The Morning Mix

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Morning folks. I hope you’re ready for another loaded night of college hoops, because Wednesday is bringing the thunder. Tonight is the first full night of conference play, and there are a handful of sneaky-good match-ups are on the schedule.

Lets hit the links.

Wednesday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – Nebraska @ No. 2 Michigan
7:00 p.m. – No. 3 Louisville @ Seton Hall
7:00 p.m. – Iowa State @ No. 6 Kansas
7:00 p.m. – No. 14 Butler @ Saint Joseph’s
7:00 p.m. – Dayton @ Virginia Commonwealth
8:00 p.m. – Eastern Kentucky @ Murray State
8:00 p.m. – Valparaiso @ Illinois-Chicago
9:00 p.m. – No. 8 Minnesota @ No. 12 Illinois
9:00 p.m. – West Virginia @ Texas
10:00 p.m. – No. 24 UNLV @ No. 25 New Mexico
10:00 p.m. – Boise State @ Wyoming
11:00 p.m. – Washington @ California
11:30 p.m. – No. 16 San Diego State @ Fresno State

Top Stories:
Patsy Sutton, wife of legendary coach Eddie Sutton, has passed away: Patsy Sutton, the wife of legendary coach Eddie Sutton, passed away yesterday at the age of 76. Sutton had been hospitalized since Dec. 28 after suffering a stroke.

John Calipari pleased with the progress of Ryan Harrow: After a dismal start to his Kentucky career, NC-State transfer Ryan Harrow is developing the leadership skills John Calipari demands out of his point guards. How far this team goes in March will ultimately depend on the play of the Kentucky point guard, and Harrow is trending in the right direction.

Deshaun Thomas, No. 15 Ohio State bounce back after loss to Illinois, beat Purdue: Behind 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting from Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State bounced back from a loss over the weekend to beat Purdue on the road, 74-64. The Buckeyes needed a strong performance following a 19-loss against Illinois, and they got it from the guy they needed to get it from.

Wyoming’s Luke Martinez broke finger during bar fight, police say: Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt announced Dec. 31 that senior Luke Martinez would be out indefinitely after breaking his hand in an off-campus incident. Now, according to a police report, it has been revealed that Martinez was involved in a bar fight in Laramie that resulted in a broken right ring finger. The Cowboys are still undefeated and face a stern test from Boise State tonight.

Atlantic-10 Conference Catch-up: While the Big-Ten is the strongest conference in the country, it could be argued that the A-10 is the deepest in the country. Any of the league’s top-5 teams could emerge as conference champions, and the next five best teams are right behind them. This is going to be a fun conference to track.

Hoops Housekeeping
– Duke forward Ryan Kelly injured his surgically-repaired right foot during the Blue Devils’ win against Clemson on Tuesday. This is the third time in 12 months that Kelly has injured his right foot. (Charlotte Observer)

– Missouri forward Laurence Bowers injured his knee in the Tigers’ SEC opener against Alabama. It appears to be a MCL sprain on his left knee. Bowers was sidelined all of last season with an ACL tear in his right knee. (The Dagger)

– California guards Brandon Smith and Ricky Kreklow will not play against Washington tonight due to unrelated injuries. (Bear Talk)

– Louisville forward Chane Behanan sprained his ankle in practice and should be sidelined until the pivotal January 19th showdown with Syracuse. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Iona junior forward Shawn Jackson will not return to the Gaels basketball program this semester. (Yahoo Sports)

– The Drexel Dragons, CAA preseason favorites, continue to struggle, as evident by their overtime loss at Northeastern and their 5-10 record. But much of their struggles come from the fact that much of the Dragons’ firepower has been sidelined with injuries (Philahoops.com)

– Michigan reserve forward Jon Horford is set to return to action soon after sitting out four games due to a dislocated kneecap. (The Sporting News)

Observations & Insight:
– Georgetown suffered its worst Big East defeat in program history and its worst home defeat since 1971 last night against Pittsburgh. (CSN Washington)

– If you’re in to statistics and that sort of thing, you should be happy to know that the first RPI has been released. (ESPN)

