The Morning Mix

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Not too much action on the hardwood last night. Louisville beat UConn. Kansas beat Baylor. Grambling lost again, and Savannah State’s Preston Blackman scored 41 points in the Tiger double-overtime win over Morgan State. But despite a light smattering of hoops action, there are a plethora of news items we need to get to.

Lets hit the links.

Tuesday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – No. 20 Notre Dame @ St. John’s
7:00 p.m. – Wake Forest @ Clemson
7:00 p.m. – Tennessee @ Kentucky
8:00 p.m. – Northern Iowa @ No. 12 Creighton
8:30 p.m. – Cincinnati @ DePaul
9:00 p.m. – Wisconsin @ No. 2 Indiana
9:00 p.m. – Ole Miss @ Vanderbilt
Read of the Day:
The Grambling Tigers have yet to win a game this season and are closing in on historic levels of ineptitude. Dom Cosentino wonders if Grambling is on course for the worst season in college basketball history. (Deadspin)

Read of the Day:
Rick Barnes has been criticized over the years for his lack of postseason success despite the number of players he has sent to the pros. But as C.J. Moore explains, we need to cut Barnes a lot of slack. Read it. (Basketball Prospectus)
Top Stories:
What Kevin O’Neill did wrong: The USC head coach was given the boot yesterday after a three-and-a-half year tenure. But what ultimately cost him his job? Sure his teams were riddled with injuries, but his inability to recruit to Southern California area was key.

Louisville defends no. 1 ranking, pushes past UConn: After a rocky first half, The Cardinals held the Huskies without a point for over four minutes in the half, surged ahead, and held on for a 73-58 final margin in Hartford.

Fairfield holds ‘Newtown Day’ in game against Niagara: The Stags invited around 300 kids and their parents from Sandy Hook Elementary and surrounding schools to watch their game against Niagara. The Stags came up short in the game however, losing 67-64.

Danny Berger’s heartfelt thank you letter: During a practice in early December, Berger’s heart-stopped. He got light-headed and passed out on the floor, where trainers first gave him CPR and then used an AED to shock his heart and bring him back to life. Late last week, Berger wrote a heartfelt and touching letter to thank those that saved his life.

Only thing better than the NC State wheelchair courtstorming is the pregame ‘Braveheart’ speech: Words cannot describe the awesomeness of this “Braveheart” pregame speech delivered by two college students to NC State fans waiting in line for the Wolfpack vs. Blue Devils game on Saturday. You need to watch this.
Hoops Housekeeping
– Kansas phenom Ben McLemore suffered an ankle injury in the late stages of the Jayhawks’ blowout win last night against Baylor. Bill Self believes he shouldn’t miss more than a few days. (

– Wyoming’s second-leading scorer Luke Martinez has been suspended following his arrest in a bar brawl in which he injured his right ring finger. (The Dagger)

– Former Auburn forward Josh Langford has decided to transfer to Southeast Missouri State. (OVC Ball)

– Florida forward Casey Prather could miss up to two weeks of action due to a high ankle sprain he suffered over the weekend. (Fox Sports)

– Georgia State guard R.J. Hunter, the son of Panthers head coach Ron Hunter, suffered a stress fracture during the panthers buzzer-beating loss at home to Delaware on Saturday. (Mid-Major Madness)

– Butler guard Rotnei Clarke will miss the next two games because of the neck sprain he suffered against Dayton. The Bulldogs will be forced to face Gonzaga on Saturday without their best scorer. (Slipper Still Fits)

– Manhattan guard George Beamon has been shut down for the season because of a severe ankle injury and will apply for a medical hardship waiver. (New York Daily News)

– North Dakota State’s top scorer Taylor Braun will be sidelined for 4-6 weeks with a broken foot. (The Sporting News)

– The game between Temple and Detroit that was postponed due to prevailing weather conditions has been rescheduled for February 28. (Pickin’ Splinters)

– Prosecutors have dropped the sexual abuse charge against Iowa State basketball player Bubu Palo, meaning he may be able to rejoin the Cyclones’ program. (ESPN)
Observations & Insight:
– If USC every wants to have a successful basketball program, they will have to put aside excuses and get to work. (The Sporting News)

– Here’s an interesting name to watch for in the USC coaching search: Saint Mary’s Randy Bennett. I doubt the coach will leave Moraga, but you just never know. (SMC Hoops)

– The eligibility and academic issues that James Southerland is facing is different from those that Fab Melo faced a year ago. (Troy Nunes)

– Seth Davis’ “Fast Break” is a weekly column that is a must-read. No more teases, just read it. (Sports Illustrated)

– Pat Forde’s “Forde Minutes” is another reoccurring column that is worth your time. (Yahoo Sports)

– John Gasaway released his first “Tuesday Truths” of the season. this weekly column takes a look at how teams in the nation’s top 11 conferences are doing against their league opponents on a per-possession basis. It’s also a weekly must-read. (Basketball Prospectus)

– Jay Bilas and Chad Ford discuss the most overrated prospects in the country. James Michael McAdoo, Alex Poythress, and Le’Bryan Nash headline a list of guys who haven’t exactly lived up to the hype. (ESPN Insider)

