Late Night Snacks: Tuesday night shows college basketball means business

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Game of the Day: No. 3 Michigan 76, No. 10 Ohio State 74 (OT)

It was billed as “Trey Burke vs. Aaron Craft Pt. II” and it didn’t disappoint. We saw a battle of two of the nation’s best point guards, but the most important player for Michigan in its overtime win was junior Tim Hardaway, Jr. He hit three-pointers on three straight possessions in the middle of the second half that kept the game close when the Wolverines could not get a stop defensively. He finished with 23 points.

Deshaun Thomas finally got help on the offensive end, this coming from LaQuinton Ross and Lenzelle Smith, Jr., but when Ohio State needed him the most, overtime, he was not given a chance to score. Instead, Aaron Craft controlled the ball for the majority of the extra period. He was 1-of-4 from the field and had a turnover in the final five minutes.

Important Outcomes 

1. Arkansas 80, No. 2 Florida 69

Florida had been steamrolling through the SEC, but the Gators got a taste of their own medicine against an Arkansas team that has played distinctly different at home than it has on the road. Florida shot just 41 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 16 times, while the Razorbacks shot close to 50 percent and turned it over just eight times.

Florida is still the class of the SEC, but they now fall to within one game of Kentucky in the race for the top of the conference.

2. Southern Illinois 64, Wichita State 62

After reaching as high as 15th in the nation, the Shockers have lost three games in a row and are slipping further back into a crowded Missouri Valley race. Malcolm Armstead, Cleanthony Early, and Carl Hall all did not have the games that the Shockers needed on the road, and a last-second shot from Jalen Pendleton was enough to sink WSU against a Southern Illinois team that came into the game 1-10 in conference play.

3. No. 8 Miami 72, Boston College 50

Miami continues to roll and remain undefeated in the ACC. The Hurricanes shot 11-of-22 from three-point range and 47 percent overall. Kenny Kadji is continuing to prove his value as a power forward who can stretch the floor, while Rion Brown had one of his biggest games of the year with 22 points.

Starred

1. Tim Hardaway, Jr., Michigan (23 points, 6-of-9 3pt FG)

Without Hardaway, Jr., this game would have gone much differently for the Wolverines. In the middle of the second half when Michigan was having trouble getting a stop defensively, the junior hit big shots to keep Michigan in the game. He has greatly expanded his game this season, but that three-point shot is still his bread and butter.

2. Reggie Bullock, North Carolina (23 points, 7-of-10 FG, 4-of-5 3pt FG)

Now having returned from a concussion earlier in the year, Bullock helped to pace a strong offensive attack Tuesday for the Tar Heels in their dominating win over Wake Forest.

3. Javonte Green, Radford (23 points, 13 rebounds)

A lineup of players who starred would not be complete without some love for a mid-major double-double. Though it came in a loss, Javonte Green’s 23 points and 13 rebounds made for one of the more impressive individual performances of the night.

Struggled 

1. D.J. Byrd, Purdue (2 points, 0-of-6 FG, 0-of-6 3pt FG)

Purdue shot 40 percent from the field in its win over Penn State, but moving forward, the Boilermakers will need more output from Byrd against teams that aren’t 0-10 in league play.

2. Jermaine Marshall, Penn State (7 points, 2-of-14 FG, 0-of-5 3pt FG)

Penn State as a team shot just 31 percent from the floor, and Marshall was among those who struggled. He was far from his average of 15 points per game and the Nittany Lions fell to Purdue.

3. Carl Hall, Cleanthony Early, Wichita State (15 points combined)

This Wichita State duo averages over 27 points per game between them, but was unable to generate much Tuesday in a loss to Northern Iowa. The Shockers have now lost three in a row and Hall and Early will be key to getting back on track in the Missouri Valley Conference.

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

Syracuse’s Tyus Battle to test NBA draft waters

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Syracuse announced on Friday afternoon that sophomore guard Tyus Battle will be declaring for the NBA draft without signing with an agent, giving him until the NCAA’s May 30th deadline to withdraw from contention and return to school.

Battle averaged 19.2 points as a sophomore for the Orange, who made a surprising run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

He is a projected late-first round or early-second round pick given his size, shooting ability and skill with the ball in his hands.

Losing Battle would be a massive blow to a Syracuse team that is already going to be without Matthew Moyer, who transferred out of the program, and Dareus Bazley, who is heading to the G League instead of enrolling in college.

Maryland’s Kevin Huerter declares for NBA draft, won’t hire agent

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Maryland wing Kevin Huerter announced on Friday afternoon that he will be declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, giving him the option of returning to school by May 30th.

