Pittsburgh v Louisville

Late Night Snacks: Louisville snaps the losing streak, Grambling stays winless

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A decent slate of games on Monday night. Three Top 25 teams, a full slate of SWAC and MEAC games and the premiere teams in the Big 12 and Big East pull out wins. Enjoy to briefing, it’s Late Night Snacks.

Game of the night

No. 13 Louisville 64, Pittsburgh 61 – The Cardinals hadn’t won since being ranked no. 1. Pittsburgh has been surprisingly good over the past few weeks. It was an ugly game, but the Panthers going 3-for-12 from the free throw line and Louisville hitting 13-of-17 from the same place turned out to be the difference.

Games of note

No. 2 Kansas 61, West Virginia 56 – In the first-ever meeting between the two schools, the Jayhawks got out to an early lead thanks to offensive struggles by the Mountaineers, which earned Aaric Murray an early benching from coach Bob Huggins. WVU mounted a late charge, but it wasn’t enough.

No. 25 Marquette 63, South Florida 50 – Well, this time, no one had to deal with any bats, so things were comfortable. Vander Blue had a huge night (see below) and Marquette cruised late to keep itself ranked for another day.

Mississippi Valley State 65, Grambling State 50 – This might be the Tigers best chance at a win all season, playing a two-win Delta Devils team. It just wasn’t to be. Grambling shot 42.9-percent, but turned the ball over 20 times.

Starred

Vander Blue, Marquette – It was one of those nights that Blue couldn’t miss. Blue was 13-for-20 from the field for 30 points in the Golden Eagles win. Let’s just say it…. YOU’RE MY BOY, BLUE!

Gorgui Dieng, Louisville – Finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds as the Cardinals got back into the win column. He also hit two free throws with less than a minute left to help seal the win at home.

Jeff Withey, Kansas – He had another solid night and has proven to be the most consistent player for the Jayhawks. The fifth-year senior finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and four blocks, including one that preserved a five-point lead late in the game.

Damien Lee, Drexel – There was no Franz Massanet magic on Monday night, with the Dragons falling to Delawar 66-64, but Lee poured in almost half their points with 30 in the loss.

Kevin Mays, Maryland-Eastern Shore – The Hawks lost at Bethune-Cookman 58-57, but Mays provided the silver lining for the one-win UMES with 20 points, 11 rebounds and four assists.

Struggled

Toarlyn Fitzpatrick, South Florida – He averages 10.3 points per game, he scored three in the loss at Marquette. Got to do more than that to get a win in Milwaukee.

Stuffing the stat sheet

Devon Saddler, Kyle Anderson and Jarvis Threatt, Delaware – The trio did their part to wear out the stat guy in a close win, 66-64 over Drexel. They combined for 37 points, 19 rebounds and 16 assists for the Blue Hens.

One night of good basketball will give way to a better one tomorrow night. Have a good night, folks.

David Harten is the founder of The Backboard Chronicles. Follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.

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)
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.