The Morning Mix

Leave a comment

Today’s Morning Mix is rather light. We want you to save up you energy for tomorrow, which looks like the most fully loaded day of hoops we’ve seen all season.

Oh, and you can take tonight off. There are only three games on tonight. We got you covered.

Lets hit the links.

Friday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – Stony Brook @ Vermont
7:00 p.m. – Jacksonville @ North Florida
7:00 p.m. – Fairfield @ Iona
 
 
Read of the Day:
Former-Virginia Tech forward Allen Chaney was away from the game for 44 months thanks to viral myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart, but he’s now getting a second shot at hoops at High Point, and making the most of it. Ryan Fagan has the story. Read it. (The Sporting News)
 
 
Top Stories:
No. 10 Florida holds Elston Turner to four points, beats Texas A&M: Four days after going into Lexington and earning a win against Kentucky, Texas A&M was set to host a beat up Florida team with a chance to really make a statement to the folks that put together bubble projections. Unfortunately for the Aggies, Elston Turner scored 37 points less that he did on Saturday and the Gators rolled over Texas A&M with “Johnny Football” in attendance.

No. 5 Michigan holds on to win at No. 9 Minnesota, 83-75: m Hardaway Jr. led Michigan with 21 points and Trey Burke added 18 points and nine assists as the Wolverines opened up an 18-point lead and withstood a strong Gophers comeback to earn the bounce-back on the road at the Barn.

10 tidbits to know: Great coaching in the state of Maryland: NBC Sports Talk’s College Hoops Insider, Vin Parise, is back with his weekly look at ten interesting tidbits. This week he dishes on the coaching success taking place in “The Old Line State”, and an interesting non-conference game taking place this weekend.

Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee looking to leave Sun Belt early? Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee are reportedly negotiating with the Sun Belt Conference to leave after the current academic year instead of waiting until 2014 according to Dan Wolken of USA Today. The two programs will join the reconfigured Conference USA, which will lose four of its members to the Big East Conference at the end of the 2012-13 academic year.

Frank Haith’s lawyer speaks about potential NCAA infractions: The Missouri head coach is still tangled up in the mess that is the Nevin Shapiro scandal at Miami, and with the notice of allegations on the way, his lawyers have issued a statement filled with lawyer-speak.

Report: James Southerland eligibility issue centers around term paper: According to Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard the current eligibility issue may center around the writing of a term paper. Specifically, whether or not a tutor wrote part of Southerland’s term paper.

 
 
Hoops Housekeeping
– Chris Webber’s ban from being associated with Michigan will end in May and the university is currently discussing how to handle issues surrounding the Fab-5. (Detroit News)

– San Diego State guard Xavier Thames tweaked his back in practice yesterday and his status for the Wyoming game this weekend is questionable. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

– R.J. Williams returned from his suspension last night as Loyola (Md.) handled Marist at home 72-58. (D1scourse)

– UConn guard Shabazz Napier is dealing with a shoulder injury but hopes to be able to play against Pittsburgh this weekend. (New Haven Register)

– Seton Hall landed a commitment from 2013 shooting guard Jerron Wilbut. (South Orange Juice)

– Central Florida junior Isaiah Sykes returned to practice on Thursday for the first time since injuring his ankle last weekend. He hopes to be able to play this weekend against Houston. (Orlando Sentinel)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– Valparaiso snapped Detroit’s 17-game home winning streak thanks to 31 points from Kevin Van Wijk. The Crusaders trailed by 18 at the half, but scored 57 points in the second half in order to win the rematch of last season’s Horizon League Championship game. (Detroit Free-Press)

– Bradley head coach Geno Ford was in attendance for the Wednesday night game between Chicago high schools Simeon and Morgan Park, in which a man was shot and killed following the game. (Peoria Journal-Star)

– A lot of people were hesitant about Illinois’ early season surge, and they can now pat themselves on the back. The Illini dropped their third straight with a lethargic loss to Northwestern last night. (State Journal-Register)

– With the conference realignment impacting the Sun Belt Conference, here is a look at some of the facilities of potential Members. (App State Nation)

– Andy Glockner provides his take on the conference power rankings. I too agree that the Mountain West is third best. (Sports Illustrated)

– A history lesson about win-less teams and when they usually get their first win of the season. (Eye on College Basketball)

– The Big-Ten is usually the conference people think about when an ugly, low-scoring game is on. But this season, the ACC seems to be the posterboy for scoring deficiency. (Tech Hoops)
 
 
Picture of the Day:
As if his team’s performance wasn’t bad enough, an Illinois fan got ejected from Assembly Hall last night. The Illini lost to Northwestern last night in pathetic fashion.

source: AP

Dunk: of the Day:
Glenn Robinson III had himself a big game last night against Michigan. He scored 20 points and threw down a 360 dunk on a fast break. Personally, I’m not a big fan of 360s. First, they aren’t real 360s because the rotation starts before they leave the ground. Second, it just doesn’t look as pretty as a poster-dunk or wind-mill jam. But the people sure do like them.

