Late Night Snacks: Harvard, Princeton stay perfect in the Ivy League

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Game of the Day

Harvard 67, Cornell 65

The Crimson almost let a 21-point lead get away from them. Harvard didn’t score for the final four minutes, as Cornell went on a 13-0 run.  Errick Peck’s 3-pointer was off the mark as Harvard stayed perfect in the Ivy League. An important victory as Harvard keeps a half game lead over Princeton in the standings. Those two teams meet on Saturday at Harvard.

Important Outcomes

Princeton 63, Brown 46

The Tigers have now won six straight games and hold a perfect 4-0 record in league play. Princeton is the only other undefeated team in the Ivy besides Harvard. Princeton hosts Yale on Sunday, followed by a road game against Dartmouth. Next week they make the trip to Cambridge to play the Crimson, which could potentially be for first place. Denton Koon had team-high 17 points, while Ian Hummer added 15.

Utah State 63, San Jose State 36

The Aggies are doing damage control. A four-game losing streak in January has left them out of the top of the conference, currently held by Louisiana Tech and followed by New Mexico State and Denver. Utah State is only three and a half out of first place and after winning three straight the Aggies can make a statement with a two-game home stand against Denver and New Mexico State this week.

Loyola (MD) 63, Siena 51

Six days removed from a double overtime win over MAAC-leading Niagara and Loyola continued its winning ways with a double-digit victory over Siena. Erik Etherly had a season-high 25 points to help the Greyhounds separate themselves from Canisius, Rider and Iona — all hold 8-5 records, good for third place. Loyola is in sole possession of second place, one game out of first.

UNC-Asheville 90, VMI 79

The win keeps UNC-Asheville at 9-2, which is good for the best record in the Big South. The Bulldogs hold a half game lead over Charleston Southern in the South Division while High Point leads the North Division with a 7-3 conference record.

Starred

Siyani Chambers, Harvard

Although the freshman missed a crucial free throw in the game’s final minutes, Chambers finished with 18 points and 11 assists, his third double-double on the season and second consecutive. The freshman has exceeded expectations this season and narrowly has the Crimson in first place in the Ivy League

Stan Okoye, Virginia Military 

In a loss, Okoye was the game’s leading scorer and rebounder with 34 points and 16 rebounds. While it was a season-high in rebounds, it was the fourth time the 6-foot-6 senior dropped 30 in a game this season. D.J. Covington also had a standout game in the loss with 15 points and 15 rebounds.

Spencer Butterfield, Utah State

For the fifth consecutive game, Butterfield finished with a double-double. This time it was 22-point, 10-rebound performance in a win for the Aggies. The 6-foot-3 junior scored his game-high 22 points of 9-of-11 shooting.

O.D. Anosike, Siena

For the 14th time this season, the Siena senior has recorded a double-double. In a loss to Loyola (MD), the 6-foot-8 senior recorded 16 points and 16 rebounds.

Struggled

Austin Morgan, Yale

The Bulldogs leading scorer shot a woeful 1-for-10 from the field for only nine points. Coming off a 20-point performance in loss to Dartmouth, Yale still picked up the 68-59 win against Penn on Friday night.

Columbia free throw shooting

The Lions went 10-of-17 from the line, in a three-point loss to Dartmouth. Columbia was not much better from behind the arc, shooting 3-of-20 (15 percent), as opposed to Dartmouth’s 47 percent shooting from deep.

San Jose State offense

The Spartans shot 27 percent from the field for the game, 20 percent from behind the arc, only tallying 36 points in a loss to Utah State. D.J. Brown, San Jose State’s leading scorer, with 16 points shot 5-of-13, however he was 4-of-9 from three. The rest of his team was 0-for-11 from deep.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

VIDEO: Kenrich Williams posterizes West Virginia

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I am not sure what was more impressive tonight, Kenrich Williams going for 14 boards and six assists against No. 7 West Virginia, the fact that he played the point for them against that press … or this dunk:

It was the dunk.

Definitely.

Alex Robinson leads TCU past No. 7 West Virginia

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You’d be forgiven if you thought that TCU’s season was done and dusted when starting point guard Jaylen Fisher went down with a knee injury that will cost him the rest of the season.

