Air Force v UNLV

Late Night Snacks: Working overtime in the Mountain West

Leave a comment

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.

Swanigan staying for sophomore season

Purdue's Vince Edwards (12), Purdue's Caleb Swanigan (50) and Purdue's A.J. Hammons (20) celebrate during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against the Illinois in the quarterfinals at the Big Ten Conference tournament, Friday, March 11, 2016, in Indianapolis. Purdue won 89-58. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Leave a comment

Purdue will once again be rolling out a formidable frontcourt in the 2016-17 season.

Boilermaker big man Caleb Swanigan is withdrawing from the NBA Draft to return to West Lafayette for his sophomore season, the school announced Wednesday.

The NBA is right there and always will be,” Swanigan said in the school’s press release, “but you always have to have patience and do what’s best for you.”

Purdue is losing 7-foot senior A.J. Hammons, but will be once again teaming Swanigan with Isaac Haas (7-2) and Vince Edwards (6-8) that will allow them to roll out a supersized lineup that is sure to be a difficult one to face off against.

The 6-foot-9, 250-pound Swanigan, who likely would have landed as a second-round pick, averaged 10.2 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists and was a finalist for the Wayman Tisdale Award for the country’s top freshman.

“We are excited that (Swanigan) has withdrawn from the NBA Draft and will return to Purdue,” head coach said Matt Painter in a statement released by the school. “He has the potential to make a huge jump from his freshman season and will be a big part of what we do next year. He received great experience going through this process and will use the feedback he received to make him a more diverse player.”

Purdue is probably a rung down from Michigan State and Wisconsin at the top of the league, but the return of Swanigan pulls them closer to competing at the top of the league next season.

USC’s Nikola Jovanovic not expected to return to USC

Southern California forward Nikola Jovanovic pauses on the court during an NCAA college basketball game against Washington State, Friday, Jan. 1, 2016, in Pullman, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Leave a comment

Nikola Jovanovic’s college career has come to a close.

The USC center will not withdraw his name from NBA Draft consideration by Wednesday’s 11:59 p.m., a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Jovanovic, a 6-foot-11 Serbian, averaged 12.3 points and 7.0 boards as a junior with the Trojans.

Jovanovic is not expected to be drafted, which means that Andy Enfield’s club will be losing two players to the professional ranks with eligibility to spare that likely won’t end up on an NBA roster next season. Julian Jacobs, who averaged 11.6 points, 5.5 assists and 4.9 boards, signed with an agent back in April.

The Trojans were a top 25 team last season despite many considering them to still be “a year away”. But with two starters departing, the Trojans will be a borderline preseason top 25 team as opposed to a top 15 team.

Marcus Lee withdrawing from the draft, transferring from Kentucky

Kentucky forward Marcus Lee dunks during the first half of a second-round men's college basketball game against Indiana in the NCAA Tournament, Saturday, March 19, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Leave a comment

For the second time this season and just the sixth time in John Calipari’s tenure at Kentucky, the Wildcats are losing a player to transfer.

Marcus Lee announced on Wednesday that he will be withdrawing from the NBA Draft, but the 6-foot-9 forward will not be returning to Kentucky. He will be transferring out of the program to a new school.

“I want to thank the University of Kentucky, the basketball staff and the Big Blue Nation for supporting me over the years,” Lee said. “I’m sorry it took me so long to come to this decision, but I’m trying to do what’s right for me and my family. I’ll always think fondly of my time at Kentucky.”

Lee averaged 6.4 points and 6.0 boards this season, seeing his first major minutes as a member of the Wildcats. But he seemed destined for a bench role if he had opted to return to Kentucky this season as John Calipari has landed a recruiting class that includes five-star freshmen Bam Adebayo, Wenyen Gabriel and Sacha Killeya-Jones.

The tough part?

It does not appear that Lee will be able to finish his degree and be eligible to play immediately next season. He’ll have to sit a year at whatever school he opts to transfer to.

“Marcus Lee informed us today that he is pulling his name out of the draft but has decided he is going to transfer to a school out west to be closer to his family,” head coach John Calipari said. “We talked it through together and discussed the team next season, which he said had no bearing on his decision. I also told him he was a semester away from graduating. With that said, he was still adamant that, after the combine experience, a year off and regrouping would be the best thing. As always I support my players and their decisions.”

Lee joins Charles Matthews as members of last year’s Wildcats that are transferring out of the program. Darnell Dodson (Southern Miss), Stacey Poole (Georgia Tech) , Ryan Harrow (Georgia State) and Kyle Wiltjer (Gonzaga) are the other four players that have transferred.

Isaiah Briscoe to return to Kentucky

Eric Johnson, Isaiah Briscoe
(AP Photo/James Crisp)
Leave a comment

Isaiah Briscoe announced on Wednesday that he will be returning to Kentucky for his sophomore season.

The 6-foot-3 guard had one of the more difficult decisions to make for players in this year’s draft class. On the one hand, there was a very real chance that he would go through this draft without getting picked. He was a role-playing guard on last year’s team that isn’t a point guard, isn’t big enough to be a two-guard and was a total liability shooting the ball.

But he’s returning to a team that is as loaded as the group that won their first 38 games two years ago, particularly in the back court. He’ll be playing behind De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk who both play essentially the same role that Briscoe does: playmaking guards that thrive with the ball in their hands. And since Briscoe can’t shoot, he may not be the best option at the three, where Derek Willis will likely see minutes.

In other words, Briscoe returning to school is essentially a two-year decision.

Kentucky now awaits an announcement from Marcus Lee on whether or not he will be returning to school.

James Blackmon Jr. to return to Indiana, Troy Williams to remain in draft

James Blackmon Jr.
(AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)
Leave a comment

James Blackmon Jr. will be returning to Indiana for his junior season, the school announced on Wednesday morning.

Blackmon missed the final 22 games of his sophomore season following surgery on his knee in December. As a freshman, Blackmon averaged 15.8 points and shot 46 percent from beyond the arc.

Indiana now awaits word on the decision that will be made by Troy Williams. A junior swingman, Williams has a shot to be an early second round pick if he opts to stay in the draft. There is a report from the Indy Star that he will keep his name in the draft, but the program has yet to confirm that news.

Losing Williams would hurt, but it’s a loss that Indiana can overcome. The emergence of O.G. Anunoby as a versatile defender means that the Hoosiers have a guy that can be a defensive stopper and can allow them to play small and fast. Anunoby also has not proven to be prone to bouts of poor decision-making, which arguably may make him a better fit.