 
 
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)

No. 1 Kansas dominates No. 4 Purdue in style

Leave a comment

Kansas, the top-seeded team in Midwest region, didn’t just beat No. 4 Purdue, it did so in style. Fast break after fast break, dunk after dunk, the Jayhawks ran the Boilermakers off the floor, advancing to the Elite Eight with a 98-66 win on Thursday night in Kansas City.

Kansas went on an 11-0 run in the second half, forcing four Purdue turnovers during that stretch. Once the Boilermakers finally got back on the board, the Jayhawks led 69-56. That run broke open the game en route to the 32-point victory.

Frank Mason II and Devonte Graham each had 26 points. Mason added seven rebounds and seven assists. Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan ended his season — and perhaps, his college career — with 18 points and seven rebounds.

Kansas advances to play No. 3 seed Oregon on Saturday in the Elite Eight.

WATCH: LaGerald Vick’s 360 dunk

Leave a comment

It takes a lot of confidence to throw down a dunk better suited for pre-game lay-up lines than the middle of a NCAA Tournament game.

But Kansas sophomore guard LaGerald Vick thought this breakaway opportunity in the second half of a Sweet 16 matchup against No. 4 seed Purdue was the perfect time to throw down a 360 dunk.

Jordan Mathews three sends No. 1 seed Gonzaga past No. 4 West Virginia

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
1 Comment

Jordan Mathews hit a three with less than a minute left and West Virginia missed a pair of threes on the final possession of the game as No. 1 seed Gonzaga won a dogfight, 61-58, over No. 4 seed Gonzaga in the Sweet 16 on Thursday night.

Mathews, who finished with 13 points on the night, spent 4:30 on the bench before checking into the game right before hitting the eventual game-winning three. It came on a possession fitting of this game, which was the embodiment of the mantra ‘a close game is not always a good game.’ Nigel Williams-Goss, who played arguably his worst game as a member of the Zags, turned the ball over immediately after gathering a defensive rebound. But West Virginia’s Nathan Adrian had a shot blocked at the rim and, after corralling the loose ball, Williams-Goss found Mathews open in the wing for a three that put the Zags up 60-58 with 37 seconds left.

What’s going to be talked about after this game is the final possession for West Virginia.

Jevon Carter, who finished with 21 points and who, prior to that final possession, continued to hit big jumper after big jumper for the Mountaineers, airballed a three and, after West Virginia gathered the rebound, threw up another tough three that bounced off the front rim. West Virginia again got the loose ball, and after Carter dribbled 15 seconds off the block, he gave the ball up to Daxter Miles, who didn’t have enough time to get the shot off:

That possession is going to haunt Carter for a long, long time, and West Virginia was rightfully criticized for the way that they “executed” on that possession — I wonder if Bob Huggins regrets not saving a timeout for the end of the game — but it’s impossible to criticize West Virginia without also mentioning that Gonzaga’s defense was as good as it gets.

Not just just on that possession, either.

The Zags made life difficult for West Virginia all night long, and that should not come as a surprise to anyone that has been paying attention to this Gonzaga team. West Virginia shot 26.7 percent from the floor. They were 5-for-23 from three, and if it wasn’t for the 20 offensive rebounds they grabbed — more than the 16 field goals they made on the night — Gonzaga would have walked out of the SAP Center with a comfortable win. They are, quite literally, the best defensive team in college basketball, according to KenPom, and they made the plays they needed to make down the stretch to get the win. That’s what championship-caliber teams do.

And if you still don’t believe that Gonzaga can win a national title this season, than I’m not sure what else you need to see.

West Virginia was a terrible matchup for Gonzaga. Their guards, as good as they’ve been all season long, are not cut out for playing against a back court that is that much tougher, that much quicker, that much more aggressive and that much more athletic than them. Williams-Goss, who was a second-team NBC Sports All-American, was exposed. He finished the evening 2-for-10 from the floor with five turnovers and just a single assist before finding Mathews for the game-winning three. As a team, Gonzaga turned the ball over 16 times. Josh Perkins didn’t even get a shot off. Silas Melson was 2-for-7 from the floor. Throw in Zach Collins, who had just a single point, and four of Gonzaga’s top seven players were flat out bad on Thursday night.

