The Morning Mix

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Now that Inauguration Monday/MLK Day is in the books, we can start to look forward to anther solid week of college basketball. Everybody was bemoaning the loss of the Kansas/Missouri rivalry game when the Tigers jumped to the SEC. But the Jayhawks take on their other rivals, you know, the Sunflower State university, tonight in what should be a very entertaining Super Tuesday tilt. Methinks the Octagon of Doom is going to be just a bit chaotic.

Lets hit the links.

Tuesday’s Top Games:
6:30 p.m. – Iowa @ No. 16 Ohio State
7:00 p.m. – No. 13 Michigan State @ Wisconsin
7:00 p.m. – No. 18 North Carolina State @ Wake Forest
7:00 p.m. – South Carolina @ No. 22 Missouri
8:00 p.m. – No. 3 Kansas @ No. 11 Kansas State
8:00 p.m. – No. 5 Louisville @ Villanova
8:00 p.m. – Tulane @ Memphis
9:00 p.m. – Kentucky @ Alabama
Top Stories:
Report: Frank Haith, Miami to be served with notice of allegations from NCAA: According to Jeff Goodman, the current Missouri head coach will be served a notice of allegations for his involvement with Nevin Shapiro during his time as head coach at Miami.

Carter-Williams, Triche lead Syracuse to win over Cincy down the stretch: For the second straight game the backcourt duo of Brandon Triche and Michael Carter-Williams led the way for the Orange. C.J. Fair tipped in a Jerami Grant miss with 20 seconds remaining to win the game for Syracuse.

Cory Jefferson, Isaiah Austin, finally play like Baylor’s twin towers: The Bears beat Oklahoma State 64-54 to improve to 12-5 on the season and Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson combined for 11 blocks in the win.

Good Georgetown shows up, beats Notre Dame on the road: is there a more puzzling team in college basketball than the Georgetown Hoyas? Lost to Pittsburgh by 29, went to overtime against Indiana, lost to 0-4 South Florida, and beat UCLA> On Monday night, the good Hoya team showed up in South Bend and had arguably their most impressive win of the season. And road wins at the Joyce Center are few and far between.

Utah State loses Preston Medlin, Kyisean Reed, WAC title hopes: Both Preston Medlin and Kyisean Reed left in the second half of Thursday’s game with NMSU, and they won’t be returning anytime soon. Medlin will be out for 6-8 weeks after breaking his wrist. Reed is done for the year with a torn ACL. The two had combined to average 28.4ppg.

Bob Huggins tees off on team’s effort, apologizes to West Virginia fans: Not many teams have been more disappointing this season than West Virginia. The always colorful head coach sounded off about his teams struggles, which included an apology to Mountaineer fans.

Catching up with Kyle Casey, Brandyn Curry during year away from Harvard: Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry are no longer members of the Harvard basketball program because of a widespread cheating scandal that rocked the university. But the two have not sat idly by. Curry is working in the insurance industry and Casey is giving back to his community.

NCAA rulebook underwent major changes on Saturday: The NCAA’s Board of Directors voted in changes “ to deregulate in several areas, including personnel, amateurism, recruiting, eligibility and awards, benefits and expenses, and create a set of commitments that will serve as the foundation for all future rules changes.”
Hoops Housekeeping
– Butler’s Rotnei Clarke will miss another game for the Bulldog as he continues to recover from a neck sprain. Fresh off their magical buzzer-beating win over Gonzaga on Saturday, the Bulldogs will travel to LaSalle on Wednesday. (WISHTV-8)

– Joel Berry, a top-5 guard in the class of 2014, committed to North Carolina yesterday. (Hoopniks)

– Hawaii guards Hauns Brereton and Brandon Jawato are battling nagging injuries and their status for the Warriors’ game at Cal-Poly on thursday is still undecided. (Warriors Insider)
Observations & Insight:
– The ACC hasn’t exactly been known for its parity over the last few seasons. It has been a conference of haves-and-have nots. But with games defined by low-scoring outputs, the gap at the top is not very large. (Washington Post)

– With the home loss to Georgetown last night, Notre Dame has now lost three out of their last four, with the lone win being by three points against Rutgers. Needless to say, this is not what the Irish expected heading in to Big East play. (The Dagger)

– Bruce Weber is hoping to bring a different style of play into the Sunflower State showdown between the Kansas Jayhawks and his Kansas State Wildcats. (Wichita Eagle)

– Stephen F. Austin doesn’t get a lot of love, but the Lumberjacks have won 11 in a row, are undefeated in the Southland Conference and are climbing up the TPI rankings. (Fox Sports)

– Mike Anderson took the job at Arkansas to revitalize the Razorbacks program. It will take a while, and the fanbase has been hesitant to buy in for the long haul. (Sporting Life Arkansas)

