Cody Zeller, Jared Swopshire

Late Night Snacks: No. 2 Indiana and No. 14 NC State avoid upsets

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Game of the Day: No. 14 NC State 66, Clemson 62 

Three days after losing by a point at Maryland the Wolfpack bounced back with a close home victory over the Tigers. T.J. Warren led NC State with 21 points off the bench and three starters scored 11 points apiece for the Wolfpack, who remain a game behind Miami in the loss column. Clemson’s Devin Booker led all scorers with a career-high 27 points on 13-of-18 shooting.

Important Outcomes 

1. No. 2 Indiana 67, Northwestern 59 

Cody Zeller scored 21 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, and Jordan Hulls added 15 as the Hoosiers held off the Wildcats in Evanston. Northwestern’s Reggie Hearn led all scorers with 22 points but the Wildcats’ 30.4% shooting from the field in the first half proved to be too much to overcome. Northwestern’s reserves outscored Indiana’s 11-6, and with their recent production in mind should Indiana be concerned about the play of its bench? Click that link for more.

2. Rider 67, Iona 62 

Kevin Baggett’s Broncs are playing their best basketball of the season currently, as they pushed their win streak to five games with a five-point win over Iona. Leading scorer Nurideen Lindsey (concussion) was forced to sit out but Tommy Pereira came to the rescue, knocking down four three-pointers and scoring a team-high 14 points to go along with five rebounds. Lamont Jones (5-of-16 FG) led four Gaels in double figures with 20 points but Iona shot 5-of-24 from three, and that percentage proved costly. Rider’s win keeps them within a game of first-place Niagara in the MAAC standings.

3. Navy 59, Army 50 

Ed DeChellis’ Midshipmen went on a 28-8 run in the first half and hung on from there, snapping a 16-game Patriot League losing streak in the first of two meetings between the long-time rivals. Worth Smith scored 16 points and Kevin “Pookie” Alter added 14 off the bench for Navy, while Ella Ellis led three Black Knights in double figures with 15. Before Sunday Navy hadn’t won a conference game since beating Colgate 75-55 on February 26, 2011.

Starred

1. F/C Cody Zeller (Indiana)

21 points (6-of-11 FG), 13 rebounds and two steals in the Hoosiers’ 67-59 win at Northwestern.

2. F Jackie Carmichael (Illinois State) 

18 points (7-of-12 FG), 14 rebounds and three blocked shots in the Redbirds’ 70-56 win at Southern Illinois. The victory is Illinois State’s first conference win of the season (1-6 Missouri Valley).

3. Northern Iowa 

The Panthers have struggled offensively at times but that certainly wasn’t the case in their 85-55 win over Drake. As a team UNI shot 60% from the field and Deon Mitchell led four starters in double figures with 20 points.

Struggled 

1. Iona 

The Gaels struggled from the field and from three in their 67-62 loss at Rider on Sunday, shooting 33.9% (19-of-56) from the field and 5-of-24 from beyond the arc.

2. F Kayel Locke (UNC Greensboro) 

Locke had a rough afternoon in the Spartans’ 69-61 loss to Furman, shooting 1-of-10 from the field and fouling out in just 21 minutes of action.

3. Drake starters not named Jordan Clarke

Remove Clarke’s 5-of-7 afternoon and the other four starters shot a combined 4-of-20 from the field. Tough to win on the road (85-55 loss at Northern Iowa) when your starters struggle like that.

Super Bowl XLVII and college basketball 

The Super Bowl will have a connection to college basketball, as Indiana head coach Tom Crean is the brother (by marriage) of head coaches Jim (49ers) and John (Ravens) Harbaugh. With the Hoosiers hosting Michigan the night before Super Bowl XLVII will he be there? Yes.

Also, NC State head coach Mark Gottfried is a cousin of the two head coaches and their sister.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.