Late Night Snacks: Butler tackles Gonzaga in nip-tuck Bulldog Battle

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We had an internal argument conversation about whether we should pick one game of the night each night, or leave room for the notion that more than one game might be equal to the honor. My position was that – as with evil rings of power and immortal swordsmen – there can be only one. Tonight, I’m going to stick to my guns, but oh, man was it hard. Lots and lots of great games. And yet, there’s no argument as to which one stood out tonight.

Game of the Night

N0. 13 Butler 64, No. 8 Gonzaga 63: Out of all of the fantastic games tonight, I had to pick the non-conference showdown between two rumored future members of the Catholic 7. The setting – historical Hinkle Fieldhouse – put it on top of the heap already, but then Kevin Schwartz, who was in Hawaii when Rotnei Clarke splashed his miracle shot to beat Marquette earlier this season, emulated his hero by dropping a half-court shot to win $18,000. Schwartz said he’d pay off his trip to the island first during a halftime interview. On top of all that, the game was absolutely dynamite. After a back-and-forth tennis match of a game, Gonzaga had the ball and a one-point lead with just over three seconds left. Kelly Olynyk muffed the inbounds pass, Roosevelt Jones took it to the hoop, and the game was over… or was it? The officials reviewed the play mid-floor-storming to determine if Jones had released the ball in time. They quickly (for once) ruled the play good and Butler had a huge, epic, historical, heart-palpitating win. And they did it without Rotnei Clarke, who was still recovering from a terrifying neck injury. An absolute heavyweight punch-out from beginning to end.

Watch the amazing ending here, courtesy of ESPN:

Meaningful Results

N0. 18 Michigan State 59, N0. 11 Ohio State 56: The Spartans laid claim to the Big Ten lead as Wisconsin fell to Iowa. Keith Appling and Adreian Payne led the Spartans.

No. 21 Oregon 76, No. 24 UCLA 67: Arsalan Kazemi was a starter at Rice, and is the only reason anyone has thought much about Rice basketball over the past five years. Now, after transferring to Oregon to play for Dana Altman, he’s a bench option. A bench option who scored 12 points to go with 11 rebounds to help down surging UCLA and vault the Ducks to 5-0 in the Pac 12. Oregon center Tony Woods led all scorers with 18.

Cincinnati 71, No. 25 Marquette 69 (OT): It’s only fitting that Sean Kilpatrick made the game-winning bucket for the Bearcats, since he did just about everything else before that. Kilpatrick scored 36 points on the evening, aided mightily by Titus Rubles and his ten rebounds.

Wyoming 58, No. 15 San Diego State 45: The Cowboys regulated, shutting down Chase Tapley and holding Jamaal Franklin to 13 points in a huge win that helps keep the MWC as wild as we could ever hope. And that’s without the guy who jacked somebody up in a bar fight.

No. 16 Kansas State 69, Oklahoma 60: Oklahoma, under long-time veteran (and former Kansas State) coach Lon Kruger, was starting to look like a threat in the Big 12 after a 3-0 start. Kansas State under – and I cannot stress this enough – Bruce Weber dished the Sooners their first loss in league play. Rodney McGruder scored 20.

Alabama 50, Texas A&M 49: I wish people would stop saying that Elston Turner was “held to” 13 points in a game like this. The 40 points at Kentucky is the outlier, not the 13. That said, Alabama is now 3-1 in an SEC that looks wide open. With some hideous chili stains on their non-con record, the Tide will have to keep this up all the way into the SEC tournament, but winning is like, you know, better than losing, no matter when it happens.

Starred

Kevin Schwartz: Duh.

Kwamain Mitchell, St. Louis: 29 points, 7 assists, 6 steals in a 82-80 OT loss to Rhode Island.

Ray McCallum, Detroit: 25 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 1 block in a 98-47 beatdown of Illinois-Chicago.

Struggled

Phil Pressey, Missouri: Two points and 10 turnovers in a big loss to Florida as the Tigers continue to fall apart without Laurence Bowers in the lineup.

Florida State: Not only did the Seminoles lose a 56-36 laugher to a rather average UVA team, but not a single Seminole player eked into double figures on the night. Worst of all, Terrance Shannon went down with a serious neck injury in the waning minutes of the game and had to be taken to the hospital on an immobilizing backboard.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

Report: Texas’ Jones to test NBA possibility

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Both of Texas’ McDonald’s All-Americans from its 2016 class will test the NBA waters.

Andrew Jones will declare for the draft, but will not hire an agent, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.

The 6-foot-4 guard joins Jarrett Allen, the Longhorns’ star center, in utilizing the rule change that became available to players last year in which they can declare, workout for teams, attend the NBA combine and still return to school.

Jones averaged 11.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game as a freshman. He shot 42.5 percent from the field overall and 32.8 percent from 3-point range.

Allen seems the likelier candidate to remain in the draft as a potential lottery pick, but Jones came to Austin with similar one-and-done possibilities given his status as one of the class’ top recruits.

Texas, of course, is hoping both return, not just because they’re both big talents, but because incoming and highly-touted recruit Matt Coleman fills the major hole in last year’s lineup – point guard. If the three of them can share the floor together, Year 3 of the Shaka Smart era will be much more interesting.

Morrow announces transfer from Nebraska

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Nebraska was once again hit with a surprising and damaging transfer.

Ed Morrow, Jr., who led the Huskers in rebounding last year, announced his intention to transfer, the school announced Wednesday.

