Late Afternoon Snacks: Kansas struggles to beat Texas; Bulldog on Bulldog crime

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Game of the Day

No. 4 Kansas 64, Texas 59: Texas is struggling this season, but the Longhorns are still one of the nation’s most efficient defensive teams. That was enough for them to scare the dickens out of Kansas for roughly 36 minutes. As Daniel Martin wrote earlier today, the tide turned on a sequence that epitomized this year’s Jayhawk modus operandi: Senior Jeff Withey blocked a shot on the defensive end of the floor, did it in such a way that his own team gained possession, and freshman Ben McLemore flushed it in transition. After that, it was all Kansas.

Meaningful Outcomes

No. 7 Arizona 71, Arizona State 54: This game was rightly chosen as upset fodder earlier today. The Sun Devils have a developing Big Three who can play with anyone in the nation. Arizona, on the other hand, has been one of those teams that seemed a bit uneasy in the top ten, especially after dropping a game to Oregon. Mark Lyons rose to the challenge, scoring 24 points to complement double-figure scoring from Nick Johnson and Solomon Hill to lead the Wildcat offensive attack. Team defense was the real bellweather, though; Arizona forced 17 turnovers against their in-state rival.

No. 10 Florida 83, No. 17 Missouri 52: In our pre-season arguments discussions about where teams should be ranked, some of us at CBT expressed doubt about Missouri’s early rankings, which we felt were disproportionately based upon a healthy Laurence Bowers rejoining the team. Clearly, the team’s ranking was a bit optimistic, but just as clearly, Bowers is a huge offensive key for the Tigers. His replacement in the starting lineup, Tony Criswell, contributed just eight points to the losing cause. The much-maligned Florida backcourt took careful shots and harrassed Phil Pressey into a ten-turnover night. The Gators are staking their claim to SEC elite-dom with Kentucky floundering.

North Carolina 62, Maryland 52: In this battle for superiority in the ACC’s murky upper-middle class, North Carolina showed they’re still not a team to be trifled with. The Heels keyed on future lottery pick Alex Len, and Reggie Bullock went wild for a career-high 24. Dexter Strickland led the UNC defensive attack with four steals, contributing to Maryland’s 21 total turnovers.

Akron 71, Kent State 67: The rivalry between the Zips and Golden Flashes isn’t on the national radar very often, but the two Ohio-based schools have a hot one going. They’ve met for the MAC’s auto-bid twice within recent memory, and the 2005 MAC tournament was the last time one of the two failed to appear in the league’s title game. They’re MAC royalty, and Akron went to 4-0 by holding the Flashes to just 35% shooting from the floor.

Games of the Night

6:00 Ohio State/Michigan State (ESPN)

7:00 Marquette/Cincinnati (ESPNU)

7:00 UNLV/Colorado State (NBCSports)

7:30 San Diego State/Wyoming

9:00 Gonzaga/Butler (ESPN)

9:00 Kentucky/Auburn

9:00 San Diego/BYU

 

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.