Brandon Paul, Trevor Mbakwe

The Morning Mix

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Last night was fun, wasn’t it? What’s that? You didn’t watch college hoops all night like I did? You totally missed out. But fear not, because The Morning Mix is here to get you caught up to speed on all the happenings.

But I’m warning you, last night was crazy. Or as the kids say these days “cray”.

Yeah, “ish” got “cray” last night.

Lets hit the links.

Thursday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – No. 22 Michigan State @ Iowa
7:00 p.m. – Miami (Fl.) @ North Carolina
7:00 p.m. – Old Dominion @ George Mason (NBC Sports Network)
7:00 p.m. – Temple @ Xavier
8:00 p.m. – Southeast Missouri State @ Belmont
9:00 p.m. – No. 4 Arizona @ Oregon
9:00 p.m. – UMass @ Saint Louis
9:30 p.m. – UCLA @ Utah
10:00 p.m. – Santa Clara @ Loyola Marymount
11:00 p.m. – Saint Mary’s @ No. 9 Gonzaga
11:30 p.m. – Arizona State @ Oregon State
 
 
Read of the Day:
I love behind-the-scenes journal entries, and Rush the Court’s Danny Connor’s got an exclusive look at a day in the life of a Drexel Dragon. Sure the team is struggling, but this look at the daily grind is a great way to start your day. (Rush The Court)

Andy Glockner drops his first “Bubble Watch” of the season. I don’t always read bracket predictions, but when I do, I read “Bubble Watch”. (Sports Illustrated)
 
 
Top Stories:
Late Night Snacks: Wednesday proves why conference play is unmatched: Last night may have been the best night of hoops we’ve seen all season. All the scores and summaries can be found in “Late Night Snacks

CBT Podcast: Fighting for attention in the Big East, Pac-12, Big-Ten and A-10: With college football season coming to an end, Rob Dauster and I run through some of the major conferences and discuss which teams on the outside looking in might be able to break out through.

Boise State hands Wyoming their first loss on a buzzer-beater: Think about this. The Broncos defeated an undefeated, top-25 team on the road all while missing four player due to suspension. The win came on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Jeff Elloriaga. This is the same Boise State team that went into Omaha and knocked off a ranked Creighton team in November.

Words cannot describe Jamaal Franklin’s dunk against Fresno State (VIDEO): Early in the second half of a close ball game, Jamaal Franklin finished a fast break by tossing himself an ally-oop from behind the 3-point line. Normal human beings can’t do that. Normal human beings wouldn’t even think of doing that. Jamaal Franklin clearly isn’t normal.

No. 8 Minnesota rolls through No. 12 Illinois, 84-67: The Gophers went into Champaign and smacked the Illini around, winning 84-67 and never looking back after a 17-5 first half run gave them a 28-21 lead. In a loaded Big-Ten, Minnesota has cemented themselves as the clear-cut third best team in the league behind Michigan and Indiana. Not too shabby for a team that was un-ranked in the preseason.

No. 25 New Mexico holds off No. 24 UNLV in tough Mountain West opener:Behind 23 points and eight rebounds from big man Alex Kirk, No. 25 New Mexico fought off a late push from No. 24 UNLV to win, 65-60 in Albuquerque. New Mexico had trouble sealing the game with free throws down the stretch, but Tony Snell sunk two with eight seconds remaining finally put the game out of reach.

Ben McLemore saves Kansas in thrilling overtime win against Iowa State: Redshirt freshman Ben McLemore provided the Jayhawks with their signature moment of the season, a 3-pointer off the glass to tie the game at the end of regulation against Iowa State. The Jayhawks struggled at home against the Cyclones, but were given a boost from the dynamic scoring guard.