– If you couldn’t already tell by looking at halftime scores of 19-14, Scoring in college basketball is at a historic-low. (USA Today)

– It’s pretty simple. If you rank Georgetown in the top-20 after they lost to Pittsburgh by 28-points, you deserve to get shredded by Gary Parrish. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Is Ole Miss an at-large team? The SEC is way down, but if the Rebels can avoid bad losses, they could grab a bid. (College Hoops Haven)

– A nice-read about Clemson coach brad Brownell and his emphasis on the development of court vision. (

– After a rocky start to his rookie campaign, San Diego State freshman Winston Sheppard is living up to the hype. (San Diego Union-Tribune)
Odds & Ends
– Fans are funny. It seems that a North Carolina fan believes the Tar Heels couldn’t beat a 4A high school team. (The Sporting News)

– The ACC is debating the idea of starting its own network. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Northwestern fans do not have fond memories of Kevin O’Neill, who spent three seasons as head coach of the Wildcats. (Sippin’ on Purple)
Picture of the Night:
Will Privette is a wheelchair-bound NC-State student who rushed the court after the Wolfpack’s huge win over Duke on Saturday. But when he was knocked out of his wheelchair, he got some assistance from C.J. Leslie, who saved him from the stampede. (Barstool Sports)

Video of the Night:
Brent Musberger did it again. Dude is on the prowl. (The Big Lead)

Dunk: of the Day:
This is what we like to call “unPOSTERIZED”.

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)

Utah grabs important commitment from four-star center

DENVER, CO - MARCH 19:  Head coach Larry Krystkowiak of the Utah Utes shouts in the first half against the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Pepsi Center on March 19, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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Utah landed an important player for its future on Sunday as four-star center Branden Carlson pledged to the Utes.

The 6-foot-10, 210-pound center is great commitment for Utah as he’s regarded as the No. 113 overall prospect in the Class of 2017 by Rivals. Carlson’s development is going to be especially intriguing because he won’t play for Utah until the 2019-20 season because of a two-year LDS mission out of high school, according to’s Josh Gershon.

Since Carlson needed to add strength and weight, that should give him a little more time to bulk up before college begins. Utah also has freshman center Jayce Johnson just entering the program — another four-star center — so that spaces the two big men out by a few years.

Head coach Larry Krystkowiak has done a nice job developing big men, specifically Jakob Poeltl, and it appears to be paying off on the recruiting trail.

Tar Heels ready for Final Four push after title-game loss

JACKSONVILLE, FL - MARCH 19:  Head coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts on the bench against the Harvard Crimson during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on March 19, 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) North Carolina won’t have a difficult time finding motivation this season.

The memories of losing in the NCAA championship game on a last-second 3-pointer to Villanova still sting more than six months later. It was the crushing final play in a 33-win season that saw the Tar Heels go from a preseason No. 1-ranked team questioned about its toughness to a group that matured enough to sweep the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season and tournament titles before reaching the Final Four.

There are enough veteran returnees for UNC to have the potential to do it again, driven by the memory of coming so oh-so-close to cutting down the nets in April.

“Every time I turn around and look up at the banners, where the national championship banners are,” junior Joel Berry II said, “sometimes it hurts me that we don’t have the 2016 national championship up there. So it’s just motivation to me.”

Some Tar Heels, including Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams, still haven’t watched film from the loss.

“I thought we had a great, great year but it’s just like somebody pulls your heart out and taunts you by shaking it in front of you,” Williams said. “But you’ve got to get over it.”

The Tar Heels (33-7, 14-4 ACC) have some big holes with the losses of four-year starter Marcus Paige – the guy UNC looked for when it needed a big shot – and Associated Press all-American Brice Johnson inside. But they return six of their top eight scorers while adding a top-10 recruiting class.

Berry is the top returning scorer (12.8 points), while fellow junior Justin Jackson (12.2) and senior big man Kennedy Meeks are returning starters. The Tar Heels also return ACC sixth man of the Isaiah Hicks, now likely to earn a promotion into the starting lineup.

On the bench, senior Nate Britt provides backcourt depth along with junior Theo Pinson – out indefinitely with a broken bone in his right foot – and sophomore wing Kenny Williams III.

The Tar Heels also will get help up front from McDonald’s All-American Tony Bradley Jr., who headlines a wing-heavy recruiting class.

Some other things to know about the Tar Heels this season:

PINSON’S INJURY: Pinson’s injury during a recent practice, announced Friday, has the potential to be a big blow. The versatile swingman is the team’s top defender, a good passer and a leader with a knack for keeping up team morale .

BERRY IN CHARGE?: Berry looks like the top candidate to take Paige’s role as the guy to entrust with taking the big shot. He was the team’s best outside shooter (38 percent from 3-point range) and led the team in assists, steals and free-throw percentage. And in a sign that Berry could be ready for a leap, he upped his game by averaging 13.7 points and shooting 50 percent in six NCAA Tournament games – ending with 20 points against Villanova.

