The Morning Mix

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Marshall Henderson got his first real taste of the big time last night, and while he finished with 21 points, his Ole Miss squad dropped their first SEC game of the season to a Kentucky team that actually looked pretty good. But I guess that will happen when Nerlens Noel blocks 12 shots.

We got a lot to discuss and a lot on tap for today.

This is January basketball for ya, folks.

Let’s hit the links.

Wednesday’s Top games:
6:00 p.m. – Villanova @ Notre Dame
6:30 p.m. – Northwestern @ No. 1 Michigan
7:00 p.m. – Rutgers @ No. 24 Cincinnati
7:00 p.m. – Richmond @ Temple
7:00 p.m. – Oklahoma @ Baylor
8:00 p.m. – No. 17 Missouri @ LSU
8:00 p.m. – No. 5 Duke @ Wake Forest
8:00 p.m. – Texas @ No. 18 Kansas State
8:00 p.m. – Maryland @ Florida State
8:00 p.m. – Iowa State @ Oklahoma State
8:00 p.m. – South Carolina @ No. 4 Florida
8:00 p.m. – Missouri State @ No. 21 Creighton
8:30 p.m. – No. 3 Indiana @ Purdue
9:00 p.m. – No. 14 Miami @ Virginia Tech
9:00 p.m. – No. 20 New Mexico @ Wyoming
9:00 p.m. – Boise State @ Colorado State
9:00 p.m. – Dayton @ Xavier
10:00 p.m. – USC @ UCLA
11:00 p.m. – No. 10 Oregon @ Stanford
 
 
Read of the Day:
Some excellent points are made here about the talent drain in college hoops and the lack of shooting acumen. Read it. (Basketball Predictions)

Read of the Day:
Andy Glockner’s “Bubble Watch”, ya’ll. Git some. Read it. (Sports Illustrated)
 
 
Top Stories:
Kentucky quites Marshall Henderson, beats No. 16 Ole Miss: We all expected the Ole Miss sharpshooter to put on a performance for the ages, instead we got a glimpse of what Kentucky could look like if they decide to click. Kyle Wiltjer logged a career-high 26 points and Nerlens Noel set the Kentucky single-game record for blocked shots.

Poor shooting sinks No. 15 Wichita State in loss to Indiana State: The Shockers shot 27 percent from the floor and did not score a field goal in the nearly the final nine minutes of the second half, on their way to a 68-55 loss to Indiana State on Tuesday night. This ISU win moves the Sycamores to 7-3 in league play, one game behind Wichita State and half a game behind Creighton.

Road struggles continue for No. 19 NC State, Wolfpack fall to Joe Harris and Virginia: The Virginia Cavaliers, by focusing on a slow half-court offense, outlasted No. 19 NC State late to secure a big 58-55 win. NC State had four straight opportunities in the final three minutes to tie or take the lead and could not capitalize, culminating in a final three-point heave from guard Scott Wood in the final seconds that was off the mark to give Virginia the win.

New Mexico State’s Tyrone Watson lone suspect in gruesome assault case: New Mexico State senior Tyrone Watson is at the center of a police investigation after allegedly beating fellow 19-year-old NMSU student Miguel Rascon, leaving him with facials fractures, a broken nose, and 10 stitches.

Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey reportedly removed from basketball arena after incident with campus police: All-American Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey was ejected from last week’s UCLA-Arizona game after a confrontation with campus police. Amid the confrontation with campus police, the running back dropped the “Do you know who I am” line. Classic.

UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad ‘day-to-day’ with illness: UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad did not practice Tuesday and is listed as “day-to-day” as he battles a gastrointestinal illness. His status for the Bruin’s game tonight against USC is undecided.

Jordan Morgan is somehow not seriously injured: Look at this picture and tell me that you wouldn’t be on the shelf for 4-6 weeks. But some how, some way, Michigan big-man Jordan Morgan is not seriously injured following this ghastly ankle injury.

Erick Green doesn’t need your lousy scoring title: The Virginia Tech wing is one of the top scorers in the country yet gets very little credit or recognition. But that seems to be just fine with him.

Florida grabs No. 1 seed in East in latest bracket: Dave Ommen, College Basketball Talk’s resident bracketologist, is back with another bracket breakdown. He’s got Kansas as the top No.1-seed and Kentucky, Saint Louis, Iowa State, Indiana State, and Arizona State as the last five in.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping:
– North Carolina guard P.J. Hairston was taken off the court on a stretcher last night against Boston College after suffering a pretty nasty concussion. (Sporting News)

– Missouri’s Laurence Bowers is expected to return tonight against LSU. Bowers hasn’t played since injuring his knee against Alabama on January 6. (Eye on College Basketball)

– New Mexico State center Tshilidzi Nephawe was cleared to practice yesterday for the first time since undergoing surgery in December. (Las Cruces Sun-News)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– Nerlens Noel finished with just two points last night against Ole Miss, but was pivotal in the Wildcats’ signature road win, as he set the Wildcats’ single-game record for blocked shots. Murphy Holloway said after the game that Noel was the best shot blocker he has ever played against. (Kentucky Sports Radio)

