Late Night Snacks: Holiday slate highlighted by Syracuse/Cincinnati

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A few decent games on Martin Luther King Day — not to mention President Barack Obama was sworn in for his second term — were highlighted on this all-day affair. It’s Late Night Snacks.

Game of the day

No. 3 Syracuse 57, No. 21 Cincinnati 55 – The early game of the day featured two Top 25 teams and it lived up to the billing. Sean Kilpatrick continued his recent scoring binge with 21 points, but got little help from his team as the Orange notched their 35th-straight home court victory. Michael Carter-Williams finished with 16 points, seven assists and five rebounds for the Orange, who have one of the more impressive conference season runs right now, with wins at then-no. 1 Louisville and a home win over the ranked Bearcats.

Games of note

Georgetown 63, Notre Dame 47 – Georgetown proved they could get it done without Greg Whittington on the road, getting a big game from Otto Porter and 14 from D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera. Moses Ayegba pulled down 10 rebounds for the Hoyas. Jack Cooley had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Fighting Irish.

Oklahoma 73, Texas 67 –  Romero Osby had a big night for the Sooners and the Longhorns got 25 points from Sheldon McClellan, but Texas hit just 6-of-19 threes in the loss. Good win for Oklahoma, but it becomes more and more obvious this Texas team is a shell of its former self without Myck Kabongo…and I wonder how much it would help, even if they had him.

New Orleans 96, New Jersey Institute of Technology 94, 3 OTs – I’ve learn no matter where they happen, you respect a three-overtime game. The two teams combined for a ton of fouls and free throws (more on that later), but Lovell Cook turned in a career night (more on him later, too) and Isaac Mack nailed a jumper with two seconds left to give the Privateers a two-point win.

Southern 82, Alabama A&M 68 – The Jaguars are impressive and deserve your attention. They’ve won 10 in a row, eight in a row in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. This team is much better than the Mississippi Valley State that finished with one conference loss last season and had a legitimate shot at being something other than a 16-seed and a participant in the First Four in Dayton this year.

Starred

Romero Osby, Oklahoma – The big man finished with 29 points and eight rebounds in a dominating performance on national television. He also hit 10-of-11 free throws on the night.

Patrick Cole, Coppin State – It was a full slate for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tonight and Cole turned in the best game in the conference, dropping 29 points, six rebounds and shooting 52.9-percent from the field in 67-65 win at Hampton.

Lovell Cook, New Orleans – The soon-to-be member of the Southland Conference is enjoying their short stop as a Division I Independant. Cook is definitely making the most of it, scoring 32 points, pulling down six rebounds and hitting shots at a 54.5-percent in the win.

LeBryan Nash, Oklahoma State – The Cowboys leaned heavily on the sophomore in this one. It was a loss, but Nash continues to show his development, pouring in 24 points on 52.6-percent shooting in 64-54 defeat at Baylor.

Otto Porter, Georgetown – The Hoyas continue to make pundits scratch their heads. Playing again without Greg Whittington, Porter finished with 19 points and nine rebounds on 70-percent shooting in 63-47 victory at Notre Dame.

Struggled

Markel Brown, Oklahoma State – The junior normally drops in 15.2 points per game this season. He left Waco with just two points on 1-of-10 shooting in a loss. Also finished with four fouls and three turnovers in 26 minutes.

New Orleans/N.J.I.T.’s ability to not foul – In the three overtime game, the two teams combined for 57 fouls and 79 free throws taken. The Privateers hit 23-of-34 from the stripe and committed 30 fouls. The Highlanders shot 28-of-45 from the free throw line and committed 27.

Stuffing the stat sheet

Cory Jefferson and Isaiah Austin, Baylor – We alluded to it earlier, but the tandem in the paint did work tonight for the Bears. They combined for 11 blocks in the home win over Oklahoma State. Jefferson had six, Austin had five. They won’t get that every night, but about half that a night would be a welcome sign for a team that can be erratic on offense at times.

A decent day of hoops despite a light slate of games. Hope you enjoyed you holidays, everyone. Or at least those of you that didn’t have to work.

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.