Fisher was the team’s third-leading scorer at 12.3 points and ranked second in assists. He was shooting 43.9 percent from the floor. More importantly, he was backcourt defensive presence that doesn’t exist elsewhere on the TCU roster.

When the Horned Frogs lost Fisher, they were coming off of their second loss to Oklahoma in the span of two weeks and their fourth loss in the first five games of league play. With two games against both West Virginia and Texas Tech, and a trip to Allen Fieldhouse, left on their schedule, this had all the warning signs of a season in danger of sliding into oblivion.

On Monday night, in TCU’s third game without Fisher, Jame Dixon’s club put together their best performance of the season. They held No. 7 West Virginia to 33.3 percent shooting from the floor and led by as many as 20 points in an 82-73 win in Fort Worth, a win that puts an entirely knew feel on where this season can and will go.

The biggest reason for that may be Alex Robinson.

A 6-foot-1 hometown kid and a redshirt junior that transferred into the program from Texas A&M, Robinson has seemingly always been overlooked in this TCU program. Part of that is because he’s not a great scorer or shooter. Part of that is because he isn’t really a defender. And part of is, frankly, is because he never quite got his chance.

And now, with Fisher out, Robinson is not only getting his chance, but he is making the most of it.

TCU is 2-1 in their three games without Fisher, and Robinson has been the star, averaging 12.3 points, 4.7 boards and 10.7 assists. Against West Virginia, one of the nation’s most difficult defenses to deal with, Robinson finished with 17 points, nine assists and seven boards despite barely stepping foot off of the court. He got some help from Kenrich Williams, TCU’s best player, a 6-foot-7 forward that was a high school point guard and did the heavy-lifting when it came to breaking that press.

But that shouldn’t put a damper on how Robinson played on Monday.

And it shouldn’t take away from what he has been able to do with Fisher out.

Suddenly, TCU looks like a team that found themselves on the wrong side of lucky through the first seven games of Big 12 play. They lost five games during that stretch by an average of 3.3 points. Two of those losses came when the Horned Frogs missed game-winning shots at the buzzer.

They were and have been a top 25 team that found out the hard way how tough it is to win close games in this league.

And at this point it is probably fair to say that hasn’t changed despite having a new player running the point.

Monday’s Three Things to Know: TCU, Virginia Tech and Kansas State earn big wins

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1. VIRGINIA TECH EARNED ITS BIGGEST WIN OF THE SEASON

Virginia Tech has been considered by many to be a disappointment this season. The Hokies haven’t beaten anybody notable in the ACC and the non-conference schedule didn’t deliver any signature victories.

Which is why Virginia Tech’s win Monday night over No. 10 North Carolina is so critical.

The Hokies finally have a great win to hang their hat on for the committee. Where has this version of Virginia Tech been all season?

2. TCU ALSO EARNS A SIGNATURE WIN

Entering Monday night, TCU could have rolled over and called it quits on this season.

The Horned Frogs had dropped four of five games by a total of 15 points. Talented sophomore guard Jaylen Fisher was diagnosed with a season-ending injury for TCU.

But TCU stayed strong through some adversity as they pulled off a huge 82-73 Big 12 home win over No. 7 West Virginia. Leading for nearly the entire game, TCU did a great job of slowing down Mountaineer offense as West Virginia struggled to score in the half court.

3. KANSAS STATE PICKED UP THE NIGHT’S BIGGEST BUBBLE WIN

It’s time to start keeping track of the bubble.

With March Madness creeping closer, every night will feature games with big bubble implications. Besides for TCU and Virginia Tech beating top-1o teams, Kansas State beating Baylor for a Big 12 road win was the most important bubble win of the night.

The Wildcats have suddenly won four of their last five — including wins over Oklahoma, TCU and Baylor in their last three games. Not many people are talking about Kansas State in a loaded Big 12 but they’re playing as well as any team in the league right now.

A few more wins like this and the Wildcats could play their way into the Field of 68.

