Ryan Arcidiacono’s heroics help Villanova beat No. 3 Syracuse in overtime thriller

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Is this really the same Villanova team that lost to Columbia by 18 points on Nov. 20?

Guard James Bell hit two key three-pointers in overtime to lead unranked Villanova to a 75-71 win over No. 3 Syracuse at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Penn., on Sunday.

The win is Villanova’s second over a Top 5 team this week, having already beaten No. 5 Louisville on Wednesday, 73-64. They become the first unranked team since Ball State in 2001 to win two straight games against teams ranked in the nation’s Top 5, according to ESPN Stats and Info. During that season, Ball State did not make the NCAA tournament.

The victory improves Villanova to 13-7 overall and 4-3 in Big East play.

On the final Villanova possession of regulation, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim chose not to foul with his team up three, 61-58, with 0:08 to play.

Bell missed a three-pointer, but forward Mouphtaou Yarou grabbed an offensive rebound and kicked it out to freshman Ryan Arcidiacono in the corner. Arcidiacono hit a contested three pointer to tie the game at 61 and send it to overtime, where Bell and the Wildcats were able to grind out a win.

Guard Darrun Hilliard had a career-high 25 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the floor. Arcidiacono finished with 10 points.

Villanova shot out to a quick 10-0 lead to begin the game, spacing the floor and working the ball into the paint to create space for open looks on the perimeter.

Hilliard found his stroke in the first half with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting at the break. He carried the Wildcats in the first half, along with Yarou, who had six points.

The Villanova defense did a good job of disrupting Syracuse’s scoring trio of Brandon Triche, C.J. Fair, and Michael Carter-Williams, each of whom shot just 2-of-8 from the floor in the first half.

Syracuse struggled from the floor and did not finish well around the rim, except during an 8-0 run that pulled the Orange to within four points, 25-21, with 3:30 to play in the first half. During that stretch, Villanova was held scoreless for over five minutes.

Villanova held a six-point halftime lead.

After trading baskets early in the second, Syracuse went on a 12-4 run to gain its first lead of the game and extend the lead to four points, 45-41, with 11:47 to play.

Syracuse began to attack the basket more consistently during that run and earned trips to the free throw line, but were outrebounded, 44-35, on the afternoon.

Down the stretch of the second half, Syracuse slowed down its offensive sets and milked the shot clock.

The Orange looked for a spark from guard Brandon Triche late and he delivered with 23 points and six rebounds after a slow first half, but offensive woes in the final minutes were difficult to overcome.

Over the course of four offensive possessions in the last three minutes of regulation, Michael Carter-Williams turned the ball over twice, missed a runner in the lane, and missed a key free throw that would have made it a two-possession game, but the lead remained at 61-58. That left the door open for Arcidiacono’s game-tying three.

Carter-Williams finished with 16 points, but shot just 4-of-17 from the floor and turned the ball over four times. He and the rest of the Syracuse team struggled from the free throw line, going 18-of-34.

For more coverage, check out CSNPhilly.com.

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

Washington’s Thybulle returning for senior season

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Matisse Thybulle will return to Washington for his senior season after contemplating declaring for the NBA draft following a junior campaign in which he was named the Pac-12 defensive player of the year.

“The NBA is really enticing and it was definitely something that I seriously considered when the season was over,” Thybulle told the Seattle Times. “I talked it over with my family and we came to the conclusion that it would be in my best interest to stay and get my degree (in communications) and grow as a basketball player and take this last year to mature and fine tune everything so I can be fully prepared to take that next step when it’s time.”

The 6-foot-5 guard averaged 11.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game last season. He shot 44.5 percent from the field and 36.5 percent from 3-point range.

“I talked to coach (Mike Hopkins) and he gave me some good advice that was honestly something that helped in the grand scheme of things,” Thybulle said. “He told me that if I do it (enter the draft), then I should be all in because that’s what I’m going to be up against is a whole bunch of guys fighting for their lives. He thought it would be a better idea for me to stay in school until I’m at that point.”