Michigan State’s Branden Dawson denies that he punched Purdue’s Travis Carroll: You will have to watch the footage to determine for yourself, but Michigan State sophomore Branden Dawson insists that he did not punch Purdue’s Travis Carroll in the midsection after going for a rebound during their game on Saturday.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping
– North Carolina’s Leslie McDonald is questionable for their game tonight against Miami because of a knee injury (The Sporting News)

– Duke’s Ryan Kelly injured his right foot on Tuesday against Clemson and no timetable has been set for his return, but he will definitely miss the Blue Devils” showdown with North Carolina State this weekend. (Duke Report)

– Laurence Bowers sprained the MCL in his right knee on Tuesday against Alabama and he will be forced to miss the Tigers’ next two games. (The Missourian)

– Illinois State head coach Dan Muller has suspended his second leading scorer Tyler Brown for “conduct detrimental to the program”. (Bloomington Pantagraph)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– A new team has emerged in the Ohio Valley Conference as a potential contender. The Colonels of Eastern Kentucky sent a strong message with a dominant win on the road at reigning league champions Murray State. (OVC Ball)

– Maryland’s loss to Florida State last night, their first since November 9th should be a reminder that the Terps are yet to officially arrive. (D1scourse.com)

– Dana O’Neil’s title really says it best: New league, same Butler. (ESPN)

– Great stuff from C.J. Moore regarding McLemore’s Miracle, Mario’s Miracle and the breakdown of the 3-point play that has saved Bill Self’s butt on more than one occasion. (Need I Say Moore)

– The ending to the Kansas/Iowa State game is reigniting the debate about fouling when you are up three. (Ames Tribune)

– North Carolina faces Miami tonight in a pivotal game for both teams. Tar Heels’ guard Reggie Bullock called a “players only” meeting on Monday to make sure everyone is on the same page. (ESPN Tarheel Blog)

– Now that the college hoops season is halfway done, Gary Parrish looks ahead to the final three months of play. (Eye on College Basketball)

– A good-read from our very-own David Harten on how Quinn Cook has gone from non-factor to x-factor. (Backboard Chronicles)

– Wake Forest defeated Virginia last night, which re-raises the question about Jeff Bzdelik’s success at Wake Forest. Is he nearing his end or just getting started? (College ChalkTalk)
 
 
Video(s) of the Night:
Ben McLemore banked in a 3-pointer with under five seconds left to send the game into overtime against Iowa State. The Jayhawks prevailed in the extra frame. (The Big Lead)


 
 
Dunk(s) of the Day:
This is just bizarre. Trevor Mbakwe successfully draws the charge, yet Brandon Paul’s dunk counted. I don’t get it. (The Mock Session)

 
 
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)

Coach Cal softball game raises $300K for La. flood relief

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John Calipari is known for his ability to amass talent. Over the weekend, that quality helped raise $300,000 for Louisiana flood relief.

The Coach Cal Celebrity Softball Classic brought Kentucky stars like Keith Bogans, Andrew Harrison and Karl-Anthony Towns and the likes of former UK quarterback Tim Couch and NFL Hall of Famer Chris Carter to Lexington to help aid Louisiana in conjunction with the Red Cross after the area suffered major flooding earlier this month.

“I didn’t want to really do a softball game,” Calipari said according to his website, “but then we decided to do it and then Louisiana happens and now you have a cause. … It’s kind of neat. You have a cause, you have a why.”

Towns’ team was the 18-12 victor over Team Calipari on the day.

“This is amazing,” Towns said on CoachCal.com. “This is something that we get a chance to rarely do. We get to help the community out but at the same time have fun. There’s nothing better than doing something that we would do for free but for charity. This is something we’re going to have a lot of fun doing today.”

The softball game was played the same weekend as the John Calipari Basketball Fantasy Experience which generated $1 million that will be shared with 14 charities.

‘Noles add legacy guard to 2017 class

ACC Basketball Tournament: Florida State v North Carolina
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Florida State has added another solid member to its 2017 recruiting class.

Anthony Polite, a 6-foot-6 guard from Florida, pledged to the Seminoles on Tuesday morning.

“Officially committed to Florida State University #Nole Nation,” Polite wrote on Twitter.

Polite chose Leonard Hamilton’s program out of a final top-five that also included Pitt, Memphis, Texas Tech and Miami. He also sported offers from TCU, Boston College, Kansas State and Utah, among others.

“It was a really tough decision,” Polite said according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “Miami had a great coaching staff. I just thought FSU would be the best fit for me and I had more of an opportunity to talk to the players at Florida State.”

Polite, whose father played for the Seminoles during his college career, averaged 21.5 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists last year as a junior playing for St. Andrew’s in Boca Raton, Fla.

“Anthony Polite is a skilled wing who can handle the ball and distribute a bit,” NBCSports.com recruiting analyst Scott Phillips said. “Florida State still needs to help Polite improve his perimeter jumper, but his commitment gives them another talented playmaker from the wing who can handle and attack the rim.”