– A.J. Walton has been at Baylor for four seasons, and has rarely, if ever, garnered any attention, despite being the winningest player in Baylor basketball history. But his performance last night against Oklahoma State should help raise his public profile. (Rush The Court)
Odds & Ends:
– Manti Te’o’s fake girlfriend tried to reach out to Louisville guard Peyton Siva during last year’s NCAA Tournament. (Card Chronicle)

Picture of the Day:
Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson, the brother of First Lady Michelle Obama, dropped an epic photo-bomb on his Brother-in-Law yesterday. (@FangBites)

Video of the Day:
This is the view from Butler students Saturday as their Bulldogs knocked off Gonzaga is the best finish of the season. This video is “MUST-WATCH”.

Dunk: of the Day:
Kiddos. Watch tape of Michael Carter-Williams if you want to know how to “go hard in the paint”.

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Battle 4 Atlantis title proves Syracuse will be relevant this season

rad Horrigan/The Courant via AP
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Michael Gbinije scored 20 points and Trevor Cooney added 15 points and five assists as Syracuse left the Bahamas with a title, beating No. 25 Texas A&M 74-67 in the finals of the Battle 4 Atlantis.

I guess it’s time to start taking the Orange seriously.

There’s a lot to like about this group. Gbinije and Cooney are both fifth-year seniors that not only understand how to operate at the top of the 2-3 zone that Jim Boeheim runs, but they both have developed into versatile offensive weapons. Cooney was known as nothing more than a jump-shooter when he arrived up north, but he’s now averaging 3.5 assists on the season.

And Gbinije?

He has been one of the best players in the country through the first two weeks of the season. Through six games, he’s averaged 19.7 points, 4.2 assists, 3.0 boards and 2.8 steals while shooting 51.3 percent from beyond the arc.

Freshman Malachi Richardson, who had 16 points in the win over A&M, has scored double-figures in all six games this season while another freshman, Tyler Lydon, was against terrific on Friday, finishing with 13 points and eight boards. He’s now shooting 58.8 percent from beyond the arc this season.

And that’s where this team is going to do the majority of their damage this season.

Through six games, they’re shooting 41.1 percent from beyond the arc. In the three wins in the Bahamas, the Orange knocked were 34-for-73 from beyond the arc, a 46.5 percent clip. The question isn’t whether or not that rate can continue — four of the six players that saw action on Friday are dangerous three-point shooters while the other two, Tyler Roberson  and DaJuan Coleman, aren’t going to be shooting threes — but what happens on the nights where the threes aren’t going down.

There are going to be nights where they shoot 5-for-25 instead of 11-for-25. Will they have enough firepower then? Will their defense be good enough? Will guys like Roberson and Coleman be able to supply a scoring punch? Will Cooney, Gbinije and Richardson attack the paint instead of settling for jumpers?

Because at the very least, these three games in the Bahamas have proven that the Orange are going to be relevant this season, even in the loaded ACC. Whether that means they’re going to push for a top four finish or simply end the year as a tournament team remains to be seen, but this much is clear: Jim Boeheim has himself a squad Upstate.

No. 10 Gonzaga outlasts No. 18 UConn despite late offensive struggles

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No. 10 Gonzaga survived a furious rally from No. 18 UConn to win the third place game in the Battle 4 Atlantis, 73-70.

The Zags were up by as much as 21 points early in the second half, leading 48-27, but UConn slowly chipped away at the lead. Kyle Wiltjer led four players in double-figures with 17 points while Eric McClellan added 15 points, making a number of key plays in the second half when it looked like the Zags were in danger of giving away the lead.

As good as Gonzaga looked in the first 22 minutes of this game — and they looked really, really good — the second half exposed the concerns that many had with this group entering the season. Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr., who both shot around 40 percent from beyond the arc and started for four years, graduated, meaning that Gonzaga’s point guard situation is, more or less, Josh Perkins.

Perkins was terrific in the second half of a loss to Texas A&M on Thursday. He played 17 foul-plagued minutes against UConn. When UConn’s defense ratcheted up during the second half, Gonzaga struggled finding a way to consistently get good shots on the offensive end. Part of that was due to ineffective point guard play and part of it was a result of not really having anyone on the offensive end that can create a look on their own. As skilled as Wiltjer is, his impact can be limited when pick-and-pop actions aren’t working and he’s getting doubled in the post.

Perkins is talented, but this is essentially his first season of college basketball; he was a medical redshirt last season after breaking his jaw last November. There are going to be ups-and-downs, and that’s problematic on a team where he is essentially the only point guard on the roster.

The good news?

Gonzaga beat a good UConn team on a day when their best players struggled in crunch-time. It was McClellan and Kyle Dranginis that made the big plays down the stretch, not the big names on the Gonzaga roster.