– A fan at the Ole Miss-Kentucky game threw ice on to the court. As he is one to do, Marshall Henderson picked up the ice and threw it back. This.Guy.Is.Awesome. (The Big Lead)

– Indiana’s use of the 2-3 zone against Michigan State this weekend, a game they won 75-70, was heavily scrutinized by the media. But Dustin Dopriak explains why the zone wasn’t actually that bad. (Hoosier Scoop)

– Virginia’s win over North Carolina State last night will certainly help people forget about the Cavaliers’ loss to 2-17. The Cavaliers are going to be one of the more interesting teams come Selection Sunday. (The Dagger)

– I for one though Washington State’s Brock Motum was going to have a Pac-12 PoY-type year. But the Australia-native has struggled to regain his 2012 form. That has, however, opened up the door for Mike Ladd to emerge as a scoring option. (Coug Center)

– Minnesota got back on track following a four-game losing streak by drubbing Nebraska. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

– Federal Judge Claudia Wilken made a ruling on Tuesday that may allow NCAA athletes to legally pursue TV money. (ESPN)

– Joe Lunardi is starting to pop up more frequently, which means March Madness is just around the corner. The world-class bracketologist provides his list of teams that may or may not be in good shape come Selection Sunday. (ESPN Insider)

– Some good press on Oklahoma State freshman Phil Forte, who is often overshadowed by his high school teammate and current Cowboy teammate Marcus Smart. (The Oklahoman)

– Deshaun Thomas scored 25 points last night in the Buckeye’s 58-49 win over Wisconsin and is playing as well as anybody in the country. (Columbus Dispatch)

– With Indiana State beating Wichita State, a team who beat Creighton, is the Missouri Valley Conference a three-team race? (Catch and Shoot Blog)
 
 
Video(s) of the Day:
Just one of the many faces of Marshall Henderson. (The Big Lead)

source:
 
 
Dunk(s) of the Day:
Ra’Shad James from Northwood University (D-II) needs to be in the NCAA Dunk Contest. Dude can soar. Somebody book this kid a trip to Atlanta.


 
 
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USC lands four-star 2018 guard Elijah Weaver

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USC landed an important commitment for its future on Monday night as four-star Class of 2018 guard Elijah Weaver.

Regarded as the No. 35 overall prospect in the Rivals’ national Class of 2018 rankings, the 6-foot-5 Weaver gives the Trojans a floor leader to build around for the future as he provides great size in the backcourt. Capable of playing multiple guard spots, Weaver has a lot of upside for a program that has done a very solid job of developing backcourt talent under head coach Andy Enfield.

Weaver’s commitment is also important for the Trojans because it comes despite the looming FBI investigation that the program is dealing with thanks to former assistant coach Tony Bland. USC had recently lost a four-star commitment from forward J’Raan Brooks, so the commitment of Weaver is a huge momentum boost for them as they get right back on track in the Class of 2018.

With Weaver in the mix, USC now owns three four-star pledges in the 2018 class as he joins four-star forward Taeshon Cherry and four-star guard Kevin Porter.

Jim Larranaga believes he’s ‘Coach-3’ in FBI investigation

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Despite losing key contributors Davon Reed and Kamari Murphy from last season’s NCAA tournament team, the Miami Hurricanes are expected to be a player both within the ACC and nationally this season. But instead of having the focus solely on the likes of JaQuan Newton, Bruce Brown and Lonnie Walker, Jim Larrañaga’s program is also having to deal with the impact of the ongoing FBI investigation into corruption and fraud in college basketball.

While no one connected to the Miami men’s basketball program was arrested last month, the program is referenced in the FBI report. On Monday, Larrañaga stated during a press conference that he believes that he is “Coach-3” in the FBI report. Larrañaga also maintained his innocence, saying that he had done nothing wrong while also being thankful that none of his assistant coaches were involved.

“It’s been a strain, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually,” Larrañaga said according to the Palm Beach Post. “It’s something that’s there. I have to deal with it. I have the support of my wife and a wonderful family. I have the support of the university, my staff and players.”

According to the FBI report, “Coach-3” requested that payments totaling $150,000 be funneled to “Player-12” in order to ensure his commitment to their university. It has been reported that “Player-12” was 2018 five-star prospect Nassir Little, who has also stated that he had done nothing wrong. Two of the schools recruiting Little at the time, Arizona and Miami, have been entangled in the FBI investigation to varying degrees.

While Miami has not had anyone connected to its program arrested, Arizona assistant coach Emmanuel “Book” Richardson was one of the four Division I coaches were were indicted. As a result Little removed both Arizona and Miami from consideration before ultimately committing to North Carolina earlier this month.

There’s no telling what the FBI investigation will ultimately uncover, which for the schools involved could take a heavy toll not only for the 2017-18 season but for future years as well. The FBI case has been comparatively quiet since the first set of indictments, with future moves likely to be influenced by what authorities learn from the ten individuals named in the first announcement.