Regarded as a three-star prospect, Polite join power forward RaiQuan Gray and fellow guard Bryan Trimble in the Seminoles’ 2017 class. It doesn’t have the star power of Hamilton’s group last year, which included five-star Jonathan Isaac and four-star Trent Forrest, but they can be important pieces for a Florida State team that has just one senior on the 2016-17 roster.

Kansas players make weight room gains – and losses – this summer

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - JUNE 18: Udoka Azubuike #105 in red runs back for defense the NBPA Top 100 Camp on June 18, 2015 at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Photo by Kelly Kline/Getty Images)
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Summer is the time to refine not only players’ skill sets, but also their bodies. Kansas’ highly-touted freshman duo of Josh Jackson and Udoka Azubuike have fulfilled the latter thanks to the Jayhawks’ strength and conditioning program.

Azubuike has dropped 27 pounds from his 7-foot frame while the wiry Jackson has added 17 pounds, according to the Kansas City Star.

“These guys have goals,” Adrea Hurdy, Kansas’ long-time assistant director for sports information, told The Star. “They come here in part because we have the resources to help them attain their goals.

“They want the challenge and want to become better people, better basketball players and better athletes.”

Only 16 years old, Azubuike arrived in Lawrence having been consistently listed as weighing around 270 pounds throughout his prep career. Getting leaner while still maintaining – and increasing – strength is a significant development for such a young player, who was a consensus top-50 player in the 2016 class.

Jackson, the country’s top rated incoming freshman, now weighs in at slightly over 200 pounds at 6-foot-8. Six-foot-10 forward Carlton Bragg,a sophomore, also got in on the body-changing as he’s put on 26 pounds to head into the fall at 247 pounds.

Kansas is a likely top-five preseason team with returners like Frank Mason III, Devonte Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk, and having newcomers like Jackson and Azubuike along with sparsely-used but talented returnees like Bragg making gains in the weight room will only make them more formidable as they look to capture an astounding 13th-straight Big 12 title.

 

Texas bolsters 2017 frontcourt

Texas head coach Shaka Smart calls a play during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan., Monday, Feb. 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
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Shaka Smart has added another four-star forward to his 2017 recruiting class.

Texas picked up a commitment Tuesday from 6-foot-8 Jericho Sims of Minnesota, according to multiple reports.

Sims, who visited Texas this past weekend, is ranked in the top-50 by Scout and in the top-75 by ESPN and 247Sports. He joins Royce Hamm, a top-100 forward from Houston, as members Smart’s second recruiting class at Texas.

“Jericho Sims is a late-blooming big man who has a lot of room to grow in terms of upside,” NBCSports.com recruiting analyst Scott Phillips said. “A good athlete with a good frame to work with, Sims should help immediately on the glass and defensively but his offense will be a work in progress.

“Texas has a large recruiting class and targeted Sims later than many, so this is a nice commitment for the Longhorns.”

The commitment represents a significant get for the Longhorns, who beat out the likes of Kansas, Iowa State, Ohio State, Connecticut and Sims’ hometown Gophers, whom his father played basketball for in the 1970s and his brother football more recently.

Sims and Hamm both are players that could help Smart and his staff transition more back to the Havoc style of play Smart employed at VCU as both have the length, speed and athleticism to help the Longhorns dial up the pressure and push tempo.

Five-star 2017 point guard Trevon Duval down to 10 schools

CHARLOTTE, NC - JULY 9: Trevon Duval during the 2015  Under Armour All-America Basketball Camp on July 9, 2015 at Queens College in Charlotte, NC. (Photo by Ned Dishman/Under Armour)
(Photo by Ned Dishman/Under Armour)
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Five-star point guard Trevon Duval is the most electrifying lead guard in the Class of 2017. The native of Delaware dominated the Under Armour circuit this spring and is currently regarded by many as a top-five player in the class by most recruiting services.

Now he’s down to 10 schools as his recruiting is starting to become more of a focus. The 6-foot-2 Duval is down to Arizona, Cal, Kansas, Maryland, Oregon, St. John’s, Seton Hall, UCLA, USC and Villanova.

Things are still early in the process for Duval and it will be interesting to see if he schedules any official visits soon.