The Morning Mix

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Marquette got rid of their bat problem.

Louisville got back on track.

Kansas won again.

Grambling State lost again.

That’s the hand we were dealt last night.

Let’s hit the links.

Tuesday’s Top games:
7:00 p.m. – Wisconsin @ No. 11 Ohio State
7:00 p.m. – No. 19 North Carolina State Virginia
7:00 p.m. – Stony Brook @ Albany
8:00 p.m. – Indiana State @ No. 15 Wichita State
9:00 p.m. – Kentucky @ No. 16 Ole Miss
9:00 p.m. – Nebraska @ No. 23 Minnesota
9:00 p.m. – North Carolina @ Boston College
10:00 p.m. – Nevada @ UNLV
 
 
Read of the Day:
Garry Parrish discusses Miami in his latest “Poll Attacks”. He applauded John Feinstein for ranking the ‘Canes at No. 5, blasts others who rank ‘Canes outside top-20. Sounds about right. Read it. (Eye on College Basketball)

Read of the Day:
Mike Lopresti of USA Today catches up with former-Butler star Ronald Nored, who is living the dream coaching high school hoops in Brownsburg, Indiana. Read it. (USA Today)
 
 
Top Stories:
The reign of terror ends for the Bradley Center Bat: The biggest story from the weekend was that a bat disrupted play during the Providence-Marquette game at the Bradley Center on Saturday. It really was a pretty hilarious sequence of events.Anyways, the bat was removed from the arena on Monday.

Marshall Henderson, the most entertaining villain in the country: The college hoops world hasn’t had a good “villain” character in a good long time. But Marshall Henderson of Ole Miss is becoming the guy everybody loves to hate. He’s arrogant, cocky, and colorful. But he’s also one of the game’s top players this season.

According to Rick Pitino, freshman Kevin Ware won’t be returning to the court anytime soon:Freshman guard Kevin Ware was suspended prior to the Cardinals’ Monday game against Pittsburgh. Following the win over the Panthers, Rick Pitino let it be known that Ware probably won’t be returning any time soon.

VIDEO: ECU’s Shamarr Bowden rains punches on UTEP player: ECU guard Shamarr Bowden has been suspended for one game following an incident during the Pirates’ loss o UTEP on Saturday. Bowden got tangled up with UTEP’s Konner Tucker,and during the scrum, threw punches that glanced off of Tucker’s head.

So how bad is Trevor Mbakwe’s wrist injury? The Minnesota center injured his wrist during the Gophers’ loss to Wisconsin on Saturday. Mbakwe says he won’t miss any game time, but with the Gophers amid a four-game losing streak, they cannot afford to lose their big man for any amount of time.

How concerned should Indiana be about Cody Zeller’s struggles? Indiana has looked like the best team in the Big Ten, a top five team and a national title contender all while Cody Zeller has looked somewhat pedestrian. Victor Oladipo is playing like an All-American, but is that why Zeller hasn’t played like Player of the Year?

There’s no rush for a 12th Big East team, because it doesn’t improve much: On Big East Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco told reporters that the conference is looking to add a 12th team after the recent losses of Boise State and San Diego State. But at this point, will it really matter? No potential member will improve the depleted conference.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping:
– It was announced on Monday that North Carolina and Kentucky are going to renew their non-conference series. The two played each other last season, and after the hiatus this season, they will resume next season in Chapel Hill. (Cats Illustrated)

– Syracuse freshman Dajaun Coleman will miss the next four weeks due to knee surgery. (Syracuse.com)

– The SEC/Big East Challenge will not continue. This was the final year of the contract and the two conferences decided against renewing the event. (AL.com)

– UConn football commit Jordan Fuchs wants to play for the Huskies’ basketball team too. (Connecticut Post)

– Wisconsin big-man Frank Kaminsky remains a game-time decision against Ohio State because of an eye injury. (Bucky’s 5th Quarter)

– Bradley center Will Egolf was arrested for drug possession earlier in January. On Monday a man from South Peoria was charged with selling Vicodin to Egolf. (Peoria Journal Star)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– We shouldn’t blame Rick Pitino for being hesitant about handing over the reigns of the offense to Russ Smith, but he just might have to. (Courier-Journal)

– A handful of coaches from NYC-metro schools helped ring the NASDAQ closing bell. (New Jersey Hoops Haven)

– Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution thinks college basketball stinks this season. Please tell me I’m not the only one who vehemently disagrees? (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

– Akron was hoping to wear a special uniform for “Social Media Night” against Ohio. They will still wear the jerseys, but the NCAA won’t allow them to put the @ZipsMBBTwitter handle on the uniforms. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Providence’s Bryce Cotton is just 27 points shy of eclipsing the 1,000-point plateau. This is a great-read on his voyage to 1,000. (Friar Basketball)

– Jeff Goodman saw five games in 31 hours. He has a lot of things he wants to get off of his chest. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Should Oklahoma State press more often? They certainly have the athletes to do so. Then why doesn’t Travis Ford employ the press more frequently? (Cowboys Ride for Free)