Bates-Diop scores 20 as No. 13 Buckeyes slip past Nebraska

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Keita Bates-Diop scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half and No. 13 Ohio State beat Nebraska 64-59 on Monday night, the fourth victory for the surging Buckeyes in the last eight days.

The back-and-forth game had seven lead changes in the second half. A pair of foul shots by Nebraska’s James Palmer Jr. cut Ohio State’s lead to four with 2:19 remaining, but the Cornhuskers couldn’t pull any closer.

Jae’Sean Tate put the Buckeyes (18-4, 9-0 Big Ten) up by six with a layup with 1:02 left, and a pair of foul shots by Kaleb Wesson stretched it to eight. Palmer hit a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left, but Nebraska ran out of time.

Palmer had a career-high 34 points. Nebraska (14-8, 5-4) was fresh off a 20-point upset of then-No. 23 Michigan on Thursday.

Ohio State surpassed its win total for all of last season. Earlier in the day, it moved from No. 22 to No. 13 in the AP Top 25, its highest position since 2014.

BIG PICTURE

Nebraska: The surprising Cornhuskers knocked off a ranked team last week and are a better squad than last season with Palmer carrying the load, but couldn’t outlast the steady Buckeyes.

Ohio State: The Buckeyes may have been fatigued after a rugged traveling schedule and three straight games on the road. But they found a rhythm in the second half and picked up another critical Big Ten win over a good team.

NEXT UP

Nebraska: At Rutgers on Wednesday.

Ohio State: Hosts Penn State on Thursday.

Virginia Tech picks up most important win of the season over No. 10 North Carolina

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Virginia Tech picked up its most important win of the season on Monday night as the Hokies earned an 80-69 ACC home win over No. 10 North Carolina.

While the Hokies have been competitive against some good teams, they’ve never been able to get over the hump against a team as good as the Tar Heels this season. Virginia Tech had high hopes entering the year as a potential ACC dark horse and dangerous team in March. So far, they’ve largely fallen short of those expectations.

During Monday’s win over North Carolina, the Hokies ramped up the defensive intensity and looked like a team that could still be dangerous the rest of the season.

Playing better defense than they’ve shown for much of the season, Virginia Tech also knocked down enough big shots as they made plays on both ends of the floor against the Tar Heels. Neutralizing everyone on the North Carolina offense outside of Luke Maye and Joel Berry (23 points each), the Hokies had a balanced defensive effort that helped to shut down other options for North Carolina’s offense. The Tar Heels only shot 32 percent from three-point range as Virginia Tech’s perimeter defense looked more consistent than in other games during the season.

Virginia Tech has a top-35 offense (according to KenPom) this season. Scoring points and having enough weapons on that end has never been the issue. Virginia Tech knocked down 12 three-pointers, shooting 40 percent from distance as seven different players made threes for the Hokies. Even on a night where Justin Bibbs and Nickeil Alexander-Walker (eight points each) both struggled to consistently knock down shots, Virginia Tech had plenty of offense. Justin Robinson led the way with 19 points while Ahmed Hill (18 points) and Kerry Blackshear Jr. (16 points) both contributed plenty of offense as well.

The defense for the Hokies hasn’t been able to hold up against some of the elite teams on the schedule. With wins only over Pitt and Wake Forest before Monday night, the Hokies hadn’t picked up a win over a good ACC team thus far this season. And after allowing over 90 points in losses to Florida State, Louisville and Kentucky, Virginia Tech’s defense had a tendency to disappear against the best teams they faced on the schedule.

The North Carolina win was not only the signature victory that Virginia Tech could use at this point in the season. It was also a huge defensive improvement from what the Hokies have shown so far this season. Over the next month, Virginia Tech’s schedule remains difficult. They also don’t play any ranked teams until back-to-back road games on Feb. 10 and 14 against Virginia and Duke.

If Virginia Tech can put together a solid streak and continue to improve its defense, we can get a glimpse into how they could look during that important conference stretch in a few weeks. The Hokies looked like a NCAA tournament caliber team with its win over Monday night. Now can they put together a stretch to back that up and actually get in?

The North Carolina win also makes you wonder if this was a flash in the pan from an overrated team or a glimmer of hope in a turnaround effort.