Late Night Snacks: Working overtime in the Mountain West

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Game of the Night

No. 16 San Diego State 79, Colorado State 72 (OT): Wonderful, classic game. In the first half, SDSU’s speedy, athletic offense had its way, staking the home team to a 41-23 halftime lead. In the second, Colorado State ramped up their formidable defense and clawed back into it, tying things up 63-all on a Colton Iverson layup shortly before time expired on regulation. In OT, it was the Chase Tapley show. The senior guard scored 12 of his team’s 16 points in the extra period, and managed to keep his head when tempers got hot in waning seconds of added time. Jamaal Franklin led all scorers with 23 points, and Minnesota transfer Colton Iverson had a beastly 18 point, 11 rebound effort for the visiting Rams. After the game, SDSU head coach Steve Fisher said he thought these two teams would contend for the MWC crown. We tend to agree.

Meaningful Results

No. 24 UNLV 76, Air Force 71 (OT): No easy outs in the Mountain West, obviously. The Falcons got a huge game from forward Mike Fitzgerald. The 6’6″ senior poured in 22 points to match UNLV’s Anthony Bennett for the game high. Foul trouble eventually did Air Force in, but not until an overtime period was played, and not until Bryce DeJean-Jones scored eight of his 18 in OT. Shades of Chase Tapley.

No. 4 Arizona 80, Oregon State 70: Having already snapped their unbeaten streak against the Ducks earlier this week, the Wildcats weren’t taking any chances with the Beavers. Mark Lyons and Solomon Hill each had 16 points to lead four Arizona starters in double figures, but it took a little defense to survive 18 points from OSU’s Ahmad Starks and a man-style 13/15 double-double from Devon Collier to move to 3-1 in the rejuvenated Pac-12.

Ole Miss 64, No. 10 Missouri 49: Murphy Holloway’s 22 points happened in 31 minutes of relatively early play. As the clock ran down, it became obvious that the Tigers were not even thinking of coming back, and he got to take it easy and watch the backups play a bit. Ole Miss used a fierce perimeter defense to harass Mizzou’s four-guard lineup into a miserable 2-18 night from behind the arc.

Starred

Elston Turner, Texas A&M: 40 points all by his lonesome, in Rupp Arena, over the defending national champs. Not a bad night’s work.

Keith Clanton, Central Florida: Clanton earned 36 points the hard way, because he really doesn’t shoot threes much. Clanton was 1-1 from behind the arc, but most of his work was done inside, where he was 14-18 to go with 5-7 from the stripe. Despite all that, Eastern Carolina won the game, 88-85 in OT.

Struggled

South Florida: No. 3 Louisville more than doubled USF’s rebounding efforts, grabbing 48 against the Bulls’ 22. They also had 12 steals in a defensive clinic that led to a 64-38 win at the KFC Yum! Center.

Phil Pressey, Missouri: Ten points, five assists and five turnovers. 0-4 from deep, and no free throws. An utterly forgettable night for an All-America candidate. If only he could forget it.

Fan Bases that have earned the right to Take a Breath and Take a Seat

Miami (OH) and Buffalo: MACtion isn’t limited to the football field, it seems. I got exhausted just reading the tweet:

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

No. 2 Michigan State beats Wisconsin, wraps up Big Ten

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Cassius Winston scored 20 points and went 6 for 6 from the 3-point line, and No. 2 Michigan State held off Wisconsin 68-63 on Sunday to earn the outright regular-season Big Ten title.

Winston hit two 3s during an 11-2 run in the second half — the second with a defender in his face from well beyond the arc — to lead the Spartans (28-3, 16-2).

Brad Davison finished with 30 points for Wisconsin (14-17, 7-11), including a 3 with 4.7 seconds left that had hometown fans holding out hope for an upset.

Miles Bridges wrapped up the Spartans’ 12th straight win with two foul shots.

It was a milestone victory in what has been a challenging season off the court for Michigan State basketball.

One issue involved Bridges. The star forward had 10 points on 3-of-15 shooting in his first game since getting cleared by the NCAA following a Yahoo! Sports article on Friday that identified him as one of many players who may have received improper benefits.

Winston and Nick Ward, who had 14 points, picked up the scoring slack. Winston’s 3 with 4:45 left gave the Spartans a 58-51 lead, a huge cushion in what had been a tight game.

Davison nearly single-handedly brought Wisconsin back, giving the Badgers a huge boost even after aggravating a left shoulder injury. The freshman sprinted to the locker room with a trainer with about 14 minutes left before returning a couple minutes later and checking right back into the game to rousing applause.

He scored Wisconsin’s next six points, popping perimeter jumpers to electrify an already vocal home crowd in the regular season finale.

The teams dueled the rest of the way until Bridges’ late foul shots.

Michigan State muscled its way to a 34-27 halftime lead by taking control of the paint early before softening up the perimeter for Winston. The sophomore sharpshooter made 3 of 4 from beyond the arc in the first half, with a couple buckets coming quickly in transition.

BIG PICTURE

Michigan State: Documents in the Yahoo! story showed that the star forward may have improperly accepted benefits from an agency implicated in a federal investigation into bribery and other misdeeds in college basketball. The team said Saturday that the school’s compliance office conducted a “thorough internal review” and presented findings to the NCAA, which then cleared Bridges. … The Spartans had too much bulk up front for Wisconsin, building an early edge on points in the paint and finishing with a 40-28 edge on the boards.