Washington is awaiting the decision of Noah Dickerson, who declared for the draft but has not hired an agent. The 6-foot-8 averaged 15.5 points and 8.4 rebounds last season.

Koby McEwen transferring to Marquette

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Steve Wojciechowski added a significant piece to his 2019-20 team over the weekend.

Koby McEwen announced his intention to transfer to Marquette from Utah State late Sunday evening.

“I would like to thank God, my family, inner circle and all the schools/coaches that recruited me during this process!” McEwen tweeted. “With that being said, I’m proud to announce that I’ll be furthering my college career at Marquette University.”

McEwen picked the Golden Eagles over fellow finalists Creighton and Grand Canyon after he decided to transfer when the Aggies announced South Dakota coach Craig Smith was taking over the program last month. The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 15.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game while shooting 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from 3-point range as a sophomore.

After sitting out the upcoming season, McEwen will have to years of eligibility remaining. Marquette went 21-14 last season, but missed the NCAA tournament for the third time in Wojciechowski’s four years in Milwaukee.

Minnesota adds Vanderbilt transfer Payton Willis

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Minnesota has added some depth for the future.

The Golden Gophers received a pledge from Vanderbilt transfer Payton Willis over the weekend, giving him a guard with two seasons of eligibility remaining starting in 2019-20.

Willis will sit out the upcoming season under NCAA transfer rules.

The 6-foot-4 guard played a limited role in two seasons in Nashville, never averaging more than 18. 5 minutes or 5.2 points per game. He scored in double figures in three games as a sophomore.

Willis was a top-150 prospect in the Class of 2016 coming out of Fayetteville, Ark. with offers from the likes of Tulsa, Rice and Dayton. Vandy and Minnesota were his two high-major offers.

After being ranked in the top-15, Minnesota was beset by injury and suspensions last season as they limped to the finish line in a 15-17 season that featured losses in 12 of its last 13 games.

Richard Pitino still has two available scholarships for the 2018-19 campaign.

Report: Quade Green returning to Kentucky

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John Calipari just landed a critical recruit for 2018-19, and he was already on the roster.

Quade Green, who averaged 25 minutes per game last season, is returning to Kentucky for his sophomore season, his mother told the Lexington Herald-Leader on Monday.

Given that six Wildcat players have entered the draft (Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Hami Diallo are signing with agents), getting the 6-foot point guard back for a second season is a massive deal for Calipari and Co. The Wildcats have always been at their best under Calipari with returning players as the cornerstones of the roster with talented one-and-dones providing the extra boost. Getting one such returner at the point guard position is even more critical.

Green, who came to Kentucky as a five-star recruit last year, averaged 9.3 points and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 45.1 percent from the field and a respectable 37.1 percent from 3-point range, an area where Kentucky continually needs help.

With Green back in the fold, Kentucky will now await the decisions of PJ Washington, Wenyen Gabriel and Jarred Vanderbilt, who are all going through the pre-draft process without hiring agents, which will potentially allow them to return to school and bolster a Kentucky roster has the look of a top-five team.

CBT Podcast: NBA Draft Early Entry Deadline: Winners, losers and who has the most on the line?

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The NBA Draft Early Entry Deadline came and went on Sunday night, meaning there are now roughly 60 college players that have signed with an agent and another 100 or so that have declared for the draft while retaining their college eligibility. Who were the winners? Who were the losers? Who has the most on the line? Sam Vecenie of the Game Theory podcast joined Rob Dauster to talk through all of it. The rundown:

OPEN: What do NBA teams value in players these days?

10:00: Villanova has more on the line during this testing the water process than anyone

19:00: Just how important was De’Andre Hunter’s decision to return to Virginia

25:25: Gonzaga getting Rui and Killian Tillie back makes them a title favorite

32:10: Nevada has a top ten season on the line with the Martin twins and Jordan Caroline

36:15: #RANTALERT – The decision to turn pro is so much more complicated than “is he a first round pick”

48:30: Rapid fire: Maryland, Kansas, Syracuse, Nebraska, Purdue and Michigan. What do they have on the line?