Pat Connaughton,Russ Smith

Late Night Snacks: Pluck of the Irish

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Game of the Night

No. 25 Notre Dame 104, N0. 11 Louisville 101: Of the 205 points scored in this game, 85 came in extra time. Louisville lost four players to fouls, and Notre Dame lost three. The night’s Iron Man award goes to Eric Atkins, who played 60 minutes, scored 14 points and somehow had only three fouls. The takeaway from all this madness? The dissolution of the Big East sucks.

Meaningful Results

N0. 13 Kansas State 79, Iowa State 70: K-State became sole owners of the Big 12 lead with this win over a consistently dangerous Iowa State squad. They’ll take the mojo on the road Monday to face in-state rival Kansas for a chance to extend the Jayhawks’ misery.

N0. 12 Michigan State 78, Purdue 65: Don’t look now, Sparty is standing atop the B1G all by his lonesome. Pretty impressive feat in the Big Ten meat grinder.

No. 6 Gonzaga 74, Loyola Marymount 55: I mention this only because it’s very easy to forget about the Zags during conference play, when they tend to disappear off TV screens in most of the country. The Bulldogs are 10-0 in their league, where they appear to be safe from the upset-itis hitting the rest of the top ten.

UNLV 64, N0. 15 New Mexico 55: The Mountain West continues to be an exemplar of parity. Just when New Mexico seemed poised to pull away, the Rebs dragged them back a step. Colorado State is just 1/2 game behind the Lobos, and hosts San Diego State on Wednesday.

No. 19 Oregon 73, Utah 64: The Ducks trailed for much of this game, but turned on the jets to break a three-game losing streak. That they did it against one of the Pac-12’s worst teams is something we’ll just have to accept.

Illinois State 75, No. 16 Creighton 72: The MVC is getting to be as unpredictable as the Mountain West. Plenty of good teams, but nobody seems to want to seize the day and become the undisputed best team in the league. Creighton should be that team, by pure dint of talent and star power, but they aren’t. Puzzling.

Starred 

Jerian Grant, Notre Dame: Down five with less than a minute left in the game and star Jack Cooley fouled out, some Fighting Irish fans filed out of the Joyce Center to beat the traffic. They missed Jerian Grant’s personal crusade to force OT, best described by Blue Ribbon’s Chris Dortch:

The Summit Show: There were no national TV cameras there, but South Dakota State vs. Oakland was likely one of the best individual matchups of the year. Jackrabbit star Nate Wolters had a slight edge, putting up a line of 36 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists, but his opposite number Travis Bader finished with 31 points, 3 assists, 3 steals and one big W for the Golden Grizzlies. Duke Mondy’s 26 off the bench didn’t hurt.

La Salle shooters: Sam Mills broke out of a slump in a big way against Fordham, hitting seven of eight from behind the arc. The bounty from deep wasn’t limited to Mills alone, however. Ramon Galloway was 5-7 and Tyreek Duren 4-4 from three point range. As a team, the Explorers tied the program record for made treys, hitting 18 to match a mark set against Oregon in 1991.

Struggled

Elijah Johnson: The embattled KU point guard has become the focal point for much of the heat surrounding the team’s three-game losing streak. Johnson was 3-11 from the field against Oklahoma, and was ineffective leading the offense as well. The only thing saving his starting job? Backup Naadir Tharpe is so clearly not ready for prime time either.

Lobo Shooters: New Mexico’s starting perimeter players were terribly ineffective. They failed to score over UNLV’s guards, hitting just 7-26 from the floor, and precious few of those from deep. On the other end of the floor, they played matador defense, allowing the Rebs to top 40 percent from behind the arc.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

Villanova beats Duke, Kansas, Indiana for Jermaine Samuels

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Jermaine Samuels, Jr. #23 of Expressions Elite dunks. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
Jon Lopez/Nike
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Villanova landed a commitment from top 50 prospect Jermaine Samuels on Saturday.

Samuels is a tough and athletic 6-foot-5 wing that will remind many Wildcat fans of Josh Hart. He’s got the same kind of versatility and nose for the ball that will let him guard perimeter players as well as work in as a small-ball four. Players like this are a specialty of Jay Wright.

Samuels picked up an offer from Duke recently and also had Indiana, Kansas and Georgetown in his top five. Beating out blue-bloods for a prospect like this is quite the statement for Villanova, one that should tell you the reigning national champs are here to stay as a national power.

Syracuse lands critical piece in Andrew White

LINCOLN, NE - FEBRUARY 3: Andrew White #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers shoots the ball over Rasheed Sulaimon #0 of the Maryland Terrapins during their game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on February 3, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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Syracuse has found their replacement for Malachi Richardson.

On Sunday, Nebraska transfer Andrew White committed to the Orange, picking Syracuse, in the end, over VCU. White is a graduate transfer who spent last season with Nebraska, where he averaged 16.2 points while shooting 41.2 percent from three. A top 50 prospect out of Virginia back in the Class of 2012, White played a limited role for Kansas his first two seasons in college.

This is a significant pickup for the Orange, one that legitimately puts them into the conversation as a Final Four contender and a threat to finish at or near the top of the ACC. Jim Boeheim has put together a roster full of talented, long and athletic front court players, but after Richardson declared for the NBA Draft as a one-and-done freshman, he was left with just two back court players on his roster.

Earlier this offseason, Cuse landed Colorado State grad transfer John Gillon, a 6-foot-1 combo-guard, to reinforce their back court. The addition of White gives them a lights-out shooter and a big-time scorer on the wing, something that would have been a major void on their roster.

With Paschal Chukwu getting eligible at the center spot and Tyler Lydon likely landing on every breakout player list this preseason, the Orange should be a markedly better team than the one that made their way to the Final Four last season.

ESPN.com was the first to report White’s commitment.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.