– In case you want more of Ole Miss’ Marshall Henderson (Which I know you do), Deadspin has the goods. (Deadspin)

– Virginia is likely to be planted firmly on the bubble come Selection Sunday. A win against North Carolina State tonight will definitely help. (Washington Post)

– What exactly does the absence of Dajuan Coleman do to the Syracuse frontcourt? (900 Irving)

– Anybody want to take a guess at how many NCAA bids the ACC gets? Could be three, could be five. A little consistency would help. (USA Today)

– A slide show of some of the better signs in attendance at Cameron Indoor Stadium for Maryland’s ACC farewell game against Duke. (The Blue Zone)

– Seriously, the staff at the Bradley Center had to call in pest control to remove a rogue bat of the rafters, and AC/DC was used in the process. (The Dagger)

– What’s the difference between this season’s Florida State team and the one that won the ACC last season? Defensive Toughness. (Rush The Court)
 
 
Video(s) of the Day:
This is from Russia, and is absolutely hilarious.


 
 
Dunk(s) of the Day:
Arizona’s Carrick Felix wants in on the NCAA Slam Dunk Contest.


 
 
Dunk(s) of the Day:
Illinois State’s Tyler Brown wants in as well. I’m leaning towards Brown after this video.


 
 
Do you like the new Morning Mix? Hate it? Have a suggestion or want something featured? Troy Machir will take all your praise, insults and inquiries via Twitter (@TroyMachir)

VIDEO: Providence coach Ed Cooley always needs a mic

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On Friday night at DePaul, Providence head coach Ed Cooley allowed himself to be mic’d up for a TV broadcast, and things got interesting.

Around the 36 second mark, Cooley starts talking about … vampires and bats and dracula?

Then robbing banks and saying thank you?

I don’t know. Just watch.

VIDEO: Kansas celebrates in locker room after West Virginia win

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After coming from 16 points down to knock off No. 6 West Virginia in Morgantown on Monday night, Kansas had themselves some fun in the visitor’s locker room.

I’m not exactly sure what is happening here, but I do know Devonte’ Graham is having a hell of a time.

COLUMN: Kansas is back on top in the Big 12

My only question … where is Billy Preston’s shirt? He didn’t even play:

No. 10 Kansas overcomes deficits and its own issues to win at No. 6 West Virginia

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It’s hard to look at Kansas – the roster, the stats, the resume and all that comes with it – and not conclude this is the most vulnerable squad the Jayhawks have fielded since its current domination of the Big 12 began in 2005. The flaws are apparent, and they’re serious. They could easily be enough to sink the Jayhawks in an unforgiving conference.

It also could just be business as usual for Bill Self’s program

Tenth-ranked Kansas sputtered and struggled Monday night, but, ultimately, it didn’t matter as the Jayhawks stole a game at a rowdy WVU Coliseum, topping sixth-ranked West Virginia, 71-66, to keep its spot atop the Big 12 despite whatever issues bothered them against the Mountaineers and may persist well into the winter.

One of the major differences of this Kansas team from the 13 that preceded it is the Jayhawks can’t overwhelm with talent and athleticism. There’s no Andrew Wiggins, Josh Jackson, Thomas Robinson or any other surefire lottery pick to just go get buckets. There isn’t a host of high-level athletes that can help Kansas just run inferior teams off the floor. When you have two things, your margin of error gets padded. Mistakes aren’t magnified. They’re minimized. That’s not a luxury Kansas now enjoys.

Then there’s the issue of the roster. Even with Silvio De Sousa being declared eligible, Kansas is still incredibly thin and inexperienced up front. Udoka Azubuike is a load, but he’s the only big man that even inspires a bit of fear from opponents. If Billy Preston ever gets on the floor, maybe this becomes less of an issue for the Jayhawks, but it’s difficult to believe a true freshman making a whole host of difference this late in the season.

So for Kansas to win its 14th-straight Big 12 regular season championship, the Jayhawks are going to have to have to play a specific way. There’s not much wiggle room. They’ve got to defend. They’ve got to shoot 3s. They’ve got to be tough. They’ve got to be resilient.

That’s exactly what the Jayhawks were against Bob Huggins’ team Monday. If you can out-tough, out-hustle and out-work a Huggins team on their home floor, you’re on to something.

West Virginia led by as many as 16 in the first half. The Mountaineers had Kansas shook. Well Sagaba Konate did, at least. Eulogies were already being written for Kansas, especially as West Virginia’s lead stayed in double digits past the midway point of the second half.

West Virginia is designed to wear down opponents. The Mountaineers try to create a crucible, especially in Morgantown, that will force opponents to wilt. That’s supposed to be its most potent late in games.

That’s when Kansas thrived.

The Jayhawks outscored West Virginia 26-11 over the final 8 minutes. The Mountaineers were 5 of 14 (35.7 percent) from the floor with four turnovers during that stretch. Kansas, conversely, make 7 of 10 shots overall and 3 of 4 from 3-point range.