That was, unequivocally, a game played the way West Virginia wanted it to be played. The Mountaineers controlled the game.

And yet, Gonzaga is still headed to the Elite 8, one game — against the winner of No. 2 Arizona and No. 11 Xavier — away from the right to go to the Final Four.

The knock on this Gonzaga team was their toughness, both physical and mental. Would they be able to handle a team that plays the way that West Virginia plays? Would they be able to handle the game pressure of playing to the final possession in the Sweet 16?

The answer is yes.

That doesn’t mean Gonzaga is going to win the national title.

But they are certainly good enough to get it done.

No. 3 Oregon advances after thriller with No. 7 Michigan

3 Comments

Oregon is returning to the Elite Eight for the second consecutive season following a thrilling, 69-68, victory over No. 7 Michigan in the Sweet 16 in Kansas City on Thursday night.

In a game in which neither team could fully grasp control of the game, it came down to the wire. Michigan held a 3-point lead with two minutes to play. Jordan Bell, who was unquestionably the deciding factor in this contest, came up with the first of several critical hustle plays down the stretch. He knifed in on a missed free throw, for the second-chance bucket, cutting the deficit to one.

On the ensuing Michigan possession, Bell didn’t block it but affected Derrick Walton Jr.’s shot enough to force the miss. Tyler Dorsey, the other hero for the Ducks, continued his stellar play this month with a go-ahead layup after he spun through the Wolverine defense. Bell’s close out on D.J. Wilson sent his 3-point attempt way off the mark. Bell would corral another offensive rebound on the other end of the floor, and while Dylan Ennis left the door open for Michigan following another missed free throw, Bell, deservedly, rebounded Walton’s miss as time ran out.

“Do whatever you can to win,” Bell told reporters after the game. “Me, get every rebound, offense or defense, help my team out as much as possible.”

Bell had 16 points and 13 rebounds. Tyler Dorsey poured in 20 points. Walton Jr., who front-rimmed a potential game-winner at the buzzer, ended his collegiate career with stat-line of 20 points, eight assists, and five rebounds. Zak Irvin added 19.

Dillon Brooks is without a doubt the star, but Bell and Dorsey round out a big three that could lead the Ducks to Phoenix.

Before the start of the Pac-12 Tournament championship game on March 11, Oregon announced that Chris Boucher would miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL. How would this effect Oregon’s defense days before it began its quest for a Final Four?

Bell has helped answer those questions on Thursday night. He’s a big reason why Oregon outscored Michigan, 34-16, in points in the paint. But his greatest impact was how he slowed down the two-headed monster of Moe Wagner and D.J. Wilson, two forwards whose increased production is a big reason why Michigan’s unlikely run extended into the second weekend of the tournament. The duo scored a combined 19 points off 7-of-20 shooting.

The other for Oregon was the continued offensive tear of Dorsey. In six postseason games, the sophomore two-guard is averaging 23.0 points per game. He went toe-to-toe with Walton, who was playing as good as any guard in the country, in the final minutes and got the better of the battle. Playing at this level, Oregon has another go-to scorer, one who has no issue taking a big shot late in the game. In either matchup in the next round, that should come in handy. Dillon Brooks, one of college’s toughest matchups, will either be busy with Purdue’s massive frontline or locked in an all-out war with Kansas’ Josh Jackson the perimeter.

“I’m really fortunate to have Jordan for three years and Tyler for two and Dillon Brooks,” Oregon head coach Dana Altman said. “We’ve just been really fortunate. We’ve got good players and guys that are unselfish. They want to win. They’re competitive. We got down four there and guys could have gave into it. They didn’t. They fought their way back. Shows you what kind of competitive spirit they’ve got.”

The Ducks, the No. 3 seed in the Midwest region, will face the winner of top-seeded Kansas and No. 4 Purdue on Saturday night at the Sprint Center.

“We know Purdue is really big and Kansas is Kansas,” Altman said.

WATCH: Steve Alford end practice with half-court shot

3 Comments

UCLA head coach Steve Alford ended practice on Thursday by drilling a half-court shot on the first attempt.

According to the Associated Press, this has been a season-long battle between the UCLA coaching staff and the players.

“Truth be told, we’ve been getting slaughtered. We’ve got guys like Lonzo (Ball) literally takes a jump shot from the timeline. We were just lucky that they only got one shot at it. I think coaches are down about eight on the half-court shots this year. I told them, though, that the coaches are ahead at the Sweet 16. I don’t think they’re buying it.”

No. 3 seed UCLA is set to play No. 2 seed Kentucky in the Sweet 16 on Friday night in Memphis. The Bruins defeated the Wildcats, 97-92, in a non-conference matchup on Dec. 3.