Miles Bridges discusses being offered money during recruiting process

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With the FBI launching an investigation into corruption and fraud in college basketball last month, the entire sport has found itself under the microscope. Ten people, including four Division I assistant coaches, were arrested and there’s no telling just how long the FBI’s investigation will last or what information it will produce.

Michigan State forward Miles Bridges is considered by many to be the leading candidate for national Player of the Yeah honors, and he had the opportunity to turn pro after a good freshman season. But Bridges made the decision to return to East Lansing, and with that comes questions as to why he would do that as opposed to cashing in on his NBA potential as soon as possible.

In an interview with Brendan Quinn of The Athletic (subscription required) Bridges discussed a host of issues, including being offered money by people while going through the recruiting process.

“I mean, if you get caught, that might be the end of your career. I wanted to play in college really bad,” Bridges told Quinn. “I don’t know — materialistic things, they don’t really get to me. So when people were offering me money, I would say no right away, because I wanted to be able to live out my college experience. But really, I don’t know, it is hard, especially because I was so young at the time — 17.”

Given the ongoing investigation, high-profile players and teams will be on the receiving end of increased scrutiny even if they aren’t part of the FBI probe. It’s an unfair situation for a player like Bridges to deal with, as even in the actual cases of alleged wrongdoing the players themselves are essentially commodities whose services are being auctioned as opposed to the main characters looking to cash in.

Unfortunately, due to recent events a decision like the one made by Bridges will result in some questioning whether or not the player received something from the school or another entity/individual. And that’s a tough — and unfair — thing for a young player to have to deal with.

Broken hand sidelines North Carolina PG Joel Berry II

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North Carolina’s defense of its national title will likely begin without its most important player, as it was announced on Monday that senior point guard Joel Berry II will miss approximately four weeks due to a broken bone in his right hand.

Berry started at the point each of the last two seasons, earning Most Outstanding Player honors in April as the Tar Heels defeated Gonzaga to win the national title. As a junior, Berry averaged 14.7 points, 3.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game and started 37 of the 38 games in which he played. Berry shot 42.6 percent from the field and 38.3 percent from three, with the latter percentage being the best on team amongst players who attempted at least two three-pointers per game.

Berry was named an NBC Sports Preseason Third-Team All-American in late September.

With Berry out of the lineup, North Carolina loses its floor general as well as one of their top perimeter shooters. Sophomore Seventh Woods and freshman Jalek Felton become more important options at the point as a result of Berry’s injury, and the team doesn’t lack for perimeter shooters either with Cameron Johnson, Brandon Robinson, Kenny Williams and freshman Andrew Platek all being capable of helping to pick up the slack.

North Carolina opens its regular season on November 10 against Northern Iowa.

Bill Self’s stance on Kansas/Missouri series remains unchanged

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Sunday afternoon in Kansas City, bitter rivals Kansas and Missouri got together on the basketball court for the first time since 2012, with the Showdown for Relief raising $1.75 million for recent hurricane victims. In what was an entertaining game, the Jayhawks won by the final score of 93-87 with point guard Devonté Graham leading the way for the winners with 25 points and ten rebounds.

Kansas finished the game with five players in double figures, including Mississippi State transfer Malik Newman (17 points) and center Udoka Azubuike (16). On the other side freshman Michael Porter Jr. paced four Tigers in double figures with 21 points while younger brother Jontay grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds off the bench.

However despite the excitement for the two rivals being on the same court in any capacity, Sunday’s meeting was different given the circumstances. Following the game Kansas head coach Bill Self was asked about the possibility of the two teams meeting in a regular season game, and he maintained the stance he’s held since Missouri left the Big 12 for the SEC.

“I’m not going to say never, but I don’t think there’s been any change in our position as far as the university goes,” Self said following Sunday’s exhibition. “I’m the spokesman, I guess, on this but trust me, I’m not the only one that feels that way.”

While it would certainly benefit college basketball if Kansas and Missouri were to renew acquaintances down the line, it is understandable that Self — and maybe some others on the Kansas side of things — would have reservations. The programs, even with the arrival of Cuonzo Martin in Columbia and the freshman class led by the aforementioned Michael Porter Jr., are in different places right now.

The Jayhawks have their sights set on a 14th consecutive Big 12 title and a run at their first national title since 2008, Missouri is looking to fast-track a rebuilding process after struggling mightily under former head coach Kim Anderson. Yet with that being said, the state of the two athletic departments during realignment likely has more to do with the teams not playing each other.

Missouri was a school with options earlier this decade before joining the SEC, but that was not the case for Kansas. Had the Big 12 broken up as some believed would be the case, where would the Jayhawks have landed? Fortunately for the school the Big 12 survived the realignment craze, losing four schools (Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC, Colorado to the Pac-12 and Nebraska to the Big Ten) and adding TCU and West Virginia to get their membership number to ten.

Given that, the best bet for college basketball fans who want to see this rivalry played during the regular season may be to hope for the programs wind up in the same in-season tournament. Even better, how about the same NCAA tournament region?