It wasn’t exactly rope-a-dope, but Kansas saved its best for last. They made winning plays. That’s really what’s going to have to separate them from the pack this season. As good as Devonte Graham is, as effective as Svi Mykhailiuk can be and as good as Self is, the Jayhawks are going to have to grind more than they’re accustomed to. 

The Big 12 is unmerciful this season. Texas Tech already has a win at Allen Fieldhouse, Trae Young has gone full supernova and even the league’s bottom tier looks like tough outs. Kansas faces a major test, and they’ll do so without a roster that compares to some of the powerhouses Self has assembled. The Jayhawks have often been able to win just by delivering broad strokes. They were bigger, faster, stronger and, simply, better. When they coupled that with a mastery of the finer points of the game, they dominated.

If The Streak is going to reach 14, it won’t be with that blueprint. The grittier parts of the game are going to have to come to the forefront. Outlasting West Virginia in Morgantown while shooting 44 percent and facing double-digit deficits would suggest the Jayhawks have the toughness and ability to make clutch plays that can paper over other issues.

Kansas isn’t going to overwhelm the Big 12 this year. They still very well could win it.

Monday’s Three Things to Know: Duke wins, Kansas wins and … BC wins?

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1. SO MAYBE KANSAS IS GOING TO WIN THE BIG 12 AFTER ALL

It happens EVERY YEAR.

Kansas goes on some prolonged slump, plays like a hot garbage for a few weeks and gets all of us thinking that yes, this year is different than all of the other years, that this is the year the Jayhawks won’t actually win the Big 12 regular season title.

I am a member of that club, and I feel pretty stupid after Monday night.

Kansas went into Morgantown and knocked off No. 6 West Virginia, 71-66, despite trailing for the majority of the game and spending the first 12 minutes of the second half staring up at a double-digit deficit. Simply put: the Jayhawks had no business winning on Monday night, and yet they did anyway, moving themselves into sole possession of first place in the Big 12 and making up for the fact that they lost at home to Texas Tech earlier this season.

Our Travis Hines penned a column on this game, so I’ll let him elaborate more, but one thing I will note here is that Silvio De Sousa played well in some important minutes at the end of the first half. Turning him into a player that can be a competent energy for 10-15 minutes off the bench will be massive.

2. BC’S ROLLING

The Jim Christian era at Boston College hasn’t exactly been sunshine and rainbows. The Eagles have never finished a season above .500 and failed to reach double-digit wins the last two years. That put Christian on the hot seat coming into the season and with little reason to believe the temperature would come down in the always-competitive ACC.

Things, though, have been pretty good – at least when judged against the last three years – in Chestnut Hill. With Monday’s 81-75 win over Florida State, Boston College is now 3-3 in the ACC, which exceeds its conference win total from the last two years…combined. Yes. BC won just two games against ACC opponents combined in 2016 and 2017, winning two games last year after going 0-18 the season prior.

It hasn’t really been a function of scheduling or luck, either. Other than getting stomped by North Carolina in Chapel Hill, Boston College has been competitive every night out, losing by a combined five points to Virginia and Clemson. Now, don’t go putting Boston College in the FIeld of 68 or anything like that just yet, but it’s easy to see that after three years in the woods, the Eagles may be closer to finding something akin to consistent competency.

3. DUKE IS STARTING TO PLAY SOME DEFENSE

The Blue Devils won at No. 25 Miami tonight. Rob Dauster has a column up on that game right now which gets into everything you need to know.

But there is this tidbit that is important to know: Duke allowed less than 1.00 points-per-possession on Monday night. It’s the third straight game that they have allowed less than 1.00 PPP, and that’s the first time that they have done that since 2014.

Granted, the best offense in those three games ranks outside the top 50 in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency metric (Wake Forest) and two of them (Miami, 107th, and Pitt, 236th) rank outside the top 100. but you have to start somewhere. Is this the beginning of another defensive renaissance?

VIDEO: West Virginia’s Sagaba Konate hosts block party vs. Kansas

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Do not try Sagaba Konate.

The West Virginia big man has no time for anyone – especially Kansas Jayhawks attempting dunks – at the rim.

Konate’s first half against Kansas on Monday night was borderline dominant on the defensive end, with the 6-foot-8 sophomore blocking five shots as the Mountaineers controlled the game against Big 12 favorite Kansas.

The numbers were great, but the actual blocks were even better.

It looked like Konate had submitted his Block of the Year candidate early when Kansas senior Svi Mykhailiuk challenged him on a fast break. Konate wasn’t having any of it.

Konate may have one-upped himself later in the half, though, when Marcus Garrett, despite presumably having eyes and a short-term memory, thought it was a good idea to try to put Konate on a poster with a dunk of his own.

Super bad idea.

The Big 12 has some dominant shot blockers in the 7-footer mold of Texas’ Mo Bamba and Jo Lual-Acuil, but Konate may be the best of the bunch.