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. (KUsports.com)

– 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. (OrangeandWhite.com)

– 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)

source:
 
 
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)

POSTERIZED: Dennis Smith Jr. takes flight

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While Lonzo Ball, Markelle Fultz and the Kentucky stars are the freshmen getting all the publicity, Dennis Smith Jr. of N.C. State is quietly sitting as a potential No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft.

Why?

Because’s he’s a point guard that can do things like this:

Manu Lecomte’s 24 points leads No. 9 Baylor past No. 7 Xavier

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 10:  Johnathan Motley #5 of the Baylor Bears shoots a free throw against the Texas Longhorns during the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Basketball Tournament at Sprint Center on March 10, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
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Manu Lecomte finished with 24 points, hitting six threes and dishing out five assists as No. 9 Baylor added to what is unquestionably the best résumé in college basketball on Saturday with a 73-58 win over No. 7 Xavier in Waco.

The Bears have already beaten Louisville, VCU, Michigan State and Oregon this season, so it’s not like we needed anymore confirmation that the Bears were good this year.

But we got it.

Johnathon Motley finished with 17 points and eight boards and Jo Lual-Acuil chipped in with 12 points and six blocks, but it was Lecomte that was the star here. Entering the season, the question everyone had with this Baylor team was whether or not they had enough outside shooting and enough point guard, and it just so happens that Lecomte checks both those boxes.

And frankly, I don’t think anyone knew just how good Lecomte was going to be this season.

The Baylor coaching staff did. Word out of Waco during the preseason was that Lecomte looked great, that his redshirt season did wonders for him as a player, but then again, you hear that about every kid that’s ever sat out a season. With Lecomte, it turned out to be true. And on Saturday, we saw him at his best.

It’s also worth noting here just how important these non-conference wins will be not just for the Bears, but for the Big 12 as a whole. If Baylor can somehow find a way to win the Big 12 regular season title – or maybe even if they finish second in the league and win the Big 12 tournament – they’ll be in a great spot to earn a top four seed in the NCAA tournament. A No. 1 seed isn’t out of the question.

That’s great for the conference as a whole. These wins will significantly help the computer numbers for the league, and it also means that there are going to be more quality wins available for the other teams in the conference during league play.

Put another way, bubble teams won’t have to simply rely on trying to steal a win against Kansas at home if they need to inject some life into their at-large profile in February.

The most impressive part?

Baylor has done all of this despite not getting a single vote in the Preseason AP top 25 poll.

Jaysom Tatum to play tonight for Duke

Jayson Tatum (photo courtesy Duke Athletics)
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Duke announced on Saturday afternoon that Jayson Tatum will return to action against Maine.

Tatum is a top five prospect and a potential No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. He has been out since late October with a foot injury.

Grayson Allen and Frank Jackson are not expected to play. Allen has been battling a toe injury that has limited his explosiveness this season.

Marques Bolden is expected to return to the lineup soon, and on the pregame show, head coach Mike Krzyzewski said there’s a chance he could play tonight. He’s been out with a lower leg injury.

No. 15 Purdue uses 3-pointers to beat Morehead State 90-56

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN - NOVEMBER 14: Caleb Swanigan #50 of the Purdue Boilermakers celebrates during the game against the Villanova Wildcats at Mackey Arena on November 14, 2016 in West Lafayette, Indiana.  (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) Freshman guard Carsen Edwards scored 16 points, and No. 15 Purdue made 11 3-pointers in the first half Saturday on the way to a 90-56 victory over Morehead State.

The Boilermakers (6-2), coming off a Wednesday loss at No. 14 Louisville in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, used a 15-0 first-half run to stretch a 10-9 lead to 25-9, and Purdue continued to pull away.

Dakota Mathias added 14 points, and Caleb Swanigan and P.J. Thompson had 13 each for Purdue.

Miguel Dicent had 11 points for Morehead State (2-5), which played without coach Sean Woods, who has been suspended with pay since Nov. 22, when the university launched an official investigation into Woods’ treatment of players.

Purdue made 11 of 20 from 3-point range during the first half when it built a 47-25 lead. Carsen Edwards, who made his first start in place of slumping Vince Edwards, and Mathias made four 3-pointers each in the first half.

The Boilermakers played without fifth-year graduate student transfer point guard Spike Albrecht, who suffered a back injury this week.