Wisconsin: The team honored three reserve seniors in its final regular-season game, including fifth-year forward Aaron Moesch. He is the last link to the Badgers’ back-to-back Final Four appearances in 2014 and ’15, a little-used backup on each of those squads. The Badgers’ reliance on freshmen to play key roles in the rotation, especially in the backcourt, led to growing pains this season. They’ve shown signs of maturity of late, winning three straight games before Sunday.

UP NEXT

Michigan State: Opens play in the conference tournament in New York on Friday after earning a double bye as the top seed.

Wisconsin: Locked into the Big Ten tourney as the No. 9 seed, where it will play Maryland on Thursday.

No. 11 Cincinnati rallies for 82-74 win over Tulsa

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HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. — Gary Clark led a 24-4 run that put Cincinnati ahead to stay early in the second half, and the 11th-ranked Bearcats held on for an 82-74 victory over Tulsa on Sunday that preserved their one-game lead in the American Athletic Conference heading into the final week.

Cincinnati (25-4, 14-2) stayed ahead of No. 13 Wichita State (23-5, 13-3) in the race for the regular-season title. The Shockers won on Cincinnati’s home court 76-72 a week ago.

Wichita State plays at UCF on Thursday and hosts Cincinnati next Sunday in a potential showdown game. The Bearcats play at Tulane on Thursday before heading to Wichita State.

The Bearcats struggled defensively, giving up a season-high 14 3-pointers, but made a season-high 15 from beyond the arc. Clark and Jarron Cumberland had 17 points apiece.

Tulsa (17-11, 10-7) led by eight points early in the second before Clark scored during the decisive run. Junior Etou scored 21 for Tulsa, which had its six-game winning streak snapped.

Cincinnati completed its season playing at Northern Kentucky University while its on-campus arena is renovated, going 14-1 at BB&T Arena.

BIG PICTURE

Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane is wrapping up a regular season that marks a step up for the program. Tulsa went 15-17 last season and 8-10 in the AAC, finishing seventh. It’s fourth in the league with two games to go.

Cincinnati: Even though the Bearcats rank second nationally in defense, they’d given up a lot of open shots in the previous two games, a concern to coach Mick Cronin. The Golden Hurricane got plenty of those, too, while shooting 59 percent in the first half. The Golden Hurricane led 47-44 at the break, the most points Cincinnati has allowed in a half this season.

UP NEXT

Tulsa: Golden Hurricane plays at East Carolina on Thursday. Tulsa opened AAC play by beating ECU 79-53 on Dec. 28.

Cincinnati: The Bearcats have won four straight and 14 of 15 against Tulane, including a 78-61 victory last season.

Bubble Banter: Sunday Funday on the bubble

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As we will do every day throughout the rest of the season, here is a look at how college basketball’s bubble teams fared on Sunday.

It’s worth reminding you here that the way winning are labeled have changed this season. Instead of looking at all top 50 wins equally, the selection committee will be using criteria that breaks wins down into four quadrants, using the RPI:

  • Quadrant 1: Home vs. 1-30, Neutral vs. 1-50, Road vs. 1-75
  • Quadrant 2: Home vs. 31-75, Neutral vs. 51-100, Road vs. 76-135
  • Quadrant 3: Home vs. 76-160, Neutral vs. 101-200, Road vs. 136-240
  • Quadrant 4: Home vs. 161 plus, Neutral vs. 201 plus, Road vs. 240 plus

The latest NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here.

YET TO PLAY

TEMPLE
UCLA
PENN STATE
NEBRASKA
N.C. STATE

Georgia’s Mark Fox ‘disgusted’ by investigation into college basketball

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Georgia head coach Mark Fox did not hold back when asked about the FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball, calling is “disgusting” and pleading with coaches and the institutions that employ them to do right.

“It starts with our coaches, and then you ask how the NCAA has handled it,” Fox said. “The NCAA is made up of member institutions. How are the institutions handling it? That’d be my first question. How are they handling it? Putting their head in the sand and looking the other way? I’m past anger, sadness. It’s just disgusting, and we’re really hurting the game, and the game has been so good to everybody.”

Fox is in a difficult position. He’s regarded as one of the nicer coaches in the business and is considered to be ‘clean’. He team also appears headed for another NIT, which could end up costing him his job.

“We’ve had some situations where we didn’t get players because of that reason, and other teams have, too,” Fox said.

“I’m disgusted,” he added. “I’m disgusted with how people have treated our game. It’s absolutely disgusting.”

Cuonzo Martin: ‘No timetable’ for a Michael Porter Jr. return

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There still is not clarity on whether or not Missouri freshman Michael Porter Jr. will return to the court this season.

On Saturday, he participated in Missouri’s shootaround at Kentucky but did not run through warmups and did not play in the game.

“I don’t have a timeline,” Missouri head coach Cuonzo Martin said after Saturday’s 87-66 loss. “He wants to play.”

“We have to make sure he’s ready to go.”

Porter has only had one full practice since he underwent surgery on his back in November, and that came on Friday. A source confirmed to NBC Sports that Porter was, in fact, cleared for full contact on Thursday afternoon after a visit with a doctor.

Porter is expected to continue practicing with the team. He told reporters earlier this month that he would like to get a few games prior to the start of tournament play if he happens to take part in any games.