“This will be a great experience for Kevin to get honest feedback from NBA teams and executives,” said head coach Mark Turgeon. “Taking advantage of this opportunity will allow Kevin and his family to make an informed decision about his future.”

Huerter is a 6-foot-7 wing known for his ability to shoot from the perimeter. He averaged 14.8 points and shot 42 percent from three as a sophomore.

He is also the third player from Maryland to declare for the 2018 NBA Draft. Justin Jackson, a borderline first round pick who missed time last season with a shoulder injury, has signed with an agent while Bruno Fernando is testing the waters. Maryland, who has an excellent recruiting class coming in, will be a preseason top 20 team if Huerter and Fernando both return to school.

Huerter is a borderline first round pick.

Michigan’s Charles Matthews to test NBA draft waters

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Michigan guard Charles Matthews announced on Friday that he will be declaring for the NBA draft, but that he does not intend to sign with an agent, meaning he has until May 30th to withdraw from the draft and return to school.

“After careful consideration with my parents and coaching staff, I am excited to announce that I will be declaring for the 2018 NBA Draft without hiring an agent,” said Matthews. “I give thanks to the Lord for this amazing opportunity, as well as the entire University of Michigan for their support. Go Blue!”

Matthews, a redshirt sophomore that averaged 13.0 points and 5.5 boards for the national runners-up, was a four-star prospect coming out of Chicago and spent his freshman season at Kentucky.

Matthews is a likely second round pick with the potential to climb into the first round should he prove to be a more consistent three-point shooter. He shot just 31.8 percent from beyond the arc this past season.

Virginia’s Hunter to return to school for sophomore season

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De’Andre Hunter announced on Friday afternoon that he will not be entering his name into the NBA draft and will return to Virginia for his redshirt sophomore season, a decision that will have as much of an impact on the 2018-19 college basketball season as any that is made this spring.

Hunter, now a potential top ten pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, was one of the breakout stars of the 2017-18 season. A 6-foot-7 combo-forward with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Hunter averaged 9.2 points and 3.5 boards while shooting 38.2 percent from three in just under 20 minutes a night for a Virginia team whose pace severely limits the kind of numbers a player like him can put up.

Throw in his ability to defend on the perimeter and in the paint, and Hunter is precisely the kind of player that NBA teams are looking to land as basketball becomes more and more built on positional versatility and the ability to space the floor.

And it’s that versatility that will make Hunter so important for the Cavaliers next season.

Let’s go beyond the simple fact that he is going to be the only guy on the Virginia roster that can create his own shot against length and athleticism and that there is a chance that he could end up being an all-american next season if things play out the right way. What makes Hunter so important to Virginia his that his defensive versatility is what allows Virginia to matchup with teams that want to try and play small-ball against them.

That’s precisely what UMBC did in the first round of the NCAA tournament, a game that Hunter missed with a broken wrist. We all know how that played out, and I’m not even dumb enough to pin all the blame of a 20-point loss to a No. 16 seed on a guy that played less than 20 minutes a night.

Virginia choked once they realized that there was a chance this could happen, but I would argue that a major reason they couldn’t ever truly assert their dominance was because they were unable to matchup with UMBC’s four-guard lineup without Hunter.

With Hunter back, Virginia is the No. 6 team in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25. If he had declared for the draft and signed with an agent, I’m not sure I would have had the Wahoos in the top 20.

He takes Tony Bennett’s club from simply being good to once against being a contender for the ACC regular season title.

Vanderbilt the sixth Kentucky player declares for the NBA draft

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Jarred Vanderbilt is now the sixth Kentucky Wildcat to declare for the NBA draft this spring, joining P.J. Washington and Wenyen Gabriel in testing the waters without signing with an agent.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo have all declared for the draft and signed with an agent.

Vanderbilt announced his decision on Friday afternoon.

“This season wasn’t easy for me,” Vanderbilt said. “At the end of the day, my goal has always been to make it to the NBA.”

“I know I have more to my game to show, but now I’ve got to figure out if the time is right for me to do it at the next level or if I would be better to return to school.”

Vanderbilt missed the first 17 games of his freshman season with a left foot injury, a foot that he had injured twice before during his high school career. He then missed all four of Kentucky’s postseason games with a left ankle injury, and there is a chance that he could end up needing surgery to correct this issue this offseason.

All told, the 6-foot-9 Vanderbilt played in 14 games as a freshman, averaging 5.9 points and 7.9 boards in just 17 minutes a night. But issues with his ability to shoot from the perimeter and a lower left leg that has proven to be extremely problematic, there is a good chance that Vanderbilt would go undrafted should he decide to turn pro.