Late Night Snacks: Richmond knocks off No. 19 VCU and UCLA makes a statement

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Game of the Night 

Richmond 86, No. 19 VCU 74 (OT) 

With the Rams leading by seven and less than a minute remaining in regulation it looked as if Shaka Smart’s team was going to leave the Robins Center as the Atlantic 10’s lone undefeated (in conference play) team. But Chris Mooney’s team had other ideas, and a Darien Brothers three-pointer in the final seconds sent the game to overtime. From there it was all Richmond as they outscored VCU 17-5 in the extra session. Three Richmond starters reached double figures and Kendall Anthony scored 26 off the bench, and Juvonte Reddic led the way for VCU with 20 points and ten rebounds.

Important Outcomes 

1. UCLA 84, No. 6 Arizona 73 

The Bruins went into McKale Center and made a statement, controlling play for much of the 40 minutes. UCLA is now 8-0 when Shabazz Muhammad (23 points) scores 20 points or more, and Larry Drew II outplayed Arizona’s Mark Lyons. Drew II may have scored just seven points to Lyons’ 16 but his nine assists with just one turnover helped keep the Bruins in control of the game.

2. No. 2 Michigan 68, Purdue 53

Purdue shot 7-of-13 from three in the first half, taking a 33-32 lead into the locker room. But the Boilermakers shot 0-of-9 from three in the second half and Michigan took full advantage at Crisler Arena. With Duke’s loss at No. 25 Miami on Wednesday John Beilein’s program may be a win at Illinois away from taking over the top spot in the national polls.

3. No. 10 Gonzaga 83, BYU 63 

Mark Few’s team showed maturity in their first game since losing at the buzzer at Butler on Saturday, using a first half run to put the Cougars away in Spokane. Kelly Olynyk shot 9-of-9 from the field and 8-of-8 from the foul line in scoring 26 points to go along with nine rebounds and five assists. Elias Harris added 25 points and ten rebounds for the Bulldogs, who remain alone atop the WCC standings.

Starred

1. G Travis Bader (Oakland) 

Bader shot 11-of-18 from beyond the arc in scoring 47 points in Oakland’s 89-71 win over IUPUI. Bader’s point total is the most scored by a Division I player this season.

2. F Joel Wright (Texas State) 

Wright scored 37 points (12-of-20 FG) while also tallying six rebounds, five assists and five steals in the Bobcats’ 78-73 win at Idaho.

3. G Erick Green (Virginia Tech) 

Green’s teammates struggled mightily in the Hokies’ 74-58 home loss to Virginia, but how bad would things have been if he didn’t manage to score 35 points and grab nine rebounds?

Struggled

1. G Mark Lyons 

Lyons had the night that many of the folks hesitant to make Arizona a national contender feared. He finished with 16 points but shot 6-of-17 from the field while also racking up five turnovers without an assist.

2. Murray State and Tennessee Tech three-point shooting

The Racers managed to beat Tennessee Tech 47-39 in a game both teams will want to forget offensively. The two teams combined to shoot 4-of-35 from distance with the victorious Racers shooting 1-of-18.

3. F Jarnell Stokes and G Skylar McBee (Tennessee) 

Even with Marshall Henderson going off in the second half of No. 23 Ole Miss’ 62-56 win over the Volunteers, Cuonzo Martin’s team still had a chance to win the game. But when Stokes and McBee combine to go just 2-of-5 from the field (Stokes took three shots) it’s tough for Tennessee to win games against solid competition.

“Night of the Buzzer Beater”

While two more ranked teams fell on Thursday night there were multiple buzzer beaters as well. In Tallahassee Florida State’s Michael Snaer banked in a three-pointer as time expired to give the Seminoles a 60-57 win over Clemson. Not sure if Snaer called “bank” on the release but that doesn’t matter.

Northern Arizona also won a game as time expired as Stallon Saldivar found Mike Dunn on the left baseline, with Dunn hitting the shot to give the Lumberjacks a 67-65 win over Northern Colorado (video courtesy of NAU Athletics, h/t to Jonathan Reed of @bigskybball). The game-winning sequence can be seen at the 1:02 mark of the video below.

Other buzzer beaters include Cole Dickerson’s three in the final seconds of San Francisco’s 75-72 win at Portland, Darien Brothers’ heroics in Richmond and a contested three from Jio Fontan that sent USC’s game at Arizona State to overtime. The Sun Devils would go on to win that game 98-93.

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

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.