leading UCLA to the Sweet 16.

Both are going to go at the top of a draft that’s stocked full of promising point guards. Which player goes before the other remains to be seen, but it’s likely public pronouncements aren’t going to affect the draft order.

 

UMass hires McCall away from Chattanooga

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UMass has found, once more, the man to take over its basketball program.

The Minutemen have reached an agreement with Chattanooga coach Matt McCall, the school announce Wednesday

“The tradition and resources that are in place not only make this one of the best basketball jobs in the Atlantic 10 Conference,” McCall said in a statement released by the school, “but one of the best jobs in the country. We couldn’t be more excited about becoming part of the UMass family and look forward to building upon the rich tradition that has been established here in the past.”

In McCall’s two years at Chattanooga, the Mocs to the NCAA tournament in 2016 and a 19-12 record this year that featured five-straight losses to end the season.

The move will take McCall out of the southeast for the first time in his career as he previously served as at Florida and Florida Atlantic before getting his first head coaching job at Chattanooga.

McCall wasn’t the Minutemen’s first choice to replace Derek Kellogg after three-straight lackluster seasons. Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey had agreed to take the job before a last-minute about-face that saw him return to the Eagles program just before his introductory press conference was scheduled to begin.

“Matt is a rising star in college basketball coaching who has been a key piece of three successful programs in his career,” UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford said in a statement. “He has earned a reputation as a relentless worker, a great teammate and colleague and a confident leader of young men.

“Matt has worked with some of the most respected coaches and administrators in the country, who loudly sing his praises. Coach McCall’s appointment begins an exciting new chapter for our tradition-rich men’s basketball program at UMass.”

Despite being the second choice, McCall’s reputation in the coaching industry makes him a strong hire, having worked under Mike Jarvis and Billy Donovan. He took over at Chattanooga for Will Wade, and brought the Mocs to a 29-6 record and a  12-seed in the NCAA tournament in 2016.

UMass went to just one NCAA tournament under Kellogg (in 2014) during his nine seasons leading the Minutemen.

VIDEO: Frank Martin’s sideline demeanor as a high school coach

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South Carolina coach Frank Martin has the reputation of being rather, shall we say, intense on the sidelines during games.

The coach has a stare that seemingly could bore a hole through his players when they do something that doesn’t reach his level of expectation. Martin’s demeanor, though, didn’t just come into form once he hit the college ranks.

He was plenty intense on high school sidelines as well.

Martin won three titles while at Miami Senior in the mid-1990s, coaching the likes of future pros Steve Blake and Udonis Haslem. Now having reached his first career Final Four, that sideline persona has put him on the precipice of winning yet another championship, this time at the collegiate level.

South Carolina fans raise money to send “Gamecock Jesus” to Final Four

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South Carolina fans are sending one of their most recognizable compatriots to represent them this weekend.

Gamecock Jesus is heading to the Final Four.

South Carolina super fan Carlton Thompson is following the Gamecocks to Glendale as his fellow fans have raised over $7,500 to send the man known as “Gamecock Jesus” to Arizona for the team’s Final Four meeting with Gonzaga on Saturday night.

Thompson’s long hair, beard and presence at South Carolina games, even in lean times, earned him his nickname and apparently a following fervent enough to foot the bill for quite the trip.

“I’ve always dreamed it would be like this,” Thompson said last week about fan support at Gamecock games to the Post and Courier. “For years and years, it was so sparse with the crowds at the games. But once they started winning, the crowds started coming.”

Thompson is a 63-year-old VA hospital nurse, and has been attending South Carolina games for nearly 50 years.

Maryland’s Melo Trimble declares for the NBA Draft

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Melo Trimble’s career as a Maryland Terrapin is coming to an end. The junior guard is declaring for the NBA Draft and will sign with an agent.

“I am confident and excited to pursue an opportunity to play in the NBA,” Trimble said in a release. “I am proud of what my teammates and I were able to accomplish these past three seasons at Maryland. I developed many great relationships and friendships and together we able to create some very special moments for Maryland basketball. I want to thank Coach Turgeon for all of his support. He always believed in me. He challenged me and really helped in the development of my overall game. I am a more complete basketball player because of Coach Turgeon and the coaching staff. To stay at home and attend the University of Maryland is the best decision that I ever made and it was truly special to play in front of my family, friends and our amazing fans. Maryland will always be home.”

There was no better winner in college basketball the last three years than Melo. He changed the trajectory of Mark Turgeon’s program, winning 79 games in three years and ending his career 30-8 in games decided by six points or less. As a junior, Trimble and the Terps earned a No. 6 seed to the NCAA tournament, but they lost in the first round to Xavier. It was the only time in Trimble’s career that he didn’t reach the Sweet 16.

“Melo Trimble is a winner,” Mark Turgeon said on twitter. “Humble, hard-working, dedicated. Words can’t express what he’s done for our program. Always #StayMelo!”