Late Night Snacks: Wednesday proves why conference play is unmatched

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Games of the Night

No. 6 Kansas 97, Iowa State 89 (OT)

Kansas trailed by six points with close to four minutes remaining, but freshman Ben McLemore hit a clutch bank three-pointer with one second remaining to tie the game at 79-79. The Jayhawks controlled overtime and got the victory. McLemore finished with 33 points on 10-of-12 shooting. Both Kevin Young and Jeff Withey posted double-doubles for Kansas. Credit Iowa State, though, for staying in the game and giving Kansas a challenge. Six players scored in double figures for the Cyclones, including a double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds from Melvin Ejim.

Boise State 63, Wyoming 61

Down by one point with just over nine seconds remaining, Boise State brought the ball up the floor and set up for the win. Igor Hadziomerovic drove the baseline after getting a hand-off on the wing and kicked it out to Jeff Elorriaga, who buried a three at the buzzer to win it. Wyoming loses on its home floor and its previously unblemished record is no more. Elorriaga finished with 18 points.

Also of Note: Towson 99, William & Mary 86 (2OT)

Important Outcomes 

1. No. 7 Syracuse 72, Providence 66

The Orange struggled to pull away from the scrappy Friars on Wednesday night, but C.J. Fair and Michael Carter-Williams were able to lead their team to a win. Fair finished with a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds.

2. No. 8 Minnesota 84, No. 12 Illinois 67

We know the Big Ten is going to be a battle all season long, but No. 8 Minnesota has now distinguished itself as perhaps the legitimate third contender in the conference behind No. 2 Michigan and No. 5 Indiana. Joe Coleman had 29 points on 10-of-16 shooting for the Gophers.

3. No. 14 Butler 72, St. Joseph’s 66

Butler got its first taste of what Atlantic 10 conference play is like and responded with a hard-fought win. Rotnei Clarke had 28 points to pace the Bulldogs from the perimeter and Andrew Smith had 24 points and 10 rebounds on the interior. Brad Stevens has his team rolling after it knocked off No. 1 Indiana.

Starred

1. Ben McLemore, Kansas (33 points, 10-of-12 FG, 6-of-6 3pt FG)

McLemore played with the poise of a seasoned veteran in his team’s gusty win over Iowa State Wednesday night. He was a perfect 6-of-6 from behind the three-point line and was a perfect 7-of-7 from the free throw line. Kansas needed a hero to beat the Cyclones, and McLemore was there to deliver. NBA scouts are taking notice.

2. Cleanthony Early, Wichita State (39 points, 13-of-19 FG)

The Missouri Valley is turning out to be another wild conference and Early’s 39 points kept No. 23 Wichita State from being upset at the hands of a Southern Illinois team that is now 0-4 in conference play. He added six rebounds and two blocks, as well.

3. Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State (20 points, 18 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocks)

To go along with that impressive stat line, he led the Aztecs to a win and had this ridiculous dunk, throwing the ball to himself off the backboard and slamming it home. Franklin continues to distinguish himself as one of the best players in the Mountain West and will undoubtedly be in the conversation for Conference Player of the Year.

Also of Note: Jerrelle Benimon, Towson (26 points, 12 rebounds) | Jeff Elorriaga (18 points, Game-winning buzzer beater) | Mike Fitzgerald, Air Force (30 points, 9-of-10 FG)

Struggled

1. Dez Wells, Maryland (2-of-9 FG, 5 points)

In a three-point loss to Florida State, Wells’ lack of production hurt Maryland. He was seven points off his season average and was never able to find his rhythm against the Seminoles.

2. California’s scoring combo, Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs (Combined 7-of-27 FG, 18 points)

Already working through injuries, coach Mike Montgomery turns to Crabbe and Cobbs for an average of 37 points per game together. Both struggled from the floor against Washington, leading to a 15-point loss in Berkeley.

Three Facts 

1. The Mountain West Conference is going to be the best conference in the country west of the Mississippi River this season. If Wednesday night is any indication (New Mexico tough win over UNLV, San Diego State escaping vs. Fresno, Boise State sinking Wyoming), the conference tournament in Las Vegas is going to be wild.

2. Kansas extended its winning streak at Allen Fieldhouse to 31 straight games with its win over Iowa State.

3. Towson beat William & Mary in double overtime, 99-86. The Tigers have now won four straight, the first time that has happened since 2000.

Marshall Henderson Shot Tracker

Ole Miss’ Henderson finished with 32 points in a win over Tennessee on Wednesday night, but shot just 3-of-12 from three-point range. He was helped by his ability to get to the line, going 13-of-14 from the stripe.

