Duke v Miami

What does Wednesday’s blowout loss mean for No. 1 Duke?

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No. 1 Duke lost tonight at No. 25 Miami.

That much isn’t a surprise. Miami got Reggie Johnson back tonight, and Duke is still playing without Ryan Kelly. The Hurricanes are the second best team in the ACC. They probably should be beating a banged-up Duke team at home.

But they shouldn’t be embarrassing the Blue Devils, which is precisely what happened on Wednesday night.

Duke, who is now 16-2 and 3-2 in the ACC, lost by 27 points, 90-63. But that final score doesn’t do justice the magnitude of the beatdown that Miami doled out. Miami was down 14-13 at one point in the first half. A tip-in by Mason Plumlee before the halftime buzzer made it 42-19 Hurricanes. Miami would push that lead to 49-19. That’s a 36-5 run for those scoring at home.

In simpler terms, Miami did this to Duke.

Even Dick Vitale called it an embarrassment, and every knows how much he loves Duke.

We went through this last season when North Carolina lost by 33 at Florida State as the No. 3 team in the country. Only six teams that have won the national title have lost by more than 20 points in the season they won the title. Only one of those six teams — UCLA in 1965 — lost by an many as 27 points. Only two teams ever ranked No. 1 in the country — St. John’s in 1951 and Houston in 1968 — have lost by more than 27 points.

But there’s a difference here: Duke is without Ryan Kelly, who is such an integral piece to that team. He’s a 6-foot-11 power forward that shoots over 50% from three and can guard multiple positions. Not only does he help create the spacing that the Blue Devils need for Mason Plumlee inside and Quinn Cook’s penetration, he takes away that spacing defensively with his ability to defend on the perimeter and block shots.

His value was evident when Duke lost to NC State.

But this?

This was more than just Ryan Kelly. The Blue Devils didn’t have a prayer of slowing down Shane Larkin or Durand Scott tonight. They made Kenny Kadji look like a lottery pick. Seth Curry looked like a 40 year old down at the YMCA, shooting 0-10 from the floor and playing like that leg injury is a bigger deal than he’s letting on. And he wasn’t the only back court member that looked lost. Quinn Cook and Tyler Thornton combined to shoot 1-19 from the field.

When your three guards go 1-29 from the floor and allow the players they are guarding to combine for 43 points and nine assists on 17-28 shooting, you are going to lose.

Every time.

But the biggest concern was that Duke simply didn’t have it in them to punch back when Miami started raining haymakers. There was no one on the team willing to step up and stop the run. They didn’t play when pride. Throw in every sports cliche you want here, because they’re all true.

That’s not always going to happen, and the Blue Devils are clearly not as bad as they looked on Tuesday, but the one thing that is clear is that they look a lot more like the team that lost to Lehigh right now than the team that won the Battle 4 Atlantis.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Villanova beats Duke, Kansas, Indiana for Jermaine Samuels

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Jermaine Samuels, Jr. #23 of Expressions Elite dunks. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
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Villanova landed a commitment from top 50 prospect Jermaine Samuels on Saturday.

Samuels is a tough and athletic 6-foot-5 wing that will remind many Wildcat fans of Josh Hart. He’s got the same kind of versatility and nose for the ball that will let him guard perimeter players as well as work in as a small-ball four. Players like this are a specialty of Jay Wright.

Samuels picked up an offer from Duke recently and also had Indiana, Kansas and Georgetown in his top five. Beating out blue-bloods for a prospect like this is quite the statement for Villanova, one that should tell you the reigning national champs are here to stay as a national power.

Syracuse lands critical piece in Andrew White

LINCOLN, NE - FEBRUARY 3: Andrew White #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers shoots the ball over Rasheed Sulaimon #0 of the Maryland Terrapins during their game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on February 3, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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Syracuse has found their replacement for Malachi Richardson.

On Sunday, Nebraska transfer Andrew White committed to the Orange, picking Syracuse, in the end, over VCU. White is a graduate transfer who spent last season with Nebraska, where he averaged 16.2 points while shooting 41.2 percent from three. A top 50 prospect out of Virginia back in the Class of 2012, White played a limited role for Kansas his first two seasons in college.

This is a significant pickup for the Orange, one that legitimately puts them into the conversation as a Final Four contender and a threat to finish at or near the top of the ACC. Jim Boeheim has put together a roster full of talented, long and athletic front court players, but after Richardson declared for the NBA Draft as a one-and-done freshman, he was left with just two back court players on his roster.

Earlier this offseason, Cuse landed Colorado State grad transfer John Gillon, a 6-foot-1 combo-guard, to reinforce their back court. The addition of White gives them a lights-out shooter and a big-time scorer on the wing, something that would have been a major void on their roster.

With Paschal Chukwu getting eligible at the center spot and Tyler Lydon likely landing on every breakout player list this preseason, the Orange should be a markedly better team than the one that made their way to the Final Four last season.

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)
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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.