BIG PICTURE

Morehead State: With Woods suspended indefinitely, the Eagles are a distracted basketball team, and it shows as their losing streak reached five on Saturday, including 0-3 for acting coach Preston Spradlin.

Purdue: It’s a byproduct of opposing defenses centering their attention on Boilermaker big men Swanigan and Isaac Haas, but Purdue entered this game leading the Big Ten in 3-point field goal shooting percentage at 41.8 and made 55 percent from beyond the arc during the opening half on Saturday.

UP NEXT

Morehead State: The Eagles do not play until going to Lipscomb on Dec. 10.

Purdue: The Boilermakers travel to New York City for a Tuesday night game against Arizona State in the Jimmy V. Classic.

 

SATURDAY’S SNACKS: Big road wins for UCLA, West Virginia

MADISON, WI - DECEMBER 03:  Nigel Hayes #10 of the Wisconsin Badgers is defended by Kristian Doolittle #11 of the Oklahoma Sooners during the first half of a game at the Kohl Center on December 3, 2016 in Madison, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 11 UCLA 97, No. 1 Kentucky 92

This one was a ton of fun to watch as UCLA shook off a sluggish start to run past Kentucky at Rupp Arena. CBT’s Rob Dauster has the story on this one and why it was important for both teams.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

No. 25 West Virginia 66, No. 6 Virginia 57: Bob Huggins’ group has a potential signature victory as West Virginia won a big one on the road. I have more about why this one is particularly important for West Virginia here.

No. 9 Baylor 76, No. 7 Xavier 61: The Bears added to what is the best résumé in college basketball with an impressive win over a very good Xavier team. Manu Lecomte was the star of the show, finishing with 24 points and five assists. We went in depth on this game here.

STARRED

Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin: After just missing a triple-double in a big win over Syracuse in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge earlier this week, Hayes dominated in a 90-70 win over Oklahoma with 28 points on 10-for-13 shooting. Hayes made both of his three-point attempts and also added six assists and two rebounds. Hayes is playing like an All-American lately.

Josh Hart, Villanova: Speaking of All-American caliber play, the senior guard put up a triple-double in the Wildcats’ 88-57 win over Saint Joseph’s as he finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. Hart was 6-for-10 from the field and 3-for-6 from three-point territory as he had a tremendous outing.

Sebastian Saez, Ole Miss: Underrated nationally, the senior forward had his fourth double-double of the year with 20 points and 16 rebounds in a win over Memphis. Saez also added three blocks as he now has 12 or more rebounds in five games this season.

Anthony Livingston, Texas Tech: The Red Raiders needed three free throws from Livingston with under three seconds left for a one-point win over Rice as Livingston finished with 33 points and seven rebounds.

Collin Smith, George Washington: Also knocking in a huge go-ahead bucket was Smith as his three-pointer with three seconds left gave the Colonials a win over USF. Smith ended up with 22 points and eight rebounds.

STRUGGLED

E.C. Matthews, Rhode Island: Matthews finished 3-for-13 from the floor with just nine points as No. 21 Rhode Island lost their second straight game, this time falling to Providence, 63-60, on the road.

JeQuan Lewis, VCU: Lewis had 23 points and 11 assists in a come-from-behind win over Princeton during the week, but he had just three points and one assists – and turned an ankle – in a 64-46 loss to Illinois in Miami on Saturday.

San Diego State: The Aztecs took a 65-59 loss to Loyola (IL) on Saturday, a loss that puts SDSU is an all-too-familiar hole: Bad losses on their résumé that they won’t be able to make up for in league play.

TOP 25

  • Using a balanced scoring effort, No. 15 Purdue picked up an easy home win over Morehead State. Freshman guard Carsen Edwards knocked down four triples to finish with a team-high 16 points while Caleb Swanigan and P.J. Thompson both finished with 13 points and six assists.
  • Kelan Martin went for 30 points as No. 18 Butler knocked off Central Arkansas, 82-58.
  • Andrew White hit seven threes and finished with 26 points while Franklin Howard chipped in with 13 assists for No. 22 Syracuse as they held on to beat North Florida, 77-71, in the Carrier Dome.

NOTABLE

  • Solid win for Wake Forest on the road at Richmond as John Collins had 16 points, 13 rebounds.