Top 25 Scores

No. 2 Michigan 62, Nebraska 47

No. 3 Louisville 73, Seton Hall 58

No. 6 Kansas 97, Iowa State 89

No. 7 Syracuse 72, Providence 66

No. 8 Minnesota 84, No. 12 Illinois 67

No. 11 Florida 77, Georgia 44

No. 14 Butler 72, St. Joseph’s 66

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

Missouri lands No. 1 player in Class of 2017 as Michael Porter Jr. commits

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Missouri and new head coach Cuonzo Martin have landed the No. 1 player in the Class of 2017 a week after he took the job as forward Michael Porter Jr. committed to the Tigers on Friday.

Formerly a Washington commit under now-fired head coach Lorenzo Romar, the 6-foot-9 Porter was released from his Letter of Intent this week and many believed he’d end up back at Missouri.

The Porter family lived in Columbia for many years as two of Michael’s older sisters play for the Missouri women’s team while Michael Porter Sr. was an assistant coach for the women’s team.

When Porter Sr. was hired to Missouri to be an assistant coach on Martin’s staff this week — after losing his assistant coaching job at Washington when Romar was fired — it all but sealed the deal that the Porters would return to Missouri and Michael Jr. would play for the Tigers.

Missouri might not be an NCAA Tournament team next season after struggling to an 8-24 finish and 2-16 record in the SEC. But Porter might be the most productive freshman entering college basketball next season as he has a chance to be dominant in the SEC.

Oklahoma State promotes assistant coach Mike Boynton to head coach

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Oklahoma State has decided to promote assistant coach Mike Boynton to head coach, the school announced on Friday.

Boynton was an assistant with the Cowboys under former head coach Brad Underwood, who left Oklahoma State to take the Illinois job last weekend. Also an assistant coach at Stephen F. Austin, South Carolina, Wofford and Coastal Carolina, Boynton is a native of New York City who played his college ball for the Gamecocks.

The hire of Boynton is surprising since he doesn’t have any head-coaching experience as it follows in the footsteps of Cal promoting assistant coach Wyking Jones earlier in the day. Boynton also notably won the job over broadcaster and former Oklahoma State guard Doug Gottlieb as Gottlieb interviewed for the job but wasn’t selected.

 

Rhode Island junior E.C. Matthews will return to school

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Rhode Island junior guard E.C. Matthews will return to school for his redshirt senior season, the school announced on Friday.

The 6-foot-5 Matthews led the Rams in scoring at 14.9 points per game this past season as he returned from a torn ACL and helped Rhode Island reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1999.

Besides for being a talented scorer, Matthews is a good overall playmaker for the Rams as he also put up 4.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.

With Matthews returning, it gives head coach Dan Hurley a huge weapon for next season as Rhode Island returns everyone besides the senior front court of Hassan Martin and Kuran Iverson.

Cal promotes assistant Wyking Jones to head coach

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Cal will promote interim head coach and former assistant coach Wyking Jones to head coach, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. The story was first reported by Jon Rothstein of FanRagSports.com

A native of Inglewood, California, Jones has been an assistant coach for the Golden Bears for the past two seasons as he replaces former head coach Cuonzo Martin, who departed to take the Missouri job. This promotion comes as a bit of a surprise for some since Jones has never been a head coach at the Division I level.

Jones has spent 15 years as an assistant coach at the Division I level at places like Cal, Louisville, New Mexico, Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount — where Jones spent his playing career.

Helping Louisville to the Final Four in 2013, Jones is a respected coach and recruiter who gets a great opportunity for his first head coaching job at the Division I level with Cal.

The Golden Bears made the NCAA tournament last year but finished 21-13 this season as they missed making the field of 68. Sophomore big man Ivan Rabb has already declared for the NBA Draft and it will be interesting to see what kind of roster Jones gets to work with right away.

One of the reasons Jones might have been retained is to help Cal keep its solid five-man recruiting class from bolting. While the Golden Bears don’t have any five-star talents coming in, it is a solid foundation for the program’s future led by a four-star guard in Jemarl Baker.

Florida State freshman forward Jonathan Isaac declares for 2017 NBA Draft

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Florida State freshman forward Jonathan Isaac has declared for the 2017 NBA Draft.

The 6-foot-10 Isaac was a five-star prospect out of high school as he averaged 12.0 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. One of the most versatile defenders in the country, Isaac could protect the rim (1.5 blocks per game) and also switch out to the perimeter and cover smaller wings as well (1.2 steals per game). Also showing a solid skill level, Isaac shot 50 percent from the field, 34 percent from three-point range and 78 percent from the free-throw line.

That kind of versatility is what Isaac is banking on in the NBA Draft as he’s expected to be a top-15 pick. If Isaac can prove that he’s a reliable perimeter shooter then teams could be intrigued by him as a matchup nightmare in the front court.