Late Night Snacks: Virginia, Kentucky get big conference wins Tuesday

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Game of the Day: Virginia 58, No. 19 NC State 55

NC State thrives in the transition game and they were not able to shift into gear Tuesday. Credit goes to the Virginia defense and the fact that Wolfpack point guard Lorenzo Brown was forced out of the game after just ten minutes with an ankle injury. Without his, TJ Warren, Rodney Purvis, and Tyler Lewis all failed to find their groove. Even so, NC State had four possessions in the final three minutes with a chance to tie or take the lead, but could not capitalize.

Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell were the two biggest bright spots for Virginia, scoring 22 points and 14 points respectively.

Important Outcomes 

1. Kentucky 87, No. 16 Ole Miss 74

Kentucky needed a solid conference win on the road to boost its resume in an SEC that is weak this year. They got it Tuesday. Kyle Wiltjer led the way offensively, along with Archie Goodwin and Alex Poythress. Defensively, though, Nerlens Noel showed how he can impact a gave when taking just one shot from the floor and going 2-of-8 at the free throw line. He blocked 12 shots, including four down the stretch when he had four fouls. He changed the game defensively in the same way Anthony Davis was able to last season.

2. No. 11 Ohio State 58, Wisconsin 49

Deshaun Thomas was once again the biggest offensive asset for the Buckeyes, but defense ruled the night. Ohio State held Wisconsin to 37 percent shooting and outrebounded the Badgers by six to move to 6-2 in the tough Big Ten.

3. Indiana State 68, No. 15 Wichita State 55 

The Missouri Valley race just got a whole ‘lot more interesting. Indiana State toppling Wichita State makes the Sycamores 7-3 in league play and moves them to third in the conference standings. They’re building a solid postseason resume, which also includes a non-conference victory over the now-surging Miami Hurricanes.

Starred

1. Kyle Wiltjer, Kentucky (26 points, 7 rebounds)

Wiltjer’s scoring was the most important part of Kentucky’s offensive gameplan Tuesday night. His career-high point total paced the Wildcats in the second half and gave enough of a cushion to help fend off a late Ole Miss run, giving Kentucky an important road win.

2. Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State (25 points, 10-of-17 FG)

Thomas is the go-to scorer for the Buckeyes and showed it again on Tuesday night. His 25 points accounted for nearly half of Ohio State’s total. Coach Thad Matta’s team focuses on defense, but Thomas having a big night is what gives the Buckeyes offensive fuel.

3. Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee (19 points, 11 rebounds)

Stokes had a big breakout game in his last outing against Alabama and continued that Tuesday night against Vanderbilt. He tallied his second straight double-double in a win over Vanderbilt.

Also of Note: Nerlens Noel, Kentucky (12 blocks)

Struggled 

1. Ryan Evans, Wisconsin (2 points, 1-of-10 FG, 3 TOs)

Evans was part of a Wisconsin attack that couldn’t reach the 50-point mark Tuesday vs. Ohio State. He fell significantly from his season average of 10.9 per game.He has been out of sync in three of his last four games, having shot 9-of-39 from the floor in his last four games.

2. Carl Hall, Wichita State (2 points, 0-of-2 FG, 4 fouls)

Wichita State struggled from the field as a team on Tuesday and was disrupted by Indiana State’s defensive sets. His foul trouble changed his game, as well, but the Sycamores did a good job of now allowing Hall to get to the free throw line, where he typically thrives.

3. NC State Backcourt/Wings (TJ Warren 3 points, 1-of-7 FG | Tyler Lewis, 1-of-3 FG | Rodney Purvis, 2-of-7  FG)

Point guard Lorenzo Brown played just 10 minutes after injuring his ankle, and this trio struggled in his absence. Virginia’s defense slowed the typically lethal transition attack of the Wolfpack and allowed the Cavaliers to get the win. Lewis was thrust into the role, playing more minutes than he has at any point during the conference season, which likely had a ripple effect.

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

Villanova lands four-star 2018 guard

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Villanova added its first recruit in the Class of 2018 on Wednesday night.

Jay Wright and his staff landed a verbal commitment from Paul VI Catholic High School’s Brandon Slater, a four-star guard by Rivals as the No. 42 overall prospect in the rising senior class.

The 6-foot-5 Slater announced his decision via Twitter.

Slater, according to Jeff Borzello of ESPN, picked the Wildcats over Maryland, Miami, South Carolina, and Virginia.

He is currently playing the Nike EYBL with Team Takeover, the same grassroots program that produced current Villanova guard Phil Booth.