“I support Ed in his decision to transfer schools and wish him well,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said in a statement. “We appreciate his hard work over the last two years. Although I am disappointed, we will continue to recruit young men who are committed to our mission of building Nebraska Basketball with a culture of success in all areas…life, school and winning basketball at its highest level.”

The 6-foot-7 sophomore’s departure is a major hit to the Huskers, who are coming off a 12-19 year in which Miles’ job security was called into question. It almost assuredly will be again this year as Nebraska hasn’t been able to build on its 2014 NCAA tournament appearance, instead putting together three-straight losing seasons.

Morrow’s decision is surprising not only given he’d been a productive member of the team – averaging 9.4 points and 7.5 rebounds per game – but because he was born in Nebraska before attending high school in Chicago and both his parents were Nebraska student-athletes his father winning a national title on the football team in 1994 and his mother an all-Big Eight performer on the basketball team.

“I want to say thank you to my teammates, coaches, the fans and the University of Nebraska athletics department for giving me the opportunity to play Division I basketball,” Morrow said in a statement. “It is hard to leave home, and Nebraska is my home. I was born and raised here, it is my parents’ alma mater, and I have a lot of friends here. But sometimes you have to venture out to pursue dreams and aspirations in a career. This is a sacrifice I have to make to better myself.”

Morrow’s transfer comes a year after Andrew White surprised Nebraska with his decision to graduate and transfer to Syracuse, which no doubt impacted the Huskers’ poor 2016-17 record.

Miles was on the hot seat at the end of last season and will assuredly begin this season there as well. A roster hit like Morrow won’t do much to help him improve the situation. Nebraska does, however, have three starters returning while Georgetown transfer Isaac Copeland is eligible, as is Miami (Fla.) transfer James Palmer, Jr.

Lonzo Ball says “I’m better than” Markelle Fultz

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Usually, it’s LaVar Ball that makes news for what he says.

His eldest son is now getting in on the business of generating headlines with something other than his play.

The UCLA star, who said he’ll enter the draft after just one season with the Bruins, claimed he’s the better prospect than Washington freshman Markelle Fultz, who many have pegged as the No. 1 pick in June’s draft.

“Markelle’s a great player,” Ball said, according to ESPN, “but I feel I’m better than him,” “I think I can lead a team better than him. Obviously he’s a great scorer — he’s a great player, so I’m not taking that away from him.”

Not exactly inflammatory stuff – like saying you could have beaten Michael Jordan, that you want a $1 billion apparel deal or a number of things his father has said – bu Ball is certainly projecting confidence. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. There’s quite a bit of money – and pride – at stake with the draft, and Ball put up a season worthy of comparison to Fultz, who had great numbers but played for an abysmal Washington team. Ball, on the other had, had strong numbers while leading UCLA to the Sweet 16.

Both are going to go at the top of a draft that’s stocked full of promising point guards. Which player goes before the other remains to be seen, but it’s likely public pronouncements aren’t going to affect the draft order.

 

UMass hires McCall away from Chattanooga

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UMass has found, once more, the man to take over its basketball program.

The Minutemen have reached an agreement with Chattanooga coach Matt McCall, the school announce Wednesday

“The tradition and resources that are in place not only make this one of the best basketball jobs in the Atlantic 10 Conference,” McCall said in a statement released by the school, “but one of the best jobs in the country. We couldn’t be more excited about becoming part of the UMass family and look forward to building upon the rich tradition that has been established here in the past.”

In McCall’s two years at Chattanooga, the Mocs to the NCAA tournament in 2016 and a 19-12 record this year that featured five-straight losses to end the season.

The move will take McCall out of the southeast for the first time in his career as he previously served as at Florida and Florida Atlantic before getting his first head coaching job at Chattanooga.

McCall wasn’t the Minutemen’s first choice to replace Derek Kellogg after three-straight lackluster seasons. Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey had agreed to take the job before a last-minute about-face that saw him return to the Eagles program just before his introductory press conference was scheduled to begin.

“Matt is a rising star in college basketball coaching who has been a key piece of three successful programs in his career,” UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford said in a statement. “He has earned a reputation as a relentless worker, a great teammate and colleague and a confident leader of young men.

“Matt has worked with some of the most respected coaches and administrators in the country, who loudly sing his praises. Coach McCall’s appointment begins an exciting new chapter for our tradition-rich men’s basketball program at UMass.”

Despite being the second choice, McCall’s reputation in the coaching industry makes him a strong hire, having worked under Mike Jarvis and Billy Donovan. He took over at Chattanooga for Will Wade, and brought the Mocs to a 29-6 record and a  12-seed in the NCAA tournament in 2016.

UMass went to just one NCAA tournament under Kellogg (in 2014) during his nine seasons leading the Minutemen.

VIDEO: Frank Martin’s sideline demeanor as a high school coach

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South Carolina coach Frank Martin has the reputation of being rather, shall we say, intense on the sidelines during games.

The coach has a stare that seemingly could bore a hole through his players when they do something that doesn’t reach his level of expectation. Martin’s demeanor, though, didn’t just come into form once he hit the college ranks.

He was plenty intense on high school sidelines as well.

Martin won three titles while at Miami Senior in the mid-1990s, coaching the likes of future pros Steve Blake and Udonis Haslem. Now having reached his first career Final Four, that sideline persona has put him on the precipice of winning yet another championship, this time at the collegiate level.