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Late Night Snacks: Top 25 upsets rule the night in college basketball

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Game of the Day: La Salle 54, No. 9 Butler 53

La Salle’s Ramon Galloway, who had been struggling much of the night, drove down the left side of the lane and hit a layup with 2.7 seconds remaining to give the Explorers the lead. The Bulldogs had one more shot to win it with a half-court heave, but Butler magic came up short Wednesday. Roosevelt Jones’ prayer was off the mark and La Salle secured a huge win against a Top 10 team.

Could the result have been different if Butler had its leading scorer, Rotnei Clarke, who was sitting with a neck injury? Of course. But, regardless, the Explorers got a big conference victory.

Important Outcomes 

1. No. 25 Miami 90, No. 1 Duke 63

Miami dominated Duke nearly from the opening tip. Durand Scott, Shane Larkin, and Kenny Kadji were all too much, spreading out the Duke defense and beating them on the perimeter. The earlier-than-expected return of center Reggie Johnson gave the Hurricanes an emotional boost, though he is still working his way back to full game form.

2. Northwestern 55, No. 13 Minnesota 48

The Northwestern zone defense disrupted Minnesota all night and, despite a massive +19 advantage on the backboards and 17 offensive rebounds, Minnesota could not get a road win. Trevor Mbakwe had an impressive double-double (see below) but did not get enough touches to help the Gophers down the stretch.

3. Drake 74, No. 17 Creighton 69

Drake had a 17-point lead at halftime, but Creighton clawed all the way back to take the lead late in the second half. Doug McDermott was suffering from flu-like symptoms, which contributed to him scoring just two points in the second half. Richard Carter had an important 20 points for Drake.

Starred

1. Durand Scott, Miami (25 points, 9-of-11 FG, 6 rebounds, 4 assists)

Scott scored 15 of his 25 points in the first half to help Miami get off to a strong start in its eventual 27-point trouncing of No. 1 Duke. At one point in the first half, he pulled from three-point range out near the signature “U” logo near mid-court and knocked the shot down. He was too much for Duke to handle Wednesday night.

2. Tony Snell, New Mexico (23 points, 3-of-5 3pt FG)

Center Alex Kirk had just three points in 21 minutes for the Lobos, meaning that Snell was even more key for New Mexico against a tough Colorado State team. He delivered with 23 big points Wednesday night in a UNM win.

3. Trevor Mbakwe (14 points, 6-of-7 FG, 16 rebounds)

Mbakwe was one of the few bright spots for Minnesota in its loss to Northwestern. With how efficient he was, the Gophers likely should have tried to get him more touches.

Struggled 

1. Seth Curry, Quinn Cook, Tyler Thornton for Duke (Combined 1-of-29 FG, 6 points)

With Ryan Kelly out of the lineup, it’s even more important that this trio steps up. Against Miami, it simply did not happen. Cook was just 1-of-12 from the floor and Curry never found his shooting stroke, going 0-of-10. Off the bench, Thornton struggled with his 0-of-7 mark.

2. Austin Hollins, Minnesota (6 points, 1-of-5 FG, Fouled Out)

Hollins struggled to find his stroke and picked up his fourth foul with 12:01 remaining in the second half. Coach Tubby Smith kept him in the game and he picked up his fifth and final foul just 13 seconds later.

3. Doug McDermott in the 2nd half, Creighton (2 points)

McDermott reportedly vomited at half time due to flu-like symptoms he had been playing with, so it’s not entirely his fault. Without him at full strength, the Bluejays were able to erase a 17-point halftime deficit, but unable to come away with the win.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

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
Bart Young/USA Basketball
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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.