Comic-Con forces Providence to play at Alumni Hall for home opener

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Providence will play its first game at Alumni Hall, the on-campus facility, for the first time in 35 years this fall.

The Friars unveiled their 2017-18 non-conference schedule on Thursday afternoon. The team’s home opener will play either Houston Baptist or Belmont in Mullaney Gym inside Alumni Hall.

According to Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal, the reason for that is a schedule conflict at Providence’s home arena, the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, in downtown Providence. A Comic-Con convention is scheduled Nov. 10-12. As McNamara notes, it’s a busy part of the season for The Dunk. The arena also is home to the Providence Bruins, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Boston Bruins, and by mid-November, their season is in full swing.

The Friars haven’t played at Alumni Hall since 1972, the same year the Dunkin’ Donuts Center was opened. In the three decades since Providence last played a regular season game there, the facility has gone under necessary renovations, as you could imagine. Even with added seats, Mullaney Gym can host a maximum of 1,549. That’s a fraction of what The Dunk’s capacity of 12,400.

Providence will return to its downtown home on Nov. 13, hosting Minnesota as part of the Gavitt Games. The Golden Gophers will likely be a top-20 team to open the season. The Friars, who bring back every notable player from last year’s NCAA Tournament team, is a fringe top-25 team.

Jalen Coleman-Lands to transfer out of Illinois

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The already-thin Illinois roster got thinner on Thursday afternoon.

Evan Daniels of Scout.com reported that sophomore guard Jalen Coleman-Lands has requested and received his release from the program. He will have to sit out next season but will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Coleman-Lands was a top-40 recruit in the Class of 2015, according to Rivals. He becomes the second player from that recruiting class this month to exit the school. Reserve guard D.J. Williams elected to transfer on May 8. With Jeremiah Tilmon and Javon Pickett, two incoming recruits, both previously reopened their recruitments following John Groce’s firing.

Even with the addition of Wright State graduate transfer Mark Alstork, who officially joined the Fighting Illini on Wednesday, Illinois is left with only nine scholarship players as of right now.

Coleman-Lands’ production dipped from his freshman campaign, ending the 2016-17 season averaging 8.0 points and 2.3 rebounds per game, shooting 38 percent from three.

One destination that will likely be rumored will be nearby DePaul. Coleman-Lands played for new DePaul assistant coach Shane Heirman at prep school powerhouse La Lumiere School. Heriman quickly tapped into that prep pipeline, helping secure a commitment from La Lumiere from five-star 2019 point guard Tyger Campbell earlier this month.

Coleman-Lands had taken official visits to Notre Dame and UNLV before committing to the Illini in September 2014.

North Carolina releases response to latest NCAA Notice of Allegations

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North Carolina is still trying to convince the NCAA that their investigation into the paper classes given by the university’s African-American Studies Department is not, in fact, an NCAA matter.

On Thursday afternoon, the University released their response to the NCAA’s third iteration of the Notice of Allegations, and the core argument in that response is that the school’s “inadequate academic oversight” does not fall under the jurisdiction of the NCAA’s bylaws. In other words, North Carolina is arguing that a rogue professor creating fake classes is not an NCAA issue. It’s a school issue.

What’s more, North Carolina is also arguing that athletes taking these classes should not be classified as an extra benefit because they were available to the entire student body.

“No special arrangements were made for student-athletes in violation of NCAA extra-benefit legislation,” the response reads. “Student-athletes were not treated differently than other students who took the Courses.”

“The public narrative for the last six years, popularized by media accounts, is that Department of Athletics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill took advantage of ‘fake classes’ in the Department of African and African-American Studies to keep student-athletes eligible. That narrative is wrong and contradicted by the facts in the record.”

The NCAA’s allegations center around the idea that UNC’s athletes, most notably members of the football and men’s and women’s basketball teams, were guided to the fake classes within that department in order to keep their GPAs high enough to remain eligible. The classes in question had a disproportionate percentage of athletes.

A hearing in front of the Committee on Infractions is expected to take place at some point this summer.

No indictment for escort, staffer in Louisville sex scandal

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A grand jury declined to indict an escort and former Louisville men’s basketball staffer in a sex scandal that engulfed the program.

The Jefferson County grand jury decided Thursday there wasn’t enough evidence for charges of prostitution and unlawful transactions with a minor against Katina Powell and Andre McGee.

Powell wrote in a book published in 2015 that McGee hired her to provide dancers to perform sex acts for Cardinal recruits and players from 2010-2014.

The announcement by the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office comes as the school awaits discipline in early June by the NCAA after an investigation.

Louisville has imposed its own penalties, including a postseason ban in 2015-16 and reductions in scholarships and recruiting visits by coaches.