HICKS’ FOUL TROUBLE: Keeping Hicks on the floor last season was a challenge, including twice in the final 10 games when he picked up four or five fouls in fewer than 10 minutes. The 6-foot-9 forward brings scoring and rebounding, and he was the team’s defensive player of the game eight times – third most on the team behind Paige and Berry. The Tar Heels need him out there this year with fewer frontcourt options.

JACKSON’S GROWTH: Jackson has good size on the perimeter and has been a complimentary scorer through his first two seasons. The Tar Heels need him to become a consistent scorer now in a leading role, especially when it comes to improving his 29-percent shooting from behind the arc last year. He’s an unselfish player and has occasionally seemed content to blend into the background, but the Tar Heels are tougher to stop when he’s playing assertively .

THE ROOKIES: The 6-foot-10 Bradley, a native of Bartow, Florida, will have a shot at immediate minutes for a team with only Meeks and Hicks returning to the frontcourt. The rest of that recruiting class brings depth on the wing with Brandon Robinson, Seventh Woods and Shea Rush.

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at and the AP’s college basketball site at

Coaches pick Cincinnati to win American Athletic Conference

CINCINNATI, OH - JANUARY 24:  Gary Clark #11 of the Cincinnati Bearcats shoots the ball against the Tulane Green Wave at Fifth Third Arena on January 24, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) American Athletic Conference coaches have picked Cincinnati to win the league title this season.

The Bearcats edged UConn in the poll, which was released Monday at the conference’s annual media day.

Cincinnati received 95 points and six first-place votes, while UConn claimed the other five and finished with 94 points.

Cincinnati guard Troy Caupain and Memphis’ Dedric Lawson were chosen as the league’s preseason co-players of the year.

Caupain is joined on the preseason conference first team by teammate Gary Clark, Lawson, SMU forward Ben Moore and Houston guard Damyean Dotson.

UConn guard Alterique Gilbert was projected as the league’s top rookie, the fourth straight season a Huskies player has been chosen for that honor.

SWAC Preview: Will Texas Southern get back to the NCAA tournament?

Texas Southern forward Derrick Griffin (23), left, blocks the shot of Baylor forward Johnathan Motley (5), right, in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015, in Waco, Texas. Baylor won 72-59. (AP Photo/Rod Aydelotte)
AP Photo/Rod Aydelotte
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Beginning in September and running up through November 11th, the first day of the regular season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2016-2017 college hoops preview package.

Today, we are previewing the SWAC.

Texas Southern ripped through the league last year before seeing its NCAA bid chances evaporate with a loss to Southern in the SWAC tournament, but coach Mike Davis has conference player of the year Derrick Griffin back and committed to hoops after being dismissed from the football program, making the Tigers a favorite in the league once more.

Paris Collins returns to lead Jackson State after their third-place finish from a year ago.Chance Franklin is also back after putting up 12.3 points per game for the Tigers, who lost the SWAC title game a year ago by a single point to Southern.

The Jaguars will be looking for big contributions from Tre’lun Banks and Jared Sam, their top two returnees from last year’s NCAA tournament team. They’ll be needed in a big way to offset the losses of Christopher Hyder, Adrian Rodgers and Shawn Prudhomme.

Alcorn State was the regular-season runner-up last season, but is down four senior starters from the group and the Braves are ineligible for postseason play due to APR scores.

MORE: 2016-17 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

PRESEASON SWAC PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Derrick Griffin, Texas Southern

The two-sport star is down to one after getting dismissed from the Texas Southern football team this fall, but he’s back for hoops following a year in which he averaged 13.3 points and 11.1 rebounds per game.


  • Paris Collins, Jackson State: Averaged 13 points and 6.2 rebounds per game last season.
  • Marcus Romain, Mississippi Valley State: The 6-foot-2 senior guard averaged 18.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.
  • Tommy Armstrong, Alabama State: Armstrong returns to power an Alabama State team that won eight of its last 11
  • Trelun Banks, SouthernShot 36.4 percent from 3-point range while scoring 12.4 points, grabbing 2.8 rebounds and dishing out 2.2 assists per game.



1. Texas Southern
2. Jackson State
3. Southern
4. Alabama State
5. Alcorn State
6. Prairie View A&M
7. Mississippi Valley State
8. Alabama A&M
9. Arkansas-Pine Bluff
10. Grambling State

Defending champion Oregon picked to repeat as Pac-12 winner

Dana Altman
AP Photo/John Locher
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Defending Pac-12 champion Oregon is picked to repeat as the regular-season conference winner.

The Ducks received 23 first-place votes from a panel of 27 media members covering the conference, the Pac-12 announced Friday at its media day. Oregon returns four starters from last season’s team that won a school-record 31 games and earned a top seed in the NCAA Tournament, led by junior forward Dillon Brooks, who averaged 16.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists.

Arizona received four first-place votes and was picked second, with UCLA third.

The Pac-12 sent a conference-record seven teams to the 2016 NCAA Tournament.

Commissioner Larry Scott expects to announce next month the conference’s plans regarding games played in China. Last year, the Pac-12 began a two-year commitment opening the season in China with Washington beating Texas. On Nov. 11, Stanford will play Harvard in Shanghai.