– Tulane’s Josh Davis deserves some praise. The Green Wave forward has been sensational this season and the driving force behind Tulane’s 12-3 start. (Times-Picayune)

– You know, this is a great question. Can Minnesota win a Big-Ten title with no real deep threat? (Rush The Court)

– After two months of action UNLV’s Anthony Bennett is at the top of Jeff Borzello’s Freshman of the Year rankings. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Michigan State’ Branden Dawson was bummed out by the reaction he got froM Purdue fans. Dawson spurned Purdue during the recruitment process in favor of Michigan State. Oh, and he punched Travis Carrol in the stomach on Saturday. (Mlive.com)

– This is absolutely hilarious: .Gifs detailing the feelings of each SEC team heading in to conference play. LSU keeps cracking me up. (Kentucky Sports Radio)

Dunk(s) of the Day:
Plan and simple. #POSTERIZED of the night. Poor A.J. Hammons. (Big Ten Network)

Do you like the new Morning Mix? Hate it? Have a suggestion or want something featured? Troy Machir will take all your praise, insults and inquiries via Twitter (@TroyMachir)

Report: Texas’ Jones to test NBA possibility

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Both of Texas’ McDonald’s All-Americans from its 2016 class will test the NBA waters.

Andrew Jones will declare for the draft, but will not hire an agent, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.

The 6-foot-4 guard joins Jarrett Allen, the Longhorns’ star center, in utilizing the rule change that became available to players last year in which they can declare, workout for teams, attend the NBA combine and still return to school.

Jones averaged 11.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game as a freshman. He shot 42.5 percent from the field overall and 32.8 percent from 3-point range.

Allen seems the likelier candidate to remain in the draft as a potential lottery pick, but Jones came to Austin with similar one-and-done possibilities given his status as one of the class’ top recruits.

Texas, of course, is hoping both return, not just because they’re both big talents, but because incoming and highly-touted recruit Matt Coleman fills the major hole in last year’s lineup – point guard. If the three of them can share the floor together, Year 3 of the Shaka Smart era will be much more interesting.

Morrow announces transfer from Nebraska

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Nebraska was once again hit with a surprising and damaging transfer.

Ed Morrow, Jr., who led the Huskers in rebounding last year, announced his intention to transfer, the school announced Wednesday.

“I support Ed in his decision to transfer schools and wish him well,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said in a statement. “We appreciate his hard work over the last two years. Although I am disappointed, we will continue to recruit young men who are committed to our mission of building Nebraska Basketball with a culture of success in all areas…life, school and winning basketball at its highest level.”

The 6-foot-7 sophomore’s departure is a major hit to the Huskers, who are coming off a 12-19 year in which Miles’ job security was called into question. It almost assuredly will be again this year as Nebraska hasn’t been able to build on its 2014 NCAA tournament appearance, instead putting together three-straight losing seasons.

Morrow’s decision is surprising not only given he’d been a productive member of the team – averaging 9.4 points and 7.5 rebounds per game – but because he was born in Nebraska before attending high school in Chicago and both his parents were Nebraska student-athletes his father winning a national title on the football team in 1994 and his mother an all-Big Eight performer on the basketball team.

“I want to say thank you to my teammates, coaches, the fans and the University of Nebraska athletics department for giving me the opportunity to play Division I basketball,” Morrow said in a statement. “It is hard to leave home, and Nebraska is my home. I was born and raised here, it is my parents’ alma mater, and I have a lot of friends here. But sometimes you have to venture out to pursue dreams and aspirations in a career. This is a sacrifice I have to make to better myself.”

Morrow’s transfer comes a year after Andrew White surprised Nebraska with his decision to graduate and transfer to Syracuse, which no doubt impacted the Huskers’ poor 2016-17 record.

Miles was on the hot seat at the end of last season and will assuredly begin this season there as well. A roster hit like Morrow won’t do much to help him improve the situation. Nebraska does, however, have three starters returning while Georgetown transfer Isaac Copeland is eligible, as is Miami (Fla.) transfer James Palmer, Jr.

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.